Telecommunications

Updated August 8, 2023.  Originally posted May 1, 2023.

Last week, comment deadlines were announced for a Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that could have significant compliance implications for all holders of international Section 214 authority (i.e., authorization to provide telecommunications services from points in the U.S. to points abroad).  The rule changes on which the FCC seeks comment are far-reaching and, if adopted as written, could result in significant future compliance burdens, both for entities holding international Section 214 authority, as well as the parties holding ownership interests in these entities.  Comments on these rule changes are due Thursday, August 31, with reply comments due October 2.Continue Reading Comments Due August 31 on FCC’s Proposal to Step Up Review of Foreign Ownership in Telecom Carriers and Establish Cybersecurity Requirements

On June 26, 2023, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) announced how it has allocated funding from the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (“BEAD”) program to all U.S. States, the District of Columbia, and five territories to deploy affordable, reliable high-speed Internet service.  Marking the occasion in a White House ceremony, President Biden declared that this investment will “connect everyone in America to [affordable] high-speed Internet. . . by 2030.”

By way of background, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”) became law in 2021 and directed NTIA to oversee distribution of the single greatest public investment in broadband in U.S. history.  The cornerstone of that investment is the BEAD program, which we detailed here.  In 2022, the NTIA released its Notice of Funding Opportunity (“NOFO”) for the BEAD program, marking the beginning of the program’s implementation, which we detailed here

According to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, the announced investments will increase competitiveness and spur economic growth by “connecting people to the digital economy, manufacturing fiber-optic cable in America, or creating good paying jobs building Internet infrastructure in the states.”  The NTIA announcement states that BEAD funding will be used to “deploy or upgrade broadband networks to ensure that everyone has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed Internet service.”  After meeting deployment goals, any remaining funds “can be used to pursue eligible access-, adoption-, and equity-related uses.”

The BEAD program is different from past federal broadband investments in that it will be administered by the States, D.C., and the five territories (each referred to as an “Eligible Entity”), with each jurisdiction running its own competitive process for determining the specific projects to be funded.  Under the IIJA, each Eligible Entity will have until the end of this year to submit an “initial proposal,” which will be a detailed roadmap explaining how they intend to run their grant programs in a manner consistent with the requirements of the IIJA and NTIA’s NOFO.  After approval of this initial proposal, an Eligible Entity can request access to at least 20 percent of its allocated funds. Continue Reading Biden Administration Presses Forward with $42.5 Billion Broadband Program

Today, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released its first Notice of Funding Opportunity for development of next-generation wireless infrastructure under the new Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund (“Innovation Fund”).  According to NTIA’s announcement, this first tranche of funding will include up to $140.5 million in grants, ranging from $250,000 to $50 million, specifically to support expanded testing and evaluation of the performance, security, or interoperability of open, interoperable (“open-RAN”) wireless networks.  Companies (both for- and nonprofit), higher education institutions, industry groups, and consortia of multiple organizations are eligible to apply.Continue Reading Commerce Department Issues First Funding Notice for Wireless Innovation Fund

Updated April 12, 2023. Originally posted March 23, 2023.

In March, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that seeks public comment on a proposed licensing framework that would enable multiple satellite operators to supplement the network coverage of terrestrial wireless service providers.  Termed “Supplemental Coverage from Space” (SCS), this service would authorize certain satellite systems to use spectrum licensed to a terrestrial network provider partner to provide expanded coverage to the provider’s wireless customers, even in remote areas. Comments on the NPRM, which appeared in today’s Federal Register, are due Friday, May 12, with reply comments due the following month, on Monday, June 12.Continue Reading FCC Seeks Comment on “Supplemental Coverage from Space” Rules, Responding to Growing Trend towards Partnerships between Satellite Operators and Wireless Network Providers

Yesterday, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) issued a Request for Comment that seeks input on a “National Spectrum Strategy,” which would include a plan to study federal spectrum usage to identify spectrum that could be reallocated or repurposed to commercial or shared federal/commercial use. This National Spectrum Strategy also would include a process for identifying the spectrum bands best suited for repurposing (a “Spectrum Pipeline”).  NTIA seeks input in creating a Spectrum Pipeline for the next decade, with the goal of identifying at least 1,500 megahertz of spectrum to study for potential repurposing to meet the future requirements of both commercial and federal users.  Continue Reading NTIA Seeks Public Comment on the Development of a National Spectrum Strategy and Spectrum-Sharing “Pipeline”

Last week, Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that she expects to circulate a proposal shortly that will authorize the FCC and/or certain national security agencies to periodically evaluate the foreign ownership of FCC licensees in light of national security considerations.  She made this announcement in a speech that focused on

In the final days of 2022, President Biden signed into law the “Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act”.  The Act recognizes that current encryption protocols used by the federal government might one day be vulnerable to compromise as a result of quantum computing, which could allow adversaries of the United States to steal sensitive encrypted data.  To address these concerns, the Act will require an inventory and prioritization of vulnerable information technology in use by federal agencies; a plan to migrate existing information technology systems; and reports to Congress on the progress of the migration and funding required. Continue Reading President Biden Signs Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act

On November 25, 2022, the FCC effectively banned certain Chinese telecom and video surveillance devices from the U.S. market – demonstrating the power of its authority over virtually all electronics equipment, which until last week’s decision had been exercised only to address technical, scientific and engineering concerns. With Congressional backing, the FCC now has established

This quarterly update summarizes key legislative and regulatory developments in the third quarter of 2022 related to Artificial Intelligence (“AI”), the Internet of Things (“IoT”), connected and autonomous vehicles (“CAVs”), and data privacy and cybersecurity. 

This quarter, Congress has continued to focus on the American Data Privacy Protection Act (“ADPPA”) (H.R. 8152), which

On January 27, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that would require internet service providers (“ISPs”) to display labels disclosing certain service information, including prices, introductory rates, data allowances, broadband speeds, and network management practices.  Notably, the NPRM proposes to adopt—with some modifications—the labels developed by an advisory committee and published by the Commission in a 2016 Public Notice.
Continue Reading FCC Proposes to Require Broadband “Nutrition Labels”; Comments Due March 9