Ajit Pai Named FCC Chairman

President Trump named Ajit Pai Chairman of the FCC on January 23, 2017. In his first week as Chairman, Pai selected his advisors and named chiefs of the FCC’s bureaus and offices, and began meeting with stakeholders. Closing the digital divide is emerging as a top priority for Chairman Pai. In other appointment news, President Trump s designated current Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen as Acting FTC Chairman. For a detailed prediction on Pai’s Chairmanship, please click here or contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).

Congressional Action on Telecom Bills

Last week, both Chambers of Congress acted on telecommunications legislation. On Monday, the House passed seven telecom-related bills: the Federal Communications Process Reform Act, the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act, the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2017, the Securing Networks in Disaster Act, the Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act, the Federal Anti-Spoofing Act and the Kari’s Law Act.

On Tuesday, the Senate Commerce Committee approved a package of bills that had been considered last Congress for full Senate consideration, including the MOBILE Now Act and a number of bills similar to those passed in the House. Chairman Thune stated his goals for this Congress include promoting broadband and wireless deployment, modernizing the FCC, and enacting clear and reasonable open Internet rules, presumably to scale-back many aspects of the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order.

Kari’s Law was among the bills passed by the House and voted out by the Senate Commerce Committee last week. This legislation requires all MLTS systems be configured to enable users to dial “9-1-1” to reach the local PSAP, as opposed to dialing “9+9-1-1.” Kari’s law is named after a young woman who tried numerous times unsuccessfully to dial 9-1-1 from a hotel room, but could not do so because of having to dial “9” to access the PSTN and the local PSAP. Assuming this legislation is approved by the Senate and becomes law, many companies—large and small—may have to modify or replace in-service MLTS systems to enable three-digit emergency calls. For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

RWA Files Application for Review for T-Mobile 700 MHz Buildout Waiver

In December, the Commission waived the “Acceleration Rule” for three 700 MHz licenses. This rule provides that if a licensee does not meet its interim construction deadline, its final construction deadline is accelerated by two years. In this case, the licensee missed their interim deadline and agreed to sell the three licenses to T-Mobile, seeking waiver of the Acceleration Rule to allow T-Mobile time to meet the final construction deadline. In granting the waiver, the Commission found that doing so was in the public interest and that the underlying purpose of the rule, preventing the warehousing of spectrum, was served. RWA filed an Application for Review, arguing that the waiver encourages the warehousing of spectrum and conflicts with “FCC regulation, past precedent, and public policy.” A more flexible approach to limited waivers of construction/substantial service deadlines may prove valuable of critical infrastructure firms acquiring area-wide licenses either at auction or through transactions with spectrum auction winners. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Deployment Guidance Released

The Federal Highway Administration released guidance on the deployment of vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) equipment, which will allow transfer of data between vehicles and elements of roadway infrastructure. V2I is a complement to vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication. Both systems use dedicated short-range spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band. The Department of Transportation developed the guidance “to assist transportation owners/operators as they deploy V2I technology,” and to allow transportation agencies to prepare for V2I and V2V technologies. These voluntary guidelines follow the December release of a notice of proposed rulemaking from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration seeking comment on requiring V2V technology in new vehicles. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

ISPs file Petition to Stay Broadband Privacy Rules

Last week, CTIA, NCTA, USTelecom, ACA, CTA, CCA, ITTA, NTCA, WISPA, and WTA filed a petition asking the FCC to stay the recently adopted broadband privacy rules. The Petition argues that the rules are flawed and unnecessarily restrictive. The Petition also outlines principles to which the ISPs will continue to adhere in order to protect consumers’ privacy online. For more information, please contact Tracy Marshall (marshall@khlaw.com; 202.434.4234).