Monday, February 27, 2017

FCC to Host Post-Auction Broadcast Transition Workshop


The Commission released a Public Notice announcing that on Monday, March 13, 2017, the Commission’s Incentive Auction Task Force and the Media Bureau will host a public workshop to review procedures related to the post-auction broadcast transition.  The workshop will include presentations and panels by Commission staff focusing on post-auction procedures, including the transition of broadcast stations to post-auction channel assignments in the reorganized television band.

The workshop is open to the public and will be held in the Commission Meeting Room at FCC Headquarters.  The Commission will release additional details (i.e. time, registration, viewing remotely, etc.) at a later date.

Please contact us with any questions.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February Open Meeting Agenda Announced


The Commission announced the Agenda for the February Open Meeting on Thursday, February 23, 2017, beginning at 10:30 am.  The Commission will consider the following:

  • Universal Service Reform - Mobility Fund - The Commission will consider a Report and Order adopting rules to provide ongoing support targeted to preserve and advance high-speed mobile broadband and voice service in high-cost areas that the marketplace does not otherwise serve.

  • Connect America Fund; ETC Annual Reports and Certifications – The Commission will consider a Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration that (1) resolves a number of issues raised in the Phase II Auction Order FNRPM, including the adoption of weights to compare bids among service performance and latency tiers, and (2) considers several petitions for reconsideration for decisions made in the Phase II Auction Order.

  • Authorizing Permissive Use of the “Next Generation” Broadcast Television Standard – The Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposes to let television broadcasters use the “Next Generation” broadcast television transmission standard associated with recent work of the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC 3.0) on a voluntary, market-driven basis.

  • Revitalization of the AM Radio Service – The Commission will consider a Second Report and Order that would relax the siting rule for an FM fill-in translator rebroadcasting an AM broadcast station.

  • Small Business Exemption From Open Internet Enhanced Transparency Requirements – The Commission will consider an Order granting a five-year waiver to broadband Internet access service providers with 250,000 or fewer broadband connections from the enhanced reporting requirements adopted in the 2015 Title II Order.

  • Comprehensive Review of the Part 32 Uniform System of Accounts – The Commission will consider a Report and Order that would streamline and eliminate outdated accounting rules no longer needed to fulfill the Commission’s statutory or regulatory duties.

The Commission will also consider one consent agenda item that will not be presented individually.

The February 23rd meeting can be streamed live here: www.fcc.gov/live

Please contact us if you have any questions. 

FCC Form 477 Due March 1



This is a reminder regarding the upcoming March 1, 2017 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 December 31, 2016. 

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 using the Form 477 electronic filing system are available at http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/form-477-resources-filers

If you require our assistance in making this filing, please let us know no later than the close of business on Wednesday February 22, 2017.  As well, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions regarding the Form 477 filing.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Announces NORS Testing Window


The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (“Bureau”) released a Public Notice announcing that during a four week period, from February 2 to March 2, 2017, Version 3.0 of the Network Outage Reporting System (“NORS”) will be open for testing and production use.  NORS Version 3.0 has four new interfaces, and will enhance the overall security and reliability with better support for new technologies and analytic methods.  All four interfaces will be open for testing during this phase.

Providers of voice and paging communications are required under Part 4 of the Commission’s rules to report significant disruptions or outages to communication systems. 

During the testing phase, companies will continue to file their official NORS reports in the NORS 2.0 system.  Once the testing is successfully completed, the Commission will migrate all filings to the 3.0 system at the beginning of March.

For additional information on NORS 3.0 testing or to create a new test account and login, visit the NORS 3.0 Test Site at https://www.fcc.gov/network-outage-reporting-system-nors-test-environment.

Please contact us with any questions. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Chairman Pai Announces the Closing of the Incentive Auction Clock Phase


Chairman Pai released a Statement this afternoon announcing that bidding in the clock phase of the incentive auction has concluded.  The auction will now proceed to the assignment phase, where winning forward auction bidders can bid for specific frequency blocks.  

In his statement, Pai congratulated the winners in the reverse and forward auctions, and stated that the release of low-band airwaves will improve wireless coverage nationally and will play an important role in rural mobile broadband deployment.  He further states that a timely clearing access of the new wireless band will be one of his top priorities as Chairman in the coming months.

