EAS Participants Urged to Secure Equipment

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau issued a Public Notice last week advising providers that participate in the Emergency Alert System (“EAS”) to take steps to secure their equipment against risks that impact devices accessible from the internet. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) released an advisory on August 1 warning of a potential vulnerability in certain EAS encoder/decoder devices that have not been updated with the most recent software. If EAS devices are not up to date, an outside party could issue alerts over the EAS Participant’s infrastructure. Participants are encouraged to, among other steps, install software security patches, change default passwords, and monitor audit logs. 

$1 Billion in ReConnect Funding

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) announced that it is making over $1 billion available in round 4 funding under its 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, $150 million will go toward loans, $300 million will go toward loan/grant combinations, $700 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 September 6, 2022 to November 2, 2022. 

Noncompliant Devices Forfeiture

The FCC issued a Forfeiture Order last week imposing a $685,338 penalty against Sound Around, Inc. for marketing 32 models of wireless microphones that did not comply with the Commission’s equipment marketing rules. Wireless devices sold in the U.S. must go through the agency’s equipment authorization process and abide by emissions power and spectrum band requirements. Sound Around was first issued a citation by the FCC over ten years ago for marketing noncompliant wireless devices but continued to do so. The Commission increased the fine due to Sound Around repeated violations. 

FCC, NTIA Sign New MOU on Spectrum Coordination

Last week, the FCC and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding between the agencies on spectrum coordination (Vol. XIX, Issue 8). The MOU establishes a stronger framework for managing spectrum use and planning. The agencies will meet at least monthly to exchange information on long-term spectrum outlook, hold quarterly formal meetings to conduct joint spectrum planning, and share information and concerns as early as possible in the spectrum planning process. This is the first time the MOU has been updated in nearly twenty years.