Telecom Alert: American Rescue Plan Act; Infrastructure Funding Bill; CBRS Long-Form Applications; Virginia Consumer Data Privacy Law; National Security Threat Equipment List; Modern Television Act of 2021; USF Contribution Factor [Vol. XVIII, Issue 11]
President Biden Signs American Rescue Plan Act
Last week, President Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, which includes $219 billion in fiscal recovery funding for state and local governments that may be used for COVID recovery purposes, including investment in broadband infrastructure (Vol. XVIII, Issue 10). The Act also appropriates $7.17 billion for a new Emergency Connectivity Fund to enable schools and libraries to provide broadband service to student households. For more information, please contact Casey Lide (firstname.lastname@example.org; 202.277.6267).
House Introduces Infrastructure Funding Bill
The Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced the Leading Infrastructure For Tomorrow’s America Act (“LIFT America Act”) last week, which would invest more than $312 billion in clean energy, energy efficiency, drinking water, broadband, and health care infrastructure. The Act authorizes $1.3 billion to establish new grant programs within NTIA, as well as an additional $6 billion for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program and $2 billion for home internet connectivity through the FCC’s E-rate authorities. The Act also allocates $80 billion for high-speed broadband internet buildout across the country and provides $15 billion in grants for NG911 services.
CBRS Long-Form Applications Granted
The FCC released a Public Notice last week announcing the grant of 222 long-form applications and issuance of 17,450 Priority Access Licenses in the 3.5 GHz band auction (Auction 105) (Vol. XVII, Issue 49). Auction 105 raised a total of $4,543,232,339 in net bids, with 228 bidders winning a total of 20,625 licenses. This was the highest number of winning bidders in a spectrum auction to date. Over seventy percent of the applicants issued licenses received a very small business, small business, or rural service provider bidding credit in the auction. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (email@example.com; 202.434.4178) or Wes Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org; 202.434.4239).
Virginia Passes Comprehensive Consumer Data Privacy Law
Governor Ralph Northam (VA-D) signed the Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA) into law on March 2, making Virginia the second state to adopt a comprehensive privacy law. The CDPA applies to businesses that, in any calendar year, control or process personal data of at least 100,000 Virginia residents, or that control or process personal data of at least 25,000 Virginia residents and derive more than 50% of gross revenue from the sale of personal data. Virginia residents have the right to access, correct, delete, or obtain a copy of their personal data and the right to opt out of the sale of personal data or the processing of personal data for the purposes of targeted advertising or profiling. Businesses must provide a privacy notice that describes their practices and how consumers can exercise their rights, and they must conduct a data protection assessment when processing personal data for targeted advertising or profiling purposes, engaging in the sale of personal data, processing sensitive data, or engaging in activities that present a heightened risk of harm to consumers. The new law is expected to take effect on January 1, 2023. For more information, please read our recent blog post on the bill or contact Tracy Marshall (email@example.com; 202.434.4234).
FCC Releases List of Equipment, Services That Pose National Security Threat
The FCC issued a Public Notice last week listing the communications equipment and services that have been deemed a threat to national security under the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 (Vol. XVII, Issue 47). The list includes five Chinese companies—Huawei Technologies Co., ZTE Corp. Hytera Communications Corp., Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., and Dahua Technology Co.—as well as all their subsidiaries and affiliates. Under the Act, ETCs must remove and replace any equipment produced by these companies. The Commission will update the list if other communications equipment and services are determined to meet the criteria under the law. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (firstname.lastname@example.org; 202.434.4178).
House Members Introduce the Modern Television Act of 2021
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) introduced the Modern Television Act of 2021, which would repeal and modify regulations related to the “must carry/retransmission consent” rules governing cable and multichannel video program distributor (MVPD) access to and carriage of broadcast television programming. The bill is intended to help prevent future station blackouts as part of a failure to reach agreement during retransmission consent negotiations. Among other things, the bill would: require MVPDs to carry a broadcast signal while the parties continue negotiations for up to 60 days, with parties being retroactively paid for their content aired during that time; repeal transmission consent, compulsory copyright licenses and other statutory provisions and regulations; establish an optional mechanism for the FCC to compel parties to seek “baseball-style” binding arbitration through a neutral third-party arbitrator following an extended impasse; and preempt state and local authority to regulate rates of cable services. For more information, please contact Sean Stokes (email@example.com; 202.434.4193).
33.4% USF Contribution Factor Proposed
The FCC’s Office of Managing Director has announced that the proposed universal service contribution factor for the second quarter of 2021 will be 33.4%, absent action by the Commission, up from 31.8% in the fourth quarter of 2020. The 33.4% assessment on end-user interstate and international telecom service revenues for the quarter is aimed at collecting about $2.461 billion for the FCC’s four original universal service support programs (E-rate, rural health care, high-cost, and Lifeline) as well as the newer Connected Care pilot program for the second quarter, up from $2.408 billion for the first quarter. For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (firstname.lastname@example.org; 202.434.4180).
KH Webinar – Update on 2021 Spectrum Policies
Join Keller and Heckman partners Greg Kunkle, Casey Lide, and Wes Wright on Thursday, March 18, 2021 as they host the third installment of the K&H Telecom Series: The FCC in Transition: An Update on Spectrum Policies Upcoming in 2021. The K&H Telecom Series will broadcast live at 2:00 p.m. EST every other Thursday from February 18 to May 13, 2021. Click here to register.