Telecom Alert: FCC Opens T-Band; UPS Devices Cybersecurity Advisory; $13.4M Lifeline Settlement; FCC Expands Covered Services List [Vol. XIX, Issue 15]
FCC Opens T-Band to New Licensees
Last week, the FCC released a Public Notice modifying the suspension on acceptance of applications from incumbent licensees and new applicants in the T-Band, provided they meet certain spectral efficiency requirements. In January 2021, the Commission opened a limited application window for incumbent licensees (Vol. XVIII, Issue 4), which was extended twice until April 1, 2022. Now that the incumbent-only filing window has closed, the Commission is opening up the band to applications from new Public Mobile and Private Land Mobile licensees under specific efficiency requirements.
Cybersecurity Advisory Regarding Use of Uninterruptable Power Supply Devices
The FCC released a Public Notice last week encouraging companies that use uninterruptable power supply (“UPS”) devices as a primary or backup power supply source to review a Joint Cybersecurity Advisory from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Department of Energy. The agencies are aware of threat actors gaining access to a variety of internet-connected UPS devices, often through unchanged default usernames and passwords. They recommend that communications companies and critical infrastructure entities immediately enumerate all UPSs and similar systems and ensure they are not accessible from the internet.
FCC Reaches $13.4 Million Lifeline Settlement
Last week, the FCC announced that it reached a $13.4 million settlement with TracFone Wireless (“TracFone”) for violations of the Commission’s Lifeline rules. TracFone failed to detect that several of its sales agents improperly targeted and marketed Lifeline services, taking advantage of non-low income veterans, Medicare patients, law enforcement, and other individuals who did not qualify for the Lifeline program. Under the settlement agreement, the Universal Service Fund will retain $10,927,372 refunded overpayments and TracFone will pay an additional $2.5 million in damaged. TracFone also must enter into a comprehensive, three-year compliance plan.
FCC Expands Covered Services List
On March 25, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing that it added three entities to its list of equipment and services deemed a threat to national security in line with the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 (Vol. XIX, Issue 6). AO Kaspersky Lab, China Telecom (Americas) Corp, and China Mobile International USA Inc. were all found to have services that posed substantial and unacceptable risks to U.S> national security. The inclusion of these services on the covered list extends both to subsidiaries and affiliates of the entities.