As we go into late August, it’s worth looking ahead to the key communications decisions that are likely to be made during the rest of the year.
First up may be the federal Court of Appeals’ ruling on the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order. Will the court uphold the FCC’s action repealing the 2015 open internet regulatory regime and requiring only compliance with the Transparency Rule? If it doesn’t, will the FCC quickly revisit its decision or appeal to the Supreme Court?
We also should see the FCC issue – possibly within the next month or so -- an order revising its Performance Testing Measures Order, which it adopted a year ago but then decided to delay implementing because of the many requests to amend the order. The FCC is aiming for testing to begin in the first quarter of 2020.
And, in December, the FCC appears headed towards adopting an order in the proceeding to reallocate C-Band spectrum, which video distributors use to receive satellite-delivered programming and which mobile providers want to access for 5G service. A potential key offshoot of this reallocation is that the FCC may use auction proceeds to fund a nationwide terrestrial (fiber) video programming network, which could greatly benefit rural video and broadband providers.
Also, in December (but maybe a short time thereafter), the FCC should adopt rules for the $20B Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. Comments in this proceeding will be filed in September and October, and Chairman Pai would like to hold the auction for the first phase later in 2020.
As for the RUS, the application windows for ReConnect support closed last month, and we expect to see the RUS to begin making awards later this year.
Finally, Congress will have to deal with the satellite program carriage legislation, STELAR, which expires at the end of the year and which may be a vehicle for some reforms to the retransmission consent law.
Of course, there’s much more (e.g., review of the T-Mobile/Sprint consent decree by the federal district court and the states’ lawsuit to block the merger) – and we’ll discuss all these events in future postings.
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