United States
United States
Institutional details 2016
Name of Authority
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Year created 1934
Legal document that created the authority
The Communications Act of 1934
Reports to Other: It is independent with Congressional oversight and budget control.
Does the Regulatory Authority also regulate other public utilities (e.g. electricity, gas, etc.)?
Is the Regulatory Authority autonomous in its decision making?
Who approves the budget of the Regulator?
Indicate the percentage of budget financed from each source:
Regulatory fees; ; percentage: 100 %
Structure of the Regulator 2016
Name of the Head of the Regulatory Authority:
Tom Wheeler (Chairman)
Is it a collegial body? Yes
Total number of members n/a
Is the Head of the commission also responsible for day to day administrative matters? No
Who appoints the Members/Head?
The President nominates Commissioners, subject to confirmation by the Senate.
Period of appointment (years): n/a
Total number of staff in the Regulatory Authority: 1612
Regulatory Functions 2016
Om R Licensing
The FCC is the primary licensing authority. The FCC accords the appropriate level of deference to the Executive Branch Agencies' expertise on national security and law enforcement issues for transactions involving non-U.S. owned applicants. State regulators also have licensing authority.
Om R Op Interconnection rates
Interconnection agreements – including rates for interconnection services – may be voluntarily negotiated between carriers, subject to approval by state commissions applying FCC standards. Disputes are arbitrated by state commissions (or the FCC should a state commission refuse) applying FCC standards. Reciprocal compensation rates apply to a local exchange carrier's transport and termination of telecommunications services. Unless both parties agree otherwise, these rates are determined by the states applying FCC standards. Access charges, assessed by local carriers on long distance providers, are subject to a uniform, national framework for the transition of intercarrier compensation to bill-and-keep. Interstate access charges are regulated by the FCC and intrastate access charges are regulated by the states within the federal framework.
R Op NR Price Regulation
FCC regulates rates for some interstate services offered by wireline carriers. The states likewise regulate rates for some intrastate wireline services. The rate of the basic cable tier is subject to rate regulation by the Commission.
R Op NR Technical standards settings
Om R Radio frequency allocation
The FCC works in conjunction with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce.
Om R Spectrum monitoring and enforcement
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), located within the Department of Commerce, also has a role in spectrum management: monitoring and enforcement, especially with respect to the Federal use of spectrum.
R Numbering
The Telecom Act of 1996 gives the FCC jurisdiction over the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). We have appointed a NANP administrator, NeuStar, and delegated certain responsibilities to state commissions pursuant to that authority.
R Type approval
Parts 15 and 68 of the FCC's rules involve certification or registration of equipment. For many types of equipment, we allow manufacturer declarations of conformity with the rules. Some equipment - network equipment, for example - is not subject to FCC rules but industry technical requirements apply.
n/a Service quality monitoring
R Universal Service
Eligibility criteria for income eligible consumers vary by state. States may also have their own programs which may have their own criteria.
n/a Quality of service standards
R Enforcement of quality of service obligations
The FCC has granted forbearance from incumbent local exchange carriers’ obligations to report service quality data. State regulators may enforce their state’s service quality standards and reporting obligations.
R Broadcasting
R Broadcasting content
It is a violation of federal law to air obscene programming at any time. It is also a violation of federal law to broadcast indecent or profane programming during certain hours. Congress has given the FCC the responsibility for administratively enforcing the law that governs these types of broadcasts
NR Information technology
n/a Internet content
Key: M - Sector Ministry
R - Regulatory Authority
Om - Other Ministry or Government body
Op - Operator
O - Other
NR - Not regulated
Recent Legislation 2016
2010 The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 ("STELA")
Reauthorizes the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004 (SHVERA) by extending the effectiveness and amending certain provisions in the Communications Act and the Copyright Act. These provisions govern the delivery of distant network-affiliated broadcast television station signals by satellite providers.
2009 The DTV Delay Act
Amends the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 to delay the transition of television broadcasting from analog to digital to June 13, 2009.
2008 NET 911 Improvement Act of 2008
An Act to promote and enhance public safety by facilitating the rapid deployment if IP-enabled 911 and E911 services, encourage the Nation’s transition to a national IP-enabled emergency network, and improve 911 and E911 access to those with disabilities.
2003 Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003
Limitations and penalties on the transmission of unsolicited commercial e-mail via the Internet.
2003 Do-Not-Call Implementation Act
Public Law No. 108-10, to be codified at 15 U.S.C. Sec. 610. For the implementation and enforcement of a "do-not-call" registry.
1999 Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999
Directs the FCC to designate 911 as the universal emergency telephone number within the United States and to encourage and support efforts by states to deploy comprehensive end-to-end emergency communications infrastructure and programs. The Act also provides immunity from liability for certain entities and authorizes telecommunications carriers to provide call location information concerning a user of a commercial mobile service in certain emergency situations.
1996 Telecommunications Act of 1996
This law opens up intrastate and local (intra-city) telecommunications services to competition and sets rules under which incumbent providers of local and intrastate service can begin to offer intrastate and local service.
1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (47 U.S.C. Sec. 101 et. seq.)
To amend title 18, United States Code, to make clear a telecommunications carrier’s duty to cooperate in the interception of communications for law enforcement purposes, and for other purposes.
1992 National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act (47 U.S.C. Sec.901 et. seq.)
To authorize the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and for other purposes.
1992 Telephone disclosure and Dispute Resolution Act (15 U.S.C. Sec. 4701 et. seq.)
This law provides rules for the use of telephone in the provision of information (audiotext) services [the provision administered by the FCC appear as Section 228 of the Communications Act of 1934].

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