Friday, August 28, 2015

FCC Announces Databases will be Unavailable Early September

The FCC has released a Public Notice announcing that most Commission resources on the web site, including, but not limited to ECFS, ULS, and IBFS will be unavailable from September 2 -8, 2015 for technology upgrades (see fn.1 of the Public Notice for a full list of unavailable resources).  Accordingly, most comments or filings due during that time period are now due on September 9, 2015.  Filings with statutory deadlines due during that period (i.e., Petitions for Reconsideration) will be due September 8, 2015.

In addition, most FCC Staff voicemail and email will not be available during this time.  

The Network Outage Reporting System (NORS), the Consumer Help Center (CHC) and the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) will remain available during this time.

The FCC anticipates that all systems will be available starting at 8:00 am on Tuesday, September 8.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

FCC Extends Comment Deadline for RF NPRM

The FCC released an Order on the matter of Amendment of Parts 0, 1, 2, 15 and 18 of the Commission’s Rules regarding Authorization of Radiofrequency Equipment and Request of the Allowance of Optical Electronic Labeling for Wireless Devices.  The July 17, 2015 NPRM proposed updating the rules that govern the evaluation and approval of RF devices.  Due to a number of requests, the Order grants a 30-day extension of the comment filing period followed by a 15-day extension to the reply comment period.

The new comment dates are as follows: Comments are due October 9, 2015 and Reply Comments are due November 9, 2015.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.
 

 

FCC Announces Denial of DISH AWS-3 Bidding Credits

The FCC has released a Memorandum Opinion and Order (“Order”) denying over $3 billion in small business credits claimed by DISH’s small business partners, Northstar Wireless, LLC (“Northstar”) and SNR Wireless LicenseCO, LLC (“SNR”) in Auction 97 (the “AWS-3 Auction”).  Northstar and SNR each asserted that it had less than $15 million in gross revenues over the past three years and therefore qualified as a “very small business” under the Auction 97 rules, which would entitle each of them to a 25% discount off the amount of their gross winning bids.  DISH holds an 85% equity interest in each Northstar and SNR. 
 
The Order determines that DISH has de facto control over and the power to control Northstar and SNR, and therefore the average gross revenues of DISH over the past three years (over $13 billion) must also be attributed to both Northstar and SNR while evaluating their eligibility for the small business bidding credits.  Accordingly, Northstar and SNR do not qualify as “very small businesses”.
 
Notably, the FCC does not find that Northstar’s or SNR’s bidding activity violated the FCC’s rules that governed Auction 97, as it determines that both parties adequately disclosed their agreements and bidding arrangements with the FCC.  The Order directs Northstar and SNR to pay the full gross amount of their winning bids in Auction 97.  Once the full payment is received, the Wireless Bureau is directed to process their applications for the AWS-3 licenses. 
 
It has been reported that DISH is “respectfully disappointed” in this decision, and will “consider [its] options going forward”.  Such options could include: paying the additional $3 billion for the licenses, refusing to purchase the spectrum and paying a penalty; or pursuing an appeal of the Commission’s order.  

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

FCC Announces CMRS Regulatory Fee Data Uploaded

A Public Notice has announced that FY 2015 CMRS Regulatory Fee Data has been uploaded to the Fee Filer System at https://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/fee-filer.  CMRS providers should log into the system and confirm that the “CMRS Subscriber Count” is correct, and if not, follow the steps to revise. 

Any revisions to the subscriber count must be made by September 11, 2015.
 
The FCC has not yet announced a deadline for regulatory fees.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Reminder: Form 477 Due September 1

This is a reminder regarding the upcoming September 1, 2015 due date for the FCC Form 477 Broadband Report.  The purpose of the report is to provide the FCC with information regarding broadband connections to end-user locations and the data obtained from this form will be used to describe the deployment of broadband infrastructure and competition to provide local telecommunications services.  Form 477 must be submitted by: (i) facilities-based providers of broadband connections to end-user locations; (ii) providers of wired or fixed wireless local exchange telephone service; (iii) providers of interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service; and (iv) facilities-based providers of mobile telephony services.  The data supplied must be current as of June 30, 2015. 
 
Form 477 is required to be filed electronically, and the filing can be made using the interface at https://apps2.fcc.gov/form477/login.xhtml.  The user guide for this interface can be accessed here.  You can also find the instruction manual for completing Form 477 here.  In addition, further instructions, tutorials and information on the using the Form 477 electronic filing system are available at http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/form-477-resources-filers
 
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like assistance with filing this form or if you have any questions regarding Form 477.

