May 11, 2021

Volume XI, Number 131


May 10, 2021

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Telecom Alert — 3.5 GHz Band Auction Qualified Bidders; Flexible Financing for Rural America Act; FCC Increases Rural Health Care Funding Cap; House Passes Moving Forward Act — Vol. XVII, Issue 27

3.5 GHz Band Auction Qualified Bidder Public Notice

The FCC issued a Public Notice announcing the qualified bidders for Priority Access tier licenses in the upcoming Citizens Broadband Radio Service (“CBRS”) auction (Auction 105) (Vol. XVII, Issue 24).  271 Applicants qualified as bidders for the auction.  The list includes all three nationwide carriers, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, as well as many smaller service providers and enterprise companies.  The auction will offer 22,631 licenses making it the largest auction, in terms of total number of licenses, ever held by the FCC.  Qualified bidders will receive materials in the mail and will be able to access the auction system at 9:00 am EST on July 16, 2020.  Educational material, including a bidding and post-auction tutorial, will be posted to the Auction 105 page on the FCC’s website.  The first round of the auction will begin at 10:00 am EST on July 23, 2020. 

Flexible Financing for Rural America Act

Last week, a bipartisan group of Senators and Members of Congress introduced the Flexible Financing for Rural America Act, which would allow electric cooperatives and small, rural telecommunications providers to refinance their Rural Utilities Service (RUS) debt at current market rates without penalty.  The bill aims to provide borrowers more flexibility as they face challenges due to COVID-19, and the bill’s sponsors estimate that the savings amount to approximately $2 million per year for the average rural electric cooperative.  The text and summary of the bill have not yet been published. 

FCC Increases Rural Health Care Funding Cap for 202

The Commission issued a Public Notice, which announced that unused funds will be used to increase the Rural Health Care Program funding cap for 2020.  In 2018, the Commission adopted rules to address increasing demand in the Rural Health Care Program, establishing a process to carry-forward unused funds from past funding years for use in future funding years.  Through this process, the Commission will increase the cap from $604.76 million to $802.74 million to support rural health care providers as they serve their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

House Passes Moving Forward Act

On July 1, 2020, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, a large infrastructure package which includes $100 billion to promote broadband infrastructure (Vol. XVII, Issue 26).  During debate of the bill on the House Floor, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to ensure that all Americans have access to high speed Internet and that this bill will help to close the digital divide.  The bill passed largely along party lines and it is unlikely to move forward in the Senate. 

© 2021 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 188



About this Author

C. Douglas Jarrett, Keller Heckman, telecommunications lawyer, procurement law

Douglas Jarrett joined Keller and Heckman in 1979. Mr. Jarrett specializes in telecommunications law, policy and procurement matters.

Mr. Jarrett is a recognized expert in representing enterprises in negotiating telecommunications services agreements with the major wireline and wireless carriers, domestically and globally.  He also advises enterprises on M2M services, cloud computing and IVR technology procurements. 

Mr. Jarrett represents technology companies in securing amendments to the FCC rules to enable the...

Gregory E. Kunkle, Keller Heckman, regulatory attorney, FCC lawyer

Gregory Kunkle joined Keller and Heckman in 2006. Mr. Kunkle practices in the area of telecommunications, with an emphasis on assisting corporate clients and trade associations with various legal and regulatory matters before the Federal Communications Commission.

Mr. Kunkle regularly counsels critical infrastructure companies, such as electric utilities, oil and gas companies, and railroads, public safety agencies, and commercial providers regarding FCC wireless licensing and compliance issues.  He assists clients in identifying and acquiring...

Thomas B. Magee, Keller Heckman, transactional counsel, litigation attorney, FCC law, safety violation lawyer

Thomas Magee joined Keller and Heckman in 2000. Mr. Magee provides regulatory, transactional and litigation counsel to investor-owned electric utilities, electric cooperatives and municipalities regarding pole attachments and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensing of private wireless telecommunications services.

Mr. Magee has helped to resolve dozens of pole attachment disputes affecting make-ready costs, safety violations, unauthorized attachments, annual rental rates and other terms and conditions of access. He negotiates,...

Tracy Marshall, Keller Heckman, regulatory attorney, for-profit company lawyer

Tracy Marshall assists clients with a range of business and regulatory matters.

In the business and transactional area, Ms. Marshall advises for-profit and non-profit clients on corporate organization, operations, and governance matters, and assists clients with structuring and negotiating a variety of transactions, including purchase and sale, marketing, outsourcing, and e-commerce agreements.

In the privacy, data security, and advertising areas, she helps clients comply with privacy, data security, and consumer protection laws, including laws governing telemarketing and...

Wesley K. Wright, Keller Heckman, Telecommunications Lawyer, FCC Enforcement Attorney, DC

Wesley Wright joined Keller and Heckman in 2006 and practices in the areas of telecommunications law.  He assists corporate clients and trade associations with various legal and regulatory matters before the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Aviation Administration, courts and state agencies.

Mr. Wright’s practice includes private wireless licensing, FCC enforcement, and related transactional matters.  He counsels clients on internal operations and governance matters and has drafted and negotiated asset purchase agreements,...