3GPP Releases Guidance on 5G Labeling

On February 7, 2017, the Organizational Partners of the 3rd Generation Partnership (3GPP), a leading mobile standards body, released a new logo for use with products based on 5G specifications.  According to 3GPP, the logo will be available throughout various phases of development of 5G up through 2020, when the standard is scheduled for completion.

The 3GPP Organizational Partners are in agreement that the Project’s name and logos may be made available for use by manufacturers and service providers on a purely voluntary basis to declare that their products are based on the Project’s specifications.  In conjunction with release of the logo, 3GPP provides the terms of use and how to apply for permission to use its 5G logo:  http://www.3gpp.org/about-3gpp/legal-matters/logo-use.

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FCC Strips Enforcement Bureau of Authority to Settle Commission-Level Actions

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau will no longer have the power to settle monetary enforcement actions originally issued by the Commission under a process reform announced by Chairman Pai on Wednesday.  Settlements of forfeitures proposed or imposed by the Commission will now be subject to a full Commission vote, as was the NAL that initiated the action.  The announcement clarified previously unsettled issues regarding the Enforcement Bureau’s delegated authority, which Chairman Pai said resulted in major settlements with little to no Commissioner input.

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Chairman Pai Launches Rollback of Recent FCC Actions

*J. Bradford Currier co-authored this post.

The FCC retracted actions related to net neutrality, network security, media ownership, and other hot-topic issues in a series of orders issued late Friday. The orders represent the first major salvo in Chairman Pai’s promised rollback of actions undertaken during the final days of former Chairman Wheeler’s tenure. Chairman Pai called the overturned actions examples of “midnight regulations” that were not supported by the new Republican-majority FCC. The action signals a significant pivot in the approach and substantive priorities following the change in Presidential administrations.

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Client Advisory: CTIA’s Messaging Principles and Best Practices

01_CFE_12_05_11_NASAOn January 19, 2017, CTIA issued a new guidance document developed by industry stakeholders with voluntary best practices for businesses that participate in the wireless messaging ecosystem entitled “Messaging Principles and Best Practices,” (Messaging Best Practices). The Messaging Best Practices present a revised approach to wireless messaging, replacing the previous SMS and MMS Interoperability Guidelines with “a broader, simpler and less technical set of recommendations that reflect an evolving wireless messaging ecosystem.” Continue Reading

FCC Chairman Pai Announces Creation of a Broadband Deployment Advisory Council

iStock_000006131068MediumFederal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) Chairman Ajit Pai marked his first open meeting as Chairman by announcing a new Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (Committee), which is intended to advise the FCC on accelerating the deployment of high-speed internet access in communities across the country.  Designed to make recommendations to reduce and remove regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment, the Committee will develop specific reforms to the FCC’s pole attachment rules, identifying unreasonable regulatory barriers to broadband deployment, ways to encourage local governments to adopt deployment-friendly policies, and other reforms within the Commission’s authority, including provisions under the Middle Class Tax Cut and Job Relief Act of 2012. Continue Reading

The Month in FCC Enforcement: The Midnight Ride of Travis LeBlanc

Significant changes in FCC enforcement personnel and practices are expected after the inauguration of President Trump. This installment of Steve Augustino’s FCC Enforcement series on Kelley Drye’s Full Spectrum podcast chronicles the last actions of the FCC Enforcement Bureau led by Travis LeBlanc.

Steve’s FCC Enforcement series regularly examines developments and trends in FCC enforcement. This episode discusses cases from November 2016 through the beginning of January 2017.

To listen to this episode, please click here.

Don’t Miss Kelley Drye’s 8th Annual USF Update Webinar on February 23, 2017 at 12 PM ET

Kelley Drye is proud to present our 8th Annual Update on federal Universal Service Fund (USF) activities.  This one-of-a-kind webinar provides an in-depth discussion of trends and legal implications involving the Universal Service Fund, from contributions, to the four support funds, as well as audits and enforcement.  This educational event is intended to help attorneys and any communications provider understand and thrive in this space.