 

FCC Releases Orders on Unlicensed White Spaces, Microphone Operations Access

The Commission has released two orders recently adopted:
 
The Report and Order on Unlicensed White Space Devices in the Television Bands/600 MHz Band (the “Order”) makes certain changes to the Part 15 rules for unlicensed operations in the TV bands, including fixed and personal/portable white space devices and unlicensed wireless microphones.  The Order also adopts technical and operational rules for unlicensed devices and wireless microphones in the 600 MHz guard bands, including the duplex gap, and in the 600 MHz band that will be repurposed for new wireless services as a result of the incentive auction.  The Part 15 rules are also modified to account for white space databases, including protecting areas where new 600 MHz service licenses commence operation and areas used by incumbent services on channel 37.
 
The Report and Order on Promoting Access for Wireless Microphone Operations (the “Report and Order”), seeks to provide additional opportunities for wireless microphone operations in the TV bands by allowing greater use of the VHF channels and more co-channel operations without the need for coordination where use would not cause harmful interference to TV service.  The Report and Order also provides new opportunities for wireless microphone operations to access spectrum in other frequencies, specifically, the 169-172 MHz band and the 944-952 MHz band, along with opening up portions of three other sets of spectrum bands – the 941-944 MHz and 952-960 MHz bands (on each side of the 944-952 MHz band), the 1435-1525 MHz band, and the 6875-7125 MHz band – for sharing under specified conditions.  

Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

FCC Releases Incentive Auction Procedures Public Notice

The FCC has released the Incentive Auction Public Notice that adopts procedures for competitive bidding in the forward and reverse auctions.  This item was adopted by the FCC during the August Open Meeting. 

The Incentive Auction is scheduled to begin on March 29, 2016 and the FCC anticipates that it will begin accepting short-form applications for both the forward and reverse portions of the auction in Fall 2015.

Please contact us if you would like any additional information about the Incentive Auction.

FCC Releases Technology Transitions Report and Order


The FCC has released the Technology Transitions Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which was adopted during the August open meeting. 
 
The Report and Order portion of this item declines to adopt an approval requirement for legacy facility retirement, but does adopts a requirement for incumbent LECs to notify retail customers of planned copper retirements when such retirements remove copper to the customers’ premises.   The Report and Order also redefines the term “copper retirement”.
 
The Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on the criteria that the FCC may use to evaluate and compare replacement and legacy services under Section 214 review. 
 
The Order on Reconsideration addresses (and ultimately denies) a USTelecom Petition for Reconsideration concerning the FCC’s use of the term “service” in Section 214(a).
 
Please feel free to contact us with any questions or if you would like additional information.

FCC Releases Notice of Inquiry on Broadband Progress

The FCC has released the Eleventh Broadband Progress Notice of Inquiry (the “Notice”), which was adopted during the August open meeting.  This Notice requests comment on the current state of the deployment and availability of “advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans” under Section 706.  Most notably, the Notice seeks comment on whether to redefine “advanced telecommunications capability” to include access to both fixed and mobile broadband service (rather than just access to fixed broadband service).  
 
Comments are due September 8, 2015 and Reply Comments are due September 23, 2015.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Two TLP Attorneys Named to 2016 Best Lawyers® in America List

Telecommunications Law Professionals is pleased to announce that two lawyers have been named to the 2016 Edition of Best Lawyers, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession.

Best Lawyers has published their list for over three decades, earning the respect of the profession, the media, and the public as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals. Its first international list was published in 2006 and since then has grown to provide lists in over 65 countries.

"Best Lawyers is the most effective tool in identifying critical legal expertise," said CEO Steven Naifeh. "Inclusion on this list shows that an attorney is respected by his or her peers for professional success."

Lawyers on the Best Lawyers in America list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers on the basis of professional expertise, and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing.

Telecommunications Law Professionals would like to congratulate the following attorneys named to the 2016 Best Lawyers in America list:

Michael Lazarus, Communications Law
Carl W. Northrop, Communications Law
Carl W. Northrop, Corporate Law

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

FCC Annouces Emergency Alert Workshop

The FCC released a Public Notice announcing that it will be hosting a workshop to promote the wider use and increased accessibility of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) (including the Wireless Alert System) on Thursday, August 27, 2015, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

The Workshop will primarily cover how to improve the usefulness of the EAS for emergency managers and the accessibility of alerts to people with disabilities. 
 
