Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Comment Deadline Extended: Draft PEA of ASR

The FCC has released a public notice extending the comment deadline for the Draft Program Environmental Assessment of the Antenna Structure Registration Program.  The new comment deadline is now November 2, 2011.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Open Commission Meeting on Public Safety

Today the Commission held its monthly open meeting with an agenda focused on public safety.  Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau representatives were in attendance to discuss NG911 and the role of deployable aerial communications during times of emergency.

NG911: The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau presented a white paper on NG911 network connectivity costs that ultimately determined that NG911 has the potential to be more cost-effective to operate and upgrade than the legacy 911 system.  The study offers two models for NG911 deployment: a baseline model and a cost-effective model that assumes cost savings from a reduction in the total number of 911 call centers nationwide and a greater percentage of call centers sharing NG911 infrastructure as opposed to operating their own dedicated systems.  The baseline model concluded that the network connectivity and call routing costs to transition to NG911 will be approximately $2.68 billion over 10 years while the cost-effective model estimated approximately $1.44 billion.

Aerial Communications Architecture: The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau also presented a white paper outlining a vision for how “deployable aerial communications architecture” (“DACA”) can be used to provide communications following a catastrophic event when the terrestrial communications infrastructure is severely damaged or unavailable.  The white paper found that DACA is deployable 12 to 18 hours after a catastrophic event to restore critical communications, including broadband, temporarily for a period of 72 hours or more.  The Bureau recommended the following steps for further Commission action: (1) open an inquiry by the end of the year to gather data and address the role of DACA; (2) host a workshop on DACA solutions by the end of the year; (3) share findings with FEMA, FAA, and other federal agencies to initiate discussions regarding pilot programs and implementation; and (4) work with the Department of State and other appropriate Federal agencies to explore any international implications of these issues.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Federal Register Publishes OMB Approval of Information Collections for Net Neutrality

Today, the Federal Register published the Office of Management and Budget’s (“OMB’s”) approval of the information collections necessary for the Open Internet rules (also known as Net Neutrality rules).  According to the FCC’s Open Internet Order, these rules will become effective 60 days from today, on November 21, 2011.  Appeals of the Open Internet Order, however, may not be filed until the full text of the Open Internet Order is published in the Federal Register, which we expect to occur over the next one to three weeks.

Pursuant to the Commission guidance circulated earlier this year, the rules adopted by the Open Internet Order require that “a person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service shall publicly disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of its broadband Internet access services sufficient for consumers to make informed choices regarding use of such services and for content, application, service, and device providers to develop, market, and maintain Internet offerings.” (¶ 54 of the Order).  In addition, mobile broadband providers will also be required to “disclose their third-party device and application certification procedures, if any; to clearly explain their criteria for any restrictions on use of their network; and to expeditiously inform device and application providers of any decisions to deny access to the network or of a failure to approve their particular devices or applications.” (¶ 98). 

The Open Internet Order further states that “a person engaged in the provision of mobile broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block consumers from accessing lawful websites, subject to reasonable network management; nor shall such person block applications that compete with the provider’s voice or video telephony services, subject to reasonable network management.” (¶ 99).    

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions, or would like assistance in complying with these rules.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Competition Data Requested in Special Acess NPRM

Today the FCC released a Public Notice inviting voluntary submissions of data to assist the Commission in evaluating the various issues that have been raised in the Special Access NPRM.  Generally, the Commission is seeking detailed information on special access pricing, revenues, and expenditures and other related competition data for the calendar-year 2010.  The Notice also seeks data about the nature of terms and conditions for special access services.
The Commission requests that data is submitted by December 5, 2011.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Public Notice Released on LightSquared's Request for ACT Commercial Operating Authority

The FCC has released a Public Notice on the status of testing in connection with LightSquared’s Request for Ancillary Terrestrial Component (“ATC”) Commercial Operating Authority (attached).  The FCC has determined that additional targeted testing is needed to ensure that any potential commercial terrestrial services offered by LightSquared will not cause harmful interference to GPS operations.

Due to industry concerns, the Commission conditioned a January 26, 2011 Order and Authorization on LightSquared sufficiently addressing the potential for harmful interference that its planned commercial terrestrial service could cause to GPS devices.  This Order also required LightSquared to help organize and to fully participate in a technical working group to address potential GPS interference.  

