Current 115th Legislation Updates

As the first year closes on the 115th Congress, they are now halfway through their session.  Here is a list of acts and bills related to broadband and telecommunications that the current congress has introduced and/or passed or is in the process of passing.

Current bills that have been introduced and upgraded for the end of November and December include:

S. 2205 – Tribal Connect Act of 2017 – Was introduced to the senate on 12/7/17, sponsored by Senator Heinrich [D-NM], read twice and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs.  The bill was introduced to improve access by Indian tribes to support Schools and Libraries through the Universal Service Support program (E-rate) of the Federal Communications Commission, and for other purposes.

H.R.4506 – Jobs for Tribes Act – Was introduced to the House of Natural Resources, Foreign Affairs, Education and Workforce on 11/30/17 by Representative Torres [D-CA-35].  The bill was introduced to provide incentives to encourage tribal job creation and economic activity, and for other purposes.

H.R. 4679 -Ensuring Equal Access to Treatments Act of 2017 –  has been referred to the house to the committee on Ways and Means and the Energy and Commerce Committee on 12/18/17 by Representative Reed [R-NY].  This was introduced to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for improvements to coverage and payment under the Medicare program for new drugs, devices and technology.

H.R. 4677 – Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information Technology Enhancement Act of 2017 – was introduced to the House to the Committee of Small Business on 12/18/17 by Representative Moulton [D-MA].  The Act was introduced to the house to improve certain programs of the Small Business Administration to better assist small business customers in accessing broadband technology, and for other purposes.

H.R. 4672 – Next Generation 9-1-1 Act of 2017 – was introduced to the house via the committee of energy and commerce, and Science, Space, and Technology bu Representative Eshoo [D-CA] on 12/18/17.  This act will further the deployment of Next Generation 9-1-1 services to enhance and upgrade the Nation’s 9-1-1 systems.

There have been newer and fairly prominent acts that have been introduced in the past couple months.  These include:

H.R. 2870Gigabit Opportunity Act provides tax benefits for investments in gigabit opportunity zones in states.  The zones are enabled by state governors to establish and they aim to incite gigabit broadband deployment through a range of tax breaks.  It will encourage states, counties and cities on a federal level to adopt broadband laws where these zones would apply.  This bill is intended to help bridge the digital gap, especially in rural areas.

S. 1988 – Streamlining Permitting to Enable Efficient Deployment of Broadband Infrastructure Act of 2017 or SPEED Act would permit the processes that impede the quick and efficient deployment of next-generation broadband technologies, including 5G.  The SPEED Act would not impede the state or local government to apply and enforce all zoning and land use regulations on communication providers from established Public Right of Ways (ROW’s).

Below is a running list of proposed legislation that has been circulated in the 115th Congress.  These bills and discussion drafts focus on limiting small obstacles for wireless, expending the Internet of Things (IoT) for businesses growth, creating an inventory of federal assets and facilities related to broadband infrastructure, and improving the quality of rural communication access.  Some of these proposals will be similar to the bills distributed during the 114th Congress and the same language may tend to be reminiscent of those bills.

Some of the bigger and more recent bills passed include:

H.R. 4287 – Broadband Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2017 establishes a broadband infrastructure finance and innovation program to make available loans, loan guarantees, and lines of credit for the construction and deployment of broadband infrastructure.  The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on 11/7/17

H.R. 4291 – Precision Farming Act utilizes loan and loan guarantees under the rural broadband access program to provide broadband service for agricultural producers in order to improve precision farming and ranching, and for other purposes.

H.R. 3776 – Cyber Diplomacy Act of 2017 supports the United States cyber diplomacy to work internationally to promote an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable information and communication infrastructure that supports international trade and commerce.

H.R. 3998 – Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act has been reported to the new Senate under S.102The bill puts forth voluntary policies in Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework to aid consumers, 9-1-1 professionals, first responders and local governments with communication access during emergencies.  It requires FCC to publish a study on public safety benefits, technical feasibility and CTIA’s Business Continuity and Disaster Recover Certification Program.

H.R. 288 – Small Business Broadband Deployment Act which has been introduced to the new Senate under S. 228.  The bill exempts business broadband internet access provider with no more than 250,000 subscribers from the transparency rule of the FCC for five years.  The rule states that any person engaged in provision of broadband internet access service must disclose specific publicly accurate information.

S. 19 – the MOBILE NOW ACT or making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needles Obstacles to Wireless. This legislation bill was passed to increase spectrum availability for next gen gigabit wireless services and foster broadband deployment.

H.R. 460 – Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act was passed to improve the reliability of rural communication and phone networks by setting up service standards or intermediate providers that interconnect rural communications traffic.

H.R. 423 – Spoofing Prevention Act of 2017 which expands the prohibition on misleading information on the source of communications, also known as the act of “spoofing,” to text messaging and improving consumer education about this deception.

H.R. 174- Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2017 bill requires legislation to the FCC to condense duplicative reports on competition in the telecommunications market into one complete report every two years.

H.R. 686 – Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things or DIGIT Act brings together private sector and government entities to assess the needs of the Internet of Things (IoT) and study the readiness of government to support the IoT.