The workshop will be streamed live at www.fcc.gov/live.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

International Traffic Reports (Section 43.62 Reports) Due Sept. 30

A Public Notice has been released announcing that the annual Traffic and Revenue Reports (Section 43.62 reports) are due to the Commission by September 30, 2015.  The filing window will open on August 17, 2015.  These reports are generally due by July 31, but this year the filing window was postponed because the Commission revised the reporting rules and revamped the online filing system associated with this filing (see 2013 Second Report and Order).

This filing requirement applies to:
  • Any person or entity that holds U.S. International 214 authorization, whether or not it provided service in the preceding calendar year (the reporting period).  Any U.S. International Service Provider that provided service during the reporting period must file a Traffic and Revenue Report, whether such provider operated by using its own facilities or by reselling the facilities or services of another provider.
  • Any person or entity in the United States that provided International VoIP Service Connected to the PSTN during the reporting period.
  • Any person or entity in the United States that provided international call completion services for IMTS or International VoIP Service Connected to the PSTN during the reporting period.
The International Traffic and Revenue Reports must be filed electronically using the new Section 43.62 Online Filing System.  The Commission has released a Section 43.62 Filing Manual and a brief Technical Filing Guide, which explain the new requirements and new online system, respectively.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about this filing.

FCC Authorizes Four Rural Broadband Experiments

Funding has been authorized for four separate rural broadband experiments as announced in a Public Notice.  The $11.2 million awarded will fund a diverse group of projects in five states over the course of 10 years, and will provide service to 15,000 consumers in rural areas.  

The authorized projects, which must be 85% built out in three years, and 100% built out in five years, are as follows:

·    Fixed Wireless Service:  Skybeam, LLC will receive $2.6 million to extend service to portions of Illinois, $880,000 for portions of Kansas, and $1 million for portions of Texas;

·    Hybrid Fiber/Fixed Wireless Network:  Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative will receive $1.5 million to extend service in parts of Fayette County, Iowa;

·    Fiber Network:  Consolidated Communications Networks, Inc. will receive $3 million to extend service in parts of Stark County, North Dakota; and

·    Fiber Network:  Delta Communications LLC will receive $2.2 million to extend service in various counties in Illinois.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Technology Transitions - Ensuring 911 Continuity Report and Order

The FCC has released the Ensuring Continuity of 911 Communications Report and Order adopted by the Commission at the August Open Meeting.  The Report and Order adopts rules to protect consumers through the transitions from legacy copper networks to modern networks by encouraging the purchase of backup power options and educating the public on the technology transition. 

Specifically, the Report and Order creates a new section 12.5 of the rules to place limited backup power obligations on providers of facilities-based fixed, residential voice services that are not line-powered to ensure that these providers meet their obligation to provide access to 911 service during a power outage. 

Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

FCC Releases NPRM Regarding RF Devices

The FCC has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking to update the rules that govern the evaluation and approval of radiofrequency devices.  The Commission proposes to:
  • Combine two separate product approval programs into one product self-approval program;
  • Codify and clarify the provisions for certification of modular transmitters; responsibilities for compliance when a final product may be comprised of one or more certified modular transmitters; existing practices that protect the confidentiality of market-sensitive information; and the existing guidance for electronic labeling;
  • Eliminate unnecessary or duplicative rules and consolidate rules from various specific rule parts into the equipment authorization rules in Part 2; and
  • Discontinue the requirement that importers file FCC Form 740 with Customs and Border Protection for RF devices imported into the United States.

Comments will be due 30 days after date of publication in the Federal Register.
Reply Comments will be due 45 days after date of publication in the Federal Register.

*UPDATE: The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking has been published in the Federal Register, establishing the pleading cycle.  Comments are due on September 8, 2015.  Reply Comments are due on September 21, 2015.

Please contact us if you would like more information on this proceeding.

Lifeline Comments Pleading Cycle Extended

The Lifeline Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Order on Reconsideration, Second Report and Order, and Memorandum Opinion and Order adopted by the Commission at the June Open Meeting has been published in the Federal Register.  

The Order on Reconsideration, Second Report and Order, and Memorandum Opinion and Order was published on July 14, and is effective August 13, 2015, with the exception of the information collection requirements that have not yet been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  Upon OMB approval of the those requirements, the Commission will publish a document in the Federal Register announcing their effective date.  

