Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September Open Meeting Agenda Released


The Commission announced the Agenda for the September Open Meeting on Thursday, September 29, 2016.  The Commission will consider the following:

  • Improving Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) - the Commission will consider a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would leverage advancements in technology to improve wireless emergency alert content, delivery and testing, while seeking comment on further measures to ensure effective alerts. 

  • Review of Foreign Ownership Policies for Broadcast, Common Carrier and Aeronautical Radio Licenses - the Commission will consider a Report and Order that extends to broadcast licensees the same streamlined rules and procedures that common carrier wireless licensees use to seek approval for foreign ownership, with appropriate broadcast-specific modifications.  The item establishes a framework for a public traded common carrier or broadcast licensee or controlling U.S. parent to ascertain its foreign ownership levels.

  • Promoting the Availability of Diver and Independent Sources of Video Programming – the Commission will consider a NPRM that proposes steps the Commission can take to promote the distribution of independent and diverse programming to consumers.

  • Expanding Consumers’ Video Navigation Choices – the Commission will consider a Report and Order that modernizes the Commission’s rules to allow consumers to use a device of their choosing to access multichannel video programming instead of leasing devices from their cable or satellite providers.  

The Commission will also consider Enforcement, General Counsel, Media, and Personnel actions as a consent agenda that will not be presented individually.

The September 29th meeting  is scheduled to begin at 10:30 am and can be streamed live here: www.fcc.gov/live

Please contact us with any questions.

FCC Announces Filing Guidelines for Certain Lower 700 MHz Licensees


The Commission released a Public Notice (“Notice”) announcing additional construction filing guidance for Lower 700 MHz A and B Block licensees who must file electronic maps demonstrating compliance with their December 13, 2016 construction deadline.  

The Commission’s rules require Lower 700 MHz A, B, and E Block licensees to provide service sufficient to cover 35% of the geographic area of their licenses within four years, and 70 percent of the area within ten years (license term).  If a licensee fails to meet the interim benchmarks, the license term will be reduced by two years and the end-of-term benchmark must be met within eight years.  The interim construction deadline for certain A block licensees adjacent to Channel 51 operations was removed in 2013.

The Notice offers guidance on the following issues:
  • Demonstrating Geographic Coverage:
o   Showings should include an attribute table that contains the geographic coverage area, total area, and the percentage of area covered.
o   Each filing must provide a coverage shapefile that shows where service is provided only within the licensed market.  This should include service from a licensee’s neighboring transmitters, but it can only include coverage that is the subject of the filing.
o   Covered government lands can be included to meet the benchmark requirement, but if they are included, they must be included in the total calculated percent covered
  • Government Lands:
o   Can be excluded from the total licensed area when demonstrating geographic benchmarks.  Includes land owned or administered by the Federal Government, including agencies and governmental entities, or managed by individual states.  If there is an overlap of federal and state lands, include all federal land and the non-overlapping state lands (or vice versa).
o   The Commission uses a government land shapefile downloaded from http://gapanalysis.usgs.gov/padus/data/download/.
  • Exhibits and Information:
o   PDF versions of shapefile maps, which will serve as the publicly-available, redacted version of the shapefile, must include transmitter sites.
o   Shapefiles uploaded to ULS can be combined into a single zip file labeled as “Shapefiles”.
o   Metrics used to show the received signal level obtained in the downlink by the user equipment should represent the required minimum signal from the serving base station at any given point to allow data communication at minimum target rate.

Please contact us with any questions. 

FCC Enforcement Bureau Enters into Consent Decree with AT&T


The Enforcement Bureau of the Commission released an Order announcing that it has entered into a Consent Decree with AT&T to resolve its investigation into whether AT&T operated 26 common carrier fixed point-to-point microwave stations for several years at variance from the stations’ authorizations.  AT&T admitted that it operated the stations without proper authorization for periods ranging from three and a half years to over four years.  AT&T will pay a $450,000 civil penalty and agrees to implement a robust compliance plan for future acquired microwave licenses.

The Consent Decree terminates the investigation into AT&T’s operation of wireless stations and failure to provide license modification notices.

Please contact us with any further questions. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bluesky/Club42 Transaction Pleading Cycle Established


The Commission released a Public Notice announcing that AST Telecom d/b/a/ Bluesky (“Bluesky”) and Club 42 CM (“Club 42”) (collectively, “the Applicants”) have filed an application seeking the assignment of a Lower 700 MHz B Block License and a Lower 700 MHz E Block license to Bluesky, covering American Samoa.  The Commission accepted the application for filing and established a pleading cycle on September 19, 2016 (WT Docket No. 16-264).

