Welcome to the Tech & Telecom Weekly, an e-newsletter keeping you apprised of the latest developments in the telecommunications and high-tech industries.

FCC Policy

The next FCC Open Meeting is scheduled for April 22, 2021, at 10:30am ET. The Tentative Agenda contains eight items, including NPRMs on Text-to-988 (the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) and ensuring more timely notifications of disruptions to 911 emergency service. For more information, please contact Stephanie Joyce.

Broadband News

In its last open meeting before President Biden’s inauguration, the FCC approved a Public Notice seeking comment on procedures for a single-round Auction 108, which will involve approximately 8,300 geographic overlay licenses in the 2.5 GHz band. This 2.5 GHz, midrange spectrum is considered attractive for next-generation 5G wireless deployment. The final inventory of 2.5 GHz overlay licenses will be identified in a public notice to be released prior to the short-form application deadline after all Rural Tribal Priority Window licenses are awarded. A mapping tool will help applicants find “potential encumbrances” from existing licensees in the band. Proposed auction rules include bidding credit caps for small businesses (not less than $25M) and rural service providers (not less than $10M), minimum bid amounts, package bidding, and an activity rule. The proposed rules were published March 2, 2021, making comments due May 3, 2021, and reply comments due May 17, 2021.For more information, please contact Doug Bonner.

Compliance Alerts

The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) will hold two webinars relating to the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program. The first webinar will introduce the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) to service providers and will highlight changes to NLAD and unique processes associated with the EBB, and will be held tomorrow, April 6, 2021, at 4:00pm ET. The second webinar is geared toward consumer groups, social service agencies, and other consumer advocates, and will be held April 7, 2021, at 3:00pm ET. It will be repeated April 21, 2021, at 3:00pm ET.

The North American Numbering Council (NANC) will hold its next meeting on April 15, 2021, at 9:30am ET via video conference. The agenda includes routine status reports from the Secure Telephone Identity Governance Authority (STI-GA), the Number Administration Oversight Working Group, and North American Portability Management, LLC. 

The FCC seeks comment on its proposal to expand the federal Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) fund contribution base to include intrastate end user revenues in order to support video relay services (VRS) and Internet Protocol relay services. Currently, only interstate end user services are assessed. Comments are due April 19, 2021, with reply comments due May 3, 2021. (DA 21-341; CG Dockets 03-123, 10-51, and 12-38).

For more information about compliance issues, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall.

In the Courts

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court issued its highly anticipated ruling in Facebook v. Duguid, settling a deep circuit split over what constitutes “robocalling” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The Court held that the TCPA applies only to automatic telephone dialing systems that actually use random or sequential number generation in order to store or dial phone numbers. The ruling is a victory for Facebook, which argued that its security notifications texted to users’ smartphones were “innocuous” and did not violate the statute. Privacy watchdogs, on the other hand, will likely criticize the decision for substantially weakening the protections afforded by the TCPA. For more information, please contact Susan Metcalfe.

Note: This publication is distributed with the understanding that the author, publisher and distributor of this publication and/or any linked publication are not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or opinions on specific facts or matters and, accordingly, assume no liability whatsoever in connection with its use. Pursuant to applicable rules of professional conduct, portions of this publication may constitute Attorney Advertising.

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Marlene Laro

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