CommLaw Monitor https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor News and analysis from Kelley Drye’s communications practice group Wed, 03 Jul 2024 18:17:15 -0400 60 hourly 1 FCC Open Meeting Recap Podcast: April 21, 2022 https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-open-meeting-recap-podcast-april-21-2022 https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-open-meeting-recap-podcast-april-21-2022 Fri, 22 Apr 2022 10:26:32 -0400 Full Spectrum’s FCC Open Meeting Recap podcasts feature instant reaction and analysis following the FCC’s monthly Open Meetings, with an emphasis on the agenda items directly impacting our clients. This month, Partner Chip Yorkgitis will discuss key actions and topics from the April 21st meeting, including a look at the role receiver performance policies or requirements might play in the FCC’s spectrum management responsibilities, strengthening Wireless Emergency Alerts, and a proposed fine related to a common carrier’s alleged failure to comply with foreign ownership-related requirements. Look out for ongoing coverage of these topics and future meetings.

Click here to listen and subscribe for ongoing coverage of these topics and future meetings.

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FCC’s December Meeting Agenda Includes Emergency Alerts, Satellite Broadband and E-Rate Items https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fccs-december-meeting-agenda-includes-emergency-alerts-satellite-broadband-and-e-rate-items https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fccs-december-meeting-agenda-includes-emergency-alerts-satellite-broadband-and-e-rate-items Sun, 12 Dec 2021 14:31:31 -0500 The FCC released a streamlined agenda for its next Commission Open Meeting, scheduled for December 14, 2021. The agency will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) and Notice of Inquiry regarding how to improve the clarity and accessibility of Emergency Alert System (“EAS”) visual messages to the public, including persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, and to seek comment on other EAS improvements, such as redesigns to enable matching visual and audio alert content (“EAS NPRM”). The FCC will next address an Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would grant a petition for rulemaking filed by Space Exploration Holdings, LLC (“SpaceX”) to amend the spectrum sharing rules applicable to non-geostationary satellite orbit, fixed-satellite service (“NGSO FSS”) systems (“Satellite Spectrum Sharing NPRM”). The commissioners will close the meeting by considering a NPRM that would propose to establish a central bidding portal through which service providers would submit their bids to the E-Rate program administrator, the Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”) (“E-Rate NPRM”).

You will find more information about the items on the December meeting agenda after the break:

Improving Accessibility and Clarity of Emergency Alerts - The EAS NPRM would propose rules to improve the accessibility and clarity of visual messages distributed to the public through the EAS, which advises the public of emergency alerts issued by government entities. The EAS is comprised of a legacy broadcast system that can only relay audio messages and an internet-based Common Alerting Protocol (“CAP”) system that can relay audio, text and visual messages. Due to the fact that alert initiators using the legacy EAS have some discretion regarding the content of the alert message while EAS participants that use video (such as broadcast or cable television operators) must rely on codes embedded in alerts to create a visual message (usually text), the audio and visual messages associated with the alerts may not match. To improve the clarity of EAS test messages, the EAS NPRM would propose the use of the following script as the visual message for all legacy EAS nationwide tests: “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency covering the United States from [time] until [time]. This is only a test. No action is required by the public.” For EAS participants that receive an alert from the CAP system, the FCC would propose to change the nationwide EAS test event code that alert initiators include in the alerts so that the following language is displayed in all visual messages: “Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert System.” The EAS NPRM would also seek comment on how the legacy EAS can be improved to enable alert originators to relay visual text that matches the audio message and how the EAS can be modified to support greater functionality and accessibility.

Facilitating Satellite Broadband Competition – The Satellite Spectrum Sharing NPRM would grant a petition for rulemaking from SpaceX requesting revisions to the spectrum sharing requirements among NGSO FSS systems. The FCC considers applications for NGSO FSS system licenses, which are used to provide broadband services, in groups based on filing date under a processing round procedure. All NGSO FSS system operators within a processing round that are granted a license must comply with the FCC’s spectrum sharing rules and coordinate with each other in good faith to use commonly authorized frequencies. If the NGSO FSS system operators in a processing round are unable to come to a coordination agreement, then a default spectrum-splitting procedure applies. The Satellite NPRM would propose that the spectrum sharing requirement only be applicable to NGSO FSS systems approved in the same processing round. The FCC would seek comment on a rule that would protect systems processed in an earlier round from being subjected to a certain level of interference from systems processed in a subsequent round and on whether interference protection should end after a period of time. To facilitate analysis of potential interference, earlier-round NGSO FSS system operators would be required to share data regarding their beam locations with later-round NGSO FSS system operators subject to confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements.

