Tuesday, September 29, 2015

FCC Establishes Effective Dates for DE Rules

The Federal Register has published the Report and Order et al. updating the Competitive Bidding and Designated Entity Rules, which establishes the effective date of certain rules as November 17, 2015, except for the following rules, which contain new or modified information collection requirements that require approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB):
  •  Sections 1.2105(a)(2), 1.2105(a)(2)(iii) through (vi), (vii) through (x), and (xii), 1.2105(c)(3) through (4): dealing with bidding application and certification procedures as well as procedures involving the prohibition of certain communications;
  • Sections 1.2110(j), 1.2110(n): outlining the information that potential designated entities must provide on their long-form applications and adopting an annual report requirement for designated entities;
  • Sections 1.2112(b)(1)(iii) through (vi), 1.2112(b)(2)(iii), (v) and (vii) through (viii): dealing with applicant ownership disclosure requirements;
  • Section 1.2114(a)(1): concerning the reporting eligibility events; and
  • Section 1.9020(e): adopting a notification requirement for spectrum manager leasing arrangements.
The Commission will publish a document in the Federal Register announcing the effective date of these sections once they have been approved by OMB.

Please contact us know if you have any questions.

FCC Extends Special Access Comment Deadlines

The Commission released a Public Notice further extending the comment deadlines for interested parties to file comments and reply comments in the Commission’s special access rulemaking proceeding.  The Commission is seeking comment on possible changes to its rules for the special access provided by incumbent local exchange carriers in price cap areas.  The new dates are as follows:
 
Extended Comment deadline: November 20, 2015
Extended reply comment deadline: December 11, 2015

Additionally, the Commission released a Public Notice updating the list of executed Acknowledgements from parties seeking access to confidential and highly confidential information submitted in response to the Commission’s special access data collection earlier this year.  Companies that submitted confidential or highly confidential information in response to the collection have until September 24, 2015 to object to the disclosure of their data and information to any of the parties listed in the attachment to the Public Notice.  An overview of the current state of the Special Access proceeding can be found in the Commission’s press release.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions.


FCC Announces NPRM for Improving Outage Reporting For Submarine Cables

The Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking improving outage reporting for submarine cables and enhancing submarine cable outage data.  The proposal replaces the Commission's Undersea Cable Information System ("UCIS") in its entirety by extending modified outage reporting requirements in Part 4 of the Commission’s rules to submarine cable licenses.  Comments will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and Reply Comments will be due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The NPRM is the result of inadequacies, such as the outages affecting the Mariannas, within the current submarine cable reporting system.   The Commission proposes to require submarine cable licensees to report to the Commission when outages occur and communications are disrupted. Specifically, the Commission would require submarine cable licensees to report outages involving either lost connectivity or degradation of 50 percent or more of an undersea cable’s capacity for periods of at least 30 minutes, regardless of whether the cable’s traffic is re-routed.  Additionally, the Commission proposes to amend the submarine cable landing license rules to require compliance with the outage reporting requirements.

The proposal includes a three-report system that requires a Notification, and Interim Report to inform the Commission when repairs have been scheduled, and a Final Report for each outage event.  The Notification would be required to be filed within 120 minutes from the time that the licensee has determined that an event is reportable, the Interim Report is required when the repair has been scheduled, and a Final Report due seven days after the repair is completed.  Additionally, the Commission is seeking comment on whether to share its Part 4 NORS outage reporting data with other federal agencies and/or state governments.  Currently the US Army Cops of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are all involved in the installation and authorization process of submarine cable systems.  The Commission seeks to expedite cable deployment through working with other agencies.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

FCC Seeks Comment on Charter, Time Warner, and Advance/Newhouse Partnership

The FCC released a Public Notice seeking comment on applications of Charter Communications, Inc., Time Warner Cable Inc., and Advance/Network Partnership to transfer control of various licenses and authorizations.  The Commission seeks comment from interested persons to assist in their independent review of all proposed transfers of licenses and authorizations.  The details of the procedures on how to file petitions to deny and comments are set forth in the Public Notice.

On June 25, 2015, Charter Communications, Inc., Time Warner Cable Inc., and Advance/Newhouse Partnership submitted joint applications to the Commission seeking consent to transfer control of various Commission licenses and authorizations pursuant to Sections 214 and 310(d) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended.  These transfers are a necessary component of the proposed merger transaction of the companies.  The details of the proposed transfers are found in the FCC’s July 27, 2015 Public Notice accepting for filing the Application.

The Comment dates are as follows:
Comments/Petitions due October 13, 2014;
Responses to Comments/Oppositions to Petitions due November 2, 2015; 
Replies to Responses/Oppositions are due November 12, 2015.

 Please contact us if you have any questions.

FCC Releases Order Modernizing E-Rate Program

On Friday September 11, 2015, the Wireline Bureau released an Order further modernizing the E-rate program for schools and libraries.  The Order releases the eligible services list (“ESL”) for funding year 2016 for the E-rate program (Appendix B of the Order) and authorizes the Universal Service Administrative Company to open the annual application window no earlier than 60 days after this release (which we calculate to be November 10, 2015).  

