Chairman Pai Recommends Approval of T-Mobile and Sprint Merger

Last week, FCC Chairman Pai formally recommended approval of the T-Mobile and Sprint Merger (Vol. XV, Issue 18) in a draft Order circulated to the rest of the Commission. Pai stated that the merger will promote 5G deployment and will “help close the digital divide in rural areas.” The Commission’s Press Release notes that the Order contains conditions, including the divestiture of Boost Mobile, in order to address potential anti-competitive harms. The Department of Justice approved the merger in July, but even if the Commission votes to approve the Order, there are still a number of hurdles the merger must overcome. The Attorneys General from fifteen states and the District of Columbia are challenging the merger under the Federal antitrust laws. Reportedly, T-Mobile has stated that it will not close the transaction until this antitrust suit is resolved. 

Verizon Files Lawsuit against City of Rochester

Verizon has filed a lawsuit against the City of Rochester, alleging that regulations adopted by the Rochester City Council violate Section 253 of the Communications Act. The regulations adopted earlier this year require fees for each small cell site. Verizon alleges that these fees are excessive and therefore violate the Communications Act. The City of Rochester issued a statement saying that the City “is dedicated to ensuring its infrastructure is protected and maintained to benefit taxpayers” and that the fees are “comparable” to fees charged by other cities. 

Three-Digit Suicide Prevention Hotline

Pursuant to the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018, Commission staff has analyzed the effectiveness of the current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and has issued a Report. The Report recommends that the Commission initiate a rulemaking proceeding to consider designating 988 as the three-digit code “solely for the purpose of a national suicide prevention and mental health hotline.” Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a ten-digit number. The Report recommends the three-digit number to make it easier to access mental health services. The Commission issued a Press Release, which states that Chairman Pai has committed to initiating a rulemaking proceeding, as recommended in the Report. 

West Virginia PSC Sets Hearing Date for Frontier

The West Virginia Public Service Commission issued a Procedural Order setting an evidentiary hearing regarding a complaint filed by Hampshire County 911 against Frontier. In May, Hampshire County filed a formal complaint alleging that Frontier failed to stock parts to adequately address outages. Throughout May and June, both parties submitted additional filings and the PSC referred the case to the Division of Administrative Law Judges. At the evidentiary hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to present facts regarding the complaint.