Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) unanimously adopted an order formalizing the referral and review process associated with “Team Telecom”—the group of national security and law enforcement agencies responsible for assessing foreign investment in U.S. telecommunications, submarine cable licensees, and broadcast licensees. The order adopts rules and procedures that will govern what has long been an informal process at the agency, both in connection with the issuance of such licenses and with respect to transfers of control.

The FCC’s action is consistent with the agency’s increased focus on, and involvement in, questions around national security and foreign investment in the telecommunications and media sectors. This attention to national security at the FCC is likely to continue regardless of the outcome of the election in November, given that both Republicans and Democrats at the agency have supported the agency’s heightened role in national security matters under its jurisdiction.


Continue Reading FCC Formalizes Foreign Investment Reviews; More National Security Actions Likely to Follow

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission circulated a draft order that will formalize its coordination with what has been known as “Team Telecom”—the national security review process for foreign investments in U.S. telecommunications companies.  The draft order, which the FCC will consider for adoption at its September 30 Open Meeting, includes rules and procedures governing what has long been an informal process.

The FCC’s draft order adopts rules consistent with an April 4, 2020 Executive Order that rebranded the group of executive branch authorities long referred to as “Team Telecom” as the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector.  Despite the name change, Team Telecom will largely follow the existing review process; however, the new FCC rules do make a few key changes.  We highlight some of the basic changes below.


Continue Reading FCC Releases Draft Order Formalizing “Team Telecom” Process

Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau released a Declaratory Ruling clarifying the agency’s interpretation of the “Automatic Telephone Dialing System” (an “autodialer” or “ATDS”) definition in the Telephone Consumer Protection (TCPA).  The Ruling clarified that, in the context of a call or text message platform, the definition does not turn on whether the platform is used by others to transmit a large volume of calls or text messages; instead, the relevant inquiry is whether, in this context, the platform is capable of transmitting calls or text messages without a user manually dialing each such call or text message.

Continue Reading FCC Issues Two TCPA Declaratory Rulings, One Clarifying Autodialer Definition

Yesterday, with vocal support from fellow Commissioner Brendan Carr, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai released a draft Declaratory Ruling and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“DR” and “NPRM”) to promote the use of broadcast spectrum for internet services (referred to by the FCC as “Broadcast Internet”). The full, five-member Commission will vote on adoption of the DR and NPRM at the agency’s next monthly public meeting on Tuesday, June 9.

Continue Reading FCC Proposes Spectrum Leasing to Promote Use of Broadcast Spectrum for Internet Services

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) granted GE Healthcare (“GEHC”) a waiver of its equipment authorization rules to allow for the importation, marketing, and operation of certain medical devices that have yet to receive authorization under applicable FCC requirements.  The GEHC devices at issue include bedside and wearable patient monitors; telemetry transmitters; antenna infrastructure; wireless sensors; diagnostic testing ECG analysis systems; mobile radiology equipment; and portable X-rays.

The FCC granted the waiver due to the “unprecedented strain” that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on the U.S. healthcare system.  In doing so, the FCC recognized that GEHC now has to rely on alternative component suppliers to maintain a robust supply chain of devices, and that doing so has and will continue to require GEHC to pursue and secure new or modified equipment authorizations under the FCC’s rules.  By waiving these rules for a temporary period,  subject to certain conditions, the FCC enabled GEHC to import, market, and operate these devices before they are fully authorized, thereby improving the speed at which GEHC can bring them to market.
Continue Reading IoT Update: FCC Waives Equipment Authorization Rules for GE Healthcare to Address COVID-19 Supply Chain and Testing Challenges

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have ramped up efforts to subsidize the provision of the telecommunications and broadband services necessary to deliver telehealth solutions.  This includes steps to make it easier for eligible health care providers to secure funding under the FCC’s existing Rural Healthcare (RHC) program, developing procedures for tapping into a new $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Fund, and launching a pilot program intended to help eligible health care providers deliver online (connected) care to a greater number of low-income patients and veterans.
Continue Reading FCC Embarks on New Rural Health Initiatives with CARES Act Funding

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) on its own motion released a Declaratory Ruling to confirm that the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an “emergency” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”); as a consequence, hospitals, health care providers, state and local health officials, and other government officials may lawfully communicate through automated or prerecorded calls (which include text messages) information about the coronavirus and mitigation measures to mobile telephone numbers and certain other numbers (such as those of first responders) without “prior express consent.”

Continue Reading FCC Clarifies that COVID-19 “Emergency Purposes” Calls/Text are Not Subject to “Prior Express Consent” Requirement