On November 1, 2023, the FCC released the Seventeenth Section 706 Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) seeking comment on the availability of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans, pursuant to Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and proposing new speed benchmarks and standards for availability. You may recall that Section 706 requires the FCC to annually conduct an inquiry “concerning the availability of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans (including, in particular, elementary and secondary schools and classrooms)” as part of an effort to “determine whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.” If the determination is negative, the Commission is required to take immediate action to accelerate deployment by removing barriers to infrastructure investment and promoting competition in the marketplace.
In the NOI, the FCC seeks comment on:
- A proposed statutory standard for the section 706 inquiry.
- A proposed fixed broadband speed benchmark of 100/20 Mbps, with a long-term fixed broadband speed goal of 1,000 Mbps, or 1 gigabit per second download speed paired with 500 Mbps upload speed. The FCC seeks comment on this proposal, on the data the FCC should examine when determining the speed benchmark, and other service quality factors that should be included in its consideration (e.g. latency), among other things.
- Whether to adopt a speed benchmark for mobile services and if so, what the benchmark should be. The Commission seeks comment on the data it should consider when determining the benchmark and whether it should include service quality.
- Whether to include an assessment of the number of fixed and mobile broadband provider options to which consumers have access.
- The extent of substitutability between fixed and mobile service.
- The FCC’s proposed universal service goals for broadband: deployment, affordability, adoption, availability, and equitable access. The FCC seeks comment on how to define the goals, how they can be evaluated, and what data is available to assess each goal.
- The next section 706 finding and how its analysis of the universal service goals should inform the Commission’s finding.
Comments are due on or before December 1, 2023.
Reply comments are due on or before December 18, 2023.
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