#RuralIsCool Volume 1, Issue 7/January 31, 2019

Romano to Testify Before House Small Business Committee

NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association Senior Vice President of Industry Affairs and Business Development Michael Romano will testify before the U.S. House Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access February 7, 2019.

The hearing, “Exploring Challenges and Opportunities of Underserved Businesses in the 21st Century,” will take place at 10 a.m. ET.

According to the hearing notice, “Diverse and women-owned businesses are among the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. economy. However, these businesses have historically faced significant obstacles in starting a business and accessing affordable capital and procurement opportunities. Regrettably, this remains true despite increased social awareness of the challenges faced by women, minorities, veterans and rural entrepreneurs. This hearing will explore the challenges faced by these traditionally underserved businesses, and what role Congress can play to optimize their success.”

Other witnesses at the hearing will be Marla Bilonick. executive director, Latino Economic Development Center; Sharon Pinder, president and chief executive officer, Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council; and Davy Leghorn, assistant director, American Legion Veterans Employment & Education Division.

Starks, Newly Sworn in as FCC Commissioner, Announces Staff

During the FCC’s open meeting January 30, 2019, Chairman Ajit Pai welcomed Geoffrey Starks, who was sworn in as the newest commissioner.

“I am deeply honored to serve as a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, and I thank the president and the United States Senate for this exceptional privilege,” Starks said upon taking his oath of office.

“As the last few weeks have affirmed, being a public servant is a calling to serve a mission bigger than yourself. Throughout my career, I have focused on protecting the most vulnerable and holding wrongdoers accountable. In my new role, I shall not only continue to pursue those goals, but also look forward to working with Congress, my fellow commissioners, and the FCC’s outstanding staff to serve the public interest by encouraging innovation, competition and security, as well as advancing policies to increase the quality, availability and affordability of our country’s communications services.”

Starks was confirmed as commissioner in early January, at which time NTCA congratulated Starks on his appointment.

Starks also announced his new staff:

  • Daudeline Meme is acting chief of staff and acting legal adviser for Wireless and International.
  • Michael Scurato acting legal adviser for Media and Consumer Protection.
  • Randy Clarke is acting legal adviser for Wireline and Public Safety.
  • Renee Coles is acting confidential assistant.
  • Natalie Martinez is acting staff assistant.

Pai Comments on High-Band 5G Spectrum Auction Upon Its Conclusion

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai commented on the nation’s first auction of high-band spectrum for 5G wireless services upon its conclusion last week.

“The successful conclusion of our nation’s first high-band 5G spectrum auction is a significant step toward maintaining American leadership in 5G. But we can’t afford to rest on our laurels—and won’t. The FCC will continue to aggressively push more spectrum into the commercial marketplace.”

Pai noted that the commission’s 24 GHz auction will “begin soon,” with a further auction of three additional spectrum bands slated for later this year.

“By making more spectrum available, promoting the deployment of wireless infrastructure, and modernizing our regulations—the three components of the FCC’s 5G FAST plan—we’ll ensure that American consumers reap the substantial benefits that will come from the next generation of wireless connectivity,” Pai said.

FCC Moves Up February Open Meeting Date

The FCC on January 29, 2019, released a tentative agenda for its next open meeting, scheduled for February 14, 2019, at 10:30 ET. The agency noted that its funding under a continuing resolution runs only through February 15, so the FCC’s statutorily-required monthly meeting has been moved up from a previously planned date of February 21.

Items on the upcoming meeting agenda originally circulated for the January meeting but were withdrawn due to the lapse in appropriations.

As covered in the January 10, 2019, issue of #RuralisCool, the agenda includes:

  • Transitioning to CAF Phase II Auction Support in Price Cap Areas
  • Elimination of Form 397
  • Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS)
  • Anti-Spoofing Provisions of the RAY BAUM’S Act
  • Licensing Noncommercial Educational Broadcast and Low Power FM Stations

Notes in the News for January 31, 2019

The FCC has revised filing and other deadlines following its resumption of operations. Filings that were due January 3–7, 2019, will now be due on January 30. Filings that were required to be filed January 8–February 7 will be due February 8.

U.S. House Energy & Commerce Chairman Frank J. Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) has announced the vice chairs for the committee’s six subcommittees in the 116th Congress.

The FCC’s auction of 28 GHz flexible use service licenses for next-generation wireless services has closed.

The U.S. House Energy & Commerce and Judiciary Committee leaders have announced a joint hearing on the Sprint/T-Mobile merger, to be held February 13.  

The FCC has rescheduled its next open  meeting for February 14, 2019, and has issued a tentative agenda.

A group of 14 U.S. senators has written to the chairmen of both the FCC and Federal Trade Commission, urging them to investigate the general accessibility and sale of consumer location data.

NTCA member company Pioneer Telephone Cooperative (Kingfisher, Okla.) has signed up as a Data Privacy Day 2019 Champion.

Elections for commercial and cooperative company seats on the 2020 NTCA Board of Directors for the Northwest and Southeast regions will be held this spring. To seek a board position, submit an official NTCA nomination form along with a letter of intent, head shot and bio. The deadline to receive materials is February 8.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has released responses to her call for free robocall blocking tools for consumers.


NTCA Senior Vice President of Industry Affairs and Business Development Michael Romano spoke January 31, 2019, as part of the annual regulatory roundtable at the New York State Telecommunications Association / TANE Issues Forum.

NTCA Director of Government Affairs Michael Daniels will speak on an NRHA panel, “Rebuilding Rural America: Health Care Infrastructure,” February 5 in Washington, D.C.