Nevada Telecommunications Association Newsletter

December 2017, Volume 182           Serving the Industry for over 59 Years           Editor: Mike Eifert

FCC Releases Draft Net Neutrality Order

     On November 22, the FCC released the draft of its Order in the Restoring Internet Freedom proceeding, more widely known as Net Neutrality. The FCC will consider this item at its upcoming Open Meeting on December 14.

     The FCC's draft Order restores the classification of broadband Internet access service as a less regulated "information service," and reinstates the private mobile service classification of mobile broadband Internet access service. The draft also eliminates the Internet Conduct Standard and the Bright Line Rules. Somewhat unexpectedly, the Order, as drafted, includes transparency requirements that purportedly mandate ISPs to disclose information about their practices to consumers, entrepreneurs, and the FCC. The draft also elects to pre-empt any state or local regulation inconsistent with its decision. Specifically, the draft order would pre-empt any state or local requirement that "would effectively impose rules or requirements that [the FCC] repealed or decided to refrain from imposing in this order or that would impose more stringent requirements for any aspect of broadband service that [the FCC] address[ed] in this order."

     If the FCC's decision is adopted without change, providers may once again voluntarily elect to offer broadband transmission (as distinct from broadband Internet access service) on a common carrier basis, but may no longer opt to use the Title II Order forbearance framework (i.e., no carrier will be permitted to maintain, or newly elect, the Title II Order forbearance framework). Carriers that choose to offer transmission service on a common carriage basis are, as under the Wireline Broadband Classification Order, subject to the full set of Title II obligations, to the extent they applied before the Title II Order. The FCC also clarified that USF support will continue to be available so long as providers build and maintain a network that provides both voice and broadband Internet access service. [Source: Blooston Telecom Update, 11/30/2017]

FCC Releases 2018 Voice Service Rate Floor, Reasonably Comparable Rates

     The Wireline Competition Bureau released a Public Notice on November 8, 2017, announcing the 2018 voice service rate floor, the reasonable comparability benchmarks for fixed voice and broadband services, and the required minimum usage allowance for ETCs subject to public interest obligations. The 2018 urban average monthly local voice service rate (the rate floor) is $25.50, and the reasonable comparability benchmark for voice services is $45.38. The 2018 reasonable comparability benchmarks for broadband service offerings range from $85.54 for 4/1 Mbps with a capacity allowance of 170 GB to $217.43 for 1000/100 Mbps with an unlimited allowance. The Bureau noted in May 2017, the Commission froze the local voice rate floor at which support reductions would occur at $18 until July 1, 2018, or until the Commission takes further action. Carriers will not be subject to any support reductions for any rate that is a least $18, but carriers must still report their ratesto the extent those rates are below the $25.50 rate floor in their annual Form 481 filings. [Source: Washinton Watch, 11/09/2017]

Robocall and Pole Replacement Orders Released

     The FCC released the Report and Order and FNPRM on robocalls and the Report and Order on wireless broadband infrastructure deployment that were adopted at the November 16, 2017 Open Meeting. The Robocall Order and FNPRM adopts rules allowing providers to block calls from phone numbers on a Do-Not-Originate list and those that purport to be from invalid, unallocated or unused numbers, and seeks further comment on options to mitigate the possibility of blocking desired calls, among other things. Comments are due January 23, 2018, and replies are due February 22, 2018. The Wireless Deployment Order eliminates the requirement for historic preservation review when utility poles are replaced with substantially identical poles that can support antennas or other wireless communications equipment. ]Source: Washington Watch, 11/20/2017]

Senators Introduce Next Generation 911 Act

     On November 2, Sens. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) and Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) introduced legislation to accelerate the deployment of next-generation 911 (NG-911) services. Among other things, the so-called Next-Generation 9-1-1 Act of 2017 would expand a federal NG-911 grant program and establish an advisory board to recommend updates to the definition of NG-911.

     Specifically, the bill would extend the current NG-911 grant program for five years and authorize appropriations for fiscal years 2018 to 2022. It would also lower the matching requirement to 20% from 40%. Interestingly, funds could not be used for any part of the FirstNet system; however, states would be required to coordinate with FirstNet to ensure that NG-911 services were interoperable. Additionally, a 17-member Advisory Board for Next Generation 9-1-1 Interoperability would be responsible for recommending any updates to the definition of NG-911 that was adopted in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2017.

     "Upgrading the nation's 9-1-1 system is literally a life and death matter that must become more of a national priority," said Sen. Nelson. "In this digital world, Americans must have more than one way to access the 9-1-1 assistance they need and expect when emergencies occur. No plea for help should go unanswered because a call center doesn't have the technology to receive a text, video or picture."

     "As a former prosecutor and co-chair of the NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus in the Senate, I know how important it is for our first responders, law enforcement officers, and public safety leaders to be able to communicate seamlessly during times of crisis," said Sen. Klobuchar. "Our legislation would provide state and local governments with the resources they need to efficiently transition to NG 9-1-1 and strengthen our country's emergency response networks."

     In a statement released the same day, Commissioner Rosenworcel said, "Today, roughly 240 million calls are made each year to 911. But like so much else, we need to remake our 911 services to reflect the digital age we live in. The future will bring Next Generation 9-1-1 to call centers to support voice, text, data and video communications. But to get there, we need strong coordination, a focused effort, and real leadership. So kudos to Senator Nelson and Senator Klobuchar for introducing the Next Generation 9-1-1 Act of 2017. [Source: BloostonLaw Telecom Update, 11/08/2017]

FCC takes steps to roll back Lifeline program

     The Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines Thursday to take steps toward rolling back the Lifeline program subsidizing broadband and phone service for low-income Americans. Democrats on the panel called the move cruel, but Chairman Ajit Pai said it would help reduce "waste, fraud, and abuse that continue to plague the Lifeline program." Read complete story. [Source: USTelecom dailyLead, 11/17/2017]

FCC Directs USAC to Retain Excess Funds in High-Cost Account

     The Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice on November 1, 2017, directing USAC to retain any excess cash in the high-cost account at the end of 2017, pending further Commission action, and not to take that amount into consideration when determining the contribution factor for the first quarter of 2018. The Bureau indicated USAC projects it will have approximately $129 million in excess of funds necessary to cover the prior funding decisions in its high-cost cash account at the end of calendar year 2017. The Bureau said given the Commission's continuing efforts at reforming its high-cost USF support mechanisms, it is necessary to retain the excess funds to cover likely expenses in 2018 without causing unnecessary fluctuations in the contribution factor. This Public Notice will become effective 14 days after release, absent further Commission action. [Source: Washinton Watch, 11/02/2017]

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