Promoting Fair and Open Competitive Bidding in the E-Rate Program – The E-Rate NPRM would propose changes to the E-Rate program rules to improve program integrity. The Schools and Libraries program, or E-Rate, funded by the Universal Service Fund, provides discounted telecommunications and broadband services and equipment to eligible schools and libraries (referenced as E-rate “applicants”). To obtain services and equipment through the E-rate program, an applicant must conduct a competitive bidding process among interested service providers that is commenced by submission of FCC Form 470 to USAC, which then posts the form to its website. Applicants consider bids received directly from interested service providers and then seek funding to pay their chosen service providers by filing an FCC Form 471 with USAC. The E-Rate NPRM would recommend the establishment of a bidding portal through which service providers would provide competitive bidding documentation. The FCC would seek comment on whether applicants also should be required to use the portal to submit other documentation, such as bid evaluation matrices, questions from bidders, and contract documents. In addition, the E-Rate NPRM would ask whether service providers should be required to wait a certain period of time before they could access service providers’ bids. Finally, the E-Rate NPRM would request comment on various issues related to the proposed portal, including how the E-rate’s existing portal could be leveraged to accept service providers’ bids, whether any procurement laws or technical issues would preclude or limit the use of a bidding portal and whether the portal should be used as a repository of documents for purposes of meeting recordkeeping requirements.

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FCC’s November Meeting Agenda Focuses on Enabling Text-to-988 for Suicide Prevention and Spectrum Access to Close the Digital Divide https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fccs-november-meeting-agenda-focuses-on-enabling-text-to-988-for-suicide-prevention-and-spectrum-access-to-close-the-digital-divide https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fccs-november-meeting-agenda-focuses-on-enabling-text-to-988-for-suicide-prevention-and-spectrum-access-to-close-the-digital-divide Sun, 14 Nov 2021 18:56:43 -0500 The FCC released a light agenda for its next Commission Open Meeting, scheduled for November 18, 2021. The agency will consider a Second Report and Order to require covered text providers to support text messaging to 988 by routing those texts messages to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (“Lifeline”). The FCC will next address a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) to adopt an incentive program to encourage licensees to make spectrum available to small carriers and Tribal Nations, as well as to carriers seeking to expand wireless services in rural areas. The FCC will also review a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) to assess whether FM and Low Power FM (“LPFM”) broadcast radio license applicants can verify directional antenna patterns by computer modeling instead of by taking physical measurements. The FCC will close its meeting by considering a Declaratory Ruling and Order (“Order”) that would grant Knéis, a French private satellite operator, with access to the United States market so that it can support connectivity for Internet of Things (“IoT”) devices and improved data collection.

You will find more information about the items on the November meeting agenda after the break:

Enabling Text-to-988 - The Second Report and Order would adopt rules that require covered text providers to route text messages sent to 988 to the Lifeline. Covered text providers would include CMRS providers and providers of interconnected text messaging services that enable consumers to send and receive text messages (including through the use of installed or downloaded applications). The implementation date for text-to-988 would be set at July 16, 2022, which is the same deadline for voice providers (i.e., telecommunications carriers, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) providers and one-way VoIP providers) to enable end users to dial 988 to reach the Lifeline. Initially, covered text providers would only be required to support the transmission of text messages to 988 using Short Message Service format because that is the only text format the Lifeline can receive at this time. However, there would be a process whereby the Wireline Competition Bureau could expand the types of text formats that covered text providers must support as the Lifeline becomes capable of handling additional formats.

