Thursday, March 22, 2012

FCC Process Reform: House Expected to Vote on Legislation During Last Week of March

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to debate and vote on:

H.R. 3309, the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2012, the week of March 26, 2012, possibly under a procedural rule that would allow for the consideration of amendments to the bill on the House floor. Members of Congress must submit potential germane amendments to the House Rules Committee by 10 am on Monday, March 26th.  Subsequently, the Rules Committee will hold a meeting at 5:00 pm to determine the procedural rule for the debate and which of the submitted amendments will be allowed to be considered on the House floor.

H.R. 3309 was introduced by House Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Walden (R-OR).  On March 6, 2012, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a markup session and favorably reported H.R. 3309, as amended, to the House by a mostly party line vote of 31 to 16.

A companion bill (S. 1817) has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Heller (R-NV). However, staff for Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Rockefeller (D-WV) have indicated that FCC process reform legislation is not going to be taken up in the Senate this year.

A section-by-section summary of the legislation is available on pages 17-34 of H. Rept. 112-414, the Committee Report to accompany H.R. 3309.  If you have any questions concerning H.R. 3309, please contact Vance Schuemann at TLP.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

FCC Confirms March 21 Open Meeting Agenda

The Commission has released a public notice confirming the agenda for the March Open Meeting on March 21. 

Review of the Program Access Rules Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”)
The Commission will consider a NPRM exploring whether to retain, sunset, or relax the exclusive contract prohibition of the program access rules and whether to revise the program access rules to better address alleged violations.

Creation of a Low Power Radio Service Report and Order
The Commission will consider a Report and Order to implement a market-specific FM translator processing scheme, adopt application caps to prevent trafficking, and modify policies to expand opportunities to rebroadcast AM stations on FM translators.

Creation of a Low Power Radio Service NPRM and Report and Order
The Commission will consider a NPRM regarding proposals to implement the Local Community Radio Act and to strengthen the LPFM service, including second adjacent channel waiver procedures, interference remediation requirements, and modification of eligibility, ownership, and selection standards.

Promoting Interoperability in the 700 MHz Commercial Spectrum NPRM
The Commission will consider a NPRM concerning the potential for harmful interference to Lower 700 MHz B and C Block operations if the Lower 700 MHz Band were interoperable and whether, if such interference exists, it can be reasonably mitigated. The NPRM also seeks comment on the best course of action should the Commission determine that interoperability would cause limited or no harmful interference to Lower 700 MHz B and C Block licensees, or that such interference can be reasonably mitigated.

Advanced Wireless Service in the 2 GHz Band NPRM and Notice of Inquiry
The Commission will consider a NPRM proposing service, technical, assignment, and licensing rules for flexible terrestrial use of spectrum currently assigned to the Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) in the 2 GHz band. The Commission will also consider a Notice of Inquiry regarding an alternative band plan involving additional spectrum at 1695-1710 MHz that NTIA has proposed to reallocate from Federal to Commercial Use.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 am and may be viewed at

Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Online Privacy: NTIA Seeks Comment on Consumer Privacy Issues and Development of Legally Enforceable Codes of Conduct

On March 5, 2012, the NTIA published notice in the Federal Register seeking comment on substantive consumer data privacy issues and the development of legally enforceable codes of conduct, as well as procedures to foster the development of those codes.  Comments must be submitted to the NTIA on or before 5 p.m. on March 26, 2012.


Back on February 23, 2012, the White House released its privacy blueprint entitled, Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy. The "central elements of the [blueprint] are: (1) A Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, which is a set of principles the Administration believes should govern the handling of personal data in commercial sectors that are not subject to existing Federal privacy statutes; and (2) a multistakeholder process, which NTIA will convene, to develop legally enforceable codes of conduct that specify how the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights applies in specific business contexts."

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, which has authority over the FTC and portions of the Commerce Department, is expected to hold an oversight hearing on the Administration’s privacy efforts on March 28, 2012.

If you have any questions regarding the NTIA request for comments as well as the Administration’s overall privacy efforts and related activity in Congress, please contact the TLP team.


