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Up Coming Events

February 5-8 2017 - NTCA The Rural Broadband Association 2017 Annual Meeting and Expo Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego, California

February 21-22 2017 - Georgia Telecommunications Association (GTA) 20th Annual Vendor Showcase Marriott Macon City Center, Macon, Georgia

February 22-24 2017 - Louisiana Telecommunications Association Annual Convention Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans, Louisiana

March 7-8 2017 - Iowa Communications Alliance Annual Meeting & Expo Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center, Des Moines, Iowa

March 8-9 2017 - Washington Independent Telecommunications Association (WITA) ITA Showcase Northwest Holiday Inn Portland Airport Hotel, Portland, Oregon

March 15 2017 - WSTA - Wisconsin's Broadband Association Government Relations Seminar Madison Concourse Hotel & Governor's Club, Madison, Wisconsin

March 16 2017 - Pennsylvania Telephone Association (PTA) Small Company Meeting The Penn Stater, State College, Pennsylvania

March 26-29 2017 - South Carolina Telecommunications and Broadband Association (SCTBA) 2017 Annual Convention Belmond Charleston Place Hotel, Columbia, South Carolina

March 27-29 2017 - Minnesota Telecom Alliance 2017 Annual Convention & Trade Show Hyatt Regency, Minneapolis, Minnesota

April 4-6 2017 - Telephone Association of New England (TANE) Spring Symposium Marriott Sable Oaks, South Portland, Maine

April 18-20 2017 - California Communications Association (CalCom) 33rd Annual Showcase & Tech Showcase Expo Doubletree Resort, Sacramento, California

April 24-25 2017 - Iowa Communications Alliance (ICA) Cyber Security Summit Holiday Inn Des Moines Airport, Des Moines, Iowa

April 25-26 2017 - Indiana Broadband Technology Association (IBTA) Spring Meeting Cambria Suites, Noblesville, Indiana

April 26-27 2017 - Pennsylvania Telephone Association (PTA) Spring Conference Penn State Conference Center, State College, Pennsylvania


NEWS
HEADLINES

February 2017, Volume 172           Serving the Industry for over 59 Years           Editor: Mike Eifert

Association News

Industry News

FCC News

Federal Legislation


ASSOCIATION NEWS

Graybar is this month's NTA Associate of the Month!

Learn more about Graybar and what they do by clicking the NTA Associate of the Month photo, top right of any NTA website page.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

Wireline Bureau Clarifies Lifeline Standalone Broadband Offering Requirement

     The Wireline Competition Bureau issued an Order on January 6, 2017, to clarify that an ETC must permit Lifeline-eligible customers to apply the Lifeline discount to standalone broadband internet access service if the ETC subject to high-cost support broadband obligations commercially offers a standalone BIAS service. The Bureau said this clarification renders moot the Petition for Temporary Waiver filed by NTCA and WTA, and dismissed that petition. The Bureau said while high-cost recipients are required to offer BIAS consistent with specified benchmarks as a condition of receiving high-cost support, there is no specific requirement that high-cost recipients offer standalone BIAS service, and said recipients of high-cost support may meet their broadband public interest obligations by offering BIAS as part of a bundle with voice or on a standalone basis, at the carrier's discretion. [Source: Washington Watch, 01/09/2017]

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USAC Submits Updated National Verifier Plan

     USAC filed an updated version of the Lifeline National Verifier Plan, which was created in response to the Lifeline Modernization Order on January 19, 2017. USAC said the plan contains a section detailing each of ten key components, as well as an introduction and a glossary of key terms. It also contains a section responding to public comments received on the draft NV plan and has been approved by the Wireline Competition Bureau and the Office of the Managing Director at the FCC. [Source: Washington Watch, 01/24/2017]

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FCC NEWS

Trump Team Reportedly Aims to Strip FCC of Consumer Protection Powers

     On January 15, Multichannel News said in an exclusive report that the incoming Trump administration is said to have signed off on an approach to "remaking the Federal Communications Commission" that includes, among other things, an effort to "restructure FCC bureaus to better reflect the convergence of the digital age as a first step, and, eventually, move functions deemed 'duplicative,' like, say, competition and consumer protection, to other agencies, particularly the Federal Trade Commission." Landing team members Jeff Eisenach and Rosyln Layton reportedly argued that what would remain "would be 'a more coherent and streamlined" agency that "would more effectively serve the goals of consumers, competitors, and Congress."