Gary Epstein, Chair of the Incentive Auction Task Force, released a comprehensive blog post detailing the closing figures and next steps of the auction.  The auction closed with $19.6 billion in gross winning bids and will generate more than $6 billion to the U.S. Treasury, more than $10 billion to broadcasters, and up to $1.75 billion for other broadcasters that incur costs in changing channels.  The next phases of the auction are as follows:

·         Assignment Phase – This next step for forward auction winning bidders, will be an assignment phase where they can bid for frequency-specific licenses.  Bidding in this phase is not mandatory for winning bidders; they will still receive the number of license blocks they won regardless of whether or not they bid in the assignment phase.  The schedule for the assignment phase will be announced via Public Notice “in the near future” and the Commission “expect[s] that bidder education and assignment phase bidding will take several weeks.”   
·         Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice – Following the closing of bidding in the assignment phase, the Commission will prepare a Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice announcing the formal close of the incentive auction and providing important information about the winners and post-auction TV band.
·         Post-Auction Transition – The release of the Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice also marks the start of the 39-month transition of the 600 MHz band.  The previously released Transition Scheduling Plan established the methodology to determine the order and schedule of stations transition to new channels. 
·         Seeking Comments – The Commission is currently accepting comments in the record on which stations should submit transition status reports to enable the commission and the public to monitor progress reports.

Commissioner O’Rielly also issued a statement on the close of Clock Phase bidding, asserting that although he is pleased with the close of the forward auction, “significant review is necessary to understand how the FCC rules and auction design impacted the results.”  He further notes that there is much work to be done to minimize disruptions during the clearing of the spectrum blocks, criticizing the previous majority in its method of interpreting and implementing its Congressional authority to manage spectrum efficiently.

The Auction Public Reporting System provides up-to-date information about the closing of the auction via the Incentive Auction Dashboard, available here.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions. 


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

FCC Releases Orders of Rescission


The Commission has released a series of Orders either retracting or rescinding several Commission decisions and dockets.  The rescinded Orders are as follows:
  •  Mobile Broadband Operators’ Zero Rated Content:  The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“WTB”) released an Order in response to its “Policy Review of Mobile Broadband Operators’ Sponsored Data Offerings for Zero Rated Content and Services” (“Policy Review Report”).  The Bureau sent letters to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon closing the inquiries into each company’s sponsored data and zero-rating offers, taking no further action.  The Bureau now rescinds the Policy Review Report and its corresponding conclusions. 
  • E-Rate Modernization Progress Report:  The WTB, Wireline Competition Bureau, and Office of Managing Director Order set aside and rescind the “E-rate Modernization Progress Report.” 
  • Cybersecurity Risk Reduction White Paper:  The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (“PSHSB”) Order rescinds its “Cybersecurity Risk Reduction” white paper, including any and all guidance, determinations, and conclusions contained therein. 
  • Improving Digital Infrastructure Paper:  The Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis Order rescinds its paper titled “Improving the Nation’s Digital Infrastructure” and any and all guidance, determinations, recommendations, or conclusions contained therein.   
  • Fifth Generation Wireless Network and Device Security Notice of Inquiry:  The PSHSB Order sets aside and rescinds a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) it published in the Federal Register on January 23, 2017.  The NOI was in response to a direction from the Commission toward the Office of Engineering and Technology, the PSHSB, and the WTB within the Spectrum Frontiers Report and Order.  There is no longer a comment cycle associated with that document and the docket is hereby terminated.

Effectively immediately, all of the above Orders are therefore without legal or other effect or meaning going forward.

Please contact us if you have any questions or would like any additional information.

Monday, February 6, 2017

FCC Announces Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee


The Commission has released a Public Notice announcing the formation of a new federal advisory committee, the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (“BDAC” or “Committee”), which will provide advice and recommendations to the Commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access.  The Commission seeks nominations for membership on and a Chairperson to the Committee.  The Commission intends to establish the BDAC for a period of two years, with an expected starting date during the spring of 2017.

Issues to be considered by the Committee may include drafting for the Commission’s consideration a model code covering local franchising, zoning, permitting, and rights-of-way regulations; recommending further reforms of the Commission’s pole attachment rules; identifying unreasonable regulatory barriers to broadband deployment; and recommending further reform within the scope of the Commission’s authority.

Nominations for membership to the BDAC should be submitted to the FCC no later than February 15, 2017.  The Notice outlines who may apply for membership, obligations of members and committee meetings, and application procedures.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

FCC Public Notice Establishes Post-Auction 1000 Transition Scheduling Plan



The Media Bureau released a Public Notice adopting a methodology and scheduling plan (“Scheduling Plan” or “Plan”) to establish construction deadlines for transitioning stations following the conclusion of Auction 1000.  The Notice adopts the proposed methodology, with some modifications, in the Transition Scheduling Proposal Public Notice (“Proposal PN”).  The methodology will be used after final channel reassignments are known in order to establish a schedule that will allow stations, manufacturers, and other vendors and consultants to coordinate broadcasters’ post-auction channel changes.  The Commission asserts that the methodology is necessary to provide a means of breaking dependencies to reduce the need for and manage coordination.  The Bureau also telegraphs that it may provide some relaxation of the prohibited communications rule once post-auction channel assignment information is provided to broadcasters.

