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As has been widely reported, there is an ongoing global shortage of semiconductor chips that enable products and services throughout many sectors of the economy.  On Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a Public Notice seeking public comment on the impact of this chip shortage on the U.S. communications sector specifically.

The Public Notice does not propose new rules, rather, it seeks input from stakeholders in the communications sector to guide the FCC’s priorities and initiatives as it seeks to help build a more secure and resilient communications supply chain.  In issuing the Public Notice, acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel pointed out that “these tiny pieces of technology are the basic building blocks of modern communications—including 5G, Wi-Fi, satellites, and more.”

The Public Notice was released amidst efforts by Congress and the White House to address the current challenges facing the semiconductor industry in the United States, through the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act (CHIPS Act) passed in January and President Biden’s executive order on America’s Supply Chains issued in February.

In the Public Notice, the FCC seeks comment on questions regarding the specific causes and impacts of the global semiconductor shortage as well as the steps the FCC may take to address the challenges the shortage has created for the communications sector.  For example, the FCC asks for members of the public to provide information and ideas on:

  • Information to assist in measuring the extent of the impact of the shortage on specific technology nodes;
  • Different uses of semiconductors, such as systems-on-a-chip, microprocessors, memory chips, and standard chips;
  • Stakeholders in the communications sector that are affected by the shortage, such as consumers, enterprise system users, private network operators, and service providers;
  • The impact of the shortage on services that have moved online during the pandemic (e.g., remote learning and telehealth) and on vertical markets;
  • Steps the FCC can take to address the shortage;
  • How the FCC can effectively collaborate with Federal partners regarding the shortage; and
  • How the FCC can help prevent similar issues in the future to promote United States leadership in semiconductor manufacturing.

Comments on the Public Notice will be due June 10, 2021, and reply comments will be due June 25, 2021.

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Photo of Matthew DelNero Matthew DelNero

Matt DelNero provides expert regulatory counsel to companies of all sizes in the telecommunications, technology and media sectors. As a former senior official with the FCC and longtime private practitioner, Matt helps clients achieve their goals and navigate complex regulatory and public policy…

Matt DelNero provides expert regulatory counsel to companies of all sizes in the telecommunications, technology and media sectors. As a former senior official with the FCC and longtime private practitioner, Matt helps clients achieve their goals and navigate complex regulatory and public policy challenges.

Matt serves as co-chair of Covington’s Technology & Communications Regulation (“TechComm”) Practice Group and co-chair of the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion initiative.

Matt advises clients on the full range of issues impacting telecommunications, technology and media providers today, including:

  • Structuring and securing FCC and other regulatory approvals for media and telecommunications transactions.
  • Conducting regulatory due diligence for transactions in the telecommunications, media, and technology sectors.
  • Obtaining approval for foreign investment in broadcasters and telecommunications providers.
  • Universal Service Fund (USF) programs, including the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunities Fund (RDOF).
  • FCC enforcement actions and inquiries.
  • Online video accessibility, including under the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Equipment authorizations for IoT and other devices.
  • Spectrum policy and auctions, including for 5G.
  • Privacy and data protection, with a focus on telecommunications and broadband providers.

Matt also maintains an active pro bono practice representing LGBTQ+ asylum seekers, as well as veterans petitioning for discharge upgrades—including discharges under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and predecessor policies that targeted LGBTQ+ servicemembers.

Prior to rejoining Covington in January 2017, Matt served as Chief of the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau. He played a leading role in development of policies around net neutrality, broadband privacy, and broadband deployment and affordability under the federal Universal Service Fund (USF).

Chambers USA has recognized Matt as a “go-to attorney for complex matters before the FCC and other federal agencies, drawing on impressive former government experience.”