More bills have been introduced to the senate and are currently pending approval:

S. 742 – Community Broadband Act of 2017  bars state, local, or tribal governments from prohibiting government entities from serving as “public providers” of telecommunication services to any person, or public or private entity.

S. 645 – Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband Act of 2017 requires the Bureau of Economic Analyais of the Department of Commerce to submit a report regarding effects on the US economy of deployment and adoption of broadband internet.

S. 604 – Highway Rights-of-Way Permitting Efficiency Act of 2017 requires the Department of Agriculture to establish a program to enter into memoranda of understanding with states to allow for permitting of broadband within an operational right-of-way.

S. 449 – Driving Innovation and Growth in Internet Technology and Launching Universal Access to the Global Economy (Digital Age) Act of 2017 was introduced to the senate to require Department of State to designate communication agencies to represent the United States internationally on foreign policy efforts to promote global universal Internet access.

S. 277 – Rural Telecommunications and broadband Service Act of 2017 was introduced to amend the communications act to establish the FCC a Rural Telecommunications and Broadband Advisory Committee to provide advise the FCC, and define what constitutes rural area and telecommunication access.

These are current bills that have been introduced to the house, the first four addressing the amendment of the Communications Act of 1394:

H.R. 4395 – Geospatial Act of 2017 improves the coordination and use of geospatial data.

H.R. 290 – Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2017 which amends the Communications Act of 1934 to require the FCC to complete a rulemaking proceeding to adopt a multitude of procedures to keep up with the demands of communications and transparency.

H.R. 557 – FCC “ABCs” Act of 2017 also amends the FCC Communications Act in the case of proposed rule that may have an economically significant impact in the cost-benefit analysis demonstrating benefits that outweigh the costs.

H.R. 1324 – Securing IoT Act of 2017 was introduced to the house to also amend the Communications Act to establish cybersecurity standards that radio frequency equipment must meet throughout its lifecycle in order to be certified under FCC’s equipment authorization standards.

H.R. 1581 – Tribal Digital Access of 2017 introduced to amend the Communications Act to extend to Indian reservations and other areas that are in need of telecommunications and information services with better accessibility at reasonable rates.

H.R. 1335 – Cybersecurity Responsibility Act of 2017 requires the FCC to issue cybersecurity rules for communications networks to secure networks through managing, assessing, and prioritizing cyber risks and actions to reduce risks and address treatment of infrastructure information to networks submitted by FCC.

H.R. 600 – Digital Global Access Policy Act of 2017 or the Digital Act states that it is U.S. policy to coordinate with foreign governments, international and regional organizations, businesses and civil society to close the digital gap in developing countries.

H.R. 1591 – WiFi Capable Mobile Devices Act of 2017 introduced to the house to direct the FCC to issue rules to ensure providers of mobile broadband internet access service supported through Lifeline Assistance Program that offer devices that receive WIFI and share service connections with other devices.

H.R. 1868 – Restoring American Privacy Act of 2017 was introduced to make broadband internet access service providers subject to the customer privacy order and rules adopted by the FCC.

H.R. 1340 – Interagency Cybersecurity Cooperation the bill introduces requirements to the FCC to establish the Interagency Communications Security Committee to review security reports on communication networks, recommend investigations, and issue to Congress regular reports of the results of each investigation.

H.R. 800 – New Deal Rural Broadband Act of 2017 bill amends the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 to establish a rural broadband office within the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and authorize new grants and loans for developing broadband in rural, underserved, and tribal areas.   

H.R. 3912 – Move America Act of 2017 is a tax-exempt bonds credit that will be used for certain infrastructure projects, including rural broadband services.  The bill exemplifies exceptions and modifications to existing rules for bonds.

H.R. 3315 – Code Like a Girl bill is to direct the National Science Foundation to award grants to encourage young girls participate in computer sciences and other STEM activities and for other purposes.

H.R. 3994 – ACCESS BROADBAND Act connects with communities that need access to high-speed internet and improved digital inclusion efforts through various forms of outreach and communication techniques

H.R. 1084 – Today’s American Dream Act addresses slow economic growth and spur investment and development and establishes new programs or amends existing programs related to workforce and community underserved communities across America.

H.R. 2356– Managing Your Date Against Telecom Abuses of 2017 or the MY DATA Act of 2017 prohibits providers of Internet broadband services of Internet content, applications, or devices from using unfair or deceptive acts of practices relating to privacy or data security.

H.R. 1139 – Preserving State Commission (PSC) Oversight At of 2017 was introduced to the senate to nullify a FCC regulation that prohibits a state commission from designating Lifeline broadband providers that are eligible to accept government subsidies in exchange for providing discounted internet service to low-income consumers.

H.R. 1546 – Rural Wireless Access Act of 2017 was introduced to the senate to require the FCC to establish a consistent method for its collection of coverage data relating to the availability, speed tiers, and performance characteristics of commercial mobile service or commercial mobile data service.

H.R. 2331 – Connected Government Act requires a new or updated Federal website that is intended to be more mobile friendly for the public and other services.