The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) frequently asks for public input on a wide variety of topics that shape broadband and telecommunications policy. Most commonly the agency uses a Notice of Inquiry (“NOIs”) and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRMs”) to inform the public. 

An NOI is used to gather data and input about a specific issue area. An NPRM is a document that outlines a proposed change in FCC regulation, which can center around a wide range of broadband-related issues. When the FCC issues an NOI or NPRM and it is recorded in the Federal Register, there is an open comment period. That initiates the public’s opportunity to provide input. The FCC prescribes the duration of time.

PUBLIC COMMENTS

Next Century Cities strongly encourages its members, made up of local officials nationwide, to submit comments on topics that affect their communities. Comments may be submitted by an elected official, individual community members, or the municipality as a whole. Each of these voices offer an important perspective. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to file both a traditional comment and an express comment.

  1. Locate the docket number at the top of the NOI or NPRM on which you plan to comment.

2. Follow this link to find the form to submit a comment (or “filing”).

3. Enter the docket number in the “Proceeding(s)” field, including any dashes.

4. Fill out the rest of the form with your information (only name and address are required), and attach your comment in a document at the bottom of the form.

5. Click “continue to review screen.”

6. Review your comment and click “submit.”

EXPRESS COMMENTS

An express comment is a more informal way to make your voice heard at the Commission. Express Comments are filed simply by typing directly into your web browser, and submitting. Use the steps directly below. 

1. Follow this link to find the form to submit an express comment.

2. Enter the docket number in the “proceeding(s)” field, including any dashes (illustrated in step 3 above).

3. Fill out the rest of the form with your information (only name and address are required), and type your comment into the section labeled “Brief Comments.”

4. Click “continue to review screen,” review your information and comments.

5. Click “submit.”

Note that comments are made publicly available on the FCC’s website. If you would like to view submitted comments on a particular proceeding, enter the docket number in this form.

 

EX PARTES

If you are unable to submit a comment, express comment, or reply during the associated comment period, you still have the ability to have your voice heard at the Commission. The public can request meetings with FCC officials, which requires an ex parte. An exparte is a letter summarizing a meeting with Commissioners, staff, or other agency officials. It should generally outline the discussion pertaining to a particular proceeding. To submit an ex parte filing follow the steps below.

1. If the ex parte concerns a docketed proceeding, follow the steps for submitting a traditional filing, however, instead of selecting “comment” in the “Type of Filing” section of the submission form, select “Notice of Ex Parte.”

2. If the ex parte is unrelated to a docketed matter follow this link.

3. Select the proper inbox for the ex parte filing (in most cases this will be inbox 1.41 Miscellaneous). 

4. Fill out the form and submit as you would in submitting a traditional filing.

Local officials that have questions about this process or preparing your comments can contact Ryan Johnston, NCC’s Policy Counsel for Federal Programs, for assistance.