Telecom Alert: Ninth Circuit Upholds CA Net Neutrality Mandate; Auction Communications Investigation; FCC Broadband Nutrition Labels; Section 253 Petition; Order to Dismantle [Vol. XIX, Issue 5]
Ninth Circuit Upholds CA Net Neutrality Mandate
Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California’s ruling denying a preliminary injunction against implementation of California’s net neutrality mandate. After the FCC found in 2018 that it lacked statutory authority to enact federal network neutrality requirements and that States were preempted from adopted such measures as well, California passed a law that prohibits internet service providers from blocking, throttling, or granting paid priority to web content. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the FCC’s determination that it lacked statutory authority over broadband internet access service also had the effect of depriving it of authority to preempt states from enacting and enforcing their own network neutrality rules. This decision could spur other states to develop their own net neutrality laws.
FCC Settles Auction Communications Investigation
The FCC entered into a Consent Decree with Lumen Technologies, Inc. (“Lumen”) last week following the Commission’s investigation into whether Lumen engaged in prohibited communications of its bidding and bidding strategies to other Auction 105 participants and failed to report prohibited communications to the FCC. On May 8, 2020, the second day of the Auction 105 Quiet Period, a site-acquisition consultant retained by Lumen submitted a colocation application for the potential placement of 3.5 GHz band transmitters to a tower owner in Cambridge, Minnesota that also happened to be an Auction 105 applicant. The application then became an exhibit to a site license agreement that was provided to Lumen by its consultant on August 6, 2020. Although Lumen did not have knowledge of the May 8 submission of the colocation agreement by its consultant, Lumen is now required to pay a $75,000 settlement, implement a compliance plan, and submit annual reports to the Commission over the next three years.
FCC Issues Proposal on Broadband Nutrition Labels
Last week, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would require broadband Internet providers to display easy-to-understand “Broadband Nutrition Labels” to allow consumers to comparison shop for broadband services. The proposal, required under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, would require broadband providers to display, at the point of sale, labels that show prices, including introductory rates, as well as speeds, data allowances, network management practices, and other critical broadband service information. The proposal builds off the voluntary labels the FCC approved in 2016.
Section 253 Petition Terminated
Last week, the FCC issued an Order granting a joint motion filed by Mediacom and the City of West Des Moines, Iowa to withdraw Mediacom’s petition against the City. Mediacom alleged that the City’s propoed conduit lease agreement with Google Fiber was discriminatory right-of-way practice in violation of Section 253 of the Federal Communications Act. The parties have reached a settlement.
FCC Issues Order to Dismantle
Last week, the FCC issued an Order to Dismantle against the owners of an antenna structure located in Pine Bluff, Arkansas that was deemed a menace to aviation by the Federal Aviation Admission (“FAA”). The structure, which was built in connection with an FM broadcast station, was originally registered with the Commission in 1998 and required to have obstruction and flashing lights operating on it. Since then, the structure has been sold to several different entities over time and remained unlit for several years. Accordingly, the FCC is now ordering the land owners to dismantle the structure within 90 days.