The FCC Wireline Competition Bureau is allowing rural price cap carriers to wave certain fees in an effort to moderate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fees include those for late payment, installation and cancellations for consumers signing up for or switching DSL providers. The goal of the FCC DSL fees action is to facilitate tele-work and remote learning.

“We need to remove regulatory hurdles wherever we can to help consumers stay connected during this national emergency,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a press release.  “With these waivers of our tariffing rules, we’re doing exactly that.  I’m glad to enable these rate-of-return carriers to waive late payment fees and allow consumers to purchase and cancel DSL service without having to pay installation and termination fees.  We hope that this relief will help keep rural Americans connected during the coronavirus pandemic.”

The Wireline Competition Bureau enabled the waivers through its approval of requests from the National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA) and John Staurulakis Inc. (JSI). The organizations asked for the waivers to give them the flexibility that would enable them to quickly meet the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected campaign.

The FCC has implemented a series of steps since the pandemic hit, including but not limited to:

  • Establishing the “Keep America Connected” pledge that asks carriers to boost speeds, lower costs, delay disconnects, offer billing relief and offer free WiFi.
  • Temporarily waiving some Lifeline program rules. The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau adjusted (until September 30) the Rural Health Care (RHC) and E-Rate programs to more effectively support telemedicine and remote learning.
  • Relaxing high-cost Universal Service Fund rules to give competitive eligible telecommunications carriers (CETCs) greater flexibility in in use of the high-cost USF.
  • Allowing cellular carriers to temporarily borrow spectrum from each other in ways that enables the networks to meet increasing demand.

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