Telecom Alert – Democrats Introduce Net Neutrality Bill; CAF II Update; 800 MHz Band Reconsideration Petitions; S. Carolina Next Generation 9-1-1 Bill – Vol. XVI, Issue 10
Democrats Introduce Net Neutrality Bill
On March 6, Democrats in the House and Senate introduced the Save the Internet Act of 2019. The bill advances net neutrality principles and is supported by countless public interest groups and major edge providers but faces challenges in the Republican-controlled Senate. If enacted, the bill would: (i) repeal the FCC’s 2018 Restoring Internet Freedom Order (RIF Order); (ii) prohibit the FCC from reissuing the RIF Order or adopting rules similar to those adopted in the RIF Order; and (iii) restore the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order (Vol. XVI, Issue 3). The Open Internet Order, adopted by the Democratic-led FCC under Chairman Wheeler, prohibited blocking access to lawful content, throttling Internet speeds, subject to reasonable network management practices, and paid prioritization (Vol. XII, Issue 47). The bill also would reclassify Broadband Internet Access Service (BIAS) as a “telecommunications service,” potentially subject to all provisions of Title II of the Communications Act. In response, FCC Chairman Pai issued a statement defending the RIF Order.
CAF II Update
Late last month, the FCC released a Public Notice announcing that it had accepted an initial group of long-form applications for certain winning bids in the Connect America Fund Phase II Auction (CAF II) (Vol. XVI, Issue 9). Consistent with prior Commission statements, the Public Notice confirmed FCC staff is reviewing CAF II long-form applications on a rolling basis. More public notices accepting long-form applications are expected in the coming weeks.
800 MHz Band Reconsideration Petitions
In October 2018, the FCC adopted a Report and Order updating its policies regarding the 800 MHz band and other private land mobile radio (PLMR) spectrum, which became effective following publication in the Federal Register on December 27, 2018 (Vol. XVI, Issue 3). In response, the Land Mobile Communications Council and the Monitoring Association filed petitions for reconsideration. The LMCC Petition asks for changes to the coordination procedures to make more intensive use of the 800 MHz interstitial channels, while the Monitoring Association seeks to preserve certain channels for central stations alarm use. The FCC released a Public Notice last week setting deadlines for responsive pleadings. Oppositions to the petitions must be filed within 15 days of the Public Notice’s publication in the Federal Register. Replies must be filed within 10 days after the time for filing oppositions has expired.
South Carolina Next Generation 9-1-1 Bill
South Carolina’s House of Representatives voted unanimously on March 6 to advance a bill, H. 3586, that would update the State’s Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) technology. By transitioning from an E9-1-1 system to an NG9-1-1 system, the state would expand means of communication with 9-1-1 centers, improve interoperability to allow 9-1-1 centers to provide each other with backup support in emergencies, and standardize 9-1-1 communications infrastructure across the State. If enacted, the bill would establish a statewide N9-1-1 system to include an internet-based system and enhanced GIS features managed by the State, allow statewide contracts for local public safety answering points (PSAPs) to purchase equipment, and strengthen audit requirements of local 9-1-1 funds.