On today’s episode of Full Spectrum, Hank Kelly will be discussing the FCC’s adopted order to block spam texts and another order intended to improve caller ID authentication. Second, special counsel Mike Dover will cover the FCC’s issuance of a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which proposes to expand audio description requirements.

Listen to the full episode here.

In November 2022, the FCC published a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) seeking community partners to develop outreach programs to promote awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) among eligible households in historically underserved and unserved communities as part of the ACP Outreach Grant Program.  On Friday, March 10, 2023, the FCC announced approximately $66 million in grant funding for two of the four sub-programs in the Outreach Program:  the National Competitive Outreach Program (NCOP) and the Tribal Competitive Outreach Program (TCOP).  The FCC’s announcement accepts about 190 grant applicants, amounting to $60 million for the NCOP, and 20 grant applicants, amounting to about $6 million for the TCOP.  Once the Notice of Awards are issued, grant recipients will have 30 days to accept the awards.  These funds will be used for digital campaigns, door-to-door canvassing, operate phone banks, distribute direct mail, host ACP application enrollment and outreach events in 50 states and territories.  Grants in the other two sub-programs in the Outreach Grant Program, the Your Home, Your Internet Outreach Grants and the ACP Navigator Pilot Program Outreach Grants, will be announced in the future. 

In addition, the FCC’s announcement highlighted its plan to release, “in the next few weeks,” new enhancements to the ACP online consumer application and enrollment process.  The announcement states that the FCC will incorporate feedback from navigators and other stakeholders that “will make the application and enrollment process easier by reducing the number of steps required to apply and improving language clarity.”  The impact on ACP consumers and providers as a result of that upcoming release remains to be seen.

A key aspect of the FCC’s ACP Transparency Data Collection rules may be in doubt if the FCC takes up a recent petition for reconsideration.  In its Fourth Report and Order and FNPRM, the FCC adopted an aggregate-level approach for collecting ACP subscriber pricing and plan information, finding that ACP providers should submit ACP subscriber data grouped by each unique plan for a given geographic area (such as by state) rather than submitting that data through National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) at the time of enrollment.  Relying on provider comments discussing the administrative burdens of subscriber-level data collections, the FCC reasoned that “the subscriber-level approach as proposed by the Commission may conflict with the statutory requirement to stand up an annual collection and may be too administratively burdensome for subscribers and providers, particularly with respect to obtaining subscriber consent to the collection of additional subscriber-specific data and in light of privacy concerns.”

However, Next Century Cities and the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society (Petitioners) challenged that conclusion in a Joint Petition for Reconsideration on February 13, 2023.  Petitioners argue that collecting aggregate-level subscriber data fails to meet the statutory requirements for data collection in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Pub. L. No. 117-58, § 60502(c)(1) (IIJA), and undermines overall integrity of the ACP.  Specifically, Petitioners point out the IIJA does not establish an initial data collection date – it only requires publication of collection rules within one year of the IIJA’s passage.  Petitioners assert that the FCC should have enacted rules that deferred the start of ACP data collection until after the FCC could determine the best way to collect subscriber-level data.  Petitioners further assert that the IIJA’s statutory directives to the FCC include targeting ACP public awareness and enrollment support and determining local subscription rates, requirements necessitating subscriber-level data.  Further, Petitioners assert that subscriber-level data is also needed to investigate complaints and enforce ACP rule compliance.  Addressing the “annual” collection component of the IIJA requirements, Petitioner contend that pricing and plan data submitted through NLAD would be an annual collection if the FCC implements snapshot-date approach.

Petitioners’ challenge strikes at the core of ACP providers’ processes for implementing the FCC’s ACP Transparency Data Collection rules.  As of this publication, the FCC has not yet taken action on the petition.

This week on the Full Spectrum podcast, Communications partner Chip Yorkgitis discusses the FCC’s recent Notice of Proposed Ruling on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (0:51:-15:16), and Privacy partner Aaron Burstein discusses the recent NPRM on data security (15:17-26:49). (At the time of recording, the UAS NPRM had not yet been published in the Federal Register establishing comment deadlines. Publication occurred on February 7, 2023, setting a comment due date of March 9, 2023, and a reply comment due date of April 10, 2023.)

Listen to the full episode here.

On the latest episode of the Full Spectrum podcast, attorneys from Kelley Drye’s Communications practice highlight items from the FCC’s December Open Meeting as well as two important items from November. First, special counsel Mike Dover discusses these items — Broadband labels and ACP data collection. Discussion of the December Open Meeting items then follows. Partner Tom Cohen discusses a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would take the next step in the Commission’s efforts to promote equal access to broadband by seeking comment on potential rules to address digital discrimination of access to broadband, consistent with Congress’s direction in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Partner Chip Yorkgitis covers a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on changes to its rules, policies, or practices to facilitate the acceptance for filing of satellite and earth station applications under Part 25 to help Commission processing stay apace with the number of innovative satellite applications in the new space age. Next, Partner Hank Kelly discusses a proposal to require wireless carriers and covered text providers to implement location-based routing on their networks in order to reduce misrouting of wireless 911 calls and texts and improve emergency response times. Finally, Mike Dover covers a proposal regarding the Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) Fund compensation for Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS), propose a technical amendment to the compensation formula for Internet Protocol Relay Service (IP Relay), and resolve petitions for reconsideration of a prior order setting IP CTS compensation.

