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

A little over a month ago, the deadline for appealing the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Mozilla v. FCC expired.  The Mozilla decision upheld the FCC’s 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom Order (“Order”), which rolled back Obama-era net neutrality regulations to largely deregulate broadband internet service provider (“ISP”) practices.  No party sought Supreme Court review

FCC Chairman Pai announced today that the FCC would seek public comment on the Administration’s July 27 Petition for Rulemaking on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA)—the law that to date has meant that social media companies, ISPs, and other “online intermediaries” have not been subject to liability for their users’ actions. Comments will be due on Wednesday, September 2 and reply comments will be due on Thursday, September 17.

While there is much that is novel about the Petition itself, the FCC’s decision to seek comment on it appears to follow standard operating procedures. At this point, there is no indication of whether the FCC will take more formal steps attempting to adopt any of the rules proposed by the Administration.
Continue Reading FCC Seeks Comment on Section 230 Petition

Reflecting the heightened interest in 5G and related cybersecurity concerns, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has requested public comment on the implementation of its National Strategy to Secure 5G. Stakeholders with interests in telecommunications infrastructure and security—and any parties interested in 5G generally—currently have the opportunity to provide input on the plan that will carry out the Administration’s 5G strategy.

From now until June 18, 2020, the NTIA will accept public comments as part of its efforts to develop a rollout for its National Strategy to Secure 5G. This implementation plan is being developed per the Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020, which President Trump signed into law on March 23. The NTIA published its National Strategy the same day.
Continue Reading IoT Update: Administration Seeks Public Input on Rollout of 5G Strategy

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has again demonstrated that enabling the 5G ecosystem that, among other things, will drive breakthroughs in the Internet of Things (IoT), remains an agency priority.

In a meeting late last week, the FCC adopted multiple items aimed at expanding spectrum availability and access for 5G applications and services, as well as IoT devices. We will report separately on the FCC’s headline-grabbing action to partially reallocate the C-band. In the meantime, the three items addressing television White Spaces, the 3.5 GHz band, and the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund all have relevance for IoT stakeholders.
Continue Reading IoT Update: FCC’s February Meeting Features Several 5G and IoT-Related Items

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formally adopted a draft order aimed at supporting the buildout of robust wired broadband networks in underserved rural areas. The Commission created the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which targets up to $20.4 billion over ten years for investment in high-speed broadband networks. In addition to narrowing the digital

5G wireless technology has captured the attention of Congress.  At least 30 5G-related bills have been introduced in the House and Senate this Congress, signaling widespread interest by lawmakers in 5G. Several of these bills, addressing a range of issues including national security concerns, the promotion of U.S. leadership in international 5G standards-setting bodies, and the deployment of domestic 5G infrastructure, have passed through committee with strong bipartisan support.
Continue Reading Multiple Bipartisan 5G Wireless Bills Advance in Congress

With all the current excitement around emerging high-tech autonomous vehicles and internet of things (IoT) devices, it may surprise some observers that around 20 years ago the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), at Congress’s direction, was already taking some important steps with respect to these technologies.  Most notably, the FCC set aside the 5.9 GHz band, which is a swath of highly-valued mid-band spectrum, for vehicle related communications and transportation safety features.  At that time, the FCC pursued Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) as the standard to develop critical safety services, but over time, similar technologies outside of the 5.9 GHz band have developed.  More recently, a number of manufacturers and developers have been focused on a new technology called Cellular Vehicle to Everything (C-V2X), which proponents argue should be the standard going forward.

The FCC has decided to weigh in on the issues in the 5.9 GHz band in a draft notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to be voted on at its December 12 Commission Open Meeting.  The 5.9 GHz band has been a political issue subject to disagreements among the FCC, Department of Transportation, and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, regarding the best path forward, which technologies should be pursued, and whether there is enough spectrum that can safely be shared among different use cases. 
Continue Reading IoT Update: FCC Proposes New Spectrum Plan for Vehicle Safety and Unlicensed Uses

In a long-awaited decision, today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a January 2018 decision by the FCC to repeal most net neutrality rules and classify broadband as an unregulated “information service,” despite requiring the FCC to conduct further proceedings to justify certain aspects of its decision.  At the same time, the Court found that the FCC exceeded its authority in attempting to preempt any state net neutrality or similar laws regulating broadband.
Continue Reading Federal Appellate Court Largely Upholds FCC’s Order Repealing Most Net Neutrality Rules and De-Regulating Broadband; Holds that FCC Does Not Have Authority to Preempt All State Net Neutrality Laws

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump used his State of the Union address to reinforce the need for legislation to update the nation’s infrastructure. In the speech, he urged both parties to “unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure” and said that he is “eager to work” with Congress on the issue. Significantly, he said that any such measure should “deliver new and important infrastructure investment, including investments in the cutting-edge industries of the future.” He emphasized: “This is not an option. This is a necessity.”

President Trump’s push on infrastructure is particularly noteworthy because infrastructure remains popular in both parties and the new House Congressional leadership has echoed the push for an infrastructure package.

While the State of the Union provided few details about the kinds of “cutting-edge industries” that could be the focus of a bipartisan infrastructure package, three key technologies are likely candidates: 5G wireless, connected and automated vehicles (“CAV”), and smart city technologies. A fact sheet on infrastructure released by the White House after the speech reiterated the call to “invest in visionary products” and emphasized the importance of “[m]astering new technologies” including 5G wireless. Such investments may not only improve “crumbling” infrastructure, but also spur the development of these technologies—and Congress is already holding a series of hearings devoted to identifying infrastructure needs.

Continue Reading IoT Update: Building Out the “Cutting Edge” for an Infrastructure Package