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Volume XII, Number 184

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Now is a Good Time for a Regulatory Compliance Checkup

We understand that regulatory compliance is not the most engaging issue. Whether planning to deploy a new broadband network or operating an existing one, ensuring that the network and services are fully compliant with various state and federal regulatory obligations is an easy task to put off. But if not addressed, regulatory compliance can turn into a very expensive problem.

Now would be an ideal time to identify and address any regulatory compliance issues for several reasons:

  • Many broadband projects have received funding support through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARPA). Subawards made through ARPA typically require recipients to comply with all applicable state and federal regulations as a contractual matter. Broadband grants made under forthcoming Infrastructure Act programs (BEAD, etc.) may include similar requirements. A regulatory compliance failure could have implications for grant funding.

  • Any transfer of control or acquisition of a broadband network or company will normally require a detailed review of the company’s regulatory compliance status. Transactions involving broadband providers that receive support from one of the FCC’s Universal Service Fund/High Cost Fund programs will involve close scrutiny to ensure the target company is in compliance with applicable requirements. Any outstanding compliance issues can significantly delay those transactions.

  • The FCC could implement an enforcement action, potentially resulting in fines and other adverse consequences.

As readers are probably aware, broadband service is comparatively “unregulated” (as opposed to “telecommunications service”). Consequently, broadband providers that are not also providers of “telecommunications service” have relatively few regulatory obligations. Nevertheless, a number of important regulatory obligations are likely to apply to most broadband providers, including the following:

  • Posting of a “network transparency” statement

  • Annual submission of Form 477 (broadband connection reporting)

  • Submission of data for the new FCC Broadband Data Collection initiative (as finalized)

  • Submission of a CALEA System Security and Integrity Plan

  • Compliance with Digital Millennium Copyright Act safe harbor requirements (copyright policy, etc.)

If interconnected VoIP is provided alongside broadband service, the regulatory compliance obligations expand significantly. In that case, regulatory obligations may also include, for example:

  • Annual submission of Form 499-A, and, if not a de minimis contributorquarterly 499-Q (Federal Universal Service Program Reporting and Contributions)

  • Development of Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) compliance program and annual certification regarding such compliance

  • STIR/SHAKEN compliance certification

  • Annual disability reporting certification (per CVAA)

  • E-911 fee requirements

Even if you have undertaken a compliance review at some point in the past, keep in mind that the FCC’s rules are constantly evolving, and the nature of your services and customers may have changed as well.   It is important to periodically refresh past compliance decisions to ensure that they are still valid.

© 2022 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 122
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About this Author

Casey Lide Communication Attorney Keller & Heckman Washington, DC
Partner

Casey Lide represents clients on a broad range of communications matters including telecommunications, cable television, broadband Internet access service, wireless communications, right-of-way management, pole and conduit attachments, and barriers to community broadband initiatives.

Casey counsels public- and private-sector clients on contract drafting and negotiation matters, including fiber optic IRUs and leases, easements, franchises, attachment agreements, ISP service agreements, interconnection and collocation agreements, strategic MoUs and others.   

He collaborates...

202-434-4186
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