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Dave Thomas is a partner in the Business Trial Practice Group and Office Managing Partner of the firm's Washington, D.C. office.

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

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

On Thursday, August 1, 2019, the FCC took several actions to address persistent, decades-long efforts by local governments to convert their control over local rights-of-way into ever-increasing revenue streams from cable operators and other communications companies relying on those critical corridors for the provision of electronic communications. The FCC clarified that:

Continue Reading Virgil Quick Come See: FCC Drives Down Local Government Regulation of Cable Operators

Promoting infrastructure investment and broadband deployment has been a top priority for Chairman Ajit Pai’s FCC. On July 12, 2018, the Chairman took a significant stride in advancing his agenda by releasing a draft report and order that would enact, among other things, a “one-touch make-ready” (OTMR) process for most third-party communications-provider attachments to utility poles.
Continue Reading FCC Seeks “Large Step” Toward Advancing Broadband Infrastructure Goals With Draft One-Touch Make-Ready Order

At the end of March, new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai branded April “Infrastructure Month.” He paired this declaration with the announcement of a comprehensive agenda aimed at tackling a host of infrastructure-related challenges seen as critical to the deployment of high-speed broadband Internet access and bridging the digital divide. The FCC implemented the first steps of the Chairman’s infrastructure agenda yesterday, adopting proposed rulemakings intended to decrease regulatory barriers confronted by wireline and wireless providers seeking to deploy and operate broadband networks.
Continue Reading FCC Vows It’s Never Gonna Give Up On Bridging Digital Divide: Opens Rulemakings To Promote Access To Broadband Infrastructure

The FCC’s February 2015 meeting yielded two significant and controversial orders premised on the agency’s authority under Section 706 of the Communications Act: its much-publicized Open Internet Order (discussed here), and its less-publicized order preempting state statutes setting limits on municipal broadband providers, including by restricting their geographic extension of service (“Municipal Broadband Order”).  In June 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit gave the FCC a boost when it upheld the FCC’s net neutrality rules as a valid exercise of its authority under Title II of the Communications Act as well as Section 706.  Yesterday, in State of Tennessee v. FCC, Nos. 15-3291/3555, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the FCC’s assertion of sweeping preemption authority under Section 706 and remanded its Municipal Broadband Order.
Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Rejects FCC’s Effort To Preempt State Regulation Of Municipal Broadband Providers

Earlier this week, the FTC and FCC announced “parallel” investigations into how carriers and mobile device makers release information on vulnerabilities, and how and when mobile security patches are distributed. The regulators, who have publicly jockeyed for position on privacy and cybersecurity matters in the past year, appear to have reached a truce of sorts, allowing each agency to examine industry players within its core jurisdiction.
Continue Reading Let’s Go Crazy: The FTC and FCC Launch “Parallel” Investigations Into Security Updates of Mobile Communications Industry

On April 1, 2016, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that would impose new regulatory burdens on broadband Internet service providers’ use of customer data. The wide-ranging NPRM also proposes rules covering providers’ protection of customer information and their actions in the event of a data security breach.
Continue Reading They Can Be Heroes: The FCC Proposes Expansive and Detailed Privacy & Cybersecurity Regulations for Broadband ISPs

No reason to be paranoid, but chances are the (electronic) voices you hear, and the words you are reading, come from a device (Android, iPhone or other) that relies on broadband technology. Depending on where you are, and when (and who else is using the network when you are), your broadband access might be spotty because capacity and connections in some communities far outpace those in others.
Continue Reading What’s That? What’s That? Fourth Circuit Upholds FCC Collocation Regulations Against 10th Amendment Challenge

As the sun sets on 2015, but before it rises again in the New Year, we predict that, in the realm of cyber and data security, 2016 will become known as the “Rise of the Regulators.” Regulators across numerous industries and virtually all levels of government will be brandishing their cyber enforcement and regulatory badges and announcing: “We’re from the Government and we’re here to help.”
Continue Reading Government Forces Awaken: The Rise of Cyber Regulators in 2016