Wednesday, October 28, 2015

FCC Releases Foreign Ownership NPRM


The Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to simplify the foreign ownership approval process for broadcast licensees by extending the streamlined rules and procedures developed for foreign ownership reviews for common carrier and certain aeronautical licensees under section 310(b)(4) of the Communications Act of 1934 to the broadcast context.  The Commission believes that adopting a standardized filing and review process for broadcast licensees’ requests to exceed the 25 percent foreign ownership benchmark will provide the broadcast sector with greater transparency, more predictability, and will reduce regulatory burdens and costs.

 

The proposed changes would allow a broadcast licensee to request Commission approval for its U.S. controlling parent to have up to and including 100 percent foreign ownership and for any non-controlling named foreign investor to increase its interest in the U.S. parent up to and including a non-controlling interest of 49.99 percent at some time in the future.  The Commission also seeks comment on whether and how to revise the methodology a licensee should use to assess its compliance with the 25 percent foreign ownership benchmark in section 310(b)(4) to reduce regulatory burdens on applicants and licensees.  With respect to each proposal or proposed alternative, commenters should discuss, and, if possible, quantify, the likely costs and benefits of the proposal or proposed alternative.

 

Comments Due: 45 days after publication in the Federal Register

Reply Comments Due: 75 days after publication in the Federal Register



Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

FCC Announces SNR and Northstar Wireless Selective Default


The Commission released a notice of interim default payment obligation for Northstar and SNR Wireless (both DISH designated entities).  Both were winning bidders in Auction 97. As described in their attached respective Selective Default Letters, Northstar and SNR have selectively defaulted on their final payment obligation for certain of their AWS-3 auction winning bids.

The two parties, which together won 702 licenses in the AWS-3 auction, decided to forgo ownership of 197 of these licenses, including in key markets like New York, Boston and ChicagoThe licenses that they are giving up are listed in Attachment 2 of each of the letters filed with the FCC by Northstar and SNR (also attached).  The default is the result of the FCC denying the parties $3 billion in small business credits in an August Order. Both companies will have to pay an interim payment equal to 15% of the amount of each winning bid for the licenses they are giving up.

In addition to the 15%, the parties may have to pay additional funds based upon the final value of the returned licenses.  The parties interim default payment owed will be satisfied by the application of funds already on deposit at the Commission.  However, the Commission cannot determine the full amount of the default payment that is owed until a license for the relevant spectrum is won in a subsequent auction.

Once subsequent winning bids are established for the relevant spectrum, the Commission will determine the parties final payment obligation.  If an additional payment is required, a further order will assess such payment.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Friday, October 16, 2015

FCC Announces Incentive Auction Webinar


The Commission released a Public Notice regarding the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction. On Wednesday October 28, 2015 at 1:30 pm the Incentive Auction Task Force and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau will host a webinar regarding recent modifications to the Part 1 rules governing designated entities and other auction-related matters, including joint bidding.

An agenda for the webinar will be announced prior to the event.  Furthermore, participants will have an opportunity to submit questions during the webinar to learn@fcc.gov.

To join the webinar online:
1. Go to: https://fccevents.webex.com/fccevents/onstage/g.php?MTID=e4052e7079427e42aca0196ef2b365d34
2. Enter your name and email address
3. Enter the meeting password, Fcc123
4. Click on "Join"

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

FCC Reminds Providers to File Form 477 Reports

The Commission released a Public Notice reminding providers to file a complete and accurate Form 477 report every 6 months. The Form 477 must be filed twice each year, by March 1 (reporting data collected as of December 31 of the previous year) and September 1 (reporting data collected as of June 30 of the current year). Forms must be submitted electronically through the FCC website.  

 Additionally, the Commission provides notice to providers, including WISPs and other rural entities, that failure to timely file Form 477 reports may result in enforcement action, including monetary penalties. This is the result of a consent decree entered into with Rio Verde Wireless for a penalty of $10,500 resulting from a Commission investigation into repeated failures to file Form 477 reports.

The following entities, regardless of size, are required to file Form 477 reports:
·         Common carriers and their affiliates providing telephone exchange or exchange access service;
·         Facilities-based Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers offering mobile phone service;
·         Interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers;
·         Facilities-based broadband Internet service providers (including, but not limited to Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs).

