On October 13, 2021, William Shatner (aka, Captain Kirk from Star Trek) flew where few have gone before, taking a ten minute jaunt to the edge of outer space.  The successful flight comes on the heels of other highly-publicized, successful commercial space flights, including the September 15, 2021, SpaceX mission dubbed “Inspiration4” that made history as the first orbital spaceflight with no professional astronauts onboard.  As the era of commercial spaceflight draws ever closer, the space industry is building toward expanded commercial opportunities in space, including private space stations, space hotels, and colonies on the moon and Mars.  So now, as we stand on the precipice of the commercial space revolution, it is important to reflect on the regulatory “learning period” that enabled U.S. commercial space flight to reach this juncture and consider the timing and substance of the regulatory framework necessary to spur our next great leap forward.

Continue Reading Captain’s Blog: Fly Me To The Moon

On September 21, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued the latest single in its anthology of decisions regulating the relationship between incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) and electric utilities, ensuring ILECS are charged rates comparable to similarly situated communications attachers.

Continue Reading The FCC’s Latest Pole Attachment Ruling: “Just Another Brick In The Wall” for Electric Utilities, or “Satisfaction” for ILECS?

On May 26, 2021, a Sixth Circuit panel rejected challenges by numerous municipalities to a 2019 order by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that most “in kind” (non-cash) contributions required by cable franchisees qualify as franchise fees subject to the federal Cable Act’s 5% cap.
Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Affirms FCC Rule That Most In Kind Contributions Are Franchise Fees

Plan Provides Subsidies for Device Purchases and Internet Service Subscriptions

On May 12, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) began enrolling eligible households in its Emergency Broadband Benefit (“EBB”) program.  The EBB program provides eligible households with up to a $50 monthly discount on their internet plans (and up to $75 a month discounted for households located on Tribal lands).[1]  The EBB also includes funding for a one-time discount of up to $100 for a tablet, computer, or other specified device for qualifying households.[2]
Continue Reading FCC Launches Consumer Broadband Device and Service Program

Earlier this month, the FCC adopted a Report & Order (“R&O”) streamlining the application review process for transactions involving foreign investment or participation in U.S. telecommunications companies (commonly known as “Team Telecom” but also referred to as “the Committee” in the R&O).  Team Telecom is comprised of a committee of Executive Branch agencies (including the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice) tasked with assessing the national security, law enforcement, foreign policy, and trade policy concerns in these cross-border M&A transactions involving U.S. telecom companies.  The FCC issued the R&O to formalize a decades-long practice and update its rules governing Team Telecom review consistent with the President’s April 4, 2020 Executive Order No. 13913 (the “EO”).  The FCC builds upon the initial procedural requirements set by the EO to add certainty and transparency to the Team Telecom review process in a manner that protects national security interests without discouraging foreign investment.
Continue Reading Formalizing Team Telecom

On August 12, 2020, a Ninth Circuit panel affirmed three orders issued in 2018 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to promote infrastructure investment and broadband deployment, including 5G small cell nodes.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Rejects Challenges to FCC’s One-Touch Make-Ready, Small Cell Deployment, and Local Moratoria Orders

The Takeaway: Severe restrictions on ByteDance’s Sale of TikTok should be a warning to media and tech companies with foreign ownership, particularly Chinese investment, to know your risks and mitigate them before the government comes knocking.
Continue Reading UPDATE: National Security Meets Teenage Dance Battles: U.S. Increases Pressure on ByteDance Sale of TikTok

On August 6, 2020, Trump issued two separate executive orders that will severely restrict TikTok and WeChat’s business in the United States.  For weeks, the media has reported on Trump’s desire to “ban” TikTok with speculation about the legal authority to do so.  We break down the impact of the Orders below.
Continue Reading National Security Meets Teenage Dance Battles: Trump Issues Executive Orders Impacting TikTok and WeChat Business in the U.S.

On April 4th, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order on Establishing the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector.  The Executive Order essentially formalizes the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC” or “Commission”) existing “Team Telecom” review process by establishing the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector (“Committee”), with one notable exception:  for the first time, Team Telecom reviews will occur subject to a defined and limited timeframe of 120 days (with the possibility of 90 additional days), as further explained below.  These timeframes are slightly lengthier than the review periods recently established by the Department of Treasury for reviews conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”).[1]
Continue Reading Too Much Time on Their Hands – New Executive Order Limits Time Period for Team Telecom Reviews

Background

Amidst the ongoing power struggle between communications service providers striving for unfettered access to rights-of-way to place their facilities, and municipalities working to protect their authority over such rights-of-way, local governments retained a measure of control over the deployment of wireless equipment in their rights-of-way when the California Supreme Court held that municipalities may consider aesthetics when granting wireless installation permits.
Continue Reading California Supreme Court Incommodes Wireless Access to Rights of Way

Providers of broadband communications services and infrastructure, owners of residential and commercial multitenant buildings such as apartment buildings, office buildings, and shopping centers (multitenant environments or “MTEs”), and broadband consumers in MTEs, are weighing in on various questions posed in the Federal Communications Commission’s recent multitenant NPRM.  See Improving Competitive Broadband Access to Multiple Tenant Environments, GN Dkt. No. 17-142, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Declaratory Ruling, FCC 19-65 (July 12, 2019) (“NPRM”), available at https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-19-65A1.pdf.
Continue Reading FCC Assessing State of Competitive Broadband Access to Multitenant Buildings