Over the past few weeks, FCC staff have been working closely with local, state, and federal partners to support the speedy restoration of communications services that were knocked out by Hurricanes Fiona and Ian. Some of the communities hit by Hurricane Fiona were the same ones I visited in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island’s communications infrastructure in 2017. The Commission’s October meeting will be headlined by a proposal to support broadband networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that are resilient enough to withstand the next big storm and others that follow. Here’s everything we have lined up for our October meeting:
- We’re supporting storm-resistant networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. After Hurricane Maria destroyed large parts of the communications infrastructure of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Commission established the Bringing Puerto Rico Together Fund and the Connect USVI Fund to restore, harden, and expand communications networks on the islands. Some of this support is scheduled to end starting in June 2023. The Commission will consider a plan to both extend this support and create new conditions to make sure the islands’ networks can withstand storm damage and have redundant capabilities.
- We’re teeing up more mid-band spectrum for next-generation wireless services. Mid-band airwaves have the mix of coverage and capacity that is essential for the widespread deployment of 5G service. We will be voting on a Notice of Inquiry to explore repurposing spectrum in the 12.7 -13.25 GHz band for next-generation wireless technologies. This could be up to 550 megahertz of new mid-band spectrum for 5G and beyond.
- We’re closing gaps in our defenses against illegal robocalls. The STIR/SHAKEN caller authentication framework combats illegally spoofed robocalls by allowing voice service providers to verify that the caller ID information transmitted with a call matches the caller’s number. But STIR/SHAKEN has only been implemented in the Internet Protocol (IP) portions of our networks, which means voice providers with non-IP network technology can’t necessarily verify that callers are who they claim to be. The Commission will consider a proposal to explore how best to achieve ubiquitous implementation of STIR/SHAKEN call authentication throughout our networks.
- We’re making the nation’s alerting systems more secure. Over the years, the FCC has encouraged radio stations, television providers, and wireless service providers to take steps to ensure their emergency alerting systems are secure. While the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are strong, we must remain vigilant and proactive to ensure they remain so. To that end, the Commission will vote on a proposal to strengthen the operational readiness of EAS and WEA, including by reducing the vulnerability of these systems to cyberattacks.
- We will consider an adjudicatory matter from our Media Bureau.