September 20, 2016–FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel today called on local telecom advocates and officials to think of innovative ways to help bridge the “homework gap” that exists in many communities, and said that there should be more support from the federal level of their efforts. Commissioner Rosenworcel explained in her keynote today during the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) annual meeting taking place this week in Austin that seven in 10 teachers assign homework that requires an Internet connection, but one in three households does not have broadband access at home. According to the Commissioner, there are 29 million households in the country with school-age children and five million of them have no Internet access.
The “shared economic future” of the country depends on figuring out how to close this homework gap,” Ms. Rosenworcel said. “Efforts to improve digital equity are taking place locally and people like me in Washington can take a cue from what you do.” Continue reading
September 20, 2016–FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced today that he expects FCC action by the end of this year on a data roaming notice of proposed rulemaking and an item related to Phase II of the Mobility Fund, and he reiterated that movement is also expected in that timeframe in the agency’s business data services proceeding. Mr. Wheeler’s remarks came in a keynote speech this afternoon at the Competitive Carriers Association’s 2016 Annual Convention in Seattle.
Mr. Wheeler said the FCC’s 2011 data roaming order “was a significant step to preserve roaming for the Internet age, but our roaming rules are due for a review.
“In the past two years, multiple providers have filed formal complaints and requests for mediation alleging that data roaming rates offered by larger providers are commercially unreasonable,” he added. “Because of high rates, we know that some smaller providers have” imposed restrictions on customers’ data traffic, he added. “The Commission has helped successfully mediate specific roaming disputes, but there are reasons for considering further action,” Mr. Wheeler said. He noted that the current framework for voice roaming is “just and reasonable” while the standard for data roaming is “commercially reasonable,” and that the FCC committed in its open Internet order to revisit the data roaming regime. Continue reading
September 20, 2016-The state of Alabama has issued a request for proposals (RFPs) seeking bids to build and operate a public safety broadband network in the state if it decides to opt out of having the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) partner build its radio access network (RAN).Responses to the RFP, which was issued through the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), are due Oct. 14.
The RFP notes that the governor will have 90 days after getting a state plan from FirstNet to decide whether to have FirstNet’s partner build the RAN in his or her state, or to pursue an alternative plan. “If the Governor of Alabama decides to opt-in to FirstNet’s Plan for the State of Alabama, a contract may not be awarded as a result of this RFP,” it said.
The RFP noted that the Spectrum Act, which Congress passed as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, doesn’t require opt-out states “to return the profits from any … spectrum leases to FirstNet. Rather, the Spectrum Act explicitly authorizes states to use ‘revenue gained by the State from such a leasing arrangement’ for the purpose of ‘constructing, maintaining, operating, or improving the radio access network of the State.’” FirstNet’s legal interpretation is that states that assume responsibility for building their own RANs have to reinvest fees revenues into the system. “Regardless of whether a state opts into FirstNet, a state, local government, or eligible nongovernmental organization (‘NGO’) may also retain for their use any revenues generated from their operation of a public safety network using the 12 MHz of dedicated narrowband frequencies,” the RFP added. Continue reading
September 20, 2016–The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International filed comments with the Office of Management and Budget today urging it to reclassify public safety telecommunicators as protective service occupations. “Public Safety Telecommunicators deserve appropriate recognition for the lifesaving work they perform and must be classified as Protective Service Occupations,” APCO Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Derek Poarch said. “I want to thank APCO’s members and supporters for answering our call to action and joining the fight by filing comments providing thousands of real examples of how they protect and save lives. Reclassification has been a major grassroots effort by the skilled professionals in our community, and it will remain a priority for APCO until the federal officials get this right.”
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) today announced the availability of a draft programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) for the West region of the U.S., which includes Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington State. Comments on the document are due Nov. 15. FirstNet plans to hold a series of meetings on the draft PEIS.
The First Responder Network Authority’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) has added to its membership two officials from federal agencies. They will serve as chair and vice chair of the PSAC’s new federal working group. They are FBI supervisory special agent Michael Gilmore and Kraig Moise, acting associate chief of Customs and Border Protection, PSAC Chairman Harlin McEwen said in a blog posting. “Their membership on the PSAC will further integrate FirstNet’s federal outreach and consultation activities with the PSAC’s work and drive its continued success,” he said.
The Competitive Carriers Association is taking its Annual Convention to Seattle this year, hosting a number of keynotes and educational sessions heavy on policy issues and the growing specter of 5G and the “internet of things.” The show, which is set to run from Sept. 20-22, looks to follow up on CCA’s first Mobile Carriers Show from earlier this year that had previously run under the Global Expo banner. The MCS event also showed a heavy focus on 5G, IoT and spectrum challenges for CCA members. For this year’s Annual Convention, CCA has lined up a cast of keynote speakers headlined by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Ajit Pai. Read more here: CCA Annual Convention deep line up focuses on policy, 5G and IoT