FCC Law Blog

Developments in Communications Law

Earlier this month, the FCC adopted a Report & Order (“R&O”) streamlining the application review process for transactions involving foreign investment or participation in U.S. telecommunications companies (commonly known as “Team Telecom” but also referred to as “the Committee” in the R&O).  Team Telecom is comprised of a committee of Executive Branch agencies (including the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice) tasked with assessing the national security, law enforcement, foreign policy, and trade policy concerns in these cross-border M&A transactions involving U.S. telecom companies.  The FCC issued the R&O to formalize a decades-long…
On August 6, 2020, Trump issued two separate executive orders that will severely restrict TikTok and WeChat’s business in the United States.  For weeks, the media has reported on Trump’s desire to “ban” TikTok with speculation about the legal authority to do so.  We break down the impact of the Orders below.…
On April 4th, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order on Establishing the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector.  The Executive Order essentially formalizes the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC” or “Commission”) existing “Team Telecom” review process by establishing the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector (“Committee”), with one notable exception:  for the first time, Team Telecom reviews will occur subject to a defined and limited timeframe of 120 days (with the possibility of 90 additional days), as further explained below.  These timeframes are…
Background Amidst the ongoing power struggle between communications service providers striving for unfettered access to rights-of-way to place their facilities, and municipalities working to protect their authority over such rights-of-way, local governments retained a measure of control over the deployment of wireless equipment in their rights-of-way when the California Supreme Court held that municipalities may consider aesthetics when granting wireless installation permits.…
Providers of broadband communications services and infrastructure, owners of residential and commercial multitenant buildings such as apartment buildings, office buildings, and shopping centers (multitenant environments or “MTEs”), and broadband consumers in MTEs, are weighing in on various questions posed in the Federal Communications Commission’s recent multitenant NPRM.  See Improving Competitive Broadband Access to Multiple Tenant Environments, GN Dkt. No. 17-142, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Declaratory Ruling, FCC 19-65 (July 12, 2019) (“NPRM”), available at https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-19-65A1.pdf.…
Key Takeaways: Technology Infrastructure and Data. CFIUS will focus its review on investments in critical Technology, critical Infrastructure, and sensitive personal Data (“TID Businesses”). Critical technologies is defined to include certain items subject to export controls along with emerging and foundational technologies under the Export Control Reform Act of 2018. CFIUS provides a very helpful list of critical infrastructure and functions to help assess whether any business is a TID Business. We reproduce most of this list at the end of this blog article. (Sneak preview: telecom, utilities, energy, and transportation dominate the list.) The proposed regulations provide much-needed guidance…
A recent decision by the Eleventh Circuit will make it more difficult for plaintiffs to establish standing to sue under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). In Salcedo v. Hanna, et al., Case No. 17-14077, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 25967 (11th Cir. Aug. 28, 2019), the Eleventh Circuit ruled that a single text message did not cause sufficient harm to sue in federal court. As a result, “single text message” TCPA cases may be a thing of the past, at least in the federal courts across the three States in the Eleventh Circuit (Florida, Georgia, and Alabama). However, given…
In accordance with Section 889(a)(1)(A) of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (Pub. L. No. 115-232) (the “2019 NDAA”), which required imposition of broad restrictions on procurements involving certain Chinese telecommunications hardware manufacturers such as Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp within one year, the FAR Council has released an interim rule implementing these restrictions. Today, the FAR Council released Federal Acquisition Circular 2019-05 (84 Fed. Reg. 40,216), creating a new FAR Subpart 4.21, as well as two new contract clauses, FAR 52.204-24 and 52.204-25, all of which are effective August 13, 2019. These restrictions apply not only to prime…
On Thursday, August 1, 2019, the FCC took several actions to address persistent, decades-long efforts by local governments to convert their control over local rights-of-way into ever-increasing revenue streams from cable operators and other communications companies relying on those critical corridors for the provision of electronic communications. The FCC clarified that: Federal law and FCC regulations preempt any state or local action of a cable operator’s non-cable services (e.g., voice, broadband, wireless) that imposes obligations on franchised cable operators beyond what the Communications Act allows; In-kind grants of equipment and capital items must be calculated as an offset to the…
Maine entered the privacy fray last week when Governor Janet T. Mills signed legislation targeting internet service providers by prohibiting the sale of information about customers’ internet use. The new restriction covers, in part, customer web browsing history, application usage history, and geolocation information. An internet service provider may only use, disclose, sell or permit access to such information with either the customer’s consent or by complying with one of the few outlined exceptions in the statute.…
On Friday, February 1, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held a marathon oral argument in Mozilla Corp. v. FCC, No. 18-1051 (D.C. Cir. Feb. 22, 2018), in which various petitioners challenged the Federal Communications Commission’s (“Commission’s”) 2018 Restoring Internet Freedom Order (“2018 Order”).…
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court decided to review a case that potentially carries far reaching ramifications for litigation under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), which places restrictions on phone and fax solicitations and imposes serious penalties for violations. See 47 U.S.C. § 227, et seq. By granting certiorari in PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic, Inc., No. 17-1705, the Court is set to resolve the question whether the Hobbs Act requires district courts to accept the FCC’s interpretation of the TCPA’s key statutory term “advertisement.”…
Earlier this week, the United States Supreme Court denied requests by the Trump Administration and telecommunications industry players to vacate a prior decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC’s”) 2015 Open Internet Order, which adopted a suite of Net Neutrality regulations. As a result, the D.C. Circuit’s earlier decision remains standing while challenges to the FCC’s 2018 Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which repealed the earlier Net Neutrality regulations, proceed before the D.C. Circuit.…