Federal & State Regulatory

2021 is well underway and the new leadership at the FCC is taking shape. While we don’t yet know who will fill the Chair on a permanent basis, the FCC under Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel is proceeding without delay. So far, the Commission has tackled ongoing issues of bipartisan support, including broadband mapping, communications supply chain security and preventing 911 fee diversion. But the biggest challenges ahead are in the universal service fund and, specifically, efforts to bridge the digital divide.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at developments in the FCC’s $9 billion-per-year Federal Universal Service Fund and more recent pandemic-related efforts to address deficiencies in broadband access that have been exposed by our year of remote work, school and social activities.


Continue Reading The State of the Universal Service Fund in 2021

As required by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“CAA”), on February 25, 2021, the FCC adopted a Report and Order to officially establish the Emergency Broadband Benefit (“EBB”) Program. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rise in virtual services and learning, access to broadband services has now become essential for most households. With this in mind, the program is designed to provide broadband services to help low-income households in particular stay connected. We have summarized the program and noted some key provisions and next steps for the FCC and potential participating providers. The program is temporary, and will expire when funds have been exhausted or 6 months after the Health and Human Services Secretary declares the end of the nationwide COVID-19 health emergency.

Continue Reading FCC Implements $50/Month Broadband Subsidy For Low-Income Households

Following weeks of speculation about a potential role for Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu in the Biden Administration, the White House announced on March 5 that Wu has been named Special Assistant to the President for Technology and Competition Policy. As an official housed in the National Economic Council (“NEC”), Wu will not directly command staff within federal agencies or set the agencies’ enforcement or regulatory agendas. Instead, Wu will most likely focus on coordinating federal agencies’ efforts to identify and address competition issues. Given his history, Wu could seek to have particular influence on the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) and Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) as they shape their Biden Administration agendas.

Continue Reading Competition Policy Gets a Top Spot in the White House

Earlier this year, we were asked to suggest 2021 resolutions for clients in the telecommunications, media, and technology industries. We developed several that should guide industry participants to improve their compliance and services to customers. Research suggests that February typically is the month when New Year’s resolutions fail, so we decided to take a look at our resolutions and offer some suggestions for making these stick.

To start, here is the first resolution we suggested for the industry:

Resolution for Voice Service Providers: Resolve to reduce illegal robocalls. Voice service providers long have supported the FCC’s ongoing efforts to target bad actors sending illegal and fraudulent robocalls, but in 2021, each carrier should resolve to do its part individually  in the battle to stop illegal calls. All voice service providers must implement the STIR/SHAKEN call authentication framework by June 30, 2021 and should develop an effective robocall mitigation program to prevent their customers from originating illegal robocalls. These changes are necessary to stay on the right side of the anti-robocall battle.  Each voice service provider should resolve to make reducing illegal robocalls a top priority.


Continue Reading A Look at Communications Industry New Year’s Resolutions: Reduce Illegal Robocalls

On February 9, Partner Steve Augustino will moderate a two-part Robocall Compliance panel at the INCOMPAS Policy Summit. Steve, along with FCC attorneys and other industry leaders, will discuss 1) Progress towards the implementation of STIR/SHAKEN and call authentication solutions for non-IP portions of voice service providers’ networks and upcoming compliance requirements related to provider

The FCC released the agenda for its next Open Meeting, scheduled for February 17, 2021, which will be the first with Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel at the helm. The FCC plans to kick off the meeting with three presentations detailing the Commission’s progress in implementing programs designed to support broadband access and deployment. First, the FCC will hear a presentation on the creation of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which will allow low-income consumers to receive discounted broadband services and devices. Second, the FCC will hear a presentation covering the agency’s next steps for its COVID-19 Telehealth program, which provides funding to health care providers to offer telehealth and connected care services to patients. Third, the FCC will hear a presentation on the agency’s efforts to improve its broadband mapping data, including through the Digital Opportunity Data Collection. Rounding out the meeting agenda, the FCC will consider proposed rulemakings that would modify the agency’s supply chain security rules and address 911 fee diversion in line with recent legislation.

The February meeting begins what is expected to be a busy 2021 for the FCC’s agenda. You will find more information about the meeting items after the break.


Continue Reading FCC Tees Up Broadband and Telehealth Updates for First Meeting under Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel

Join Partner Chip Yorkgitis and the Wireless Communications Alliance for a look at how the spectral landscape continues to evolve and what to expect in 2021. On January 26 at 7:00 pm EST (4:00 PST), this virtual event will feature deep dives on the key spectral allocations at 3, 6 and 60GHz, review anticipated changes

Last week, we told you that President Trump signed bipartisan legislation establishing minimum security requirements for Internet of Things (“IoT”) devices used by the federal government. The Act is the first of its kind at the federal level, aimed at protecting the security of IoT devices and services in the marketplace. The Act governs federal purchases of IoT devices and services but is intended to leverage the purchasing power of the federal government to affect the broader IoT market indirectly.  Thus, without (yet) setting standards for all IoT devices and services, the legislation nevertheless is significant whether or not a company sells its product to the government.

Continue Reading NIST Wastes No Time in Implementing the IoT Cybersecurity Act of 2020

On December 18, join Kelley Drye and the FCBA Enforcement Committee for a discussion with FCC leaders about the Enforcement Bureau’s approach to handling confidentiality requests for information provided during investigations as well as potential confidentiality issues arising in ex parte and FOIA matters. Brad and the panelists will discuss the requirements for confidentiality requests