May 26, 2021
This weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. While school is letting out and long-postponed vacations are getting underway, the FCC is still hard at work, and I am pleased to announce a packed agenda for our June meeting. Here’s what you can expect.
- We’re expanding the Commission’s efforts to secure the nation’s communications networks beyond the agency’s universal service programs. The FCC must do all it can within its legal authority to address national security threats. So we are starting a proceeding to explore how we can update our equipment authorization rules and competitive bidding procedures to help keep insecure devices off the market. We will be voting on a plan to prevent authorizations of equipment that pose a significant threat to national security or to the safety of U.S. persons and to require additional national security certifications from applications who wish to participate in FCC auctions. We are also asking questions about how to create incentives for device manufacturers to adopt better cybersecurity processes.
- We’re speeding the development of new technologies. While we take action to limit the presence of insecure equipment in the market, we also are taking action to help speed the way for trustworthy innovation that will help advance U.S. leadership. The FCC’s equipment authorization program helps to make sure that the latest smartphones, laptops, and other gadgets work as intended and don’t create harmful interference. To help our review process keep pace with the rate of innovation, we will vote on rules to expand opportunities to import, market, and conditionally sell radiofrequency equipment, including mobile devices, prior to the equipment completing the equipment authorization process. The new rules would allow manufacturers to gauge consumer interest for new products and take advantage of new mechanisms for marketing devices, like crowdfunding, while still ensuring that the important goals of the equipment authorization system and security are not undermined.
- We’re improving emergency alerting. During natural disasters and other emergencies, a few moments of advanced warning can make all the difference. The Commission will be voting on rules to expand FEMA’s ability to send Wireless Emergency Alerts that disseminate important information during national emergencies, to improve emergency communications organization and planning at the state level, and to enable new reporting for false alerts.
- We’re cracking down again on unwanted robocalls. Our fight against robocalls continues with another step to help provide relief from unwanted robocalls. Consistent with the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act), we will vote to adopt a streamlined process that will allow private entities (e.g., hospitals and other institutions) to alert the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau about suspected unlawful robocalls and spoofed Caller ID attempts.
- We’re expanding access to telehealth services in the home. The Commission has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to expand the capacity of hospitals and community health centers to provide telehealth services. Our Connected Care Pilot Program supports telehealth services delivered directly to patients outside of traditional medical facilities—including the home. This June, we will vote on an order to provide guidance to selected applicants on eligible services, competitive bidding, invoicing, and data reporting.
- We’re exploring spectrum options for the fishing industry. Ships and shore stations currently rely on a maritime navigation system called Automatic Identification System (AIS) to monitor and track ships and exchange safety-related information. Congress has asked the Commission to explore whether we can safely authorize devices used to mark fishing equipment for use on AIS channels while maintaining the core purpose of these channels to prevent maritime accidents. The Commission will answer Congress’s call by considering an item that seeks comment on this issue in addition to alternative spectrum options for devices used to mark fishing equipment.
- We’re addressing diverse, local voices in the media. Last year, the Commission modified the low power FM (LPFM) engineering rules to improve LPFM reception and options for station relocation while maintaining core LPFM goals of simplicity, diversity, and localism. This June, we will address two petitions seeking reconsideration of those rule changes, which will provide clarity and finality to these rules, bringing us one step closer to opening an application window for new LPFM stations.
- We will wrap up our June meeting with an item from our Enforcement Bureau.