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 FCC has released an order implementing the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement (PIRATE) Act, which was enacted January 24, 2020. The order adopts increased penalties for operating unlicensed radio broadcasting, including a penalty of up to $100,000 per day for a maximum fine of $2 Million. The order also authorizes the FCC to issue penalties without first issuing a warning. For more information, please contact Stephanie Joyce.

Compliance Alerts

The FCC will hold a free informational webinar for Tribal spectrum licensees on January 7, 2021, at 2:00pm ET, in which the agency will provide an overview of wireless licensee obligations, with a primary focus on entities receiving licenses in the 2.5 GHz band through the Rural Tribal Priority Window. The webinar also will include discussion of network engineering considerations for broadband and other communications services. More information can be found here or by contacting Katherine Barker Marshall.

In the Courts

Thirty-eight U.S. states and territories filed an antitrust suit against Google last week under both Section 1 and Section 2 of the Sherman Act. The six-count complaint, filed in the Eastern District of Texas, alleges that Google purposely rendered devices that use Google Assistant, like Sonos speakers, from interoperating with competing services like Amazon’s Alexa. The complaint also alleges that Google steers ads toward its own search engine and away from competing engines like Microsoft’s Bing. These plaintiffs are seeking to consolidate their case with the action filed in October 2020 by the U.S. Justice Department. For more information, please contact Susan Metcalfe.

Rural Broadband

On December 17, 2020, the FCC released an Order on Reconsideration denying petitions for reconsideration of the 2.5 GHz Report and Order. In that 2019 order, the Commission established a Tribal Priority Window to promote wireless communications services in rural Tribal areas and created an auction to be held in 2021 to award unassigned spectrum rights. The National Congress of American Indians sought to expand the Tribal Priority Window beyond rural areas. The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition sought reinstatement of eligibility criteria that were eliminated in the 2019 Order and an increase in the amount of 2.5 GHz spectrum used for educational purposes. Both petitions were denied for rearguing positions considered and rejected in the 2019 Order. For more information, please contact Doug Bonner.

Legislative Affairs

The House Commerce Committee has five new members for the new session: Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Lizzie Fletcher (D-Tex.), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Kim Schrier (D-Wash.), and Lori Trahan (D-Mass.). Committee Chair Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) stated that “I have no doubt these five outstanding Members will provide invaluable contributions to the Committee from day one.” For more information, please contact Stephanie Joyce.

Senators Wicker, Thune, and Moran of the Senate Commerce Committee released a statement on the recent cyberattack on federal agencies: “While many details are still unknown, the attack emphasizes the importance of strong cybersecurity protections and rapid incident responses across all federal agencies. Cyberattacks by nation states like Russia and China threaten our economy and national security. Our response should be swift and clear.” For more information, please contact Stephanie Joyce.

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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