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 and a variety of other video providers will broadcast emergency alerts much as they do for weather and other emergencies. Wireless telephone providers also may transmit the alerts through their emergency notification system. The action was adopted less than six months after the rulemaking proposal was initiated, a significantly shorter time period than that in which the Commission typically acts.
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 so-called “Twilight Towers” – wireless towers constructed between 2001 and 2005 that are claimed to have languished due to regulatory uncertainty. The Commission describes this proposal as an action that would open up potentially thousands of existing towers for collocations without the need for either the collocation or the underlying tower to complete an individual historic preservation review.
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 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 an “information service,” and is expected to be finalized simultaneously with that vote. The MOU is part of an ongoing effort to address concerns that reversing the current “net neutrality” rules will adversely affect consumers, and provides a guide for Internet service providers (ISPs) and other stakeholders to understand which agency will be taking the lead on oversight and enforcement going forward. However, the extent to which the MOU takes effect will depend upon, among other things, the pending case interpreting section 5 of the FTC Act that is before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In a document released the day before Thanksgiving, the FCC issued three orders and initiated yet another round of rulemaking in its Spectrum Frontiers proceeding aimed principally at making almost two gigahertz of additional millimeter wave (“mmW”) spectrum available for terrestrial commercial use while confirming other mmW frequencies for satellite use. Continuing its break-neck pace in the Spectrum Frontiers docket – a notice of inquiry, three notices of proposed rulemaking, two reports and orders, and a memorandum opinion and order in just over three years – the FCC underscored its “priority [in] making spectrum available quickly so that it can be utilized by potential users, technology developers, and innovators.” In numerous places throughout the recently released orders, the FCC opted against adopting regulations because they might have the adverse side effect of preventing new technologies and services being able to exploit the mmW bands.
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. office, led an armchair discussion with the Commissioner.
Discussion topics ranged from media ownership and net neutrality to spectrum policy and broadband deployment. The Commissioner also answered timely questions from the audience.
The video of the full discussion can be found here.
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 Order implements a number of proposals made in March 2017 (for more see our earlier post). With the Order, the FCC adopts rules that enable voice service providers to block calls from invalid, unallocated, and unassigned numbers before they ever reach a consumer’s phone, while the FNPRM seeks input on ways to make sure that blocking does not impact lawful calling practices. FNPRM comments are due by January 23, 2018 and reply comments by February 22, 2018.
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in a 3-2 vote, approved an order allowing “television broadcasters to use the ‘Next Generation’ broadcast television (Next Gen TV) transmission standard, also called ‘ATSC 3.0.’” Described in the Order “as the world’s first Internet Protocol (IP)-based broadcast transmission platform,” the Next Gen TV standard is expected to allow broadcasters to provide more targeted advertisements to individual viewers. Some had expressed concerns over the collection of the demographic and consumer data necessary for Next Gen TV targeted advertising, and applicable privacy safeguards for the new standard. At this stage though, the FCC majority took a wait and see approach to privacy concerns.
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 transparency requirement for broadband providers. Fellow Republican FCC Commissioners Brendan Carr and Michael O’Rielly cheered the anticipated release, while Democratic Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel opposed it. Commissioners of the FTC—which could be the largest jurisdictional beneficiary of the Order, subject to a pending en banc proceeding in the Ninth Circuit—were similarly split down party lines in their reaction to the news. Acting FTC Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen issued a statement expressing gratification that the FCC appeared to take the FTC Staff’s and Acting FTC Chairman’s public comments into consideration in formulating the draft Order. The FCC will release the draft item on November 22nd, and is set to vote on the item on December 14th. We will update you on the scope and implications of the draft Order when Chairman Pai releases it.
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 to come out of the much broader FCC rulemaking proceeding initiated earlier this year to foster wireless infrastructure investment and deployment. The item also consolidates the FCC’s historic preservation review requirements into a single rule to aid compliance.