Harold Feld, senior VP of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, told Ars Technica that this plan is "a declaration of war on the most basic principles of universal service, consumer protection, competition, and public safety that have been the bipartisan core of the Communications Act for the last 80+ years."

Not all of the landing team is on board with the proposal, however. David Morken, founder of Republic wireless and recent addition to the transition team, reportedly offered a different proposal, which included "preserving network neutrality rules, making the FCC a cabinet-level agency with increased funding, and suspending the incentive auction." Morken recently told The Wall Street Journal that "traditional Republican telecom policy has favored incumbents who are heavily engaged in regulatory capture over innovators like us." [Source: BloostonLaw Newsletter, 01/19/2017]

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Meet Your New FCC, Led by Chairman Ajit Pai

     On January 23, President Trump officially appointed Commissioner Ajit Pai, one of the two current Republican members of the FCC, to take over for former Chairman Tom Wheeler, who stepped down last week. Many expected that Chairman Pai would, at minimum, be appointed interim Chairman, and full appointment is not much of a surprise. Chairman Pai will take the helm of a three-member FCC until President Trump names another Republican and another Democrat to bring the number back up to five

Chairman Pai is known for being anti-regulation, often dissenting in FCC orders and famously expressing a desire to "fire up the weed wacker" and remove numerous regulations currently in place. He may be most well-known for his opposition to and criticism of the FCC's Net Neutrality rules, which regulate, among other things, network management practices and consumer disclosures for broadband internet access service (BIAS).

In his FCC bio, he states that his regulatory philosophy is informed "by a few simple principles:"
* Consumers benefit most from competition, not preemptive regulation. Free markets have delivered more value to American consumers than highly regulated ones.
* No regulatory system should indulge arbitrage; regulators should be skeptical of pleas to regulate rivals, dispense favors, or otherwise afford special treatment.
* Particularly given how rapidly the communications sector is changing, the FCC should do everything it can to ensure that its rules reflect the realities of the current marketplace and basic principles of economics.
* As a creature of Congress, the FCC must respect the law as set forth by the legislature.
* The FCC is at its best when it proceeds on the basis of consensus; good communications policy knows no partisan affiliation.
[Source: BloostonLaw Newsletter, 01/25/2017]

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FCC Authorizes $454 Million in Revised A-CAM Support Offers

     On January 25, the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau authorized 182 rate-of-return companies that elected 217 revised offers of Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) support. These revised offers were originally made in the December 20, 2016 Revised Order Offer. A list of carriers accepting revised offers can be found here.

In the original A-CAM election proceeding, 216 rate-of-return companies submitted letters electing to accept 274 separate offers of A-CAM support in 43 states, and the FCC determined that model-based support and transition payments would exceed the overall 10-year budget by more than $160 million annually. As we reported in the previous edition of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, the FCC later found that strong demand among rate-of-return carriers for model-based support warranted allocating an additional $50 million annually from existing cash in the high-cost account to the A-CAM budget for the 10-year term. The FCC then made the revised offers authorized today, which are conditioned upon a requirement that carriers electing the revised offers agree to meet the terms of the original offer if additional high-cost support becomes available in 2017 to fund the original offers.

According to the Public Notice, the amount of legacy support, exclusive of CAF-ICC support, received in 2015 by all of the carriers accepting the offer of A-CAM support (both those authorized on Dec. 20, 2016 and those authorized today) was $328,837,694. The total amount of A-CAM support and transition payments that these authorized carriers will receive over the course of the 10-year term is $5,283,553,352, averaging $528,355,335 on an annualized basis. Therefore, the net increase in annualized support compared to legacy 2015 amounts is $199,517,641. [Source: BloostonLaw Newsletter, 01/25/2017]

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FEDERAL LEGISLATION

Houses Passes Bills on Call Completion, FCC Reform

     The House of Representatives passed 11 Energy and Commerce Committee bills on January 23, 2017, including: H.R 460, the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2017, which would require intermediate providers to register with the FCC and comply with the service quality standards set by the agency; H.R. 423, the Anti-Spoofing Act of 2017, which seeks to protect consumers against fraudulent actors and deceptive text messages; H.R. 290, the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2017, which seeks to make the FCC more efficient, transparent and accountable through reforming the Commission's processes; and H.R. 599, the Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2017, which seeks to consolidate eight separate reports at the FCC into a single, comprehensive overview of the communications marketplace. [Source: Washington Watch, 01/25/2017]

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