Telecom Alert: 4.9 GHz Free Partially Lifted; NASNA Petition for Rulemaking; House Passes Secure Equipment Act of 2021; $1.15 Billion in ReConnect Funding; RDOF Funding [Vol. XVIII, Issue 43]
FCC Partially Lifts 4.9 GHz Freeze
The FCC issued a Public Notice last week modifying the temporary filing freeze on the acceptance and processing of certain applications in the 4940-4990 MHz band (“4.9 GHz band”). In September 2020, the Commission suspended the acceptance of applications for new licenses in the 4.9 GHz as well as applications to modify existing licenses. Effective immediately, applications filed by incumbent 4.9 GHz licensees for new permanent fixed site operations and to modify existing licenses in the band will be accepted for filing if they otherwise comply with FCC rules. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (email@example.com; 202.434.4178) or Wes Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org; 202.434.4239).
NASNA Petition for Rulemaking
Last week, the National Association of State 911 Administrators Association (“NASNA”) filed a Petition requesting that the FCC conduct a rulemaking proceeding or issue notice of inquiry to facilitate Next Generation 911 (“NG911”) services. Specifically, NASNA asks the Commission to: (1) establish authority over originating service providers’ (“OSPs”) delivery of 911 services through IP-based emergency services networks; (2) amend its rules as needed to advance the transition to—and implementation of—NG911 services; and (3) require the cost of compliance to be the responsibility of OSPs, except where cost-recovery is provided by state law or regulation. NASNA also urges the Commission to add a NG911 Readiness Registry to its existing text-to-911 or public safety answering point registries. For more information, please contact Wes Wright (email@example.com; 202.434.4239.
House Passes Secure Equipment Act of 2021
The House approved the Secure Equipment Act of 2021 by a 420-4 vote last week, which would prohibit the FCC from reviewing or issuing new equipment licenses to companies on the Commission’s covered equipment or services list (Vol. XVIII, Issue 22). The FCC previously adopted rules requiring telecom carriers to remove and replace equipment produced by these entities due to national security concerns, but those only applied to equipment purchased with federal funding. A companion bill in the senate is being considered and recently cleared the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (firstname.lastname@example.org; 202.434.4178).
$1.15 Billion Available in ReConnect Funding
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) announced that it is making up to $1.15 billion available in the next round of funding for the ReConnect Program. The Program administers loans and grants to broadband service providers to construct, improve, or acquire facilities needed to provide broadband service to rural areas without connectivity. Of the funds being made available, $200 million will go toward loans, $250 million will go toward loan/grant combinations, $350 million will go toward grants with a 25 percent matching requirement, and $350 million will go toward grants without a matching requirement for projects in tribal and socially vulnerable communities. The application filing window will be open from November 24, 2021 to February 22, 2022. For more information, please contact Sean Stokes (email@example.com; 202.434.4344).
RDOF Third Round Funding
The FCC issued a News Release last week announcing the authorization of more than $554 million to 11 broadband providers in the third round of funding through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (“RDOF”) (Vol. XVIII, Issue 41). Combined with the two prior funding waves, the Commission has authorized funding for over $1 billion of the $9.2 billion in winning bids announced last December. These 11 broadband providers must submit irrevocable stand-by letters of credit and Bankruptcy Code opinion letters from their legal counsel for each state where they have winning bids by 6:00 p.m. EST on November 3, 2021. For more information, please contact Casey Lide (firstname.lastname@example.org; 202.434.4186).