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Gerard J. Waldron

Gerry Waldron represents communications, media, and technology clients before the Federal Communications Commission and Congress, and in commercial transactions. Gerry served as chair of the firm’s Communications and Media Practice Group from 1998 to 2008. Prior to joining Covington, Gerry served as the senior counsel on the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications. During his work for Congress, he was deeply involved in the drafting of the 1993 Spectrum Auction legislation, the 1992 Cable Act, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), CALEA, and key provisions that became part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

Gerry’s practice includes working closely on strategic and regulatory issues with leading IT companies, high-quality content providers in the broadcasting and sports industries, telephone and cable companies on FCC proceedings, spectrum entrepreneurs, purchasers of telecommunications services, and companies across an array of industries facing privacy, TCPA and online content, gaming, and online gambling and sports betting-related issues.

Gerry has testified on communications and Internet issues before the FCC, U.S. House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee, the House Judiciary Committee, the Maryland Public Utility Commission, and the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Updated May 28, 2024.  Originally posted May 10, 2024.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to reopen the public comment period on potential further amendments to its orbital debris mitigation rules, providing space industry stakeholders with a new opportunity to provide input on regulations with far-reaching implications.  Further illustrating the FCC’s commitment to leadership in regulating commercial space operations, stakeholders have until Thursday, June 27 to provide input on the agency’s regulation of orbital debris.  Today’s Federal Register sets this comment deadline, as well as a cutoff of Friday, July 12 for any reply comments.

The relevant action is a Public Notice issued by the FCC’s Space Bureau, which the agency created last year as part of an effort to increase its role in regulating the fast-growing space economy.  The Public Notice seeks to refresh the FCC’s record concerning proposed amendments to its orbital debris mitigation rules, which generally require that U.S. satellite operators (and non-U.S.-licensed satellite operators seeking U.S. market access) submit to the FCC satellite design and operational strategies intended to minimize the risk of orbital debris.

The FCC last sought comment on these issues in April 2020, when it expanded and refined its existing orbital debris mitigation framework.  In a corresponding move, the FCC also sought input, through a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM), on additional rule amendments and proposals related to, among other issues:

  1. How satellite operators may demonstrate that they have adequately assessed and limited the probability of accidental explosions;
  2. How the FCC should evaluate the collision risk presented by large, multi-satellite constellations;
  3. Whether the FCC should adopt a requirement that all non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellites planned for operation above a certain altitude maintain propulsion capabilities designated for station-keeping and collision-avoidance maneuvers;
  4. How the FCC should consider human casualty risk, particularly with regard to large, multi-satellite constellations; and
  5. Whether, as a condition of an FCC satellite license, the FCC should require satellite operators to commit to indemnifying the U.S. government for any liability from claims for damage resulting from satellite operations.

Continue Reading FCC’s Space Bureau Seeks Further Input on Regulation of Orbital Debris; Comments Due June 27

Updated April 30, 2024.  Originally posted March 18, 2024.

In March, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a licensing framework that authorizes satellite operators to partner with terrestrial wireless providers to develop hybrid satellite-terrestrial networks intended to provide ubiquitous network connectivity, including in “dead zones” and other hard-to-reach areas.  Today’s Federal Register publication confirms that this new “Supplemental Coverage from Space” (SCS) regime will become effective Thursday, May 30, 2024, which will enable satellite operators to serve as a gap-filler in the networks of their wireless provider partners by using their satellite capability combined with spectrum previously allocated exclusively to terrestrial service.

Although the FCC’s new rules limit SCS deployments to a handful of spectrum bands, the licensing regime nevertheless marks a significant opportunity for joint operations by satellite operators and wireless service providers.  The FCC’s decision also demonstrates the agency’s commitment to leadership in regulating space-based technologies – a motivation the agency cited as justification for adopting an SCS regulatory framework described as “the first of its kind in the world.”

The SCS item, which the FCC adopted on March 14, 2024 consists of two parts: a Report and Order adopting a licensing framework for SCS deployments in specified frequency bands (the “Order”), and (2) a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) that seeks public comment on additional issues associated with the newly authorized SCS operations. Comments on the issues raised in the FNPRM are due Thursday, May 30, 2024, with reply comments due Monday, July 1, 2024.

New SCS Licensing Framework

The new SCS rules generally are consistent with the April 2023 NPRM, which proposed to allow SCS deployments in certain frequency bands and enable a satellite operator to apply for a modification of its existing FCC license to provide satellite services in these reallocated spectrum bands, provided certain conditions are met.  However, in response to public comment, the new SCS rules reflect some key changes from what the FCC originally proposed.

Terrestrial-Only Spectrum Bands Eligible for SCS Use

The FCC’s new SCS rules authorize communications from satellites networks to mobile devices (i.e., Mobile Satellite Services or MSS) in the following spectrum bands:Continue Reading FCC’s “Supplemental Coverage from Space” Rules Take Effect May 30; New Licensing Framework Expands Satellite-to-Smartphone Coverage

On November 15, 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”) became law, authorizing $65 billion in federal broadband investments with the goal of connecting all Americans to reliable, high speed, and affordable broadband.  The IIJA directed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) to oversee the distribution of $48.2 billion in infrastructure grants to

Last Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) announced that it will consider a Report and Order at its June 21, 2021 open meeting that would permit the importation and conditional sale of radiofrequency (RF) devices prior to obtaining equipment authorization in some circumstances.  The consumer electronics industry has advocated for this rule change, which will