Summary of Spectrum Legislation: Incentive Auctions, Auction Deadlines, Reallocation of Government Spectrum and the Building of the Nationwide Public Safety Wireless Broadband Network

On February 22, 2012, President Obama signed into law House Report 112-399, a conference report to accompany H.R. 3630, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Public Law No. 112-96), which had passed in the House and Senate on February 17, 2012.  Enacted under Title VI of the conference report is language related to spectrum auctions, incentive auctions and the creation of a nationwide public safety wireless broadband network.  Below is a CRS section-by-section summary of those provisions.

Since 2008, members of the TLP team have been actively involved in advocating on behalf of TLP's clients concerning many of the provisions that were enacted in the spectrum legislation, and TLP continues to push for the reallocation of unused government spectrum to help resolve the current "spectrum crunch."

If you have any questions regarding the enacted spectrum legislation and issues related to government spectrum reallocation, please contact
Vance Schuemann.  For questions concerning the implementation of the spectrum legislation by the FCC and the NTIA, please contact any member of the TLP team.


Title VI: Public Safety Communications and Electromagnetic Spectrum Auctions

(Sec. 6003) Directs the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to implement and enforce this title as if it were part of the Communications Act of 1934.

(Sec. 6004) Prohibits a person from participating in certain electromagnetic spectrum auctions or receiving public safety funds made available by this Act if the federal government, for national security reasons, has barred such person from bidding on contracts, participating in auctions, or receiving grants.

Subtitle A: Reallocation of Public Safety Spectrum -

(Sec. 6101) Directs the FCC to reallocate the 700 MHz D block spectrum for use by public safety entities in accordance with this Act.  Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to increase public safety services allocation and reduce commercial use allocation by 10 MHz within a specified range.

(Sec. 6102) Authorizes the FCC to allow flexible use of the narrowband spectrum, including for public safety broadband communications.

(Sec. 6103) Requires the FCC, within nine years after enactment of this title, to reallocate the T-Band spectrum (470-512 MHz) currently used by public safety eligibles and begin using competitive bidding auctions to grant new licenses for such spectrum.  Makes the proceeds from such auctions available to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information (referred to as the Assistant Secretary and is the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration [“NTIA”]) to make grants for the relocation of public safety entities from the T-Band spectrum. Requires that such relocation be completed within two years after the competitive bidding is completed.

Subtitle B: Governance of Public Safety Spectrum -
(Sec. 6201) Directs the FCC to reallocate and grant a license to the First Responder Network Authority (“FirstNet”) for use of the 700 MHz D block and existing public safety broadband spectrum for an initial 10-year term (subject to renewal, upon application, for additional terms of up to 10 years each).

(Sec. 6202) Directs FirstNet to ensure the establishment of a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network.  Requires that the network be based on a single, national network architecture that evolves with technological advancements and consists initially of: (1) a core network of national and regional data centers based on commercial standards providing connectivity between the radio access network and the public Internet or switched network; and (2) a radio access network of cell site equipment based on commercial standards enabling wireless communications with devices using the public safety broadband spectrum while taking into account the plans developed in the state, local, and tribal planning and implementation grant program established in this title.

(Sec. 6203) Establishes within the FCC the Technical Advisory Board for First Responder Interoperability (Interoperability Board). Requires the FCC Chairman to appoint 14 voting members including specified representatives from national, regional, and rural wireless providers; equipment manufacturers; public safety entities; and state and local governments. Permits the Assistant Secretary to appoint one nonvoting member.  Directs the Interoperability Board to develop recommended minimum technical requirements to ensure a nationwide level of interoperability for the network based on Long Term Evolution (LTE) commercial standards. Requires the FCC to approve the recommendations, with any necessary revisions, and transmit the recommendations to FirstNet.  Terminates the Interoperability Board 15 days after the FCC transmits such recommendations to FirstNet.

(Sec. 6204) Establishes FirstNet within NTIA.  Requires that FirstNet be headed by a FirstNet Board consisting of: (1) the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS); (2) the Attorney General (DOJ); (3) the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB); and (4) 12 individuals appointed by the Secretary of Commerce, including public safety professionals and representatives for the collective interests of states, localities, tribes, and territories.  Requires that all FirstNet Board members be U.S. citizens.  Requires the Secretary of Commerce to select the Chair of the FirstNet Board.  Requires the FirstNet Board to meet at least once each quarter.

(Sec. 6205) Directs FirstNet to establish a standing public safety advisory committee. Permits FirstNet to select a program manager to carry out the duties and responsibilities of deploying and operating the network.

