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FCC takes additional steps to help during COVID-19

posted Mar 18, 2020, 12:37 PM by IT Admin
March 18, 2020 - The FCC has taken additional steps to keep Americans connected to communications services as we all grapple with the novel coronavirus outbreak. 
  • Chairman Pai urged Internet and phone providers to take actions that go beyond the three pillars of the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, and many have heeded this call, including by increasing speeds, lifting data caps, and offering 60 days or more of free service for students and low-income households. Pai tweeted his appreciation here. For more information, see our press release (also pasted below my signature). It is not an exhaustive list, but should help give you an idea of the additional steps providers are taking.
  • Today, the FCC waived gift rules in the Rural Health Care and E-Rate programs to make it easier for broadband providers to support telehealth and remote learning efforts during the pandemic. This will allow service providers to offer, and for program participants to solicit and accept, improved connections or additional equipment for telemedicine or remote learning.
  • Yesterday, the FCC granted U.S. cellular temporary access to additional spectrum to help meet the increased demand for mobile broadband during the pandemic. This will provide additional capacity to U.S. Cellular customers in parts of California, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin. This follows a similar effort by T-Mobile previously announced. The FCC also waived certain recertification and reverification requirements in the Lifeline program for 60 days. These changes will help consumers stay connected to affordable communications services by easing burdens both on Lifeline subscribers and Lifeline carriers.
  • The Chairman on Monday held a conference call with radio and television broadcasters to commend their coronavirus response and call for further action. Specifically, the Chairman urged broadcasters to work with cable and satellite video operators to avoid blackouts and service disruptions over the next 60 days, such as by agreeing to short-term extensions of expiring retransmission consent agreements. The FCC will also provide broadcasters with flexibility in the inventive auction repack to address disruptions.