September 23, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 266


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September 21, 2023

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September 20, 2023

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Telecom Alert: Sixth Circuit Rejects USF Rehearing; $1.4 Million USF Fine Proposed; 900 MHz Applications Granted; ECF Funding [Vol. XX, Issue 23]

Sixth Circuit Rejects Review of USF Decision

Last week, the Sixth Circuit issued an Order denying a petition to rehear its decision rejecting a constitutional challenge to the FCC’s authority to administer the Universal Service Fund (Vol. XX, Issue 13).  In May, a Sixth Circuit panel rejected challengers’ claims that the USF violates the separation of powers by delegating the Commission taxing authority.  In denying the petition, the Sixth Circuit noted that the issues raised in the petition were fully considered in the original submission and subsequent decision of the case, and no judge requested a vote on the suggestion for rehearing en banc.  Three other circuits are currently considering similar cases.

$1.4 Million USF Fine Proposed

The FCC issued Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture for $1,460,085 against PayG, LLC, d/b/a Skyswitch (“PayG”) for apparently failing to pay Universal Service Fund (“USF”), Telecommunications Relay Service Fund (“TRS Fund”) North American Numbering Plan (“NANP”), and federal regulatory fees.  According to the Notice, PayG underreported revenues in its Annual Worksheets between 2018 and 2021 and repeatedly failed to cooperate with documentation production requirements, resulting in a failure to pay or pay fully the required obligations by the payment deadlines.  The proposed fine is the first enforcement action since 2015 based on a newly adopted Order that vacates a 2015 Forfeiture Policy Statement announcing a treble damages methodology for these types of fee violations that was never put into practice.  Accordingly, forfeiture penalties for payment violations in future adjudications can be adjusted based on the unique factors present in a case, resulting in fines more tailored to the circumstances of the case than those calculated using the treble damages methodology.  

900 MHz Applications Granted

The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau issued a Public Notice last week granting four 900 MHz broadband segment license applications (Vol. XX, Issue 15).  The FCC realigned the 900 MHz band in May 2020 to make available six megahertz of low-band spectrum for the development of critical wireless broadband technologies and services, while reserving four megahertz of spectrum for continued narrowband operations.  The application is from PDV Spectrum Holding Company, LLC for Pueblo County, Weld County, Broomfield County, and Denver County, Colorado. 

ECF Funding

The FCC announced that it is committing over $15 million in a new funding round through the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program (the “Program”).  The commitment will support applications from the first and third filing windows and will support approximately 35,000 students in states including California, Delaware, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Nebraska, New York, and Pennsylvania.  To date, the Program has provided support to roughly 11,000 schools, 1,000 libraries, and 120 consortia.  

© 2023 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume XIII, Number 158

About this Author


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...

Jason Chun Telecommunications Compliance Keller and Heckman

Jason Chun assists corporate clients, trade associations, critical infrastructure companies, and commercial providers with telecommunications compliance, regulatory, and transactional matters before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and state agencies. He counsels clients on a broad array of policy, regulatory, transactional, and information technology matters. 

Jason also assists clients in all aspects of wireless licensing, the experimental licensing process, equipment authorizations, and spectrum acquisition through mergers...

Timothy A. Doughty, Keller Heckman, Telecommunications Licensing Specialist, Lawyer, FCC Matters Attorney

Timothy Doughty joined Keller and Heckman in 2009 as a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Licensing Specialist.

Mr. Doughty assists clients with the preparation of FCC applications, modifications, special temporary authorities, requests for rule waiver, renewals and spectrum leases in various radio services including Private Land Mobile, Microwave, Coast and Ground and Aircraft. His capabilities also include the preparation of tower registrations with the FCC and Obstruction Evaluations and Aeronautical Studies with the Federal Aviation...

Greg Kunkle Telecommunications and Trade Law Keller and Heckman

Gregory (Greg) Kunkle assists telecommunications corporate clients and trade associations with various legal and regulatory matters before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Clients such as electric utilities, oil and gas companies, railroads, public safety agencies, and commercial providers regularly seek Greg’s counsel regarding FCC wireless licensing and compliance issues. He assists clients in identifying and acquiring wireless spectrum through a variety of means, including spectrum leasing, purchase and sale of licenses, and the FCC's auction process.

Greg also...

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...