Phase Assignment:
Stations will be assigned to 10 transition phases, which will all begin at the same time when channel reassignments are announced in the Closing and Reassignment Public Notice, but each will have sequential end dates.  To establish completion dates for each phase, the methodology will utilize two computer-based tools to assign stations to phases.  The “Phase Assignment Tool” will first assign stations to phases, and the “Phase Scheduling Tool” will determine the phase completion date for each phase.
  • With the exception of the first phase, the testing period for subsequent phases will begin on the day after the end of the preceding phase.
  • Every station must cease operating on its pre-auction channel at the end of its assigned phase (“phase completion date”).
  • The Commission declines to accept additional or different information about stations that face difficult approval processes or procurement issues prior to assigning stations to phases.

The Commission adopted the following objectives and constraints in guiding the phase assignment methodology:

Objectives:
The Commission adopts the four objectives proposed in the Proposal PN.  The objectives are as follows:
1)      Clearing the 600 MHz band;
2)      Minimizing the sum, over all DMAs, of the number of times a DMA must rescan;
3)      Minimizing the total number of linked stations;
4)      Minimizing the difference between the number of stations in the largest transition phase and the smallest transition phase.

Constraints:
The Commission also adopts eight of the constraints proposed in the Proposal PN.  Every solution will satisfy the following constraints:
1)      A station cannot cause more than two percent new pairwise interference to another station during the transition;
2)      No stations in Canada will be assigned to transition before the third transition phase;
3)      There will be no more than 10 transition phases;
4)      All stations within a DMA will be assigned to no more than two different transition phases;
5)      The difference in the number of stations in the largest transition phase and the smallest transition phase will be no more than 30 stations;
6)      Every transition station will be assigned to one transition phase;
7)      No phase can have more than 125 linked stations;
8)      No station falling into the “complicated” category for purposes of the Phase Scheduling Tool can be assigned to Phase 1.

The Commission also addressed the following issues in the Plan:

39-Month Transition Deadline:
Some stations may request extensions of their construction deadline and seek authority to continue operating on their pre-auction channel after their phase completion date, including a waiver of their phase completion deadline.  For any requests for modification of a station’s facility or transition deadline, the Commission will evaluate on a case-by-case basis subject to a high burden of proof to determine the impact of a request on the overall transition schedule.  Otherwise, it adopts the 39-month timeline, however, it notes that it is subject to a pending Petition for Reconsideration.
  • Proposals for waivers or alternative transition solutions should specifically demonstrate that implementation would not interfere with other stations’ transition efforts and address how implementation of the proposal may affect the transition schedule.

Temporary Channels:
The Commission will permit a full power or Class A licensee to request authority to operate on an individual channel in the new wireless band during the post-auction channels.  It disagrees with T-Mobile’s support of voluntary temporary channels, because the Commission finds it to be too conservative an approach.  To evaluate requests for individual use of temporary channels, the Commission will require a demonstration that there is no reasonable alternative to operating in the new wireless band and written consent from the wireless licensees of the channel that the broadcaster wishes to operate on and licensees that would otherwise be required to protect the broadcaster under the Commission’s inter-service interference rules.

Auxiliary Facilities:
The model does not include the use of auxiliary antennas.  Additionally, the Commission will not allow wireless stations to test or operate on post-auction channels until their designated phase testing period.  

Confidential Letters and Prohibited Communications:
The Commission does not at this time lift any prohibitions on communications.  It does provide limited guidance on the rule as it pertains to broadcasters and the post-auction transition.  Significantly, the Bureau notes that “some relief from the prohibition for communications among broadcasters may be appropriate, particularly where doing so would assist the public interest in a smooth post-auction transition.”  The Bureau notes that it will address concerns “specifically at the time post-auction channel assignment information is provided to broadcasters.”

The Media Bureau also released a Public Notice outlining procedures for the post-incentive auction channel assignments for the broadcast transition.  The Notice details the requirement that all stations assigned a new channel as a result of the auction submit an application for construction permit and the process by which winning reverse auction bidders must relinquish their spectrum rights.  The Notice also outlines the following:
  • Reimbursement process for costs incurred in relocating to new channels and MVPDs
  • Construction permit extensions or STA requests
  • Procedures for channel sharing stations
  • Impact evaluations of applications filed during priority windows, requests for waiver, etc.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like any additional information.