In this episode of the Full Spectrum podcast, attorneys from Kelley Drye’s Communications practice highlight items from the FCC’s October Open Meeting. First, partner Chip Yorkgitis discusses the Commission’s adoption of a Notice of Inquiry to explore the potential restructuring of the 12.7 GHz Band to accommodate the introduction of Next-Generation and other mobile Wireless Services. Following Chip, partner Hank Kelly discusses Caller ID Authentication on Non-IP Networks. Finally, special counsel Mike Dover covers the FCC’s consideration of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to strengthen the operational readiness of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts.

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On April 27, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission’s February 2022 Report and Order and Declaratory Ruling adopting rules proscribing or conditioning certain practices by common carriers and multichannel video programming distributors (“MVPDs”) as they serve multiple tenant environments (“MTEs”) takes partial effect. The Report and Order and Declaratory Ruling complement earlier actions by the Commission taken more than fifteen years ago prohibiting telecommunications carriers from entering into or enforcing exclusivity contracts with MTE owners in both commercial and residential MTEs prohibiting certain MVPDs from entering into or enforcing exclusivity contracts with residential MTE owners. Generally, the new rules adopted this year prohibit providers from entering into certain types of revenue sharing agreements with MTE owners, and require affected providers to disclose the existence of exclusive marketing arrangements they have with MTE owners in simple, easy-to-understand language. With the March 28, 2022, publication of the Report and Order in the Federal Register, it generally goes into effect on April 27, but there are exceptions which delay the effectiveness of some of the key provisions which providers should be aware of, pushing out compliance of parts of the new rules to September 26, 2022, and possibly even later.

A few points regarding the scope of the new rules may be helpful. The term MTE includes both commercial and residential premises, such as apartment buildings, condominium buildings, shopping malls, or cooperatives occupied by multiple tenants, but, in the case of the proscriptions described here, MVPDs are affected only in residential MTEs whereas common carriers are affected in all MTEs.  MVPDs include cable operators, satellite cable programming vendors in which a cable operator has an attributable interest, or satellite broadcast programming vendors. Broadband-only providers that do not meet the definition of common carrier or MVPD are not subject to the new rules.

Continue Reading Sorting Out the Multi-Step Phase-In of the FCC’s February 2022 Multi-Tenant Environment Order

Full Spectrum’s FCC Open Meeting Recap podcasts feature instant reaction and analysis following the FCC’s monthly Open Meetings, with an emphasis on the agenda items directly impacting our clients. This month, Partner Chip Yorkgitis will discuss key actions and topics from the April 21st meeting, including a look at the role receiver performance policies or requirements might play in the FCC’s spectrum management responsibilities, strengthening Wireless Emergency Alerts, and a proposed fine related to a common carrier’s alleged failure to comply with foreign ownership-related requirements. Look out for ongoing coverage of these topics and future meetings.

Click here to listen and subscribe for ongoing coverage of these topics and future meetings.

Full Spectrum returns with our newest series, FCC Open Meeting Recaps. These episodes will feature instant reaction and analysis following the FCC’s monthly Open Meetings, with an emphasis on the agenda items directly impacting our clients. This month, partners Tom Cohen, Hank Kelly and Chip Yorkgitis discuss key actions and topics from the March 16th meeting, including digital discrimination, pole replacement disputes, and the Connected Care Pilot Program.

Click here to listen and subscribe for ongoing coverage of these topics and future meetings.

The FCC released its agenda for the next Commission Open Meeting, scheduled for January 27, 2022. The agency will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that would require all broadband Internet access service providers (“ISPs”) to disclose information about various aspects of their service to consumers at the point of sale (“ISP NPRM”). The FCC will address a Report and Order that would amend the E-Rate program rules to clarify that Tribal libraries are eligible for E-Rate support (“E-Rate Tribal Order”). The commissioners also will consider a Second Order on Reconsideration and Order that would revise rules governing white space spectrum to ensure that wireless microphones are protected from harmful interference (“White Space Order”). In addition, the FCC will focus on an NPRM that would propose to amend the equipment authorization rules to incorporate updated technical standards (“Equipment NPRM”).

You will find more information about the items on the January meeting agenda after the break:

Continue Reading FCC’s January Meeting Agenda Includes Proposed Disclosures for All Broadband Providers