Government Relations Update July 2019
FCC Approves Telehealth Pilot Proposal
On July 10, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted an official Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on a Connected Care Pilot program first proposed in 2018. The NPRM proposes establishing a three-year, $100 million pilot through funding from the Universal Service Fund. The proposal aims to assist health care providers with the costs of broadband service by providing an 85 percent discount on connectivity in order to allow them to expand telehealth services to low-income patients and veterans. The FCC now is seeking comments to shape the substance and parameters of the pilot program.
Senate Commerce Committee Approves Broadband Mapping and 5G Security Bills
On July 24, 2019, the Senate Commerce Committee approved the Broadband Deployment and Accuracy Technological Availability Act (Broadband DATA Act) (S.1822), the Secure 5G and Beyond Act (S.893), and the U.S. 5G Leadership Act (S.1625).
The Broadband DATA Act would require the FCC to collect more “granular” data about broadband coverage, including consideration of data from state, local, and tribal governments, as well as that which is reported by internet service providers (ISPs). The bill also would require all data collected by ISPs to include information on the upload and download speeds made available in reported locations. Finally, the FCC would be required to create a “user-friendly challenge process” for consumers, governments, and other interested parties.
The Secure 5G and Beyond Act would require the president to develop a strategy within six months to ensure the security of 5G networks and infrastructure. The bill directs the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to act as the coordinating body for implementation of the strategy.
The U.S. 5G Leadership Act would direct the government to promote and support the deployment of commercial 5G projects while also sharing information with communications companies on potential security risks to their networks. The bill also would ban companies from incorporating hardware or software from certain foreign companies as well as those that could be subject to direction from foreign governments.
The bills now move to the full Senate for further consideration.