The changes to ESL Category One services reflect the additional options provided to applicants for purchasing high-speed connectivity to eligible schools and libraries in the Second E-rate Modernization Public Notice, including separately listed Leased Lit Fiber, Dark Fiber and Self-Provisioned Broadband Networks as eligible services.  The Order also adds Integrated Services Digital Network’s (“ISDN’s”) to the list of eligible voice services.  With regard to Category Two of the ESL, the Order adopts changes to the description of eligible firewall services, provide clarifications in response to comments and reply comments, and decline commenters’ requests that it add certain services and equipment to the ESL and revise certain descriptions of eligible Category Two services.  

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

FCC Announces Comment Dates on Second Vacant Channel Proposal

In conjunction with the Commission’s Incentive Auction Procedures Public Notice, the Commission released a Proposed Rule that designates a second available vacant channel in the UHF television band for use by white space devices and wireless microphones in those areas where the duplex gap of the 600 MHz Band is subject to impairment by a television station.  Under this proposal a demonstration would be required in geographic areas where the protected contour of a television station assigned to the 600 MHz Band impairs the duplex gap.

The second vacant channel is in addition to the first vacant channel that the Commission tentatively concluded in the Vacant Channel Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will be made available in each area of the U.S. for shared use by white space devices and wireless microphones.  Similar to the first vacant channel, licensed as well as unlicensed wireless microphones would have access to the second available television channel. 

The comment dates for the Proposed Rule are as follows: Comments are due September 30, 2015 and Reply Comments are due October 30, 2015.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. 

FCC Announces 2015 Regulatory Fees Due Date

The FCC has released a Public Notice announcing that the Fee Filer is open for annual regulatory fees, which are due to be paid on or before September 24, 2015.  
  
In addition, the Commission has also released a Report and Order (R&O) and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) concerning the 2015 regulatory fees and regulatory fees generally (attached).  In the R&O, the Commission takes the following actions: 
  1. Reduces regulatory fees for the submarine cable/terrestrial and satellite bearer circuit (IBC) category relative to other fee categories in the International Bureau by an additional five percent;
  2. Implements the first fee rate for Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS), as a subset of the cable television and IPTV category, at 12 cents per year, or one cent per month;
  3. Implements the first fee rate for toll free numbers managed by a RespOrg of 12 cents per toll free number;
  4. Eliminates the regulatory fee component of two fee categories: amateur radio Vanity Call Signals and General Mobile Radio Service; 
  5. Reallocates four International Bureau full time employees from direct to indirect.
In the FNPRM, the Commission seeks further comment on changes to the methodology in calculating regulatory fees for AM and FM broadcast radio and on reallocating FTEs from the Wireline Competition Bureau working on numbering and universal service issues.  Comments will be due 30 days after publication in the federal register and reply comments will be due 60 days after publication in the federal register. 

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. 

FCC Announces Agenda for Sept. 17 Open Meeting

The below Agenda for the September 17th Open Meeting has been released.  The Meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 am.

Modernizing Contest Rules – The Commission will consider a Report and Order to provide broadcasters flexibility in their disclosure of contest terms.

Submarine Cable Reliability – The Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposes to require submarine cable licensees to report outages.

The Commission will also consider several broadcasting items as consent agenda.  The meeting may be streamed at fcc.gov/live.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

FCC Announces Tenative Agenda for September Open Meeting

The below Tentative Agenda for the September 17th Open Meeting has been released.  The Meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 am.

Modernizing Contest Rules – The Commission will consider a Report and Order to provide broadcasters flexibility in their disclosure of contest terms.

 Submarine Cable Reliability – The Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposes to require submarine cable licensees to report outages.

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

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

FCC Releases Incentive Auction Procedures Public Notice and Upcoming Auction Actions

In the August Open Meeting, the FCC approved a Public Notice on competitive bidding procedures for the Incentive Auction (FCC 15-78) (the “Public Notice”). This Public Notice outlines procedures for the reverse auction (“Auction 1001”) and the forward auction (“Auction 1002”), including final procedures for setting the initial spectrum clearing target, qualifying to bid, and bidding.
Bidding is scheduled to begin on March 29, 2016, and short-form applications are expected to be due from both reverse auction and forward auction participants in the fall of 2015. The prohibited communications period (under the “Anti-Collusion Rule”) will commence on the deadline for short-form applications and continue until the auction closing Public Notice is released.

In addition to the Public Notice, leaders of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force published a blog post outlining the anticipated timing of the next steps of the Incentive Auction.  Notably, the Post states that short-form applications to participate in both the reverse and forward auctions will be duebefore the end of the year” - implying late November/early December as the deadline. This date will also trigger the Anti-Collusion Rule, and the prohibited communications period will commence on this filing deadline.  This date will be announced in the upcoming Applications Procedures Public Notice.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.