(Sec. 6206)  Requires that FirstNet hold the single public safety wireless license and take all actions necessary to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of the network, including by: (1) ensuring nationwide standards for network use and access; (2) issuing open, transparent, and competitive requests for proposals to private sector entities for building, operating, and maintaining the network; (3) encouraging that such requests leverage existing commercial wireless infrastructure; and (4) managing and overseeing implementation and execution of contracts with nonfederal entities.  Directs FirstNet to: (1) ensure the safety, security, and resiliency of the network, including requirements for protecting and monitoring the network to protect against cyberattack; (2) require that network equipment be built to open, non-proprietary, commercially available standards, as well as be capable of being used by any public safety entity and by multiple vendors across all 700 MHz band public safety broadband networks, and, in addition, be backward-compatible with existing commercial networks; (3) promote integration with public safety answering points; and (4) address special considerations for regional areas with unique homeland security or national security needs.

Requires FirstNet to enter roaming agreements with commercial network providers to allow the network to roam onto commercial networks and receive priority access for public safety communications during emergencies.  Prohibits FirstNet from negotiating or entering agreements with foreign governments on behalf of the United States.  Establishes in the Treasury the Network Construction Fund for FirstNet to carry out its functions and the NTIA to make grants to states.  Terminates FirstNet 15 years after enactment of this title.  Requires a Comptroller General report on the action Congress should take regarding the termination of FirstNet.

(Sec. 6207) Authorizes the NTIA to borrow up to a specified amount from the Treasury (prior to the deposit of proceeds into the Public Safety Trust Fund established by this Act from incentive and federal spectrum reallocation auctions) to implement this subtitle. Requires the NTIA to reimburse the Treasury from the Public Safety Trust Fund.

(Sec. 6208) Authorizes FirstNet to assess and collect network user fees, including from any public safety entity seeking access to or use of the network. Authorizes FirstNet to also collect leasing fees from public-private arrangements to construct, manage, and operate the network with entities seeking: (1) access to network capacity for non-public safety services or use of spectrum for certain commercial transmissions, or (2) access to or use of any equipment or infrastructure.  Requires that the total fees assessed each fiscal year be sufficient, and not exceed the amount necessary, to recoup the total expenses of FirstNet each year in carrying out this subtitle.  Requires that such fees be approved annually by the NTIA.

(Sec. 6209) Directs the Secretary of Commerce to contract for an annual, independent audit of FirstNet. Requires the auditor to submit each audit report to Congress, the President, and FirstNet.

(Sec. 6210) Directs FirstNet to report annually to Congress.

(Sec. 6211) Authorizes the FCC to adopt rules to improve the ability of public safety networks to roam onto commercial networks and to gain priority access to commercial networks in an emergency if the public safety entity equipment is technically compatible, the commercial network in reasonably compensated, and the access does not preempt, terminate, or degrade all existing voice conversations and data sessions.

(Sec. 6212) Prohibits FirstNet from offering, providing, or marketing commercial telecommunications or information services directly to consumers.

(Sec. 6213) Permits the FCC to provide technical assistance to FirstNet.

Subtitle C: Public Safety Commitments -

(Sec. 6301) Establishes the State and Local Implementation Fund to implement a state, regional, tribal, and local planning and implementation grant program.

(Sec. 6302) Directs the Assistant Secretary to establish a grant program to make matching grants (with the federal share up to 80% of costs, subject to waiver) to states to assist state, regional, tribal, and local jurisdictions to identify, plan, and implement the most efficient and effective way to utilize and integrate the infrastructure, equipment, and other architecture associated with the network to satisfy the wireless communications and data services needs of each jurisdiction.  Requires the Assistant Secretary to prioritize grants for activities that ensure coverage in rural as well as urban areas.

Directs FirstNet to provide the governor of each state: (1) notice regarding completion of the request for proposal process for the network, (2) details of the proposed plan for buildout of the nationwide, interoperable broadband network in such state, and (3) the funding level for the state as determined by the NTIA. Requires each governor, within a specified period, to choose whether to participate in the deployment of FirstNet-proposed network or conduct its own deployment of a radio access network in such state.