Enhanced Competition Incentive Program for Wireless Radio Services – The FNPRM would continue the FCC’s efforts to close the digital divide by promoting diversity of spectrum licensees and the availability of wireless services in rural areas. The FNPRM would propose an Enhanced Competition Incentive Program (“ECIP”) that would be available to wireless licenses for which the FCC has auctioned exclusive spectrum rights in a defined geographic area. A wireless licensee would qualify for certain benefits under the ECIP if it entered into an agreement with an unaffiliated entity to assign or lease a portion of its licensed spectrum and (1) the agreement encompassed at least 50 percent of the licensed spectrum and at least 25 percent of the licensed market area, and (2) the agreement was with a small carrier or Tribal entity or the agreement focused on a rural area. Wireless licensees that participate in the ECIP would receive a five-year extension of the license’s term, a one-year extension of the construction deadline and a modified construction requirement in rural areas. The FNPRM would also seek comment on whether a licensee should be required to use Open Radio Access Networks (“RAN”) technologies to receive ECIP benefits, alternative construction options for licensees with certain flexible use licenses (i.e., license that can be used for a variety of applications), and incentives to promote spectrum sharing.

Updating FM Radio Directional Antenna Verification – The NPRM would propose rules to address the FCC’s tentative conclusion that requiring applicants for FM and LPFM broadcast radio licenses or for modifications to those licenses to provide physical measurements to verify directional antenna patterns is outdated. The FCC’s rules currently require FM applicants to either (1) test a full-scale model of an antenna, including the tower or pole on which it is to be mounted and structures that will be in proximity to the antenna, on a test range or (2) construct a smaller, scale model of the antenna, mounting structure, and nearby structures, and then measure the signal in an indoor anechoic chamber. The NPRM would seek comment on whether the use of computer modeling is a viable option for verifying FM radio directional antenna patterns, whether the FCC should require use of a specific computer program, whether antenna manufacturers or broadcast engineers generally prefer a certain computer model to accurately analyze FM radio directional antenna patterns, and whether the FCC’s policies are effective in resolving interference complaints or disputes pertaining to the directional FM antennas.

Knéis Low-Earth Orbit Satellites Market Access - The Order would grant a petition and waiver request by Knéis, a private satellite operator, to access the United States market using a network of 25 low-Earth orbit (“LEO”) satellites authorized by France and operating on frequencies in the non-voice, non-geostationary mobile-satellite service and earth exploration-satellite service. The Order would grant Kinéis permission to use the 399.9-400.05 MHz and 401-403 MHz bands for uplink and the 400.15-401 MHz band for downlink, subject to certain conditions. Knéis would rely on these frequencies to support connectivity for IoT devices used in the maritime, agricultural, logistics, outdoor sports, security, and scientific sectors. The Kinéis satellite system would be compatible with the Argos data collection system (a worldwide network of data collection satellites managed by France’s space agency, together with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and would facilitate implementation of the next generation of the Argos system. Five of the satellites would monitor maritime communications in the 156.7625-162.0375 MHz band thereby enhancing maritime domain awareness. The Order would also require Kinéis to obtain approval of its orbital debris mitigation plans prior to commencing service.

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Looking to the Skies: The FCC Seeks Additional Information on Potential Stratospheric-Based Communications Platforms and Services https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/looking-to-the-skies-the-fcc-seeks-additional-information-on-potential-stratospheric-based-communications-platforms-and-services https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/looking-to-the-skies-the-fcc-seeks-additional-information-on-potential-stratospheric-based-communications-platforms-and-services Sun, 07 Nov 2021 19:11:27 -0500 On November 2, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC’s) Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“Bureau”) published a public notice in the Federal Register focused on asking whether the 71-76 GHz, 81-86 GHz, 92-94 GHz, and the 94.1-95 GHz bands (“70/80/90 GHz Bands”) could be used “to provide broadband Internet access to consumers and communities that may otherwise lack robust, consistent connectivity.” The Commission is particularly interested whether stratospheric-based platforms, such as High Altitude Platform Stations (“HAPS”), which operate above twenty kilometers (approximately 65,000 feet), could be deployed for this purpose in the 70/80/90 GHz Bands. Comments are due by December 2, 2021, and replies by January 3, 2022.

