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Telecom Alert: Build Back Better Act; Biden Nominates Rosenworcel as Permanent Chairwoman; Secure Equipment Act Passes; $1.3 Billion in Emergency Connectivity Funding; 6 GHz Waiver [Vol. XVIII, Issue 44]

Build Back Better Act

The text for H.R. 5376 (“Build Back Better Act”) was released last week as part of Democrats’ $1.75 trillion spending plan, which includes funding for broadband and other telecommunications services.  The Act would allocate $480 million in grants to implement and maintain Next Generation 9-1-1 services, establish an NG911 Cybersecurity Center, and create a 16-member advisory board.  It would also allocate $295 million over ten years to NTIA for grants to public-private partnerships aimed at increasing access to broadband in urban communities.  

Biden Nominates Rosenworcel as Permanent Chairwoman

Last week, President Joseph Biden nominated acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel as the permanent chair of the FCC. Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s term lapsed in 2020, so she must be confirmed to her new term by the Senate before the end of the year.  President Biden also nominated Gigi Sohn, a Distinguished Fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy, to fill the other Democratic vacancy.  If both Chairwoman Rosenworcel and Sohn are confirmed, the Democrats will hold a 3-2 majority.  

Senate Passes Secure Equipment Act of 2021

The Senate unanimously passed the Secure Equipment Act of 2021 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 43).  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.  The House passed a companion bill on October 20, meaning that it now will be sent to President Biden to sign into law.  

$1.3 Billion in Emergency Connectivity Fund Requests

The FCC announced that it has received requests for nearly $1.3 billion in the second filing window for the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program (the “Fund”), which ran from September 28 to October 13 (Vol. XVIII, Issue 42).  The applications would fund nearly 2.4 million connected devices and over 564,000 broadband connections.  To date, the Commission has committed over $2.6 billion in funding to school and library applicants.  

Encina Communications 6 GHz Waiver

Encina Communications Corporation (“ECC”) filed an ex parte letter with the FCC last week proposing a waiver of the Commission’s rules to permit Access Point (“AP”) networks to deploy outdoors using the PCN process.  Under the FCC’s rules, broadband service providers must use Automated Frequency Coordination (“AFC”) for outdoor AP networks.  ECC seeks a waiver to allow providers to either coordinate using AFC or prior coordinate pursuant to § 101.103(d), and requests that the Commission initiate a rulemaking proceeding to formalize the process.  

Co-authors include Timothy A. Doughty, Michael T. N. Fitch, C. Douglas Jarrett, Thomas B. Magee, Tracy P. Marshall, Kathleen Slattery Thompson, and Sean A. Stokes.

© 2022 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 305
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About this Author

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

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,...

202.434.4239
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
Gregory E. Kunkle, Keller Heckman, regulatory attorney, FCC lawyer
Partner

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...

202-434-4178
Paralegal

Jaimy “Sindy” Alarcon is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Licensing Specialist.

Sindy works in conjunction with the attorneys in the Telecommunications Practice to prepare FCC applications for clients seeking authority for new services, modifications, administrative updates, license cancellations, Requests for Special Temporary Authority (STA), Requests for Rule Waivers, Assignments of Authorization, Transfers of Control, Renewals, and Notifications of Construction for various radio services including microwave, land mobile, marine...

202-434-4100
Jim Baller Communications Attorney Keller & Heckman Washington, DC
Partner

James (Jim) Baller represents clients across the U.S. in a broad range of communications matters including high-capacity broadband network projects, public-private broadband partnerships, telecommunications, wireless facility siting, right-of-way management, pole and conduit attachments, and barriers to community broadband initiatives.

Jim was the founder and president of the U.S. Broadband Coalition, a diverse group of more than 160 communications service providers, high technology companies, labor unions, public interest and consumer groups, state and local government entities,...

202-434-4175
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