Telecom Alert — Pleading Cycle Set for Outage Sharing; FCC Seeks Comment on Accessibility; Homework Gap Trust Fund Act; $200 Million in Fines Proposed Against Big Four Carriers — Vol. XVII, Issue 10
Pleading Cycle Set for Outage Sharing
The FCC released a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking last week that proposes an information sharing framework that would provide state and federal agencies with access to Network Outage Reporting System (NORS) and Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) information. Certain services providers are required to submit outage reports through NORS and DIRS, and the Commission limits the disclosure of such filings because they are presumed confidential. Under the proposed framework, eligible state, federal, and Tribal nation government agencies will be granted direct access to this information for public safety purposes.
FCC Seeks Comment on Communications Technologies’ Accessibility
The FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau issued a Public Notice last Monday seeking comment on the accessibility of communications technology in connection with its mandatory biennial report to Congress under the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). The Bureau invites comment on compliance with statutory mandates for telecommunications and advanced communications services, equipment used with those services, and Internet browsers built into mobile phones, to be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. Additionally, the Bureau wants input on the extent to which accessibility barriers still exist with respect to new communications technologies. Comments are due by March 30, 2020.
Proposed Legislation Allocates C-Band Auction Revenue to Students
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the Homework Gap Trust Fund Act on February 27, which would utilize revenue from the FCC’s upcoming C-Band auction (Vol. XVII, Issue 9) to fund priorities that will help close the digital divide. Specifically, the Act would allocate $2 to $4 billion dollars to create a Homework Gap Trust that could be used by jurisdictions to purchase hotspot devices and support other initiatives to ensure students have access to the internet. The FCC would be in charge of administering the fund and required to annually report to Congress on the number of recipients, number of students who obtained access to broadband internet services as a result of the fund, and the number of students who still lack broadband internet access.
FCC Proposes Over $200 Million in Fines Against Big Four Wireless Carriers
The FCC issued Notices of Apparent Liability against T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint on February 28 for allegedly selling customers’ location information without taking reasonable measures to protect against unauthorized access. The carriers also allegedly disclosed this information to a third party without their customers’ consent. T-Mobile faces a proposed fine of $91,630,000, AT&T faces a proposed fine of $57,265,625, Verizon faces a proposed fine of $48,318,750, and Sprint faces a proposed fine of $12,240,000.