The 70/80/90 GHz Bands are allocated on a co-primary basis for Federal and non-Federal use, for terrestrial, satellite, radio astronomy and radiolocation uses. For nearly twenty years, there has been a non-exclusive “light” licensing and registration scheme in the 70/80/90 GHz Bands for high-capacity, ground-based point-to-point links that can be used for any non-broadcast purpose. In a June 2020 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in WT Docket No. 20133, the Commission launched consideration of changes to the 70/80/90 GHz antenna standards and the link registration processes which proponents believed would increase the utility of the bands. But the record also affirmed that other stakeholders envisioned additional uses of the bands, which they claimed would be compatible with the ground-based point-to-point links such as using the 70/80/90 GHz Bands for point-to-point links to endpoints in motion to facilitate broadband service to ships and aircraft or for high-capacity links between points on the ground using stratospheric platforms.

Now, a year later, the Bureau is particularly “interested in the feasibility of permitting HAPS or other stratospheric-based platform services in these bands” and whether these services could be introduced compatibly with other services in the bands. Among other subjects, the Bureau asks how stratospheric platforms would be used in the bands (including information system operating parameters), what services the platforms can support (e.g., commercial, private, or governmental uses), and whether HAPS or other stratospheric platforms are commercially viable in light of several previous stratospheric platform advocates have indicated they are no longer actively pursuing their plans. The Bureau also asks whether, if it were to authorize stratospheric communications platforms to use 70/80/90 GHz Bands, the FCC should impose certain technical limitations or restrictions on the deployment of such services to protect incumbent operations, such as altitude restrictions, power limits, transmitter design considerations, directional constraints, additional emission limits, coordination, or other requirements. Much like a rulemaking notice, the Public Notice also inquires what licensing and service rules should apply to stratospheric-based communications services and whether they should be limited to services facilitated by nominally fixed stratospheric platforms, one of the defining characteristics of HAPS as described in international and FCC regulations.

The Public Notice also seeks comment on any international implications related to HAPS or other stratospheric-based platform services that might be authorized in the 70/80/90 GHz Bands. The Bureau noted that, at the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (“WRC”) of the International Telecommunications Union, additional spectrum bands were identified for HAPS globally at 31.0-31.3 and 38.0-39.5 GHz and in Region 2, the Americas, at 21.4-22.0 and 24.25-27.5 GHz. The Commission has not taken action to date to implement domestically these new international allocations, which supplement much more narrow allocations for HAPS at earlier WRCs in the 2, 6, 27/31, and 47/48 GHz bands.

Continuing the Public Notice’s theme of new means of potential connectivity for internet broadband access, the Bureau’s Public Notice also requests additional information regarding the potential use of the 70/80/90 GHz Bands to provide broadband Internet access to customers on airplanes and aboard ships. One of the subjects in the 70/80/90 GHz rulemaking proceeding initiated last year was consideration of a proposal by Aeronet Global Communications, Inc. to use these Bands for “Scheduled Dynamic Datalinks” (“SDDLs”) to aircraft and ships.

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Join Kelley Drye and Telecom Council at TC3 Carrier Connections https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/join-kelley-drye-and-telecom-council-at-tc3-carrier-connections https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/join-kelley-drye-and-telecom-council-at-tc3-carrier-connections Thu, 28 Oct 2021 14:51:12 -0400 On November 16th, Partner Steve Augustino will host the “Private 5G Networks” roundtable during Telecom Council’s virtual TC3 conference. This discussion will delve into this latest trend in 5G innovation, including the choices of unlicensed or licensed spectrum, MVNOs, privacy, control, and federal concerns about security. In addition to this and other Executive Roundtables, TC3 will feature case studies, executive chats, rapid-fire pitches, and demos with telecom tech scouts, investors, and startups.

Click here to learn more and register.

