Today's Regulatory Mix: Bill to Protect American Networks from Suspect Foreign Equipment Becomes Law, FCC Responds to COVID-19, FCC Concludes Auction 103
Bill to Protect American Networks From Suspect Foreign Equipment Becomes Law
The President signed into law the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act (H.R. 4998) into law to help secure America’s telecommunications supply chain. The bipartisan bill:
- Requires the FCC to establish the Secure and Trusted Communications Reimbursement Program to assist small communications providers with the costs of removing prohibited equipment or services from their networks and replacing the prohibited equipment with more secure communications equipment or services;
- Helps the Federal government better share supply chain security information with carriers, particularly smaller carriers, to help keep suspect equipment out of our networks in the future.
- Prohibits the use of federal funds administered by the FCC to purchase communications equipment or services from companies that pose a national security risk to American communications networks;
In response to the bill becoming law, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR), and Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) released the following statement:
“Securing our networks from malicious foreign interference is critical to America’s wireless future, especially as some communications providers rely on equipment from companies like Huawei that pose an immense threat to America’s national and economic security,” Pallone, Walden, Matsui and Guthrie said. “With the President signing this important, bipartisan bill into law, we can take steps to protect our communications networks from bad actors, while helping small and rural providers remove and replace suspect network equipment. We look forward to continuing to work together to protect our communications networks, keep Americans safe, and bolster our national security in today’s interconnected world.”
Also in response to the bill becoming law, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a statement saying, in part: “This new law ratifies the FCC’s recently-adopted initiative to help small, rural telecommunications companies end their reliance on manufacturers that pose national security threats. Last November, the FCC initially designated two companies—Huawei and ZTE—as threats to the communications supply chain. We are now considering whether to finalize those preliminary designations while also collecting data about where equipment and services from these two companies are currently deployed. The FCC’s decisive action—along with enactment of this new law—positions us to move forward quickly to protect the American people.
Now, I hope Congress will build on this success and move forward quickly to appropriate the necessary funding to reimburse carriers for replacing any network equipment or services found to be a national security threat. This funding is essential to successfully transition communications networks—especially those of small and rural carriers—to infrastructure provided by more trusted vendors.”
FCC Response to COVID-19
The FCC announced that, effective immediately, it will no longer allow visitors into its facilities, absent special permission from the Office of Managing Director. No visitor will be granted such permission unless there is a clear operational necessity. The FCC said that this measure will remain in effect for the foreseeable future and is being taken to help protect the health and safety of our employees and mitigate or slow the transmission of COVID-19 within the community.
In addition, as a further step to practice greater social distancing and minimize congregating at the workplace and on mass transit, the FCC has advised employees that unless it is absolutely necessary for them to work from the office because they cannot otherwise accomplish their work, they should telework beginning March 13, 2020 until further notice. The FCC said it was taking these steps “while continuing to conduct the regular and ongoing work of the FCC and encourage parties with business before the Commission to work with Commission staff to schedule necessary meetings by teleconference.” The Chairman’s Office, in consultation with the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, the Office of Managing Director, and Office of General Counsel, will continue to monitor developments and will implement additional precautions (or relax current precautions) should circumstances warrant.
FCC Concludes Auction 103
The FCC announced the successful conclusion on bidding in Auction 103, which made 3,400 megahertz of millimeter-wave spectrum available in the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands. The auction had a total of $7,558,703,201 in net bids, with 28 bidders winning a total of 14,142 of 14,144, or more than 99.9%, of available licenses. “The successful conclusion of Auction 103—the largest amount of spectrum offered in an auction in U.S. history—is one more significant step the FCC has taken toward maintaining American leadership in 5G,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “A critical part of our 5G FAST plan is pushing more spectrum into the commercial marketplace. Last year, the FCC auctioned the 28 GHz and 24 GHz bands. All told, those two auctions and this one have made available almost five gigahertz of high-band spectrum for commercial use. To put that in perspective, that is more spectrum than is currently used for terrestrial mobile broadband by all wireless service providers in the United States combined. Auction 103 was a tremendous success, and we look forward to building on this positive result with the 3.5 GHz auction, which is scheduled to begin on June 25, and the C-band auction, which is scheduled to begin on December 8.”
The FCC also issued a Public Notice specifying deadlines for payments and the filing of long-form applications, and gives details for other post-auction procedures, including procedures regarding related incentive payments. Down Payments are due March 26, 2020; FCC Forms 601 and 602 are due March 26, 2020; Final Payments are due April 9, 2020; and FCC Form 1877 for Incentive Payments are due April 13, 2020.
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.