FCC Releases Text of Restoring Internet Freedom Order

Last week, the FCC released the text of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order adopted in December. The major points include the re-classification of high speed Internet access service as an information service. The Order also effectively terminates the bright line rules that were central to the 2015 Order – no blocking of lawful content, no throttling of lawful content and no paid prioritization for a given edge provider’s content. In addition, the decision eliminates the “general conduct standard” that established comprehensive FCC oversight of the business practices of Internet Services Providers. On the other hand, the FCC adopted a comprehensive “transparency rule,” requiring broadband providers to disclose any blocking, throttling or paid prioritization; full disclosure of the ISPs’ privacy policies; and confirms the role of the Federal Trade Commission in consumer protection matters.

FirstNet Update

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S Virgin Islands and Guam have accepted the FirstNet/AT&T plan for construction, maintenance and operation of the nationwide public safety broadband network. New Hampshire reversed an earlier decision to “opt-out.” Two Territories, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands have a March 12th deadline for their “opt-in/opt-out” decisions. California was the 50th state to accept the FirstNet/AT&T plan. In “opting-in” California expressed concerns with interoperability, security and site hardening that need to be addressed. California hopes to continue to work with FirstNet to improve the plan within the State.

911 Best Practices

Following the AT&T 911 outage in March 2017, the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) announced its intention to seek stakeholder input to improve situational awareness during 911 outages (Vol. XIV, Issue 13). On September 11, 2017, the PSHSB hosted a workshop with stakeholders where they discussed best practices. Last week, the PSHSB issued a Public Notice highlighting the best practices that received broad support from stakeholders. The recommendations focus on two areas: PSAP Notification of 911 Outages and Promoting Public Awareness of 911 Outages.

Missouri Bill Encourages Electric Cooperatives to Provide Broadband

Missouri State Senator Mike Cunningham has introduced a bill to promote broadband deployment by encouraging electric cooperatives to provide broadband. The bill acknowledges the high cost of deploying fiber to provide broadband in rural areas and recognizes that electric cooperatives often deploy fiber networks as part of their electric system infrastructure. The bill encourages rural electric cooperatives to enter into agreements with the State, municipalities, telecommunications companies, and cable and Internet service providers to “provide for the nonexclusive use of rural electric cooperative infrastructure and easements for the deployment of broadband communications services.”