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ECIP Proposed

FCC Meeting to Include Item Leveraging Lifeline, ACP for Domestic and Sexual Violence Survivors

​​​​​​The FCC will consider how to leverage Lifeline and the affordable connectivity program to better support survivors of domestic and sexual violence, Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said Wednesday, previewing the commissioners' July 14 meeting agenda. Survivors of domestic and sexual violence "uniquely rely on access to private communications" and face "unique challenges securing reliable phone and internet service," Rosenworcel wrote: The item under consideration will look to "ensure that survivors are able to communicate safely with abuse hotlines and shelters."

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Rosenworcel also proposed the launch of an enhanced competition incentive program (ECIP). Commissioners agreed last year to seek comment on an ECIP (see 2203010062). Experts had predicted action this summer (see 2203310036)

The FCC proposed a five-year extension of license terms for a qualifying transaction, a one-year extension of construction deadlines when a license is partitioned, and “alternate construction requirements for partition and disaggregation in rural-focused transactions.” Legislation aimed at providing incentives for larger carriers to make their unused spectrum available to smaller rural providers was folded into the Mobile Now Act, enacted in 2018

Some wireless providers have access to airwaves that others might be better positioned to deploy,” Rosenworcel said. ECIP will “create new incentives for wireless licensees to make underutilized spectrum available to small carriers, Tribal Nations, or any carrier in rural areas,” she said.

Commissioners will consider an item to "clarify ambiguities" in the agency's 2019 rules combating access arbitrage. "For too long, unscrupulous carriers have exploited the FCC’s system of intercarrier compensation by inflating traffic volumes to maximize access charge revenues," Rosenworcel wrote. Some carriers have been able to evade FCC rules "by using IP-enabled services to drive up traffic and charges."

The agency will also vote on two items updating broadcast rules. Nielsen phased out its Station Index Directory, which is referenced in FCC rules on determining a TV station’s local market for MVPD carriage, said the chairwoman’s post Wednesday. The FCC “will vote to begin the process of updating our rules to refer to a new publication for determining market areas,” Rosenworcel wrote. “We’re matching media rules with new market realities.” The agency will vote on an item on doing away with outdated Part 74 rules for analog low-power TV stations. “We are also working on a similar action for our full-power TV rules to be considered later this year,” said Rosenworcel. The item concerns rules that “have no practical effect in our fully digital world,” said the post.