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FCC Chairman Pai Offers Ideas for “Aggressive Action” on TCPA Issues

To close out his first week as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai spoke briefly at a meeting of the FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee on Friday, January 27, 2017 and made clear that one of his priorities will be to address “robocalls,” which are the number one source of complaints to the FCC.  However, we expect that his methods will be much different than those employed during Chairman Wheeler’s tenure.

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Pai FCC’s First Commission-Level Vote Targets Rural Broadband Access

On January 26, 2017, in its first action under the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or the Commission) voted to allow the State Of NY to award up to $170 million in Connect America Fund (CAF) fuding to expand broadband access in unserved, rural portions of New York State.  These federal funds will be coupled with at least $200 million in state funding and private investment.

The federal funds will be allocated as part of CAF Phase II through a competitive bidding process as part of the New NY Broadband Program.

In 2011, in the USF/ICC Transformation Order, the FCC created the Connect America Fund as a means of expanding broadband Internet access in rural areas.  The fund is a targeted subsidy program that enables broadband deployment in high-cost areas where providing service wouldn’t be economically feasible for carriers absent subsidies.

The USF/ICC Transformation Order also created the Mobility Fund, which focuses on increasing mobile broadband and voice services in areas that would otherwise lack coverage.

Bridging the Digital Divide

Chairman Pai has been a longtime proponent of expanding broadband access in rural areas.  In a speech in September of 2016, he laid out his “Digital Empowerment Agenda”—a series of policy priorities which revolve around spurring broadband deployment and innovation.

In this speech, he stated “there is a real and growing digital divide in this country… Americans living in the poorest counties are twice as likely to lack [broadband] access as those living in the most well-to-do.  And access traces our rural-urban divide: 39% of rural Americans and 41% of those living on Tribal lands lack adequate access.”

To expand rural access, Chairman Pai proposed a three-pronged approach:

  • License Extensions: Increase wireless carrier coverage obligations in rural areas and strengthen rural broadband investment incentives by extending license terms to 15 years.
  • Mobility Fund Reform: Enter Phase II of the Mobility Fund while utilizing tech-neutral performance metrics, and reassess the fund’s overall size and specific allocations based on current needs.
  • The Rural Dividend: Set aside 10% of the money raised from spectrum auctions for rural mobile broadband deployment.

On January 24, 2017, in his first speech to FCC Staff, Chairman Pai reiterated his commitment to expanding rural access and narrowing the digital divide, claiming “[w]e must work to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans.”

The Rural Opportunity

Chairman Pai’s opening action sends a clear message – rural broadband deployment is a high priority for his Commission.  Each year, the Universal Service Fund allocates $4.5 billion to support broadband and voice services in rural areas.  Moreover, Congress is currently considering proposals to pass an omnibus infrastructure bill, and one of the proposals would seek to allocate $20 billion in funding to expand high-speed broadband access in unserved and underserved areas.

Kelley Drye’s Communications practice group specializes in federal and state universal service law, and stands ready to help interested parties understand the scope of this opportunity.  Should you have any questions, please contact the authors or your regular Kelley Drye contact.

Ajit Pai Selected as Next FCC Chairman

On January 20, 2017, Politico Pro reported that President Trump selected Republican Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Ajit Pai to serve as the next permanent FCC Chairman.  According to the report, Commissioner Pai will not need to go through Senate confirmation in order to become Chairman.  Instead, he will simply need the Senate to reappoint him by the end of the next session.

In light of this development, the FCC will be active far sooner than was generally expected.  Typically, due to the grueling nomination process, it can take anywhere from six to nine months for a new chairman to assume the role.  However, the selection of a current FCC commissioner will mean that Chairman Pai can immediately start dismantling some of the hallmarks of the previous administration, including the 2015 Open Internet Order and 2016 Broadband Privacy Order.