February 22, 2023

We are a little under three weeks away from revealing the winners of this year’s Academy Awards, but you don’t have to wait to find out what the Commission has lined up for our Open Meeting just days after the Oscars. Here’s what to expect at our March meeting.

  • We’re harnessing the power of satellites to enhance mobile phone operations. Wireless carriers have increasingly begun collaborating with satellite operators to make sure smartphone users stay connected even in areas where there is no terrestrial mobile service. This connectivity can help facilitate life-saving rescues in remote locations and the innovative opportunities it presents will only grow. To support the expansion and evolution of new interoperable services, the Commission will, for the first time, propose a framework for increased collaboration between terrestrial mobile network operators and satellite service providers.
  • We’re bringing common sense and fairness to prison phone rates. The Commission’s long-running efforts to provide relief for families of incarcerated people forced to pay exorbitant and unreasonable telephone rates got a major boost last month when the President signed the bipartisan Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act. The new law closes a long-standing loophole and gives the Commission authority to combat unfair rates for calls within a state’s borders. The Commission will vote this March to begin the process of implementing this law and making it easier for families to stay connected.
  • We’re tightening the vise on illegal robocallers. Combatting illegal robocallers requires constant vigilance and consistently reviewing our protections to identify and close gaps in our defenses. In three weeks, the Commission will consider a number of new rules to improve the STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication framework. Notably, the proposed rules would require intermediate phone providers to authenticate certain calls, in addition to expanding robocall mitigation requirements for all providers and adopting more robust enforcement tools.
  • We’re protecting consumers from text messaging scams. Unwanted robotexts from invalid phone numbers have become a persistent, growing threat to consumers. The Commission will be voting to finalize its first-ever rules to focus specifically on scam texts. If adopted, the new rules would require mobile service providers to block robotext messages that are highly likely to be illegal. Looking to the future, we would also seek comment on expanding robotext-blocking initiatives.
  • We’re updating our equipment testing standards. The Commission’s equipment authorization program ensures that the communications equipment we all rely on operates effectively without causing harmful interference and complies with the Commission’s rules. The Commission will consider targeted updates to our rules to incorporate four new and updated standards that are integral to equipment testing to harmonize our rules with significant developments in the standards-setting community.
  • We’re making video programming more accessible. Audio description makes video programming more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired by inserting narrated descriptions of a television program’s key visual elements during natural pauses in the program’s dialogue. The Commission has already adopted audio description requirements for broadcast TV stations in the top 100 of 210 markets. We will seek comment expanding audio description to all remaining broadcast markets and seek comment on whether the costs of further expansion would be reasonable.
  • We will also consider two items from our Enforcement Bureau.