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The FCC’s Packed September Meeting Agenda Includes Focus on IoT Spectrum and Robocall Prevention https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/the-fccs-packed-september-meeting-agenda-includes-focus-on-iot-spectrum-and-robocall-prevention https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/the-fccs-packed-september-meeting-agenda-includes-focus-on-iot-spectrum-and-robocall-prevention Thu, 16 Sep 2021 16:50:28 -0400 The FCC released a full agenda for its next Commission Open Meeting, scheduled for September 30, 2021. The agency will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) to improve the Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework (“Framework”) and outage reporting. The FCC will next address an Order on Reconsideration to vacate a 2020 order that permits states to lease spectrum in the 4.9 GHz band (designated for public safety use) to third parties for non-public-safety use and a Further NPRM (“FNPRM”) to adopt a nationwide framework for the 4.9 MHz band that would allow for public safety and non-public safety uses. The FCC will also consider adopting a Public Notice that would describe the process for the Office of Engineering and Technology (“OET”) to approve automated frequency coordination (“AFC”) systems, which must be used when performing certain unlicensed operations in the 6 GHz band. Rounding out spectrum issues, the FCC will consider a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) focused on whether there is adequate spectrum to support the Internet of Things (“IoT”). The FCC will then shift its attention to two FNPRMs regarding robocalls. One FNPRM would propose that voice service providers block autodialed calls to numbers on the Public Safety Answering Points (“PSAP”) Do-Not-Call registry and seek alternative ways to protect PSAPs from robocalls and security threats. The other robocall-related FNPRM would propose that gateway providers take action to prevent robocalls that originate outside of the U.S. on U.S. numbers. Next, the FCC will address another NPRM to clarify that Tribal libraries are eligible to receive support under the E-rate program. The FCC will close its meeting by considering a Second Report and Order that would adopt standard questions to be answered by applicants with reportable foreign ownership that seek the Commission’s approval to obtain or modify certain licenses or to complete transactions involving those licenses.

You will find more information about the items on the September meeting agenda after the break:

Promoting More Resilient Networks - The NPRM would seek comment on various issues related to improving the reliability and resiliency of communications networks during emergencies and natural disasters. The NPRM focuses on whether the Framework (a wireless industry agreement aimed at providing mutual aid during emergencies, ensuring municipal and consumer readiness and communicating about service restoration) can be improved, such as by expanding participation, increasing the scope of participants’ obligations or codifying industry disaster-based coordination obligations. The NPRM would also seek comment on enhancing information provided to the FCC during disasters and network outages through the Network Outage Reporting System and the Disaster Information Reporting System. In addition, the NPRM would ask about communications resilience strategies to mitigate the impact of power outages, including coordination between communications providers and power companies and the use of backup power during disasters.

Reassessing 4.9 GHz Band for Public Safety – The Order on Reconsideration would grant requests by public safety organizations to vacate a 2020 order that permits states to lease spectrum in the 4.9 GHz band (designated for public safety use) to third parties for non-public-safety use. The Order on Reconsideration would also lift a freeze on 4.9 MHz licenses to allow incumbent licensees to modify licenses or seek new permanent fixed sites. The FNPRM would propose to establish a nationwide framework for the 4.9 GHz band to maximize public safety while promoting interoperable communications and interference protection throughout the network. Areas for comment would include how to protect public safety users from harmful interference, the use of the Universal Licensing System or another database to maintain relevant technical data, adoption of consistent technical standards to foster interoperability of equipment using the band and giving public safety uses priority. The NPRM would also seek comment on how to manage the band, incentivize public safety licensees to use the latest commercially available technologies and allow non-public safety use of the band without jeopardizing public safety operations.

Authorizing 6 GHz Band Automated Frequency Coordination Systems - The Public Notice would set forth a process for the OET to authorize AFC systems, which are required to operate standard-power devices in the 6 GHz band. Specifically, unlicensed standard power devices that operate in the 6 GHz band are required to check an AFC system prior to operating to avoid harmful interference to incumbent operations. The Public Notice would explain the approval process for AFC system operators, which would include conditional approval, a public trial period and an opportunity for public comment. The Public Notice would provide detailed information about the content of AFC system proposals and request that such proposals be submitted no later than November 30, 2021 (although proposals will be accepted after that date).

Spectrum Requirements for the Internet of Things - The NOI (which is required to be issued by The William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2021 (Pub. L. No. 116-28) (the “Act”)) would seek comment on whether there is sufficient spectrum available for current and future IoT needs. As directed by the Act, the LOI would ask for comment on how to ensure that adequate spectrum is available for the increased demand for the IoT, whether regulatory barriers would prevent accessing any additional needed spectrum and the roles of licensed and unlicensed spectrum for supporting the IoT.

