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What’s New in Wireless - June 2024

The wireless industry has revolutionized the way we connect, from facilitating teleworking, distance learning, and telemedicine to allowing the American public to interact virtually in almost all other aspects of their daily lives.  Leading policymakers – federal regulators and legislators – are making it a top priority to ensure that the wireless industry has the tools and resources it needs to keep pace with this evolving landscape.  This blog provides monthly updates on actions by federal regulatory bodies responsible for communications policy and Congressional efforts to support wireless connectivity.  And this month we highlight the FCC’s proposed changes to its wireless equipment authorization program so that it is not compromised by entities that have been found to pose national security concerns. 

Regulatory Actions and Initiatives 

The FCC Proposes Rules to Prevent Certain Entities from Impacting Wireless Equipment Authorizations.  On May 23, 2024, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposes new rules to help ensure the security and integrity of America’s communications supply chain.  In particular, the Commission proposes to prohibit any Telecommunications Certification Body (“TCB”) or Measurement Facility (“Test Lab”) that is at least 10% owned or controlled by an entity on the FCC’s Covered List from participating in the Commission’s equipment authorization program.  It also proposes to require TCBs and Test Labs to report information on any entity that holds a 5% or greater direct or indirect equity or voting interest in a TCB or Test Lab.  Finally, the Commission seeks comment on the extent to which it should impose similar requirements and restrictions on entities included in lists developed by other Executive Branch agencies that identify national security risks. 

A News Release accompanying the item stated that the proposals “seek[] to ensure that the FCC’s equipment authorization program meets the challenges posed by persistent and ever-changing security and supply chain threats and those entrusted with administering are trustworthy.”  FCC Commissioner Carr also released a Fact Sheet about the proposals, and Commissioner Gomez issued a News Release expressing her support for the proposals. Comments and reply comments will be due 60 and 90 days, respectively, after Federal Register publication, which has not yet occurred.  


The FCC and NTIA Take Preliminary Steps to Implement the National Spectrum Strategy.  On May 14, 2024, FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel announced the establishment of the Spectrum Steering Team, which will lead the FCC’s efforts to develop and implement spectrum policies as well as execute the National Spectrum Strategy, including the study and repurposing of 2,786 megahertz of spectrum for commercial wireless services.  The Spectrum Steering Team will consist of policy experts, economists, and engineers from across the agency.  Chairwoman Rosenworcel commented that “the Spectrum Steering Team will put its experience, talent and leadership to work helping to shape a bright wireless future.” 

Relatedly, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (“NTIA”) Senior Advisor for Spectrum Policy released a blog post on NTIA’s commitment to establish a multistakeholder forum for non-federal engagement in the studies of the 3 GHz and 7/8 GHz bands as a part of the National Spectrum Strategy.  The blog post states that NTIA is working on how to solicit engagement and will make details available in the future.  

The FCC Seeks Comment on a Proposed Swap of Millimeter Wave Spectrum.  The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“WTB”) released a Public Notice seeking comment on a request by California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks (“GeoLinks”) to swap some of its Local Multipoint Distribution Service (“LMDS”) spectrum holdings in the 29 GHz to 31 GHz frequency range for LMDS spectrum that is in the FCC’s inventory.  According to GeoLinks, its proposal would “accelerat[e] deployment of gigabit-speed, low-latency wireless broadband—including in rural areas most in need of connectivity.”  The deadline for submitting comments on the request is June 17, with a July 2 deadline for reply comments.  

The FCC Establishes Comment Deadlines for Wireless Emergency Alert Proposals.  The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau released a Public Notice announcing the deadlines for submitting comments on its proposals for how commercial mobile service providers participating in the Wireless Emergency Alert system would implement multilingual alert templates.  The Bureau’s proposals include, among other things, questions about whether the templates and their translations are accurate and will be effective at encouraging the public to take protective action during emergencies.  Comments and reply comments will be due June 12 and July 12, respectively.

The FCC Approves 3.5 GHz ESC in Hawaii.  The WTB and the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology released a Public Notice on May 30, 2024, approving the new Environmental Sensing Capability (“ESC”) sensor deployment and coverage plans of Federated Wireless.  Federated Wireless is now authorized to operate its ESC sensors in the Hawaii 1 through 9 and Pearl Harbor Dynamic Protection Areas. Before it may provide commercial services, Federated Wireless must (i) operate in conjunction with at least one Spectrum Access System (“SAS”) that has been approved for commercial deployment; and (ii) provide the FCC with a notification that affirms that its sensors are constructed and operational and that includes the name(s) of the approved SAS. 

Wireless Equipment and Technologies

NTIA Kicks Off an Evaluation of 6G Technologies.  On May 21, 2024, NTIA issued a Request for Public Comment (“RPC”) requesting input on the current state of development of 6G technology, in order to guide Executive Branch policies intended to facilitate its advancement.  The RPC asks a series of questions in different areas, including potential use cases and research and development efforts.  It notes that the RPC “is not focused on spectrum issues surrounding 6G.”  Comments on the RPC are due August 21. 

NTIA Educates Parties Interested in Funding for Wireless Spectrum-Sensing Technologies.  On May 14, 2024, NTIA’s Office of Spectrum Management released a blog post on the Public Wireless Innovation Fund Second Notice of Funding Opportunity, which will award up to $420 million for projects that drive commercialization and innovation in open radio units.  The blog also notes that there was an informational meeting on May 17 about the funding opportunity and that applications will be due on July 10.

The FCC Grants Additional Relief to Rip-and-Replace Support Recipients.  The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau released a Public Notice on May 24, 2024, announcing that it has granted five requests for extension of support recipients’ rip-and-replace deadlines.  The grant of these requests continues to be based on funding and supply chain issues.

Legislative Efforts

The House Passes a Bill That Would Reauthorize NTIA.  On May 15, 2024, the House passed the NTIA Reauthorization Act.  If enacted, the bill would, among other things, reauthorize NTIA; codify NTIA’s Office of Spectrum Management, Institute for Telecommunication Sciences, and Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee in the NTIA Organization Act; and require NTIA to establish an interagency national security review process with respect to foreign ownership issues arising in applications for international Section 214 authority, applications for submarine cable landing licenses, or applications to assign or transfer control of existing radio/wireless licenses.  The bill is now in the Senate. 

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Angela Y. Kung

Member / Chair, Technology, Communications & Media Practice

Angela Y. Kung draws on significant knowledge of the wireless regulatory landscape and experience at the FCC to advise clients on FCC rules and procedures. With particular expertise on spectrum use policies and auction procedures, she has shepherded Mintz's clients through several FCC auctions related to next-generation 5G wireless technologies and routinely advocates on behalf of clients to help ensure that the agency’s rules align with their interests.
Christen B'anca Glenn is a Mintz attorney who advises communications and technology clients on regulatory and compliance matters before the FCC.