The Applicants maintain the transaction would provide Bluesky with additional spectrum to expand and deploy LTE coverage in Cellular Market Area 733.  Preliminary review of the transaction indicates that Bluesky would be assigned 18 MHz of Lower 700 MHz spectrum covering five counties of American Samoa, and would hold 80 to 105 MHz of spectrum post-transaction, including 30 to 55 MHz of below-1-Ghz spectrum.  Bluesky would therefore hold more than one-third (more than 45 MHz) of the 134 MHz of suitable and available below-1-GHz spectrum in two of the five counties in this transaction, triggering enhanced factor review in the case-by-case analysis.
  
Petitions to Deny due: October 12, 2016
Oppositions due: October 19, 2016
Replies due: October 26, 2016

Related releases:

Please contact us with any questions. 

FirstNet NPRM Comment Dates Established


The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) outlining procedures for Commission review of state opt-out requests from the FirstNet Radio Access Network has been published in the Federal Register.  The NPRM seeks comment on the proposed procedures and implementation of statutory standards for applying and evaluating the State opt-out process.

Comments are due October 21, 2016.
Reply Comments are due November 21, 2016.

As a reminder, the rules established in the Order are effective October 17, 2016.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

FirstNet Report and Order Published in the Federal Register


The Report and Order (“Order”) addressing the 758-769/788-799 MHz band, licensed to FirstNet, has been published in the Federal Register.  The Order provides a mechanism to facilitate relocation of narrowband incumbents currently on FirstNet’s spectrum and declines to impose specific build-out requirements as a condition of renewal of its license.  The rules will become effective October 17, 2016.  The NPRM has not yet been published in the Federal Register, and therefore the comment dates have not yet been established.

See the client alert below for a full summary of the Order and NPRM.

Please contact us with any questions. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

TLP Attorneys Recognized by Best Lawyers®



Telecommunications Law Professionals is pleased to announce that two lawyers have been named to the 2017 Edition of Best Lawyers, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession.

Telecommunications Law Professionals would like to congratulate the following attorneys named to the 2017 Best Lawyers in America list:

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

Best Lawyers has published its 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.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for September Open Meeting


The Commission announced the Tentative Agenda for the September Open Meeting on Thursday, September 29, 2016.  The Commission will consider the following: 
  • Improving Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) - the Commission will consider a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would leverage advancements in technology to improve wireless emergency alert content, delivery and testing, while seeking comment on further measures to ensure effective alerts.  
  •  Review of Foreign Ownership Policies - the Commission will consider a Report and Order that extends to broadcast licensees the same streamlined rules and procedures that common carrier wireless licensees use to seek approval for foreign ownership, with appropriate broadcast-specific modifications.  The item establishes a framework for a public traded common carrier or broadcast licensee or controlling U.S. parent to ascertain its foreign ownership levels. 
  • Independent Programming – the Commission will consider a NPRM that proposes steps the Commission can take to promote the distribution of independent and diverse programming to consumers. 
  • Expanding Consumer Choice – the Commission will consider a Report and Order that modernizes the Commission’s rules to allow consumers to use a device of their choosing to access multichannel video programming instead of leasing devices from their cable or satellite providers. 
The September 29th meeting  is scheduled to begin at 10:30 am and can be streamed live here: www.fcc.gov/live

Please contact us with any questions. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Fee Filer Open for Fiscal Year 2016 Fees


The Commission released a Public Notice announcing that its automated filing and payment system (“Fee Filer”) is open for FY 2016 regulatory fee payments.  The Commission released the Assessment of Regulatory Fees for FY 2016 Report and Order on September 2, 2016, which adopted a schedule of fees to assess and collect $384,012,497 in regulatory fees.  Regulatory fees for FY 2016 will not become effective until the rulemaking is published in the Federal Register, but regulatees at their own discretion can submit payments at any time before the effective date.  Fees must be filed no later than 11:59 pm ET on September 27, 2016.

The Commission included a fact sheet for holders of licenses in commercial wireless services, outlining the following:

  • CMRS providers (CMRS cellular licensees, CMRS mobile service licensees, and CMRS messaging licensees) owe regulatory fees for each license held as of October 1, 2015, even if a license expired after October 1, 2015.  In instances where a license or authorization is transferred or assigned after October 1, 2015, the fee must be paid by the party that is the licensee or holder of the authorization on the fee due date.
  • CMRS Mobile Services fees are assessed at $0.20 per telephone number/unit.
  • CMRS providers must retain the business records that were used to calculate their fee payment for a period of two years from the date of regulatory fee payment.
  • Regulatory fees for BRS are assessed on a per license basis ($725), whereas regulatory fees for LMDS are assessed on a per call sign basis ($725). 
  • De Minimis: Regulatees whose total FY 2016 annual regulatory fee liability, including all categories of fees for which payment is due, is $500 or less are exempt from payment of FY 2016 regulatory fees.

Additional industry-specific guidance is available here: http://www.fcc.gov/regfees. 

Information and instructions for electronic filing is available here.

