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

For decades, parts of the Federal government have examined transactions that introduce and increase foreign investment in United States telecommunications businesses. Transactions that implicate reviews by the Departments of Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security (collectively, “Team Telecom”) and/or by the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) can face procedural hurdles and delays

Editor’s note:  CommLaw Monitor primarily addresses developments in communications and technologies in the United States. We provide this special update regarding new regulations in Germany for the benefit of U.S. and foreign service providers alike. The security issues discussed below may have implications for all service providers.

The German Federal Network Agency, Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA), recently launched a final public consultation on its new draft Catalogue on security requirements for telecommunications service providers and operators of public telecommunications networks. The draft is revamped significantly, but follows the same vein as its predecessors to prevent disruptions and manage security risks, by requiring providers and operators to implement technical security measures and safeguards for operating telecommunications and data processing systems. The deadline for comments on this version 2.0 of the Catalogue is 13 November 2019, but the BNetzA is unlikely to make fundamental changes at this late stage. Consequently, stakeholders should consider the draft as a reliable indicator of the official version, and assess how to best satisfy the requirements.


Continue Reading Proposed German Regulations To Require Additional Security Measures for Telecom Carriers

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With President Obama’s announcement last December that the United States is charting a new course in its relations with Cuba, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) is taking expedited steps to open up the provision of telecommunications services between the United States and Cuba. Today, the Commission seeks comment on a proposal to remove Cuba from its Exclusion List for International Section 214 Authorizations (Exclusion List) in response to a formal request from the Department of State (State Department). Removal of Cuba from the Exclusion List – it is the only country currently on the list – would allow carriers to provide telecommunications services between the United States and Cuba. With comments due December 4th and reply comments due December 9th, the expedited time frame suggests that the Commission may already be in the process of implementing its proposal.


Continue Reading FCC Seeking Expedited Comment on Opening Service Provider Opportunities between U.S. and Cuba

iStock_000000295237LargeWith both Congress and the Administration focused on streamlining federal permitting and promoting Dig Once policies, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) published updated rules for access to rights-of-way (ROW) on Indian Lands, including the deployment of communications infrastructure.  The new rules replace the existing regulations that were promulgated over 40 years ago and last updated over 30 years ago. Currently, DOI holds roughly 56 million acres of land in trust for both Indian Tribes and individual Indians, which gives it authority over granting ROWs.  The new rules “reflect modern requirements for rights-of-way and the need for faster timelines and a more transparent process for BIA approval.”  These new rules apply to ROWs granted on or after December 21, 2015.  For ROWs granted prior to December 21, 2015, the substantive provisions of the rule will not apply; however, the procedural provisions of the updated rule will apply retroactively, except where the procedural provisions conflict with the ROW grant or authorizing statute.

Continue Reading Bureau of Indian Affairs New Rights-of-Way Rules Provide Clarity and Certainty to Communications Providers

Earlier this month, the FCC simplified the information that must be provided in certain international reports, action that should be welcomed by many carriers that have been subject to these reporting requirements.  The FCC’s Second Report and Order (“Second Streamlining Order”) in IB Docket No. 04-112 built on its May 2011 First Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking eliminating or revising certain international reporting obligation.  As a result of this latest action, most international telecommunications carriers will be required, once the new rules take effect, to file annual International Traffic and Revenue reports and Circuit Status reports (collectively, the “Annual International Reports”) under a streamlined Section 43.62 of the FCC’s Rules.  The Second Streamlining Order directs the International Bureau to establish and maintain a consolidated filing manual reflecting the rulings in the Second Streamlining Order.

The Second Streamlining Order does impose requirements on some new classes of providers.  It extends the requirement to file the Traffic and Revenue Report to providers of both international interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) service and international “one-way” VoIP services.  One-way VoIP services are those VoIP providers that permit users either to receive calls from or place calls to the public switched telephone network, but not both.  The Second Streamlining Order also requires for the first time a Circuit Status report from all submarine cable licensees, not just licensees that are common carriers, as well as for international common carrier terrestrial and satellite circuits of facilities-based common carriers and the non-common carrier circuits of satellite operators.

The Annual International Reports will retain their current separate filing deadlines — March 31 for the Circuit Status Report and July 31 of the Traffic and Revenue Report. The effective date of the rule changes is currently unknown; it is at present unclear if the requirements will go into effect in time for the filing of either of the International Reports this year.  The Office of Management and Budget must first approve the reporting and filing changes.  The FCC expressly directed parties in the Second Streamlining Order to continue filing the Annual International Reports pursuant to its existing rules until it announces the new reporting requirements have become effective.


Continue Reading Annual Reporting Requirements for International Carriers Revised; VoIP Providers and Certain Non-Common Carriers Now Obligated to File