Shielding 911 Call Centers from Robocalls – The FNPRM would propose to update the FCC’s rules governing the PSAP Do-Not-Call registry. Although the FCC adopted rules in 2012 to establish the registry as a means to protect PSAPs from unwanted robocalls, the registry has not been fully implemented due to security concerns associated with releasing PSAP telephone numbers to entities accessing the registry. The FNPRM would propose that voice service providers block autodialed calls to PSAP telephone numbers on the PSAP Do-Not-Call registry, as an alternative to allowing entities claiming to use autodialers to access the registry to identify telephone numbers that may not be called. In addition, the FNPRM would seek comment on whether autodialed calls and text messages continue to disrupt PSAPs’ operations, security risks associated with maintaining a centralized registry of PSAP telephone numbers, ways to address security issues (such as enhanced caller vetting and data security requirements) and alternative means to prevent robocalls to PSAPs (such as by utilizing other technological solutions or leveraging the National Do-Not-Call registry).

Stopping Illegal Robocalls From Entering American Phone Networks - The FNPRM would propose to require gateway providers to assist in the battle against illegal robocalls by applying STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication and other robocall mitigation techniques to calls that originate abroad from U.S. telephone numbers. The FNPRM would also seek comment on several other proposals aimed at mitigating robocalls, including the following requirements that would be applicable to gateway providers: (1) responding to traceback requests within 24 hours; (2) blocking calls upon notification from the Enforcement Bureau that a certain traffic pattern involves illegal robocalling; (3) utilizing reasonable analytics to block calls that are highly likely to be illegal; (4) blocking calls originating from numbers on a do-not-originate list; (5) confirming that a foreign call originator using a U.S. telephone number is authorized to use that number; (6) including robocall mitigation obligations in contracts with foreign customers; and (7) submitting a certification regarding robocall mitigation practices to the Robocall Mitigation Database. In addition, the FNPRM would seek comment on a requirement that service providers block calls from gateway providers identified as bad actors by the FCC and on whether additional information should be collected by the Robocall Mitigation Database. The FNPRM would ask whether there are alternative means to stop illegal foreign-originated robocalls. Finally, while the rulemaking proceeding is pending, the FCC would not enforce the prohibition in Section 63.6305(c) of the FCC’s rules on U.S.-based providers accepting traffic carrying U.S. NANP numbers that is received directly from foreign voice service providers that are not in the Robocall Mitigation Database.

Supporting Broadband for Tribal Libraries Through E-Rate - Pursuant to Section 254(h)(4) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, a library may not receive preferential treatment or rates (such as under the E-rate program) unless it is eligible for assistance from a State library administrative agency under the Library Services and Technology Act (“LSTA”). In 2018, the LSTA was amended to specifically include Tribal libraries as eligible for assistance from a State library administrative agency. The NPRM would propose to amend Sections 54.500 and 54.501(b)(1) of the FCC’s rules to clarify that Tribal libraries are eligible for E-rate support. The NPRM would also seek comment on other measures to enable Tribal schools and libraries to gain access to the E-rate program and ways to increase participation in the E-rate program.

Strengthening Security Review of Companies with Foreign Ownership - The Second Report and Order would adopt standardized national security and law enforcement questions (“Standard Questions”) to be answered by applicants with reportable foreign ownership as part of the Executive Branch review of certain applications filed with the FCC. The issuance of Standard Questions is the FCC’s final step in implementing several reforms to formalize and streamline the FCC and Executive Branch review process consistent with Executive Order No. 13913 (April 20, 2020), which established a Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United State Telecommunications Sector (“Committee” (formerly known as Team Telecom)) and set forth procedures and timelines for the Committee to complete its review. The Second Report and Order would include Standard Questions for the following types of applications when reportable foreign ownership (generally a 5 percent or greater equity and/or voting interest (indirect or direct) in the applicant) is present: (1) applications for a new or modified International Section 214 authorization or submarine cable landing license; (2) applications for assignment or transfer of control of an International Section 214 authorization or a submarine cable landing license; and (3) petitions for a declaratory ruling to permit foreign ownership in a broadcast licensee, common carrier wireless licensee or common carrier earth station licensee that exceeds the benchmarks in Section 310(b) of the Communications Act. There would also be a supplement to each set of questions to provide personally identifiable information for individuals with a reportable ownership interest, non-U.S. individuals with access to the applicant’s facilities, corporate officers and directors, and a law enforcement point of contact.

