Category Archives: Federal & State Regulatory

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Updated 499-A Form and Instructions Signal Start of 2018 USF Season

Last week, the FCC released its form and instructions for the 2018 499-A, due April 1st. The 499-A form is filed by almost all intrastate, interstate and international providers of telecommunications in the U.S. and reports historic annual revenue. Notably, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau did not solicit comments on the form and instructions this … Continue Reading

USF Update: Where Are We Now?

In 2017, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report focusing on the Lifeline program. Tucked away in that report was a significant discussion of Universal Service Fund (USF) contributor audits that has received little attention. In a recent episode of Kelley Drye’s Full Spectrum podcast, Partner Steve Augustino and Special Counsel Denise Smith discussed … Continue Reading

Beyond the Latest Frontier: Licensed, Unlicensed, and Experimental Operations above 95 GHz

Fulfilling a promise made by Chairman Pai in the fall that the Federal Communications Commission would give a close look to opening up licensed operations in the bands above 95 GHz, the FCC announced tentatively on February 1 that it will consider commencing a rulemaking to do just that at its next Open Meeting on … Continue Reading

Does the Rural Healthcare Program Need a Check-Up? Program Under Microscope Following $18.7 Million Proposed Fine for Fraud

The Rural Health Care Program (“RHCP”) is sure to face increased scrutiny in the wake of a $18.7 million proposed fine issued by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) at its January meeting against a telecommunications reseller for allegedly defrauding the program.  The FCC claims that DataConnex, one of the top five recipients of RHCP funding, … Continue Reading

Crunching the Numbers: FCC to Create Office of Economics and Analysis

On January 30, 2018, by a 3-2 vote, the FCC voted to establish a new Office of Economics and Analysis (“OEA”).  This decision reflects the Chairman’s ideological emphasis on incorporating a greater degree of economic analysis into the agency decision-making process.  Proponents say OEA will bolster the analytical component of FCC rulemaking, but detractors warn … Continue Reading

New Podcast: Legislative Outlook for 2018

As the second session begins, the 115th Congress will pick up where it left off on some key telecommunications and technology issues. In this episode of Kelley Drye’s Full Spectrum podcast, Partner John Heitmann and Jennifer McCadney, Special Counsel in Kelley Drye’s Government Relations and Public Policy group, examine the current status of these issues … Continue Reading

The End of the Internet? What to Expect after the FCC’s 3-2 Vote to Restore Internet Freedom

On December 14, 2017, the FCC voted 3-2 to roll back the 2015 Open Internet Order, with all Republican commissioners voting in favor of the item and both Democratic commissioners strongly dissenting.  As we discussed in an earlier blog post in anticipation of the vote, the Restoring Internet Freedom Order (1) reclassifies broadband Internet access … Continue Reading

FCC Votes on Possible Changes to the Rural Health Care Program

At its last open meeting in 2017, the five FCC Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Order regarding the Commission’s Rural Health Care (RHC) Program, a 20-year old initiative aimed at improving rural health care provider access to first telecommunications services and later an array of communications services, including … Continue Reading

Fulfilling Pledge Made in May, Chairman Pai and FCC Approve New Blue Alerts, Similar to Amber Alerts, to Notify About Threats to Law Enforcement Personnel

At the December Open Meeting of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), the Commissioners approved a Report and Order (“Order”) that adopts a new form of emergency alerting, Blue Alerts, which would serve to inform the public of actionable threats to state or local law enforcement.  Once the new alert is implemented, radio and TV broadcasters … Continue Reading

Escaping the Twilight Zone – FCC Aims to Expedite Wireless Deployment by Exempting Twilight Towers from Historic Preservation Review

Consistent with Chairman Pai’s focus on accelerating infrastructure deployment to enable next generation wireless services, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) unanimously opened at its monthly meeting on December 14, 2017 a proceeding to exempt wireless communications equipment from historic preservation requirements under certain conditions.  The FCC’s action is directed at enabling operations on … Continue Reading

What to Expect from the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order

This Thursday, December 14th, the FCC will vote on the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, after releasing a draft on November 22nd. The Draft Order would overturn the FCC’s earlier 2015 Open Internet Order. We don’t expect any bombshell revisions when the FCC acts, and as such we expect that the Order will:… Continue Reading

On the Eve of the FCC’s Reclassification of Broadband Services, the FCC and FTC Release Memorandum of Understanding for Oversight of Broadband

On December 11, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will allocate oversight and enforcement authority related to broadband Internet access service (BIAS) between the two agencies.  The new MOU was announced three days before the FCC’s scheduled vote to reclassify BIAS as … Continue Reading

