Department of Commerce

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

Connected devices already are making headway into business and consumer markets. “Smart” speakers, video doorbells, remote programmable thermostats and other devices are increasing in popularity in homes across the United States. Major automakers and startups are pursuing self-driving cars and the “passenger economy.” Businesses are using IoT capabilities to enhance preventive maintenance, to track assets through the production cycle and to gain insights into consumer behavior.

Now, the federal government is trying to provide resources for businesses engaged in the Internet of Things (“IoT”) economy. Building on guidelines it established for cybersecurity generally and IoT cybersecurity specifically, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (“NIST”), a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, held a workshop for manufacturers on securing IoT devices. I attended the workshop and these are my principal takeaways from the meeting.


Continue Reading Securing IoT Devices: Lessons from a NIST Workshop

This monfunding_opportunity_v1r1th marks the one year anniversary of the Presidential Memorandum that created the Broadband Opportunity Council (Council), a federal inter-agency council, tasked with using all available and appropriate authorities to identify and address regulatory barriers to broadband deployment and adoption.  My former BroadbandUSA colleagues at the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications & Information (NTIA) are quite busy implementing the recommendations from the Council’s Report (Report), released last year.

In just a few weeks, BroadbandUSA will host a half-day workshop on the Community Connectivity Initiative, designed to enable local leaders to better assess their community connectivity and strengthen efforts to align broadband technology with local policies and priorities.  The March 22nd workshop, to be held in Seattle, will engage stakeholders in developing meaningful measures for community broadband access, adoption, policy and use. Specifically, participants will have the opportunity to share insights and suggestions on the design of the program.  Several weeks later, on March 24 and April 12, BroadbandUSA will host two follow-up webinars.


Continue Reading NTIA’s BroadbandUSA Announces a Community Connectivity Initiative Workshop, one of the Recommendations from the Broadband Opportunity Council

funding_opportunity_v1r1FirstNet released its final Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a Contractor to build and operate the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN), as authorized by the Middle Class Tax Cut and Job Relief Act of 2012 (Act), and fund FirstNet operations.   The RFP is the result of input to more than 13 Requests for Information, two public Industry Days, and a year of dialogue with the public safety community.  The RFP provides for a single award, Indefinite Delivery-Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract with fixed price payments.  In exchange, the winning contractor gains access to 20 MHz of contiguous 700 MHz spectrum and the ability to lease excess network capacity to secondary commercial users, receiving up to $6.5 billion in funding from FirstNet.  FirstNet envisions a 25-year public-private partnership, suggesting that solutions may include “various partnerships and business arrangements that monetize new public safety market offerings via devices, applications and other value-added benefits and services.”  FirstNet plans to select a contractor by the end of the year.

Continue Reading FirstNet Releases Final RFP for Up to $6.5 Billion