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FCC July Open Meeting Focuses on Supply Chain Reimbursement and Radar Operations in the 60 GHz Band https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-july-open-meeting-focuses-on-supply-chain-reimbursement-and-radar-operations-in-the-60-ghz-band https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-july-open-meeting-focuses-on-supply-chain-reimbursement-and-radar-operations-in-the-60-ghz-band Thu, 08 Jul 2021 15:55:21 -0400 The FCC released a light agenda for its next Commission Open Meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, July 13, 2021. The meeting will kick off by first considering a Third Report and Order (“Order”) to amend the agency’s rules for the Secure and Trusted Communications Network Reimbursement Program. The Order would expand eligibility for reimbursement to providers with ten million or fewer customers for the replacement of all equipment and services provided or produced by Huawei or ZTE obtained on or before June 30, 2020. The FCC will next consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that would propose revisions to the agency’s rules governing short range radar operations in the 57-71 GHz frequency band. The NPRM proposes technical rule changes that would aim to provide expanded operational flexibility to unlicensed field disturbance sensor (“FDS”)/radar devices that operate under section 15.255 of the Commission’s rules, while promoting compatibility with unlicensed and licensed devices operating in the 60 GHz band. The agency will also consider an NPRM updating the technical rules for radio broadcasters, and an Order mandating electronic filing for all International Bureau applications and filings. To close out the meeting, the FCC will consider an enforcement action.

You will find more information about the most significant items after the break:

Securing Communications Networks – The Third Report and Order would amend the FCC’s rules for the Secure and Trusted Communications Network Reimbursement Program, consistent with the guidance in the Consolidated Appropriations Act (“CAA”). As proposed in a February 2021 Third FNPRM, the Order would increase the eligibility cap for participation in the Reimbursement Program from providers with two million or fewer customers to providers with ten million or fewer customers, and would modify the equipment and services eligible for reimbursement to all communications equipment and services provided or produced by Huawei or ZTE. The Order would also establish June 30, 2020 as the date by which equipment and services must have been obtained to be eligible for reimbursement. Additionally, the Order would make several other changes to the Commission’s rules to align the prioritization scheme and definition of “advanced communications service” with the CAA framework, and would clarify certain aspects of the Reimbursement Program rules.

Radar Sensing Technologies in the 60 GHz Band – The draft NPRM would recognize the recent technological advancements for FDS/radar devices and increased demand for unlicensed mobile radar operations in the 57-64 GHz portion of the 57-71 GHz band. It would therefore ease technical restrictions on the operation of unlicensed FDS/radar devices consistent with recent waivers while continuing to protect other unlicensed users of the 57-71 GHz band like WiGig wireless local area networking (“WLAN”) devices and outdoor fixed point-to-point communication links. The Office of Engineering and Technology (“OET”) has granted several waivers of Section 15.255 of the FCC’s rules for FDS/radar operations to operate at higher power levels without any reported cases of harmful interference, starting with the Google waiver in 2018 for short-range gesture sensing radars incorporated into phones and tablets.

Among other things, the NPRM would (1) allow all unlicensed FDS/radar devices to operate in the 57-64 GHz portion of the band at a maximum of 20 dBm average EIRP, 13 dBm/MHz average EIRP power spectral density, and 10 dBm transmitter conducted output power, along with a maximum 10% duty cycle restriction within any 33 ms interval; and (2) seek comment on whether the Commission could allow FDS/radar devices that use listen-before-talk, spectrum sensing or other similar methods of technical coexistence to operate across the entire 57-71 GHz band at the same power level (40 dBm EIRP) as is currently permitted for communications devices in the band.

Updating International Filing Requirements – The Order would modify the Commission’s rules to require electronic filing of all remaining applications or reports to the International Bureau previously requiring paper filing or alternative filing processes. Specifically, the Order would mandate the electronic filing of Section 325(c) applications, applications for International High Frequency Broadcast (“IHF”) Stations, and Dominant Carrier Section 63.10(c) Quarterly Reports. It would also remove a duplicate paper filing requirement for satellite cost-recovery declarations. With this Order, all applications and filings to the International Bureau would require electronic filing in the International Bureau Filing System (“IBFS”).

