Interagency Agreement for Broadband Funding

Last week, the FCC entered into an interagency agreement with the Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) to share information about and coordinate the distribution of federal broadband deployment funds. The agencies will consult with one another on the distribution of new funds from the FCC’s high-cost programs that support broadband buildout in rural area, the USDA’s Rural Utilities Services (“RUS”) grant and loan programs, and programs administered or coordinated by NTIA. Along with sharing information on existing and planned projects, the agreement also requires the agencies to consider basing the distribution of funds from the programs on standardized broadband coverage data. For more information, please contact Casey Lide ([email protected]; 202.434.4186).

FCC Adopts 911 Fee Diversion Rules

The FCC issued a Report and Order last week adopting rules to address 911 fee diversion that clarify acceptable fee expenditures, establish a declaratory ruling process for guidance to states and jurisdictions on fee diversion issues, and codify the specific obligations imposed on states and jurisdictions (Vol. XVIII, Issue 8). The Report and Order clarifies that “diversion” includes distribution of 911 fees to a political subdivision that obligates or expends such fees for a purpose or function other than those designated by the FCC. It also defines “911 fee or charge” to include fees or charges applicable to “other communications services.” For more information, please contact Wes Wright ([email protected]; 202.434.4239).

Connected Care Pilot Program Guidance

The FCC released a Second Report and Order last week offering further guidance on the administration of the Connected Care Pilot Program (Vol. XVIII, Issue 25). In reviewing applications, the Order notes that the FCC considered whether an application would serve low-income or veteran patients, which includes patients that either are eligible for Medicaid or have a household income at or below 135% of the Department of Health and Human Services Federal Poverty Guidelines. The Order also clarifies that the Pilot Program will reimburse network equipment purchases necessary to make broadband services and connected care information services functional. The Pilot Program will not, however, fund devices such as end-user connected devices, medical equipment, personnel costs, or other miscellaneous expenses. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle ([email protected]; 202.434.4178).

C-Band Filing Modification Window

Last week, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau issued a Public Notice opening a limited filing window for eligible Fixed Satellite Service (“FSS”) space station operators in the C-Band to submit, as needed, amendments to their final Transition Plans (Vol. XVIII, Issue 9). Following the C-Band auction, incumbent FSS operators are required to transition their services out of the lower portion of the band and into the upper 200 megahertz. The window is meant to account for any updates to Transition Plans since October 2020, including updates that reflect recent changes to the incumbent earth station list. The Public Notice also notes that the FCC anticipates opening an additional amendment window later this year to allow operators to finalize the details of their Phase I plans. All amendments, explanations, and updated final Transition Plans must be filed no later than July 7, 2021. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle ([email protected]; 202.434.4178).

SCOTUS Denies Review of 9th Circuit Decision Upholding FCC Small Cell Order

On June 28, the United States Supreme Court denied a Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed by local governments seeking to appeal a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upholding portions of the FCC’s 2018 Small Cell Order related to the installation of wireless facilities within the public rights-of-way and on publicly owned utility poles, streetlight poles, and other facilities. For more information, please contact Sean Stokes ([email protected]; 202.434.4193) or Jim Baller ([email protected]; 202.434.4175).