If its start is any indication, 2022 is going to be a busy and productive year at the FCC. We brought in New Year’s Day with the launch of the Affordable Connectivity Program—a historic $14.2 billion initiative to help millions of Americans pay for internet service—and a lot of snow in the DC area. Today, we are announcing a robust agenda for our January open meeting. Here’s what we’ve got lined up for later this month.
- We’re arming consumers with more information to help pick their broadband provider. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act established the aforementioned Affordable Connectivity Program, but that wasn’t the law’s only major provision to make broadband affordable. It also called for new transparency in the broadband marketplace to make sure consumers know what they’re paying for and to increase incentives for carriers to compete on price and service. As directed by the new law, the Commission will consider a proposal to establish simple-to-understand broadband labels, whereby internet providers would disclose accurate information about prices, introductory rates, data allowances, and broadband speeds.
- We’re connecting Tribal libraries. Libraries are a vital source of internet access, but, for too long, 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 an Order to fix this problem and help get more support for broadband in Tribal communities.
- We’re updating our political programming and record-keeping rules. The FCC has political programming and recordkeeping rules that have not been formally updated to reflect the realities of the digital age. This past August, we initiated a review of these rules for broadcast licensees, cable operators, and satellite providers, and we will be voting on updated rules that are designed to comply with statutory requirements and account for modern campaign practices.
- We’re facilitating better use of “white space” spectrum. White space devices operate in the unlicensed airwaves between broadcast TV channels and can deliver valuable wireless services such as broadband data to rural areas. The Commission will vote to simplify our rules and provide additional regulatory certainty to white space device users, manufacturers, and database administrators. This will enable unlicensed white space devices to operate more efficiently and effectively, while protecting wireless microphone users and others from harmful interference.
- We’re modernizing our equipment authorization rules. The FCC does its best to harmonize our equipment authorization rules with international and industry-developed standards. To keep pace with rapidly evolving technology developments, we will consider targeted updates to our rules to incorporate newly adopted standards for the testing of equipment and the accreditation of laboratories that test wireless devices.
- We will consider an adjudicatory matter from the Media Bureau.
- We will consider a national security item.
- We will consider an item from our Enforcement Bureau.