COVID-19: What Communications Service Providers Need to Know – October 5, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact how Americans connect at work and home, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has been active to keep communications services available through various waivers, extensions, and other regulatory relief. Kelley Drye’s Communications Practice Group is tracking these actions and what they mean for communications service providers and their customers. CommLaw Monitor periodically provides updates to its analysis of the latest regulatory and legislative actions impacting your business and the communications industry. Click on the COVID-19” blog category for previous updates.

If you have any urgent questions, please contact your usual Kelley Drye attorney or any member of the Communications Practice Group. For more information on other aspects of the federal and state response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as labor and employment and other issues, please visit Kelley Drye’s COVID-19 Response Resource Center.

FCC Extends Telehealth Purchase and Implementation Deadline

On September 28, 2020, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (“WCB”) extended the deadline for COVID-19 Telehealth Program funding recipients to purchase eligible devices and implement eligible services. The Public Notice extended the deadline from September 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020. Since the start of Program funding on April 16, the FCC approved 539 applications in 47 states plus Washington, D.C. and Guam for a total of $200 million in funding — the amount of money appropriated by Congress for the Program in the CARES Act. There are no immediate plans to provide additional funding for the Program.

FCC Grants Three COVID-19-Related Waiver Requests

On September 30, 2020 the WCB granted several requests for review, requests for waiver, and petitions for reconsideration of decisions related to actions taken by the Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”), including three related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Public Notice granted two requests for waiver of a filing deadline due to COVID-19 and one request for waiver of a 499-Q revision deadline due to COVID-19. In each case, the filer claimed that COVID-19 related shutdowns caused the filer to miss the filing deadline or to file an incorrect form. The Bureau cited to an order granting waivers of the filing deadlines in areas impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017.