Legislative Activity

Wheeler Hearing

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a hearing on Tuesday, June 18 on the nomination of Mr. Thomas Wheeler to be Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller’s decision to move forward without a Republican nominee to fill the other vacancy on the Commission is unusual. The timing suggests that the Chairman is trying to pressure Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to identify a Republican nominee. Leader McConnell is reportedly reviewing candidates on a deliberate basis.

Tentative Agenda for FCC’s June Meeting

The FCC’s next open meeting is scheduled for June 27. The FCC plans to consider: (1) a Report and Order to improve and streamline the collection of broadband subscription and deployment data; (2) a Report and Order establishing licensing, service, and technical rules for the H Block spectrum band; and (3) a Declaratory Ruling clarifying requirements for protecting customer proprietary network information (CPNI) on mobile devices. FCC staff will also report on the implementation of universal service reform and the television broadcast incentive auction.

FCC Workshop on Inmate Calling Rates

The FCC will hold a workshop on July 10 to gather more data on inmate calling services. The workshop will focus on the impact of current rates on inmates and their families, a review of state reforms of inmate rates, and a discussion on the cost of providing service and how to balance the needs of consumers and correctional facilities. The workshop is part of the Commission’s ongoing proceeding on the reasonableness of rates for inmate telephone service.

RUS Announces Community Connect Rural Broadband Funding Application Window

Last Tuesday, June 11, RUS announced that it is accepting grant applications for its Community Connect program in order to finance the cost of deploying broadband in remote, rural areas. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated that “reliable infrastructure is critical to rural economic opportunity [and that] [e]xpanded broadband service also is important because it supports employment opportunities and makes income growth possible in rural areas.” RUS may award up to $21 million in grants through its Community Connect Grant program. Applications must be postmarked by July 11.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, June 18: RUS will hold a webinar on the major eligibility and regulatory requirements for its Community Connect Grant Program, and will provide detailed guidance on how to submit a successful FY 2013 grant application.
  • Tuesday, June 18: The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Thomas Wheeler to Chair the Federal Communications Commission.
  • Wednesday, June 19: The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Regional Consultation Workshop will take place in Boston, MA.