Vol. 17, No. 19
May 17, 2021
INCOMPAS Expresses Supports for Martha Wright-Reed
Just and Reasonable Communications Act
Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Rob Portman (R-OH), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Angus King (I-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) are introducing the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act, which is designed to address predatory inmate calling rates at prison facilities across the nation.

Their bill will give the FCC full authority to ensure consumers receive reasonable rates for both intra- and interstate inmate calls. The legislation also extends this standard to all forms of communication, such as video services, to reflect today’s technological advances.

“We applaud the leadership of Senators Duckworth, Portman, Schatz, Booker, King, Markey, Gillibrand, Warren, Casey, Blumenthal, Wyden, and Klobuchar to bring a bipartisan solution to this long-standing issue. The lack of competition in prison telecommunications services has plagued U.S. families for decades," said INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering. “No American should be forced to pay the exorbitant rate of $400 or $500 a month for a calling service. INCOMPAS is glad to support this legislation to give the FCC full authority to bring some much-needed relief to prison call rates.”
INCOMPAS Responds to FCC NOI on Emergency Alert System
INCOMPAS filed comments in response to the FCC's Notice of Inquiry regarding whether it is technically feasible to deliver alerts through the nation's Emergency Alert System (EAS) via the internet, including streaming services.

The association noted that it is "critically important to consider whether consumers need to receive emergency alerts from streaming services when most consumers already receive alerts through their mobile devices. Almost every U.S. consumer has a mobile wireless device and receives alerts through the wireless emergency alert (WEA) system on their device that are timely, effective and appropriately geographically targeted. The content of these alerts is likely to be duplicative of any EAS alert transmitted over a streaming service. Furthermore, the content in these alerts is available from a myriad of other sources."
FCC Adopts Emergency Connectivity Fund Report and Order
The FCC adopted a report and order implementing the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program, which allocates $7.171 billion for schools and libraries to purchase connected devices and broadband connections for use by students, school staff and library patrons during the pandemic. The new rules, among other things:
  • Define eligible equipment and services, service locations, eligible uses and reasonable support amounts for funding provided
  • Designates USAC as the program administrator with FCC oversight
  • Leverages the processes and structures used in the E-rate program for the benefit of schools and libraries familiar with the program. 
FCC Announces Agenda for May 20 Open Meeting
The FCC issued the agenda for its May 20 Open Meeting, where it will consider:
Rep. Graves and Guest Introduce Rural Broadband Bill
Reps. Sam Graves (R-MI) and Michael Guest (R-MS) introduced a bill on May 13 that would remove barriers for communities seeking to use Economic Development Administration grants to develop high-speed broadband access. The bill would, among other things:
  • Eliminate barriers to investments in broadband in distressed communities, making them eligible for EDA grants
  • Clarify eligible recipients may include public and private partnerships and consortiums to leverage private sector expertise in project development
  • Clarify funds can be combined with other federal resources.