Directs states that opt-out of FirstNet proposal to submit an alternative plan to the FCC for the radio access network within the state. Requires the FCC to: (1) approve the alternative plan, in which case the state is authorized to apply for a grant and is required to apply to the NTIA to lease spectrum capacity; or (2) disapprove the alternative plan, in which case FirstNet-proposed plan will proceed.  Provides the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with exclusive jurisdiction to review such an FCC disapproval.

(Sec. 6303) Requires the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to research and assist with the development of standards, technologies, and applications to advance wireless public safety communications.

Subtitle D: Spectrum Auction Authority -

(Sec. 6401) Requires, within three years after enactment of this Act, that: (1) the President begin withdrawing or modifying the assignment of 15 megahertz of spectrum identified by the Secretary of Commerce between 1675 and 1710 megahertz for reallocation from federal to non-federal use; and (2) the FCC, subject to exceptions, allocate specified spectrum ranges for commercial use and grant new initial licenses for such spectrum, subject to flexible-use service rules, through a system of competitive bidding.  Requires that certain auction proceeds be deposited in the Spectrum Relocation Fund to cover the relocation or sharing costs of relocated federal entities. Directs the remainder of such amounts to the Public Safety Trust Fund established by this Act.

(Sec. 6402) Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to authorize the FCC to encourage spectrum licensees to voluntarily relinquish usage rights to permit the assignment of new initial licenses subject to flexible-use service rules by sharing with such licensees a portion of the proceeds from competitive bidding auctions. Requires the FCC, as a condition to such auctions, to first conduct a reverse auction with at least two competing licensees to determine the amount of compensation licensees would accept in return for such voluntary relinquishment.

Requires, through FY2022, that specified proceeds from incentive auctions that are not shared with the licensee be deposited in the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund established by this Act and the Public Safety Trust Fund. Directs such proceeds to be deposited in the Treasury's general fund for the sole purpose of deficit reduction after FY2022. 

Directs the FCC, at least three months before any such incentive auction, to notify Congress of the methodology for calculating the amounts to be shared with licensees.

(Sec. 6403) Sets forth restrictions particular to the auction of broadcast television spectrum and the valuation of voluntarily relinquished broadcast television spectrum. Requires that the incentive amount determined by a broadcast television reverse auction include the relinquishment of all usage rights with respect to: (1) a particular television channel without receiving in return any usage rights with respect to another television channel, (2) an ultra high frequency television channel in return for receiving usage rights with respect to a very high frequency television channel, and (3) the relinquishment of usage rights in order to share a television channel with another licensee.

Requires a broadcast television station that voluntarily relinquishes spectrum usage rights in order to share a television channel and that possessed carriage rights under specified provisions of the Communications Act of 1934 on November 30, 2010, to have the carriage rights at its shared location that would apply to the station at such location if it were not sharing a channel.

Authorizes the FCC, for the purpose of making spectrum available to carry out the auction, to reassign television channels and reallocate portions of spectrum available for reallocation. Requires that all reasonable efforts be made to preserve the coverage area and population served of each broadcast television licensee.  Prohibits the FCC from involuntarily reassigning a broadcast television licensee from: (1) an ultra high to a very high frequency television channel, and (2) a television channel between 174-216 megahertz to a channel between the 54-88 megahertz frequencies.  Requires that certain relocation cost reimbursements be made to reassigned broadcast television licensees, related multichannel video programming distributors, and incumbent users of channel 37 (a band of spectrum currently reserved for radio astronomy and wireless medical telemetry service) under specified conditions. Authorizes waivers from FCC flexible use service rules in lieu of such reimbursements. Prohibits reimbursements for lost revenue.

Directs the FCC to conduct a broadcast television spectrum auction in which it assigns licenses for the reallocated spectrum. Requires that the proceeds shared with each licensee whose bid the FCC accepts in the reverse auction be at least the amount of such bid. Prohibits reassignments or reallocations from becoming effective, and bars the FCC from assigning such licenses and revoking spectrum usage rights, if the proceeds from the auction are below the reverse auction bid amount.

Establishes the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund. Authorizes the FCC to borrow up to a specified amount from the Treasury to deposit into the Fund for the payment of relocation costs. Requires the FCC to reimburse the Treasury as funds are deposited in the Fund. Directs the Secretary of the Treasury, if amounts remain in the Fund three years after the auction, to transfer such amounts to: (1) the Public Safety Trust Fund through FY2022, and (2) the Treasury's general fund for the sole purpose of deficit reduction after FY2022.