*UPDATE: An Order has been released extending the Lifeline Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking pleading cycle by 14 days.  This action follows the filing of several motions to extend by the California Public Utilities Commission, the United States Telecom Association, CTIA, ITTA, and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates.  The extended Comment date is August 31, 2015 and the extended Reply Comment date is September 30, 2015.

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

FCC Seeks Comment on Price Cap ETC Obligations

The FCC released a Public Notice seeking to refresh the record on issues raised in various proceedings related to eligible telecommunications carrier (“ETC”) designations and obligations in areas served by price cap carriers.  Specifically, the FCC requests comment on issues raised in the CAF rulemaking proceeding and in certain forbearance inquiries.  The Commission asks how the actions already taken in the December 2014 Connect America Order might affect the Commission’s analysis with respect to these pending issues.

The Public Notice also highlights that the Wireline Bureau has released a list of the census blocks where price cap carriers continue to have the ETC obligation to provide voice service pursuant to section 214(e)(1) of the Communications Act.  This list includes census blocks that the Connect America Cost Model (CAM v4.3) has deemed high-cost or extremely high-cost and that are not served by an unsubsidized competitor.

Comments are due 30 days after Federal Register publication.
Reply Comments are due 45 days after Federal Register publication.

*UPDATE: The Public Notice has been published in the Federal Register, establishing the pleading cycle.  Comments are due by September 2, 2015 and Reply Comments are due by September 17, 2015.

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Monday, August 3, 2015

FCC Seeks Comment on Historical Preservation Review Process


Last week, the Wireless Bureau released a Public Notice seeking comment on a new program alternative to improve and facilitate the review process for deployments of small wireless communications facilities, such as Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) and small cell facilities, under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.  More specifically, the Public Notice initiates the process of amending the Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas to more comprehensively define and limit the review of these small wireless communications facility deployments.

The Section 106 Scoping Document attached to the Public Notice seeks comment on such an amendment and proposes the following additional exclusions for small wireless communications facility collocations:
  • small facility deployments on structures more than 45 years of age where the deployments meet specified volume limits, involve no new ground disturbance, and are not on historic properties or in or near a historic district; 
  • small facility deployments located on historic properties or in or near a historic district if they: meet specified size or volume limits; cause no new ground disturbance; meet visibility restrictions; comply in their installation with the Secretary of the Interior’s standards and guidelines for historic preservation; and comply with all conditions on any existing deployment, located within the same vicinity on the same property, that were imposed pursuant to any regulatory or Section 106 review in order to directly mitigate or prevent the facility’s effects; and 
  • small facility deployments on historic properties or in or near a historic district, regardless of visibility limitations, in certain limited circumstances such as: deployments of small facilities on utility poles, light posts, and traffic lights; deployments of small facilities in certain locations, such as utility or communications rights-of-way; and replacements or modifications of existing small facilities where the replacements meet specified volume/size limits. 
Comments are due by September 28, 2015.  There will not be an opportunity to submit reply comments in this proceeding.  This proceeding will be treated as exempt under the Commission’s ex parte rules. 
Once developed, the Commission will submit the proposed amendment to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) and will publish notice in the Federal Register, giving all stakeholders an additional opportunity to comment at this stage.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

FCC Accepts for Filing the Applications of Charter, Time Warner Cable, and Advance/Newhouse

Last Monday, the FCC released a Public Notice announcing that the FCC has accepted for filing the applications of Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable, and Advance/Newhouse Partnership for consent to transfer control of licenses and authorizations.  The proposed transaction would combine the control of Charter, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks into a single company, referred to as New Charter.  According to the applicants, the merger is in the public interest and would result in the provision of improved broadband services for consumers, as well as edge providers.

The Commission will be issuing a subsequent Public Notice setting forth the pleading cycle, and once this cycle begins, the informal 180 day shot clock will also begin.

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

FCC Updates PSAP Registry

The FCC has released a Public Notice announcing that it has made additional updates to its Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Text-to-911 Readiness and Certification Registry (Text-to-911 Registry).  It further announced that it will no longer be announcing its updates through the release of a Public Notice, but rather consistently updating it.  The list of PSAPs capable of text-to-911 services is available on the Commission website and will indicate when it has last been updated. 

Please contact us if you have any questions about the Public Notice or the Text-to-911 Registry.

