Federal Filings and Ex Parte

NTCA Members Meet with Staff from Chairman Pai and the Wireline Competition Bureau Offices

On October 17, 2019, NTCA Members from West River Telecommunications Cooperative (WRT), Broadband Association of North Dakota and Consortia Consulting, met with staff from Chairman Pai's Office and the Wireline Competition Bureau Office to discuss the Waiver Petition filed by WRT. The group explained WRT's intent to migrate to model-based support and explained such support would enable WRT to provide consumers with access to robust and affordable voice and broadband services.

NTCA Addresses Performance Testing with Staff from Chairman Pai, Commissioner Rosenworcel and Commissioner Starks' Offices

On October 16, 2019, NTCA met with staff from Chairman Ajit Pai, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and Commissioner Geoffrey Starks Office's on Performance Testing. NTCA expressed appreciation for the pre-testing and testing schedule and reiterated its support for the usefulness of network testing. NTCA expressed to the Commission the need to ensure protocols be implemented in ways that are both administratively and economically equitable and efficient.

NTCA Discusses Performance Measurement Testing with Commissioner O'Rielly's Office

On October 11, 2019, Mike Romano and Josh Seidemann of NTCA met with Arielle Roth, Wireline Legal Advisor to Commissioner Michael O'Reilly to discuss Performance Testing. NTCA supported the usefulness of network testing but highlighted the need for ensuring the protocols can be implemented in ways that are both administratively and economically equitable and efficient to rural telecom providers.

NTCA Addresses Performance Measurement Testing with Commissioner Carr's Office

On October 8, 2019, NTCA's Josh Seidemann met with Joseph Calascione of the Office of Commissioner Brendan Carr. NTCA reiterated its support for the usefulness of network testing yest commended the Commission to ensure the protocols can be implemented in ways that are both administratively and economically equitable and efficient.

NTCA Addresses Mapping Accuracy in Reply Comments to FCC

On October 7, 2019, NTCA filed Reply Comments on Establishing the Digital Opportunity Data Collection and Modernizing the FCC Form 477 Data Program proceedings. NTCA highlighted support of mapping accuracy through common technical standards which include data to spot inaccuracies and that offers a robust challenge validation process to refine baseline mapping data prior to its use in any policy or funding decisions.

NTCA Discusses Lifeline Reform with the FCC Wireline Competition Bureau

On October 7, 2019, Mike Romano and Tamber Ray of NTCA met with staff from the FCC Wireline Competition Bureau to discuss changes to the Lifeline Link Up program. NTCA supported the notion of Lifeline customers having the same choices as all consumers when it comes to voice and broadband services but expressed concerns that any changes to the program should be driven by customer choice rather than regulatory mandate. NTCA noted the Commission's prescribed minimum service may force consumers to upgrade to a higher speed tier than they may need, want, or have the ability to afford and could have the potential for the consumer to cease buying broadband altogether which is counter to the benefits of the Lifeline Link Up Program.

NTCA and Partners Join the Rural Wireless Association to File a Supplement Petition to Deny in Sprint-TMobile Merger

On October 3, 2019, NTCA and partners joined the Rural Wireless Association to file a Supplement to Petition to Deny in the Matter of the Sprint-TMobile merger. The filing asked the Commission to pause its review of the merger while important issues related to Sprint's apparent Lifeline fraud are more fully investigated by the Commission. The partners also urged the Commission to seek public comment on the DISH waiver requests.

NTCA Files Reply Comments on the FCC's Telehealth Pilot Program

On September 30, 2019, NTCA filed reply comments on the Commission's proposal to create a pilot program that would provide funding to health care providers to defray the cost of providing telehealth services to low-income Americans and veterans. NTCA recommended the Commission coordinate the award of Pilot funds with health care agencies to ensure the funds are used most effectively and supported limiting the Pilot program to rural areas. NTCA noted concerns that the Pilot funds should not be used to build, maintain or operate duplicative broadband networks that are already receiving universal service funding.

NTCA Comments on Digital Opportunity Data Collection

On September 23, 2019, NTCA filed comments in the Digital Opportunity Data Collection proceeding. NTCA encouraged the Commission to ensure consistency in reporting by prescribing common technical standards for reporting broadband availability. NTCA mentioned policy should include a robust challenge validation process that is a critical part of refining baseline mapping data prior to its use in any policy or funding decision.