September 8, 2021
By Jessica Rosenworcel | Acting Chairwoman

With wildfires still raging in the American West and Hurricane Ida’s historic devastation from New Orleans to New York, the need for resilient communications infrastructure has never been more apparent. The Commission’s September open meeting will be headlined by a pair of items to make sure vital communications are available when people need them most. Here are the items we will consider on September 30:

  • We’re promoting more resilient networks. Today, the rain has stopped, the winds have subsided, and the storm surge has receded. But Mother Nature’s wrath is sure to visit us again. So are 911 failures and power outages and other threats to network infrastructure. That is why we are fundamentally refreshing our playbook for disaster preparedness and resiliency. We’re starting that effort today by revisiting the Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework, our network outage reporting rules, and strategies to address one of the primary reasons for service disruptions: electric power outages.
  • We’re repurposing airwaves for public safety and 5G. As we upgrade our networks to 5G, we need to bring America’s first responders along, too. So we are revisiting our most recent effort at remaking the 4.9 GHz band and charting a new course. To avoid a state-by-state approach to spectrum policy, we are seeking comment on how to advance the Commission’s original goal to ensure public safety enjoys maximum access to emerging broadband technologies while also increasing overall use of the band through a single, nationwide framework that creates opportunities for 5G.
  • We’re meeting consumer demand for faster, better Wi-Fi. You might have noticed that manufacturers are starting to slip in something new in their spec sheets: Supports Wi-Fi 6. This is the first major update to Wi-Fi in a long time. It means gigabit-plus speeds, more simultaneous connections, and better security. The key to enabling more of these devices is an automated frequency coordination system that will better manage the airwaves in and around your house to deliver the best performance possible without interfering with other spectrum users. We will vote to initiate the process for certifying these systems and speed the deployment of next-generation Wi-Fi.
  • We’re supporting the Internet of Things. The best way to lead in the future of wireless is to prepare for it. That’s true for the future of connected things too—also known as the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things will connect billions of devices and promises to enable innovations ranging from telemedicine to smart transportation networks to precision agriculture. As directed by Congress, we are preparing for this future in the here and now by starting a Notice of Inquiry to better understand the current and future spectrum needs of IoT connectivity.
  • We’re cracking down on the hardest-to-stop robocallers. Eliminating illegal robocalls that originate abroad is one of the most vexing challenges for the Commission. We will consider a proposal to require gateway providers that are the point of entry for foreign calls to use new caller ID authentication tools and perform robocall mitigation.
  • We’re shielding 911 call centers from robocalls. Unwanted robocalls that disrupt dinner are annoying. Unwanted robocalls that tie up public safety phone lines and disrupt emergency services are unacceptable. We will consider a proposal to bolster the Do-Not-Call registry for telephone numbers used by 911 call centers.
  • We’re connecting Tribal libraries. Libraries are a vital source of internet access, but some Tribal libraries have been shut off from E-Rate support because they didn’t meet the technical definition of a library in the Commission’s rules. We will vote on a proposal to fix this problem and to explore other measures to ensure Tribal entities can access the E-Rate program.
  • We’re strengthening the security review of companies with foreign ownership. The Commission will vote to adopt a baseline set of national security and law enforcement questions for certain applicants with reportable foreign ownership. These actions will facilitate foreign investment and the provision of new services and infrastructure in the United States while protecting consumers and promoting national security.

—Jessica