Prohibits the FCC from completing more than one reverse auction or reorganization of broadcast television spectrum.

Makes a licensee's right to protest a proposed order of modification inapplicable to modifications under this section.

(Sec. 6404) Prohibits the FCC from preventing persons from participating in spectrum auctions if they comply with FCC procedures and meet technical, financial, character, and citizenship qualifications or would meet such qualifications prior to the grant of the license.

(Sec. 6405) Extends the FCC's auction authority until September 30, 2022.

(Sec. 6406) Requires the FCC to assess allowing unlicensed U-NII (Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure) devices in the 5 GHz band. Requires the Assistant Secretary to report to Congress on known and proposed spectrum-sharing technologies and the risk to federal users if such devices were allowed to operate in specified bands.

(Sec. 6407) Authorizes the use of guard bands for unlicensed use.

(Sec. 6408) Requires a Comptroller General report on the design and operation of each transmission system (any telecommunications, broadcast, satellite, commercial mobile service, or other communications system employing radio spectrum) so that reasonable use of adjacent spectrum does not excessively impair such system.

(Sec. 6409) Prohibits a state or local government from denying, and requires approval of, any request for collocation, removal, or replacement of an existing wireless tower or base station that does not substantially change its physical dimensions. Establishes a uniform application for federal easements and rights-of-way and a master contract process for siting wireless facilities on federal property and buildings.

(Sec. 6410) Assigns to the Assistant Secretary the responsibility to promote the best possible and most efficient use of electromagnetic spectrum resources across the federal government, subject to and consistent with the needs and missions of federal agencies.

(Sec. 6411) Requires the OMB to update OMB Circular A-11 to reflect recommendations in the Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee Incentive Subcommittee report, adopted January 11, 2011.

(Sec. 6412) Directs the FCC to report to Congress on the number and percent of applications for common carrier use of spectrum (from 10,700 to 11,700 megahertz, from 17,700 to 19,700 megahertz, and from 21,200 to 23,600 megahertz) that were not granted because of a lack of availability or interference concerns of existing licensees. Directs the Comptroller General to report to the FCC and Congress on whether such spectrum is being deployed in such a manner that, in areas with high demand for common carrier licenses, market forces provide adequate incentive for efficient spectrum use and ensure that the federal government receives maximum revenue for such spectrum through competitive bidding.

(Sec. 6413) Establishes the Public Safety Trust Fund. Requires that various auction proceeds be deposited in such Fund and used, through FY2022, according to a specified order of priority, to: (1) repay amounts borrowed from the general fund for FirstNet, (2) deposit specified amounts in the State and Local Implementation Fund and the Network Construction Fund, (3) fund NIST public safety research, (4) reduce the deficit, and (5) carry out the grant program established by subtitle E under the Next Generation 9-1-1 Advancement Act of 2012.  Directs amounts that remain in the Fund after FY2022 to be deposited in the general fund for the sole purpose of deficit reduction.

(Sec. 6414) Directs the FCC to report to Congress on the use of amateur radio service communications in emergencies and disaster relief.

Subtitle E: Next Generation 9-1-1 Advancement Act of 2012 -

Next Generation 9-1-1 Advancement Act of 2012 - (Sec. 6502) Amends the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act (NTIA Organization Act) to reestablish and extend matching grants to eligible state or local governments or tribal organizations for the implementation, operation, and migration of various 9-1-1, E9-1-1 (wireless telephone location), Next Generation 9-1-1 (voice, text, video), and IP-enabled emergency services and public safety personnel training.

(Sec. 6503) Directs the Assistant Secretary and the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to: (1) establish a 9-1-1 Implementation Coordination Office, and (2) submit to Congress a management plan and annual reports.  Prohibits the federal share of a grant project from exceeding 60%.  Terminates the grant program on October 1, 2022.

(Sec. 6504) Directs the General Services Administration (GSA) to identify the 9-1-1 capabilities of the multi-line telephone system (MLTS) in use by all Federal agencies in all Federal buildings and properties.  Requires the FCC to issue a public notice seeking comment on whether it is feasible for MLTS manufacturers to include mechanisms within all such systems to indicate a 9-1-1 caller's location, while avoiding unduly burdening MLTS manufacturers, providers, and operators.

