On April 17, 2018 the Federal Communications Commission adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) that seeks to streamline and otherwise tailor the agency’s current one-size-fits-all satellite regulations for small satellite systems (commonly referred to as “smallsats”). The NPRM sets forth proposals to expedite smallsat approvals and identifies certain frequency bands for potential use by smallsats.

If the proposals in the NPRM are eventually adopted, the FCC envisions that qualifying smallsat systems will be able to save significant time and money. In particular, qualifying smallsat systems would not have to go through the often time-consuming and paperwork-intensive processing rounds normally associated with the licensing or market entry approval of non-geostationary orbit (“NGSO”) satellite systems. Furthermore, qualifying smallsat systems would only have to pay the proposed satellite application fee of $30,000 (as opposed to the $454,705 satellite application fee under the standard Part 25 approval process). Last but not least, qualifying smallsat systems that deploy at least half of their satellites within one year and thirty days of FCC approval would be able to forego filing surety bonds with the Commission. That’s not a small alteration, as these bonds can cost anywhere from one to five million dollars per system. Continue Reading Tailor-Made: FCC Recognizes Need for Bespoke Rules for Smallsats

On February 22, as part of its effort to accelerate the deployment of new and innovative technologies, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) to develop procedures for implementing section 7 of the Communications Act of 1934 (which was added by a 1983 amendment).  Section 7 states that the Commission “shall determine whether any new technology or service proposed in a petition or application is in the public interest within one year after such petition or application is filed.”  This proceeding presents a valuable opportunity for parties to potentially expedite FCC approval of their services, including petitions or applications that are already pending or are filed before the new rules are adopted. Continue Reading Lucky Number 7? FCC Proposes Section 7 Rules to Fast-Track Review of New Technologies

iStock_000006131068MediumThe state of Rhode Island plans to be the first state to test and launch next generation 5G networks, seeking to make 5G available to all of its communities.  This past week, Governor Gina Raimondo announced a joint effort by the Public Utilities Commission, Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, and the Office of Innovation to pilot a large-scale 5G network deployment with real world testbeds to attract new high-tech businesses while lowering the cost of deployment and operation.  Citing size, population density, and regulatory flexibility, the State sees Rhode Island as “an ideal place to rollout 5G wireless” and seeks informational proposals from qualified firms and vendors in response to a Request for Information (RFI) on implementing 5G and next generation broadband infrastructure statewide.  While the state will not award funding to any respondents, the state does intend to use the information acquired in its collaboration with municipalities to develop the blueprints for three network imperatives: 5G wireless, Civic Internet of Things and an extensive fiber network. Continue Reading Rhode Island Wants to be the First State to Offer 5G; Releases RFI

funding_opportunity_v1r1On March 18, 2016, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a solicitation for up to $10 million for US Ignite: Networking Research and Application Prototypes Leading to Smart and Connected Communities, which funds the development of gigabit applications that can leverage existing, advanced network infrastructure.  The current solicitation requests applications within two Focus Areas: 1) development of application ideas and prototypes addressing areas of national priority exploring new uses for high-speed networks and 2) fundamental research advances in networking technology and protocols that furthers gigabit networking infrastructure.

Continue Reading US Ignite Announces up to $10 Million in Funding for Gigabit Applications

On NoveModern mobile devicesmber 10, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit revived several privacy claims against Google pertaining to the Internet company’s practice of side-stepping “cookie blockers” on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Apple’s Safari browsers.

The Third Circuit found that Google could be required to respond to claims that it intentionally circumvented “cookie blockers” on Internet browsers by exploiting loopholes found in the cookie blockers and that Google was actually tracking users’ browsing habits without these users’ knowledge.  Meanwhile, Google’s privacy policy as well as a number of other public statements indicated that the company was abiding by the browsers’ cookie-blocking settings.

Continue Reading Revival of Cookie Litigation Highlights Risks Associated with Mobile Tracking Technologies

stock_02042015_0363On November 17, 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) and the White House issued a funding announcement releasing $100 million in grants as a part of the Obama Administration’s TechHire Initiative, which specifically calls out funding to train workers in the cybersecurity and broadband industries.  DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) expects to award 30-40 grants ranging from $2 million to $5 million.  Applications for the two-year grant are due March 11, 2016 with projects beginning June 1, 2016.

Continue Reading Obama Administration Announces $100 million in TechHire Grants to Support IT, Cybersecurity, Broadband Sector Training

witiThe global wearables market is estimated to grow at a compound annual rate of 35 percent over the next five years, with smartwatches leading the charge.  But where is the technology headed, and what will it take for wearables to become mainstream?  With the proliferation of smart devices, what are business and legal best practices for companies that create and sell wearables?  To lend their insight into this burgeoning market, Kelley Drye Senior Associate Kristi Wolff will participate in a Wearable Computing panel at the upcoming Women in Technology International Summit.  Continue Reading Kelley Drye Attorney Kristi Wolff Selected to Speak at Upcoming Women in Technology International Summit

Earlier this summer, the Supreme Court overturned a favorable district court ruling, finding that Aereo’s television streaming service violated U.S. Copyright law.  After the 6-3 decision, the case was remanded to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.  There, Aereo argued that the court should treat the company like a cable system, which would allow the streaming service to obtain a statutory license for transmitting programming to its subscribers.

On August 21st, the Second Circuit refused to hear Aereo’s cable system argument and remanded the case to the district court.  It will now be up to the district court to decide whether Aereo’s “cable system” argument has any credibility.

While Aereo is entitled to continue its legal battle, the decision marks another major win for broadcasters.  After its Supreme Court loss, Aereo shuttered its streaming service and has posted a “goodbye” letter on its website.  It also promised to refund customers for their last paid month.  It’s possible that Aereo could redesign its service to look more like a DVR system, bringing it within the bounds of copyright law, but it seems unlikely that Aereo will choose that route.

While the service may be discontinued, Aereo’s advocacy website remains up and running.

On July 11, 2014, the FCC adopted a Second Order on Reconsideration and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking responding to a coalition of consumer groups that had pushed the FCC to reconsider its position and require that programming distributors (broadcast, cable, and satellite) include closed captioning for certain IP-delivered video clips.  The new rules will apply to video clips only if the video clip was shown on television and then posted online to the programming distributor’s own website or mobile app and do not apply to consumer-generated media.  The Order sets forth a number of compliance deadlines:

  • January 1, 2016: “Straight lift” clips – a single excerpt of a captioned program with the same video and audio as when the clip appeared on television
  • January 1, 2017: Video montages that compile multiple straight lift clips
  • July 1, 2017: Video clips of live and near-live television programming, subject to grace periods

Notably, the Order does not apply to clips in the distributor’s online library that were posted online before the applicable compliance deadline. Further, the quality of captions must be at least as good as those on television. The Commission’s release also includes a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on four core issues:

  1. The application of IP closed captioning rules to third-party distributors;
  2. Whether to shorten or eliminate grace periods that apply to video clips of live or near live programming;
  3. Whether to extend the rules to “mash-ups” of video clips from captioned programming and online only content; and
  4. How to apply IP closed captioning rules to “advance” video clips that are posted online before being shown on TV.

The Commission’s Order represents the latest step toward expanding access to digital technologies for those with disabilities, and Chairman Wheeler indicated that Friday’s action is “just the beginning.” As with the Commission’s rules related to Advanced Communications Services (“ACS”), which we discussed previously in a client advisory and a related blog post, this latest Order gives the FCC greater authority to regulate online content.  Therefore, as distributors increasingly place their content online, they should remain mindful of the Commission’s expanded jurisdiction.