Please contact us with any questions.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

HAC Report and Order Effective Dates


The HAC Report and Order has been published in the Federal Register, setting the effective date for the rules.  The rules are effective October 3, 2016.

The effective date also triggers compliance deadlines for the enhanced benchmarks. Manufacturers and service providers that offer six or more handset models per air interface will be required to abide by the following:

Covered Entity
66% of Offered Handset Models
85% of Offered Handset Models
Non-Tier 1 Service Providers
Three years and six months (Apr. 3, 2020)
Six years and six months (Apr. 3, 2023) 
Tier 1 Service Providers
Two years and six months (Apr. 3, 2019)
Five years and six months (Apr. 3, 2022)
Manufacturers
Two Years (Oct. 3, 2018)
Five years (Oct. 3, 2021)

The new de minimis exception, applying to manufacturers and service providers that offer three or fewer handset models in an air interface, will take effect for each covered entity at the same time as the updated benchmarks (i.e, for non-tier 1 service providers, April 3, 2020).  For enforcement purposes, the FCC will review compliance with the new benchmarks and de minimis requirements starting the first day of the month after the new benchmarks become effective. 

See below for a comprehensive summary of the HAC Report and Order, circulated August 5, 2016.

Please contact us if you have any questions on your HAC obligations under the new rules. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

FCC Form 395 Filing Via ECFS


The Wireline Competition Bureau (“Bureau”) announced in a Public Notice that FCC Form 395 Common Carrier Annual Employment Report will be now filed via the Electronic Comment Filing System (“ECFS”).  As of September 1, 2016, all FCC Form 395 Reports due May 31st annually and resubmissions will be filed in WC Docket No. 16-233 using ECFS.

Filing instructions are available here: https://transition.fcc.gov/Forms/Form395/395instr.pdf

Please contact us with any questions. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

New Filing Window Schedule for the FCC's Rural Health Care Program


The Wireline Competition Bureau (“Bureau”) released a Public Notice providing filing window period schedules for funding requests under the Telecommunications Program and the FCC’s Rural Health Care (RHC) Program.  The Bureau reminds the public of the Commission’s existing rules for situations when requested RHC Program funding begins to near, or exceeds, the Program’s $400 million cap.

The RHC Program funding year begins on July 1 of each year.  Prior to funding, USAC implements an initial funding request filing window period that treats all HCPs filing as if their applications were simultaneously received.  After the filing window period closes, USAC accepts funding requests on a rolling basis until the end of the funding year, and makes funding commitments on a “first-come, first-served” basis.  Due to program growth and expected demand, the Bureau directs USAC to create additional filing window periods to provide greater opportunities within the $400 million cap.

The Bureau provides the following schedules for the 2016 and 2017 filing window periods:

Funding Year 2016 Filing Window Period Schedule
Filing Window Period
Filing Window Period Open Date
Filing Window Period Close Date
1
3/1/2016
6/1/2016
2
9/1/2016
11/30/2016
No funding requests accepted from 12/1/2016 – 1/31/2017
3
2/1/2017
4/30
Subsequent filing window periods may be opened at USAC’s discretion

Funding Year 2017 And Beyond Filing Window Period Schedule
Filing Window Period
Filing Window Period Open Date
Filing Window Period Close Date
1
2/1/2017
4/30/2017
Subsequent filing window periods may be opened at USAC’s discretion

In establishing new filing windows, new eligible entities (skilled nursing facilities or “SNFs”) will be included in RHC program forms to be available January 1, 2017.  Additional filing window periods give more rural providers access to funds, and blocks where no requests are accepted will help all parties in the process adjust to the reorganized filing periods.  If the total demand in a filing window exceeds the remaining funding available for the funding year, USAC will engage in a three-step pro-rata process to divide the total amount requested and commit reduced dollar amounts to each applicant.

Please contact us with any questions. 

FCC Announces New NORS System Roll-out Details


The Commission has announced in a Public Notice further details for the roll-out of the new Network Outage Reporting System (NORS).  The Commission previously announced that user profile information would be moved to the new platform on August 1, 2016, and that the planned cutover date for filing with the new platform is August 31, 2016.  The Commission now concludes that NORS users should migrate to the new platform during the cutover window in two steps:

Step 1:  Beginning August 31, 2016, CenturyLink, Verizon, and T-Mobile will move to the new production system.  These companies’ NORS  users will be required to file all outage reports using the new platform.  Before a company moves, NORS users from that company should continue to make all required filings under Part 4 in the current version.
Step 2:  Remaining companies will migrate to the new system.  This will occur as soon as possible, but no later than September 30, 2016.  The current NORS platform will not be available for filing after Step 2 is complete.

The new NORS production system is directly accessible here: https://fcc.appiancloud.com/suite/.  It is currently available and will remain open for testing until all companies have transferred over.

Please contact us with any questions.