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On March 10, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act, the COVID-19 stimulus bill recently enacted by Congress. The Act allocates $1.9 trillion to provide relief to businesses and individuals that are struggling due to COVID-19. Importantly, it appropriates $7.17 billion for emergency support for remote learning and remote library services. This stimulus follows $3.2 billion appropriated for an Emergency Broadband Benefit for low-income consumers and caps over $13 billion in broadband funding provided in addition to the traditional Universal Service Fund programs.

The new Emergency Connectivity Fund (“ECF”) will reimburse schools and libraries for internet access and connected devices for students and teachers for remote learning and remote library services. The passage of this legislation has been welcomed by the FCC, with Chairwoman Rosenworcel stating, “the American Rescue Plan provides the FCC with new tools to support the millions of students locked out of the digital classroom.”

The legislation requires the FCC to issue rules within 60 days of enactment to provide funding to eligible schools and libraries. Here’s a look at what to expect in the new fund.


Continue Reading Biden Signs Stimulus Package: FCC Set to Establish a $7 Billon Emergency Connectivity Fund to Assist with Virtual Learning

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

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

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

On January 21, join Kelley Drye and Partner Steve Augustino at Telecom Council’s IoT Forum on Cybersecurity. Continuing on a series of virtual meetings, the IoT Forum will convene to look at innovation and startups working on IoT Security. Steve will present on the IoT Cybersecurity Act of 2020, including the role of security

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

For the second time this year, the TCPA came before the Supreme Court via teleconference oral argument in Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid, et al, Case No. 19-511 (2020). The Supreme Court’s disposition of Facebook’s petition is expected to resolve a widening Circuit split over what qualifies as an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”) under the TCPA, 47 U.S.C. § 227, et seq., and thus determine much of the scope of the TCPA’s calling restrictions.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument Over the TCPA’s Definition of an Autodialer

On December 4, 2020, President Trump signed bipartisan legislation establishing minimum security requirements for Internet of Things (“IoT”) devices used by the federal government. The legislation, H.R. 1668, passed the House in September and the Senate in November.

The Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2020 draws upon work that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) has been doing to address cybersecurity for IoT devices. Referencing work done over the Summer on IoT Device Cybersecurity, the Act directs NIST to issue standards for the “appropriate use and management” of IoT devices owned or controlled by federal agencies. NIST, which already was working on the federal profile of IoT uses, is directed to issue these guideline by March 4, 2021. Within 6 months of that date, the Office of Management and Budget is to review agency information security policies and principles based upon NIST’s guidelines. And, adding a hammer to the incentives, federal government acquisition standards are to be revised to implement these standards. In other words, federal contractors will be required to adhere to the NIST standards in IoT devices sold to the federal government.


Continue Reading President Signs IoT Cybersecurity Act of 2020

In the latest episode of Full Spectrum’s Inside the TCPA series, Partner Steve Augustino and Associate Chris Laughlin discuss a series of FCC orders that require implementation of a call authentication framework called STIR/SHAKEN. They cover the FCC’s anti-robocall program, the specifics of STIR/SHAKEN, its implementation requirements and deadlines, and other implications for service providers,

The upcoming election will bring changes to the FCC, regardless of which party wins the White House. In this episode of Kelley Drye’s Full Spectrum, Partners John Heitmann and Steve Augustino are joined by Dana Wood, co-chair of Kelley Drye’s Government Relations and Public Policy (GRPP) practice, for a discussion of the potential organizational