The FCC on Wednesday said it will drop several action items from its Thursday agenda, including Universal Service reform, roaming obligations, classification of Voice-over-LTE services, and Business Data services.
Prior to Wednesday’s note, it appeared the FCC would be able to follow through on Chairman Tom Wheeler’s promise to tackle funding for the second phase of the Mobility Fund, a commercial roaming framework, and an update to Business Data Services regulations by the end of this year. Thursday’s meeting is expected to be one of the last with Wheeler at the helm, as many anticipate the chairman will depart after President-elect Trump is sworn in on January 20.
Though the FCC did not give a reason for the agenda change, the decision not to act on these measures may stem from concerns that items passed in a 3-2 vote weighted in Democrat’s favor now might easily be overturned by the incoming Republican regime.
“A Democratic FCC can pass them…but (the rules) only go into effect when they’re published in the national register,” Recon Analytics’ Roger Entner explained recently. “If there is a majority Republican FCC, they can very easily say ‘on reconsideration we’re not going to do this.’”
The shift also comes one day after the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to Wheeler urging the Commission to focus its efforts on the completion of the ongoing incentive auction during the presidential transition.
“The most important challenge for the Commission over the next ten weeks is to ensure a successful broadcast incentive auction,” Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden wrote. “As Rep. Henry Waxman and Senator Jay Rockefeller noted during the 2008 Presidential transition, it would be counterproductive for the FCC to consider complex and controversial items that the new Congress and new Administration will have an interest in reviewing.”
The letter went on to stress the FCC should concentrate only on “matters that require action under the law and efforts to foster the success of the broadcast incentive auction.”
Judging from Wednesday’s sudden agenda change – less than 24 hours ahead of tomorrow’s meeting – it appears Wheeler got the message loud and clear.
Filed Under: Industry regulations