May 12, 2021 Weekly Wireless Wrap-Up

Welcome back to TLP’s Weekly Wireless Wrap-Up, your weekly update on the wireless telecommunications regulatory landscape, important wireless decisions, and more!  This week, the FCC was focused on getting ready for the start of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (which is today), finalizing the rules and requirements for the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program, furthering robocall mitigation efforts, as well as beginning the 2021 Regulatory Fee process, among other things.  Here’s your wrap-up:

  • FY 2021 Regulatory Fees: Late last Tuesday, the FCC released its annual Report and Order (“R&O”) and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) on the Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2021.  The R&O adopts two new regulatory fee subcategories for non-geostationary orbit (“NGSO”) satellite systems, while the NPRM proposes to collect $374,000,000 in regulatory fees for FY 2021 and seeks comment on several methods of collection for the various FCC regulated services.  Of particular relevance to wireless providers, the NPRM seeks comment on utilizing non-geographic numbers to calculate subscriber numbers for CMRS providers.  Comments on the NPRM are due on or before June 3, 2021 and reply comments are due on or before June 18, 2021.  For more information, check out our post here.
  • Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (“EBB Program”)
    • On Monday, the FCC released a Fact Sheet on the EBB Program, which provides an overview of the program for consumers, including discounts, eligibility, a link to participating providers, and methods to sign up. Eligible households can begin signing up for the EEB Program today!  For more information, see the FCC’s Fact Sheet here.
    • On Tuesday, the Enforcement Bureau released a Public Notice, reminding broadband providers that are participating in the EBB Program of their obligation to comply with the EBB Program rules. Specifically the Enforcement Bureau reminds providers that they must ensure that subscribers: (1) have provided affirmative consent to participate in the EBB program; (2) are aware that they may select a different provider for their emergency broadband benefit than their Lifeline provider without jeopardizing their existing Lifeline service; and (3) are aware that there is a co-pay of between $10-$50 for subsidized connected devices.  For more information on this, see our post here.
  • Robocall Mitigation Efforts & Updates:
    • Also on Monday, the Wireline Competition Bureau (“WCB”) released a Public Notice seeking comment on adopting a Protective Order for the Robocall Mitigation Database Collection. As you may recall, voice service providers are required to file certain certifications and contact information in the FCC’s Robocall Mitigation Database by June 30, 2021 (for more information on the filing requirements, see our post here).  The WCB recognizes that some of the required information may contain confidential or proprietary information, which providers have a significant interest in protecting, and is accordingly seeking comment on developing a Protective Order that will govern the submission of and access to this information.  Comment deadlines will be triggered by a future Federal Register publication. For more information, see our post here.
    • Relatedly, the WCB released a Public Notice alerting voice service providers that the Secure Telephone Identity Governance Authority (“Governance Authority”), which is responsible for granting the digital certificates required to participate in STIR/SHAKEN, has issued an update to its Service Provider Code Token Access Policy (“Policy”), which sets forth the requirements to receive a certificate. The Governance Authority’s amended Policy, which was adopted in November, is now effective immediately.  For more information on this, see our discussion in our post here.
  • Emergency Connectivity Fund Program: On Tuesday, the FCC released a Report and Order establishing the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program, which will allow eligible schools and libraries to apply for reimbursement of eligible telecommunications services and equipment purchased from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, necessary to provide e-access to educational and library services.  Schools and libraries can utilize funding to purchase Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, combined modems and routers, connected devices, defined as laptop computers, tablets, or similar end-user devices, and fixed or mobile broadband service for students, school staff or library patrons to use off campus.  Service providers that have partnered with a school or library may be eligible to seek reimbursement directly from the program for the services and equipment they are providing.  For more information on this, check out our post here.

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