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Telecom Alert: Net Neutrality Order; 4.9 GHz Proceeding Filings; Data Privacy Laws in Maryland; Waiver Request Pleading Cycle [Vol. XXI, Issue 20]
Monday, May 13, 2024

FCC Releases Net Neutrality Order

Last week, the FCC released a Declaratory Ruling and Order reclassifying broadband Internet access service (“BIAS”) as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The FCC will use the reclassification to establish a nationwide framework of open Internet rules for BIAS providers. To start, the Commission has prohibited blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization by BIAS providers. It also adopted rules to prohibit unreasonable interference with consumers or edge providers’ ability to select, access, or use BIAS. To enforce these rules, the Commission will rely on advisory opinions, enforcement advisories, Commission-initiated investigations, and informal and formal complaints.

Filings in 4.9 GHz Proceeding

The Coalition for Emergency Response and Critical Infrastructure (“CERCI”) filed a letter opposing the Public Safety Spectrum Alliance’s (“PSSA”) request that the FCC grant the First Responder Network Authority (“FNA”) control of the 4.9 GHz band. PSSA suggested that the Commission grant a nationwide overlay license to a Band Manager that would engage in a sharing agreement with FNA, or directly assign a nationwide license to FNA. CERCI argues that FNA is not authorized to operate beyond the 700 MHz band, and that the proposal implicates the major questions and nondelegation doctrines, among other things. In 2023, the FCC adopted rules to establish a Band Manager for the 4.9 GHz band based on the selected entity’s expertise and connections to the public safety community.

Data Privacy Laws in Maryland

Maryland’s governor signed two data privacy bills into law last week, making Maryland the second state to place strong limits on information collected about children. The Maryland Kids Code requires websites and apps default to the highest level of privacy, prohibits the use of manipulative techniques to keep teens online, and disallows services from unnecessarily profiling minors and collecting their locations, among other restrictions. The Maryland Online Data Privacy Act requires privacy notices be provided to consumers, restricts data collection to only what is reasonably necessary and proportionate to provide a product or service, and requires mechanisms for consumers to revoke their consent to data collection, among other things. 

PLMR Waiver Request Pleading Cycle

The City of Woodburn, Oregon, a Public Safety Pool licensee, submitted a waiver request to operate a new trunked private land mobile radio (“PLMR”) system using four VHF channels from the Industrial/Business (“I/B”) Pool in Marion County, Oregon. The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau seeks comment on the waiver request. Section 90.35(a) of the Commission’s rules limit eligibility for channels in the I/B Pool to entities performing commercial, educational, philanthropic, or other business-related activities. Comments and reply comments are due June 10 and June 25, 2024, respectively.

Thomas B. Magee, Tracy P. Marshall, Sean A. Stokes, and Wesley K. Wright contributed to this article.

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