Major Telco Infrastructure Issues on the FCC’s Docket for April

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April is infrastructure month at the FCC. Chairman Ajit Pai plans to have four telco-related items teed up for a vote at the April 20 meeting.

“ Infrastructure Month will present several chances for the FCC to promote deployment and benefit consumers across America. Infrastructure might not be as flashy as a flux capacitor, but it’ll be a 1.21 gigawatt jolt for the digital economy,” said Pai in a blog post.

One set of proposals would facilitate the construction of wired networks, seeking to lower costs and speed deployment. Another plan would allow faster retirement of copper networks to expedite the transition to higher-capacity fiber networks.

For wireless networks, Pai wants to advance proposals to make it easier to build 5G networks, expediting state and local approval of infrastructure applications as well as the FCC’s own rules.  

A big item concerns the Universal Service Fund which subsidizes broadband deployment for small carriers in rural America. He’s proposing changing one rule to ensure consumers are not left stranded without service. The FCC plans to vote on “amending the construction project limitation within section 54.303 of the Commission’s rules to permit carriers to report, for universal service purposes, capital expenses per location up to the established per-location per-project limit, rather than disallowing all capital expenses associated with construction projects in excess of the limit,” according to a notice about the meeting.

The Commission intends to vote on proposals to update its Business Data Services rules; BDS involves network connections used by businesses to securely move large amounts of data like ATM withdrawals and credit card transactions, for example. Where competition exists, the agency will relax unneeded regulations and preserve those where competition is still lacking.

The other three items up for a vote are broadcast-related such as reinstating the TV UHF discount, allowing non-CPB-funded NCE stations to use airtime for third-party fundraisers and allowing NCE stations to use a FRN for ownership reporting.  

April 3, 2017        

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