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Telecom Alert: 4.9 GHz Free Partially Lifted; NASNA Petition for Rulemaking; House Passes Secure Equipment Act of 2021; $1.15 Billion in ReConnect Funding; RDOF Funding [Vol. XVIII, Issue 43]

FCC Partially Lifts 4.9 GHz Freeze

The FCC issued a Public Notice last week modifying the temporary filing freeze on the acceptance and processing of certain applications in the 4940-4990 MHz band (“4.9 GHz band”).  In September 2020, the Commission suspended the acceptance of applications for new licenses in the 4.9 GHz as well as applications to modify existing licenses.  Effective immediately, applications filed by incumbent 4.9 GHz licensees for new permanent fixed site operations and to modify existing licenses in the band will be accepted for filing if they otherwise comply with FCC rules.  

NASNA Petition for Rulemaking

Last week, the National Association of State 911 Administrators Association (“NASNA”) filed a Petition requesting that the FCC conduct a rulemaking proceeding or issue notice of inquiry to facilitate Next Generation 911 (“NG911”) services.  Specifically, NASNA asks the Commission to:  (1) establish authority over originating service providers’ (“OSPs”) delivery of 911 services through IP-based emergency services networks; (2) amend its rules as needed to advance the transition to—and implementation of—NG911 services; and (3) require the cost of compliance to be the responsibility of OSPs, except where cost-recovery is provided by state law or regulation.  NASNA also urges the Commission to add a NG911 Readiness Registry to its existing text-to-911 or public safety answering point registries.  

House Passes Secure Equipment Act of 2021

The House approved the Secure Equipment Act of 2021 by a 420-4 vote last week, which would prohibit the FCC from reviewing or issuing new equipment licenses to companies on the Commission’s covered equipment or services list (Vol. XVIII, Issue 22).  The FCC previously adopted rules requiring telecom carriers to remove and replace equipment produced by these entities due to national security concerns, but those only applied to equipment purchased with federal funding.  A companion bill in the senate is being considered and recently cleared the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. 

$1.15 Billion Available in ReConnect Funding

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) announced that it is making up to $1.15 billion available in the next round of funding for the ReConnect Program. The Program administers loans and grants to broadband service providers to construct, improve, or acquire facilities needed to provide broadband service to rural areas without connectivity.  Of the funds being made available, $200 million will go toward loans, $250 million will go toward loan/grant combinations, $350 million will go toward grants with a 25 percent matching requirement, and $350 million will go toward grants without a matching requirement for projects in tribal and socially vulnerable communities.  The application filing window will be open from November 24, 2021 to February 22, 2022.  

RDOF Third Round Funding

The FCC issued a News Release last week announcing the authorization of more than $554 million to 11 broadband providers in the third round of funding through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (“RDOF”) (Vol. XVIII, Issue 41).  Combined with the two prior funding waves, the Commission has authorized funding for over $1 billion of the $9.2 billion in winning bids announced last December.  These 11 broadband providers must submit irrevocable stand-by letters of credit and Bankruptcy Code opinion letters from their legal counsel for each state where they have winning bids by 6:00 p.m. EST on November 3, 2021. 

© 2023 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 298

About this Author

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...

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,...

Sean Stokes Communications Attorney Keller and Heckman Washington, DC

Sean Stokes represents clients nationally on a wide range of communications matters including broadband, cable television, wireless communications, right-of-way management, pole attachments, barriers to community broadband initiatives, and public-private partnerships. He counsels clients in developing and negotiating agreements involving access to poles, ducts, conduits, dark fiber, and towers. He has represented municipal utilities and local governments in complex negotiations developing city-wide fiber-to-the-home networks and wireless small cell siting agreements.

Sean has...

Casey Lide Communication Attorney Keller & Heckman Washington, DC

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...