Additional information for filers is available at www.fcc.gov/form477.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

FCC Grants AT&T Waiver of TTY Rules in IP Environment

The Commission released an Order granting AT&T a temporary, limited waiver of the Commission’s requirements to support text telephony (TTY) technology on wireless networks to the extent that they use Internet Protocol (IP) technologies.  This waiver expires December 31, 2017, or upon the effective date of rules providing for alternative IP-based wireless accessibility solutions, whichever is earlier.

On June 12, 2015, simultaneous with its waiver petition, AT&T filed a petition requesting that the Commission initiate a rulemaking proceeding to authorize the substitution of a newer form of text communication, real-time text (RTT), as an alternative accessibility solution to TTY technology for use in the IP-based environment.  AT&T stated that the grant of its requested waiver would further the TTY-to-RTT transition by enabling it to focused on deploying IP-based solutions that will hasten the development of RTT.  The Commission found that AT&T demonstrated “good cause” for a waiver, and specifically took the following factors into account:

·         Major technical barriers exist to reliably supporting TTY transmissions over IP networks;
·         General agreement that overall use of TTYs has declined greatly, and that TTYs are seldom used on wireless networks;
·         Granting the waiver would be in keeping with the statutory goal of replacing legacy TTY technology with more effective means of accessing 911;
·         Short-term waiver does not appear likely to impact current TTY capabilities on legacy wireless and wireline networks;
·         Granting the waiver appears likely to create significant long-term benefits for consumers generally because it has the potential to encourage the development and wider deployment of VoIP services.

Conditions:  Because consumers who currently rely on TTY will lose their ability to access next-generation wireless networks via TTY during the waiver, the Commission imposed certain conditions on the grant of the waiver.  First, AT&T is required to apprise its customers within 30 days of the effective date of the Order that (1) TTY technology will not be supported for calls to 911 services over IP-based wireless services; and (2) there are alternative PSTN-based and IP-based accessibility solutions for people with communication disabilities for such calls.  Second, AT&T is required to file a report with the Commission once every six months regarding its progress toward and the status of the availability of new IP-based accessibility solutions, such as RTT.

Scope:  This waiver applies to AT&T, with respect to its IP-based wireless services.  This waiver does not impact or cover requirements for the support of TTY technology for any wireline services or wireless services not offered on an IP network.  While several commenters urged the Commission to apply the waiver to all entities covered under the rules, the Commission will instead consider requests for waivers from “similarly situated providers seeking a similar waiver of the TTY requirements” that include the necessary criteria for waiver relief and commit to complying with the conditions stated in the Order (discussed below). 

Waiver Requests:  Any carrier or service provider seeking a waiver should file a request describing the wireless services it provides, explaining the difficulties it has encountered or expects to encounter in providing connectivity to TTY devices over wireless IP networks, stating the extent to which it expects that it will be able to deploy accessible text alternatives to TTY technology by December 31, 2017, and committing to compliance with the reporting requirements and other conditions stated herein.  The Commission expects “to look most favorably upon petitions for waiver that also specify with sufficient particularity the following: (1) What steps the carrier is taking or intends to take to ensure that the accessibility text alternatives that it intends to deploy will be accessible to people with communication disabilities, interoperable with other IP-based wireless text services, and backward compatible with TTYs; and (2) well-documented timetables and milestones regarding the implementation of these capabilities.”  The Commission anticipates  that all conditions imposed by this Order with respect to AT&T will also apply to waivers granted to other parties.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

FCC Releases Cellular SID Update

The Commission released a Public Notice reminding Cellular licensees of their obligation to update system identification number (“SID”) information with the International Forum on ANSI-41 Standard Technology (IFAST).  The Guidelines for SID Administrators, which were issued as a result of privatizing SID administration, requires Commission licensees requesting or utilizing a Cellular SID assignment to keep administrative information current.

Cellular licensees must report any discrepancies in SID information to the SID administrator, including instances where a SID has been assigned but is not currently being used.  There are currently 769 SIDs, listed in Attachment 1 of the Public Notice, that are being prepared for release to the free pool and subsequent reassignment.  Cellular licensees must inform IFAST within 60 days of the Public Notice if any of the listed SIDs remain in use.  Failure to update SID information may result in IFAST reassigning an operational SID Code.

Licensees are also directed to conduct SID searches at http://ifast.org/nationalsid.php.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.