(Sec. 6505) Directs the Comptroller General to report on the taxes, fees, or other charges imposed by states or political subdivisions to improve emergency communications services and the use of revenues from such charges.

(Sec. 6506) Provides immunity and liability protection, to the extent consistent with specified provisions of the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999, to various users and providers of Next Generation 9-1-1 and related services, including for the release of subscriber information.

(Sec. 6507) Directs the FCC to: (1) initiate a proceeding to create a specialized Do-Not-Call registry for public safety answering points, and (2) establish penalties and fines for autodialing (robocalls) and related violations.

(Sec. 6508) Directs the Coordination Office to report to Congress on the costs for specific Next Generation 9-1-1 services to assist the consideration of a long-term funding mechanism.

(Sec. 6509) Directs the FCC to report to Congress on recommendations for the legal and statutory framework for Next Generation 9-1-1 services, consistent with the recommendations in the National Broadband Plan developed by the FCC pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Subtitle F: Telecommunications Development Fund -

(Sec. 6602) Requires that interest from an auction escrow account be dedicated to deficit reduction, thereby eliminating the deposit of such interest in the Telecommunications Development Fund (TDF) which provides capital to small businesses in the telecommunications industry.

Revises the composition of the TDF board of directors to establish an independent board. (Current law requires that the board include representatives from the FCC, the Small Business Administration [SBA], and the Department of the Treasury.)

Subtitle G: Federal Spectrum Relocation -

(Sec. 6701) Amends the NTIA Organization Act to require that federal entities operating federal government stations within certain frequencies be paid for specified relocation or sharing costs incurred in planning for an auction or relocating from federal to exclusive nonfederal or shared use. (Current law pertains only to payment for certain relocations to exclusive nonfederal use.)

Permits the use of relocation funds to: (1) relocate federal government stations in order to permit spectrum sharing, and (2) acquire state-of-the-art replacement systems with increased functionality to achieve comparable capability of systems.

Establishes within the NTIA a technical panel composed of: (1) one member appointed by the OMB, (2) one member appointed by the Assistant Secretary, and (3) one member appointed by the FCC Chairman.  Requires, within a specified period prior to an auction of frequencies eligible for relocation or sharing, that federal entities authorized to use such frequencies submit to the NTIA and the technical panel a transition plan for the implementation of a relocation or sharing arrangement. Directs: (1) the panel to review the sufficiency of the plan, and (2) the NTIA to make the plan publicly available on its website.  Permits a federal entity or non-federal user to request that the NTIA establish a dispute resolution board to resolve a dispute over the execution, timing, or cost of a transition plan.

Allows appeals from dispute resolution board decisions to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Requires the NTIA to give priority to exclusive nonfederal use. Conditions any sharing on feasibility and cost constraints.

(Sec. 6702) Authorizes the use of the Spectrum Relocation Fund to pay relocation and sharing costs of federal entities. Allows the OMB to transfer available funds to pay for certain pre-auction estimates or research.

(Sec. 6703) Requires executive agencies that submit certain reports or notifications to Congress under the NTIA Organization Act to place any national security or other sensitive information in a separate annex. Prohibits such annexed information from being disclosed to the public or provided to any unauthorized person.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

FCC Seeking Comment on Intentional Interruptions of Wireless Service

The Commission has released a Public Notice seeking comment on intentional interruptions of wireless service by government authorities for the purpose of ensuring public safety.  This inquiry is a result of last summer’s BART shut-down, which, as you might recall, occurred when wireless service was temporarily interrupted at select BART stations due to a planned demonstration against the mass transit agency. 
The Commission recognizes that any intentional interruption of wireless service raises significant concerns and implicates substantial legal and policy questions and seeks comment on these issues.  For the purposes of these comments, the Commission focuses on situations where one or more wireless carriers, or their authorized agents, interrupt their own services in an area for a limited time period at the request of a government actor, or have their services interrupted by a government actor that exercises lawful control over network facilities.  The Commission explicitly states that comment is not being sought on signal jamming, or other practices expressly prohibited by statute or regulation.  The Notice poses questions on the following issues: (1) past practices and precedents; (2) bases for interrupting wireless service; (3) risks in interrupting wireless service; (4) scope of interruption; (5) authority to interrupt service; and (6) legal constraints on interrupting wireless service.   

Comments are due on April 30, 2012 and reply comments are due May 30, 2012.