Updated: Apr 18, 2018

During the February Open Meeting, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) proposing guidelines to implement Section 7 of the Communications Act to ensure that new technologies and services can develop and be made available to the public on a timely basis.

Background: Section 7 of the Communications Act (as amended), which became law in 1983, states that it is the policy of the United States “to encourage the provision of new technologies and services to the public.” Section 7 provides that the Commission “shall determine whether any new technology or service proposed in a petition or application is in the public interest within one year after such petition or application is filed.” It further provides that if the Commission initiates its own proceeding for a new technology or service, the proceeding “shall be completed” within one year. The FCC, however, has never adopted rules or established clear procedures to implement Section 7 – which is exactly what it aims to do with this NPRM.

The NPRM proposes the following:

  • Petition and application filing requirements for requests seeking consideration under Section 7, as well as the specific factors to be used to evaluate whether the request qualifies for Section 7 consideration.
  • The Office of Engineering and Technology (OET), working with representatives from the relevant Bureaus or Offices, will evaluate the request and determine within 90 days whether the proposed technology or service qualifies for Section 7 treatment. The Commission proposes not to entertain petitions for reconsideration or applications for review of the 90-day determination.
  • To the extent that the request qualifies for Section 7 treatment, the Commission (or Bureau/Office) will commit to taking “swift” action to evaluate the technology or service, and decide within one year of the filing date the appropriate course of action.
  • If the Commission initiates its own proceeding for a new technology or service, it should identify the action(s) it plans to complete within one year of initiating that proceeding and then complete such action(s) within that timeframe.

Pursuant to an April 11, 2018 Federal Register publication, the following comment dates have been established:

Comments are due May 21, 2018.

Reply comments are due June 20, 2018.

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