NYC FCBA Holds “Meet and Greet” with FCC Commissioner O’Rielly: Video

The NY Chapter of the Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) held a “Meet and Greet” with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly yesterday in Kelley Drye’s New York office.  Jameson Dempsey, a Kelley Drye associate and co-chair of the NY FCBA Chapter, provided introductory remarks. John Heitmann, Chair of the Communications Practice group in Kelley Drye’s Washington D.C. … Continue Reading

FCC Permits Limited Blocking to Curb Unlawful Robocalls; Challenge Process, Effectiveness Teed Up for Further Evaluation

At the November Open Meeting of the Federal Communications Commission (“Commission” or “FCC”), Commissioners approved a Report and Order (“Order”) and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) that targets a high-priority issue for Chairman Pai – curbing illegal telemarketing and other calls.  Acting with unusual speed (at least, by the standards of past Commissions), the … Continue Reading

Chairman Pai Set to Release Draft Net Neutrality Item

On November 21, 2017, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a statement announcing that he had circulated his draft Restoring Internet Freedom Order to his fellow commissioners. The draft Order will largely undo the 2015 Open Internet Order and limit FCC jurisdiction over broadband Internet access services, although it appears that the order will retain a … Continue Reading

November 2017 FCC Meeting Recap: FCC Aims to Speed Wireless Deployment by Eliminating Historic Preservation Review When Replacing Utility Poles

Highlighting the need for rapid infrastructure deployment to meet growing consumer data demands and support future 5G services, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) unanimously adopted a Report and Order at its November 16, 2017, meeting to eliminate historic preservation review of replacement utility poles under certain conditions. The FCC’s limited action marks the first decision … Continue Reading

FCC Equipment Authorization Rule Change Transitions Now in Effect

On November 2, 2017, the FCC’s revised equipment authorization rules were published in the Federal Register and took effect immediately.  Our advisory details those rule revisions.  The Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) had earlier determined that the new rules included no changes to the existing information collection requirements that required further OMB review before … Continue Reading

Partner John Heitmann to Host Armchair Discussion with Commissioner O’Rielly

Partner John Heitmann will host an armchair discussion with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly on Wednesday, November 29 from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. at the offices of Kelley Drye, 101 Park Avenue, 27th Floor, New York, NY 10178. The discussion will be followed by a “Meet and Greet” brown-bag luncheon, providing an opportunity for attendees to meet the Commissioner … Continue Reading

House Antitrust Subcommittee Explores the Role of Antitrust Law in Net Neutrality

On November 1, 2017 the House Antitrust Law Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the role of federal agencies in preserving an open Internet. The core question discussed at the hearing was whether current antitrust law is sufficient to ensure net neutrality absent FCC rules. The panelists—including FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen and Commissioner Terrell … Continue Reading

October 2017 FCC Meeting Recap: FCC Proposes to Implement Nationwide Number Portability

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) voted unanimously at its October Open Meeting to initiate a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) and a notice of inquiry (“NOI”) on how to facilitate nationwide number portability (“NNP”), an issue it last addressed after the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (the “Act”).  According to the Commission, … Continue Reading

Honesty is the Best Policy: FCC Imposes $1.7 Million Fine for Submitting Misleading Information in Inmate Calling Services Deal

Stressing the importance of receiving truthful and accurate information, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) reached a $1.7 million settlement with inmate calling services provider Securus Technologies, Inc. and related entities (“Securus”) to resolve allegations that Securus submitted misleading information to the FCC in support of a pending transfer of control.  Although the settlement cleared the … Continue Reading

October 2017 FCC Meeting Recap: Can We Be Better PALs? The FCC Seeks to Modify the Two-Year-Old Rules in the 3.5 GHz Band Citing the Need to Bolster Investment Incentives.

At its Open Meeting on October 24, the FCC took a major step in recrafting the licensing and other rules for the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (“CBRS”) in the 3550-3700 MHz band (the “3.5 GHz band”) and promote 5G rollouts.  Early in his tenure as FCC Chair which began in January of this year, Ajit … Continue Reading

October 2017 FCC Meeting Recap: FCC Establishes Volume Control Standards for Wireline, ACS and Wireless Handsets

At the Federal Communication Commission’s (Commission’s) monthly meeting on October 24, 2017, the Commissioners approved a Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration (Order) updating Commission rules regarding hearing aid compatibility (HAC).  Specifically, the Order adopts a new wireline HAC volume control standard, applies the wireline HAC standards to handsets used for advanced communications services … Continue Reading

Federal Communications Commission Draft Order Proposes Possible Elimination and Further Streamlining of Section 43.62 Annual International Reports

In advance of its October 24, 2017 Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) has released a Draft Report and Order (Draft Order) for Commission consideration that, if adopted, would eliminate the Section 43.62 annual International Traffic and Revenue Report  (International Traffic Report) and streamline the Section 43.62 annual Circuit Capacity Report (Circuit Capacity Report).  … Continue Reading
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