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Breaking News: FCC Reopens and Suspends Filing Deadlines

As the FCC reopens today after being shut down for 16 days, it has reactivated its website and posted the following notice:

SUSPENSION OF FILING DEADLINES
As a result of the recent shutdown of Commission services, including access to electronic dockets on the Commission’s web site, due to a government-wide lapse in appropriations, we suspend all Commission filing deadlines that occurred during the shutdown or that will occur on or before October 21, other than Network Outage Reporting System (NORS) filing deadlines, until further notice. The Commission will soon issue further guidance on revised filing deadlines.

We recommend that parties refrain from submitting filings seeking additional relief until after they consider the further guidance.

Given that this was the first government shutdown of the online era, today’s announcement is welcome news for many FCC filers. Unlike in previous shutdowns, where applications could be prepared offline (or “on paper” as the communications bar refers to it) and just submitted when the government reopens, the FCC’s movement of most applications to online filings made this shutdown far more disruptive. With the FCC website shut down, applicants couldn’t even prepare their applications, much less file them, meaning that there will be a lot of activity on the FCC website over the next week as applicants make up for lost time. We’ll know in the next few days whether the newly reactivated FCC website is able to handle that sudden load.

Of course, how intense that activity will be depends on how much additional time the FCC provides for filings in its promised “further guidance” announcement. Stay tuned.

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