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April 10, 2017 by Tom Cohen

Keeping Up with FCC Chairman Pai

Chairman Pai continues to race forward to have the FCC implement his “free-market” and “digital divide” agenda. Let’s tally the score for the past couple of months:

Connect America Fund – Phase II Auctions and Mobility Fund II

Last week, the Chairman followed-up the adoption of new CAF Phase II auction and Mobility Fund II orders by establishing an “Auctions Task Force,” which will implement the auction processes, possibly later this year. The Commission is now receiving comments on the “coverage” and other issues for the Mobility Fund, and there will be a further CAF Phase II auctions procedure notice later this year.

Broadband Privacy

A month ago, the Chairman stayed implementation of a key part of the Broadband Privacy rule – and then supported Congressional action to repeal the entire rule. That Congressional resolution was signed by the President last week. Next up, the Chairman will work with the Federal Trade Commission to put in place a more balanced privacy regime, which will apply equally to all actors in the Internet ecosystem.

Open Internet

The Chairman has made it clear in recent statements he intends to reverse the 2015 Open Internet Order’sreclassification of Internet access service as a telecommunications service – and that he expects to begin the process shortly to do so.

Infrastructure

Last week, the Chairman released drafts of proposals to initiate proceedings (on April 20) to remove barriers to wireline and wireless broadband deployments. You should expect the Chairman to seek to complete these later this year. In addition, the new Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee will meet for the first time on April 24, where the agenda for its projects will be announced.

Business Data Services

Also last week, the Chairman released a draft decision that would effectively deregulate the offering of business data services (with limited exceptions) by incumbent, price cap carriers. The Commission should adopt this order on April 20.

That’s a lot of action in a short time, but the Chairman has lots of “pent-up demand.” So, hang on as this rapid pace of action should continue.