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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 24, 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 and Associate Belen Crisp discuss key actions and topics from the April 21st meeting, including a look at the role receiver

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

On November 2, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC’s) Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“Bureau”) published a public notice in the Federal Register focused on asking whether the 71-76 GHz, 81-86 GHz, 92-94 GHz, and the 94.1-95 GHz bands (“70/80/90 GHz Bands”) could be used “to provide broadband Internet access to consumers and communities that may otherwise lack robust, consistent connectivity.” The Commission is particularly interested whether stratospheric-based platforms, such as High Altitude Platform Stations (“HAPS”), which operate above twenty kilometers (approximately 65,000 feet), could be deployed for this purpose in the 70/80/90 GHz Bands.  Comments are due by December 2, 2021, and replies by January 3, 2022.

Continue Reading Looking to the Skies: The FCC Seeks Additional Information on Potential Stratospheric-Based Communications Platforms and Services

At its September 30, 2021 Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) unanimously adopted a Second Report and Order in IB Docket No. 16-155 requiring applicants with reportable foreign ownership seeking Commission approval for certain applications to answer standardized national security and law enforcement questions (“Standard Questions”) prior to or when filing their applications. The Standard Questions were developed in coordination with the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Defense, State, and Commerce and the United States Trade Representative, which conduct review of national security, law enforcement, foreign policy, or trade policy issues associated with the foreign ownership of the applicants of certain applications filed with the FCC and referred to the agencies. The Standard Questions will apply, following review and approval by the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) (and issuance of an associated public notice) to the types of applications the Commission generally refers to the Executive Branch, namely applications for international section 214 authorizations and submarine cable landing licenses, applications to assign, transfer control or modify such authorizations and licenses where the applicant has reportable foreign ownership, and all petitions seeking to exceed foreign ownership limits applicable to broadcast or common carrier wireless licenses set forth in Section 310(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the “Act”) (47 C.F.R. § 310(b)).

The adoption of Standard Questions is the FCC’s complements several other reforms in the past year to formalize and streamline the FCC and Executive Branch review process conducted  pursuant to Executive Order No. 13913 of April 8, 2020, Establishing the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United State Telecommunications Sector (the “Committee” (commonly referred to as “Team Telecom”)). The Executive Order sets forth procedures and timelines for the Committee to conduct its reviews of referred applications. The Commission’s earlier reforms are detailed in the FCC’s (First) Report and Order  in Docket 16-155 Executive Branch Review Order released October 1, 2020 (and Erratum). As noted in the Second Report and Order, the FCC considered comments filed in response to a Public Notice containing proposed Standard Questions.

Continue Reading FCC Adopts Standard Questions to Facilitate Executive Branch Review of Applications Involving Foreign Interests in Applicants

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

Owners and operators with incumbent earth stations operating in the 3700-4000 MHz range have three weeks to choose between the two options created by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) in its so-called C-Band proceeding, which requires transition of those earth stations out of the 300 MHz range. The two options each owner/operator has are either to elect to receive lump sum amounts the FCC announced in a Public Notice on July 30, 2020, for all of an owner/operator’s earth stations operating in the band, or to have the associated space station operators undertake the transition of the earth stations on a turn-key basis in accordance with the space station operators’ transition plans. Those plans will only be finalized on August 14, 2020. The lump sum elections, which are irrevocable if made, must be declared in on-line filings with the Commission on or before August 31, 2020, as explained at the end of the July 30 Public Notice.

Continue Reading Clock Winding Down on August 31 Lump Sum Election Date for C-Band Earth Stations

Incumbent earth stations operating in the 3700-4000 MHz range are entitled to have eligible space station operators provide a turnkey solution to transition them out of the band to the upper 200 megahertz of the 3.7-4.2 GHz Band. All of an earth station’s actual, reasonable, and necessary transition costs, for such transitions are reimbursable. As an alternative to having the space station operator conduct the transition, earth station operators may choose to accept a pre-determined per-earth station lump sum – still being worked on by the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC’s”) Wireless Telecommunications Bureau – for all their earth stations as sole compensation for moving out of the band themselves regardless of what solution is pursued after the transition, including moving to another band or off the radiofrequency spectrum altogether. (Previously, we covered the Commission’s schedule for the C-Band transition in detail.) The trick, however, is that, to qualify for reimbursement or the lump sum option, the earth stations must be “incumbent.” On Monday, July 6, 2020, the International Bureau (“Bureau”) issued a preliminary list of incumbent earth stations that would qualify for reimbursement or the lump sum. The Bureau, in the accompanying Public Notice, provided ten (10) days for interested persons to comment on the list, until Thursday, July 16.

Continue Reading C-Band Earth Stations: The FCC Made the List; It’s Worth Checking It Twice

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) seeks to refresh the record in a long-dormant 2016 proceeding that sought to lend greater certainty to reviews by the group of Executive Branch agencies informally referred to as “Team Telecom.” As we discussed in a prior post, an April 4, 2020 Executive Order 13913 (“E.O. 13913”) formalized Team Telecom – including naming it, officially, the “Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector.” Despite E.O. 13913 conferring some structure on the Team Telecom review process, many aspects of the review process remain to be developed. Intent on lending a helping hand filling in gaps, the FCC seeks comment on whether and how E.O. 13913 affects the 2016 proceeding proposals. The 2016 proceeding floated some proposals that would be broadly applicable, such as new certifications for all applicants not just those involving disclosable levels of foreign ownership, the usual trigger for Team Telecom review. Consequently all licensed providers may want to assess if this proceeding warrants a close look.

For those interested in participating, comments and replies are due by June 18, 2020 and July 2, 2020, respectively.

Continue Reading Comment Date on Refresh of Team Telecom Reform Proceeding Approaches