• Congressional Action on Telecom Bills
  • March 8, 2017 | Author: C. Douglas Jarrett
  • Law Firm: Keller and Heckman LLP - Washington Office
  • Last week, both Chambers of Congress acted on telecommunications legislation. On Monday, the House passed seven telecom-related bills: the Federal Communications Process Reform Act, the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act, the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2017, the Securing Networks in Disaster Act, the Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act, the Federal Anti-Spoofing Act and the Kari’s Law Act. 

    On Tuesday, the Senate Commerce Committee approved a package of bills that had been considered last Congress for full Senate consideration, including the MOBILE Now Act and a number of bills similar to those passed in the House. Chairman Thune stated his goals for this Congress include promoting broadband and wireless deployment, modernizing the FCC, and enacting clear and reasonable open Internet rules, presumably to scale-back many aspects of the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order.

    Kari’s Law was among the bills passed by the House and voted out by the Senate Commerce Committee last week. This legislation requires all MLTS systems be configured to enable users to dial “9-1-1” to reach the local PSAP, as opposed to dialing “9+9-1-1.” Kari’s law is named after a young woman who tried numerous times unsuccessfully to dial 9-1-1 from a hotel room, but could not do so because of having to dial “9” to access the PSTN and the local PSAP. Assuming this legislation is approved by the Senate and becomes law, many companies—large and small—may have to modify or replace in-service MLTS systems to enable three-digit emergency calls.