FCC Releases CAF Public Notices

The FCC has released the following Notices regarding the Connect America Fund:
  • Connect America Cost Model: A Public Notice has been released announcing upcoming changes to the alternative Connect America cost model.  The Wireline Bureau has been refining the model and expects to complete incorporating updated results from the study area boundary collection in the near future.  Attached to the Public Notice, the Commission provides a table showing the default plant mix input values for each state in v1.0.1 of the A-CAM.  Commenters are invited to submit proposed corrections to those values.  Comments are due by August 28, 2015. 
  • Rate of Return Study Area:  A Public Notice announces that the Wireline Bureau has adopted the methodology used to determine rate-of-return carrier study areas subject to 100 percent overlap, and seeks comment on this preliminary determination.  High-cost universal service support for the study areas on the final list will be frozen at the amount disbursed in the prior calendar year, and the phase-down in support will commence once this list has been finalized.  Comments are due August 28, 2015 and reply comments are due September 28, 2015.
Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like more information.

August Open Meeting Agenda

The FCC has released the following agenda for the August Open Meeting, scheduled for this Thursday, August 6 at 10:30 am. 

Emerging Wireline Networks and Services – The Commission will consider a Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will advance longstanding competition and consumer protection policies on a technologically-neutral basis, and further the technology transitions underway in our Nation’s fixed communications networks that offer the prospect of innovative and improved services to consumers and businesses alike. 

Ensuring Continuity of 911 Communications – The Commission will consider a Report and Order that would protect consumers through the transitions from legacy copper networks to modern networks by adopting rules to ensure that consumers have options, and sufficient information about those options, to maintain 911 communications at home during power outages. 

Mobile Spectrum Holdings – The Commission will consider an Order on Reconsideration addressing petitions for reconsideration of certain aspects of the Mobile Spectrum Holdings Report and Order. 

Incentive Auction Procedures – The Commission will take the next step in commencing the incentive auction in the first quarter of 2016 by considering the Procedures Public Notice, which adopts a balanced set of auction procedures that will ensure an effective, efficient, and timely auction. The Public Notice establishes and provides information on final procedures for setting the initial spectrum clearing target, qualifying to bid, and bidding in the reverse and forward auctions. 

Unlicensed Operations in TV Bands and 600 MHz Band – The Commission will consider a Report and Order that adopts technical and operational rules for unlicensed services, including wireless microphone operations, in the broadcast television bands and in the post-incentive auction 600 MHz band. The rules are intended to maximize unlicensed access to spectrum while ensuring that licensed services are protected from harmful interference. 

Wireless Microphones – The Commission will consider a Report and Order that adopts a plan to accommodate the long-term needs of wireless microphone users by providing new opportunities for their use in the broadcast television bands and in several other frequency bands. 

Deployment of Advanced Telecommunications Capability – The Commission will consider an Eleventh Notice of Inquiry on whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed and is available to all Americans, including, in particular, elementary and secondary schools and classrooms, in a reasonable and timely fashion.

Please note that the Eleventh Notice of Inquiry has been included since the tentative agenda was released.

The meeting may be streamed at fcc.gov/live.

FCC Adopts Updated Competitive Bidding and Designated Entity Rules

In the July Open Meeting, the FCC adopted a Report and Order; Order on Reconsideration of the First Report and Order; Third Order on Reconsideration of the Second Report and Order; and Third Report and Orderupdating the Commission’s Competitive Bidding and Designated Entity Rules.
 

In the Report and Order, the FCC updated its Part 1 Competitive Bidding rules by modifying the DE eligibility requirements for small businesses; establishing a new bidding credit for rural service providers; implementing caps on the amount of bidding credits available for small businesses and rural service providers; modifying the attribution rules; retaining and clarifying DE reporting requirements; revising the former defaulter rule; and prohibiting certain joint bidding arrangements.

In the Order on Reconsideration of the First Report and Order in WT Docket No. 05-211, the FCC denied petitions for reconsideration of its 2006 decision adopting amendments to the consortium exception to the attribution requirements of the rules. 

In the Third Order on Reconsideration of the Second Report and Order in WT Docket No. 05-211, the FCC resolved two remaining petitions for reconsideration of the 2006 decision (specifically, dismissing one petition because the issues raised either were resolved by the Third Circuit’s Council Tree decision or have been rendered moot, and clarifying that it does not evaluate DE eligibility for benefits when a DE is a transferor or assignor in a secondary market transaction).

Lastly, in the Third Report and Order in WT Docket No. 05-211, the FCC declined to adopt any of the proposals on which comments were sought in the 2006 Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and terminated that proceeding.

The new rules will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, except for those rules subject to approval by the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.