The technical working group, comprised of more than 120 participants including representatives from various federal agencies, identified the potential for harmful interference from LightSquared’s original deployment proposal based on the operation of terrestrial transmitters in both the upper and lower 10 MHz portions of its spectrum.  LightSquared submitted proposed mitigation techniques to remedy the interference to GPS operations, and specifically, it proposed to revise its planned deployment to operate terrestrial transmitters only in the lower 10 MHz of its spectrum.  The FCC notes that the results thus far from the testing using the lower 10 MHz showed significant improvement compared to tests of the upper 10 MHz, although continued interference concerns necessitate additional testing.

Monday, September 12, 2011

CellAntenna Petition for Rulemaking

CellAntenna, a company that makes devices that jam wireless signals, filed a Petition for Rulemaking with the FCC on Sept. 2.  In addition to producing jamming devices, CellAntenna has also developed a program to detect and identify contraband wireless devices within correctional facilities by serial number.  This system will also identify the carrier providing service to the device.

In its Petition, CellAntenna responds to the NTIA May 2010 NOI  on the use of contraband cell phones in prisons, which asked for comments on technological approaches to help corrections officials block or reduce unauthorized use of wireless devices by inmates, specifically, jamming, managed access and detection.  

·       CellAntenna supports efforts to allow jamming wireless device signals “as a comprehensive solution” that may be implemented without the cooperation of the CMRS providers. 
·       CellAntenna argues that managed access must include all frequencies and frequency ranges being accessed by the wireless devices, legitimate and contraband, within the facility. This approach would require CMRS providers cooperation by entering a spectrum lease agreement with the correctional facility.
·       CellAntenna believes that out of the three approaches, detection is the least technologically invasive, however, better use of detection equipment can be made with the CMRS provider’s cooperation.

CellAntenna’s proposed three step plan:
1)      Correctional facility performs a sweep electronically using equipment that identifies certain unique characteristics of a wireless device through radio frequencies.  
2)      By email or fax, the warden transmits to CMRS provider identifying the contraband wireless device by serial number.
3)      CMRS provider must a) send a warning to the identified contraband device by SMS that the device is operating illegally and b) suspend service to the contraband wireless device within one hour after receipt of the notice of contraband device.  
CellAntenna stresses the importance of CMRS provider cooperation and cites recent Facebook cooperation - “Facebook has agreed to shut down inmate pages, citing its user agreement that prohibits illegal activity on Facebook.  Each of the CMRS providers includes a similar clause in its customers agreements.” (pg. 9).  CellAntenna further notes that Title 18 has been amended to criminalize possession of a wireless device in a federal correctional facility and that most states have similar laws.

CellAntenna proposes that the FCC amend its rules to ultimately place the responsibility for management of contraband wireless devices in the hands of CMRS providers by requiring carriers to suspend the service of all subscribers whose cellphones are detected to be operating in a prison in violation of the institution’s rules. (pg. 10). 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

FCC Seeks Comment and Announces Public Meeting on Draft PEA of ASR

A Public Notice was released announcing the FCC’s Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) which was prepared to evaluate the environmental impacts of the Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) program.  The ASR Program is the process under which each antenna structure that requires FAA notification must be registered with the FCC by its owner.  The Draft PEA reviews the existing ASR program and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance procedures to evaluate their effects on migratory birds and other environmental resources.  Generally, environmental impacts from towers are dependent on a variety of factors including location, height, structural support system, and lighting scheme.   However, in this Draft PEA the FCC finds that the impact of the ASR program at the national level on all resources are not significant. 

The FCC is inviting comment on the Draft PEA through a public meeting and filings. 

Public Meeting Date: September 20, 2011, 2:30 -5:00 ET,
Comment Date: October 3, 2011

Cramming NPRM Comment Dates Set

Last month, the Commission released an NPRM on Cramming that proposes to require both wireline and wireless carriers to notify subscribers on all bills and on their Web sites that subscribers may file complaints with the Commission, provide the Commission’s contact information for the submission of complaints, and include on Web sites a link to the Commission’s complaint Web page.

The NPRM has been published in the Federal Register and Comments are due by October 24, 2011 and Reply Comments are due November 21, 2011.