FCC June Meeting Agenda Includes Broadened Supply Chain Measures, Improved Emergency Alerts and Robocall Reporting, and Expanded Telehealth Guidance

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The FCC released the agenda for its next Commission Open Meeting, scheduled for June 17, 2021. The meeting will first consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) and Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) to broaden the secured communications supply chain beyond the FCC’s universal service programs. Specifically, the NPRM would propose to prohibit all future authorizations for equipment on the FCC’s Covered List, revoke current equipment authorizations for equipment on the Covered List, and require certifications from future FCC auction participants that they will not rely on financial support from any entities designated as a national security threat. The FCC also tees up a Report and Order that would allow for expanded marketing and importation of radiofrequency devices prior to certification, with certain conditions to prohibit sale or operation of those devices prior to authorization. The agency will next consider a Report and Order and FNPRM that would improve and streamline the agency’s Emergency Alert System (“EAS”) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (“WEA”) Systems, as initially proposed in a March 2021 NPRM. The FCC will also consider a Report and Order that would streamline private entity reporting of robocalls and spoofed caller ID by creating a direct reporting portal to the Enforcement Bureau, along with a Report and Order providing additional guidance and clarity on the agency’s telehealth-driven Connected Care Pilot Program. Lastly, the meeting agenda includes items that would explore spectrum options for maritime navigations systems and modify existing low power FM rules.

You will find more information about the most significant items on the June meeting agenda after the break:

Securing the Communications Supply Chain – The NPRM and NOI would seek comment on a proposal to prohibit all future authorizations for equipment on the FCC’s Covered List under the Secure and Trusted Communications Act. The NPRM would seek comment on whether, and how, the FCC should revoke any current authorizations for equipment included on the Covered List, and if it should revise the rules to no longer permit exceptions for equipment authorizations on the Covered List. It would also propose to require participants in any upcoming FCC auctions to certify that their auction bids do not and will not rely on financial support from any entity that the agency has designated as a national security threat to the communications supply chain. The NOI would seek comment on how the FCC can leverage its equipment authorization program to encourage manufacturers to consider cybersecurity standards and guidelines when building devices that will connect to U.S. networks.

Modernizing Equipment Marketing and Importation – The Report and Order would adopt changes to the equipment authorization rules to allow expanded marketing and importation of radiofrequency (“RF”) devices prior to certification, with conditions. The Order would add a new condition to allow importation of up to 12,000 RF devices for certain pre-sale activities prior to authorization. It would additionally amend the FCC’s rules to allow conditional sales of RF devices prior to authorization, so long as those devices will not be delivered to consumers until they are authorized. The Order includes labeling, recordkeeping, and other conditions to ensure that RF devices are not sold or operated prior to equipment authorization.

Improving Emergency Alert Systems – The Report and Order and FNPRM would adopt the rule changes proposed in the FCC’s March 2021 NPRM to update the EAS and WEA systems rules, pursuant with the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) requirements. The Order would create a new category of non-optional “National Alerts,” combining WEA Presidential Alerts with FEMA Administrator Alerts, which may be nationally or regionally distributed. States would be encouraged to establish a state EAS plan checklist for State Emergency Communications Committees (“SECCs”), or otherwise establish an SECC if not already formed. This Report and Order would also enable FEMA to report false EAS and WEA alerts and to repeat certain EAS messages if necessary. The FNPRM would seek comment on whether to remove or refine certain EAS emergency event codes that are irrelevant or confusing, and on whether to update the EAS to include a more persistent display and notification of emergency messages for more severe events.

Implementing the TRACED Act – The Report and Order would establish rules pursuant to the TRACED Act to create a process that streamlines the ways in which a private entity may report robocalls or spoofed caller ID to the FCC. The Commission would create on online portal where private entities, meaning any entity other than an individual person or public entity, could submit suspected violations directly to the Enforcement Bureau. The Order clarifies that the new portal would not affect the existing consumer complaint process, and the agency will still use the consumer complaint portal for individual consumer complaints.

Connected Care Pilot Program – The Second Report and Order offers further guidance on the Commission’s Connected Care Pilot Program, including on the Pilot Program budget and administration, eligible services, competitive bidding instructions, invoicing, and data reporting for selected participants. Notably, the Order clarifies that the Pilot Program will reimburse network equipment purchases necessary to make both broadband and connected care information services functional, even if the Pilot Program is not directly supporting the costs of those services. The FCC announced earlier this year that an initial 23 applicants had been selected, with more selected applications to be announced at a later date, and selected applicants could begin the funding request process once this Report and Order becomes effective.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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