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TikTok Ban Delayed as Wal-Mart Enters, FCC Says California Not Prepared for Auction, Wireless Facilities in Rights-of-Way

Liana Sowa

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President Donald Trump on Saturday approved a deal between TikTok and ByteDance, its software developer, and Oracle on Saturday. As a result, the administration pushed off the ban on TikTok downloads from U.S. app stores that it had announced on Friday.

As a result, the effective date of the ban was pushed until Sunday, September 27, 2020.

Wal-Mart will also be a part of this deal, Trump told reporters on Saturday.

Oracle, which had previously agreed to purchase U.S. operations of TikTok, will apparently own a 12.5 percent stake, and Wal-Mart will apparently own a 7.5 percent stake, with the two U.S. companies owning a 20 percent share of the company.

Trump had said Saturday that  TikTok would be “totally controlled” by the U.S. companies. CNN reports that Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon will serve on the new TikTok’s five-member board. Oracle will beome the entity’s cloud provider.

TikTok may have more hoops to jump through, as the deal still needs to be passed by the committee on foreign investments in the U.S.

It has also yet to be approved by the Chinese government, which apparently has some degree of control over the parent company.

“While we strongly disagree with the implications of TikTok as a national security threat, we nonetheless understand the concerns,” said Vanessa Pappas, interim head of TikTok. “We’re pleased that today we’ve confirmed a proposal that resolves the Administration’s security concerns and settles questions around TikTok’s future in the U.S.”

Meanwhile, late on Saturday, the U.S. District Court in San Francisco granted a preliminary injunction halting the Trump administration’s planned ban on the China-originated app WeChat, reports the Washington Post. The judge said that the plaintiffs, a group of WeChat users, had shown there are “serious questions” related to their First Amendment claim.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Responds to California representatives on RDOF

Wading into one of the controversies surrounding the Federal Communications Commission’s implementation of a rural funding auction, agency Chairman Ajit Pai on September 11 responded (PDF) to a letter (PDF) from California Representatives Anna G. Eshoo, Jerry McNerney, Doris Matsui, and Tony Cardenas from January.

Their letter asked the FCC to consider delaying the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund proposal, claiming that the agency had ignored the California Public Utilities Commission’s request for a federal-state partnership.

They wanted to “ensure that federal and state mechanisms for investing in broadband infrastructure are better align with the efforts of California, and the 30 other states that administer broadband access programs.”

Pai responded that the FCC did not ignore CPUC’s partnership requests. Rather, he said that the agency took them into consideration but ultimately disregarded them because delaying “would cause significant delay and confusion in the entire program, as the Commission created separate mechanisms and state specific rules for each state.”

He also said that the CPUC did not have a budget or methodology for determining where subsidies would be directed.

He said that the agency had worked in partnership with New York State on a similar program because “the New York program was already funded and had a concrete plan of action.”

INCOMPAS speaker advises providers on navigating municipal rights-of-way issues

At the INCOMPAS show last week, Katherine Mudge of Enoch Kever PLLC member highlighted how broadband providers can navigate some of the thorny issues involved in operating in municipal rights of way.

How much is appropriate for a provider to pay for access to the public right of way, she questioned?

While most municipalities have an annual per-node fee, but some try to add additional fees, she said. In the San Francisco Bay Area, application fees can run $20,000 per node – and that’s before an the municipality adds in consultants that the broadband provider is required to pay as a direct cost.

It has become common practice for providers to pay the costs upfront and then dispute the charges, as that’s the only successful way to lower the prices.

Some cities have design manuals for wireless facilities, and others prohibit any equipment above ground. Still others have ordinances stipulating that wireless nodes must be 200 feet apart.

Because 5G technology requires closer spacing, Mudge said, many cities are effectively using these ordinances to push back on the development of advanced wireless facilities.

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