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FCC June Meeting Agenda Includes Broadened Supply Chain Measures, Improved Emergency Alerts and Robocall Reporting, and Expanded Telehealth Guidance https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-june-meeting-agenda-includes-broadened-supply-chain-measures-improved-emergency-alerts-and-robocall-reporting-and-expanded-telehealth-guidance https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-june-meeting-agenda-includes-broadened-supply-chain-measures-improved-emergency-alerts-and-robocall-reporting-and-expanded-telehealth-guidance Wed, 09 Jun 2021 11:14:41 -0400 The FCC released the agenda for its next Commission Open Meeting, scheduled for June 17, 2021. The meeting will first consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) and Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) to broaden the secured communications supply chain beyond the FCC’s universal service programs. Specifically, the NPRM would propose to prohibit all future authorizations for equipment on the FCC’s Covered List, revoke current equipment authorizations for equipment on the Covered List, and require certifications from future FCC auction participants that they will not rely on financial support from any entities designated as a national security threat. The FCC also tees up a Report and Order that would allow for expanded marketing and importation of radiofrequency devices prior to certification, with certain conditions to prohibit sale or operation of those devices prior to authorization. The agency will next consider a Report and Order and FNPRM that would improve and streamline the agency’s Emergency Alert System (“EAS”) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (“WEA”) Systems, as initially proposed in a March 2021 NPRM. The FCC will also consider a Report and Order that would streamline private entity reporting of robocalls and spoofed caller ID by creating a direct reporting portal to the Enforcement Bureau, along with a Report and Order providing additional guidance and clarity on the agency’s telehealth-driven Connected Care Pilot Program. Lastly, the meeting agenda includes items that would explore spectrum options for maritime navigations systems and modify existing low power FM rules.

You will find more information about the most significant items on the June meeting agenda after the break:

Securing the Communications Supply Chain – The NPRM and NOI would seek comment on a proposal to prohibit all future authorizations for equipment on the FCC’s Covered List under the Secure and Trusted Communications Act. The NPRM would seek comment on whether, and how, the FCC should revoke any current authorizations for equipment included on the Covered List, and if it should revise the rules to no longer permit exceptions for equipment authorizations on the Covered List. It would also propose to require participants in any upcoming FCC auctions to certify that their auction bids do not and will not rely on financial support from any entity that the agency has designated as a national security threat to the communications supply chain. The NOI would seek comment on how the FCC can leverage its equipment authorization program to encourage manufacturers to consider cybersecurity standards and guidelines when building devices that will connect to U.S. networks.

Modernizing Equipment Marketing and Importation – The Report and Order would adopt changes to the equipment authorization rules to allow expanded marketing and importation of radiofrequency (“RF”) devices prior to certification, with conditions. The Order would add a new condition to allow importation of up to 12,000 RF devices for certain pre-sale activities prior to authorization. It would additionally amend the FCC’s rules to allow conditional sales of RF devices prior to authorization, so long as those devices will not be delivered to consumers until they are authorized. The Order includes labeling, recordkeeping, and other conditions to ensure that RF devices are not sold or operated prior to equipment authorization.

Improving Emergency Alert Systems – The Report and Order and FNPRM would adopt the rule changes proposed in the FCC’s March 2021 NPRM to update the EAS and WEA systems rules, pursuant with the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) requirements. The Order would create a new category of non-optional “National Alerts,” combining WEA Presidential Alerts with FEMA Administrator Alerts, which may be nationally or regionally distributed. States would be encouraged to establish a state EAS plan checklist for State Emergency Communications Committees (“SECCs”), or otherwise establish an SECC if not already formed. This Report and Order would also enable FEMA to report false EAS and WEA alerts and to repeat certain EAS messages if necessary. The FNPRM would seek comment on whether to remove or refine certain EAS emergency event codes that are irrelevant or confusing, and on whether to update the EAS to include a more persistent display and notification of emergency messages for more severe events.

Implementing the TRACED Act – The Report and Order would establish rules pursuant to the TRACED Act to create a process that streamlines the ways in which a private entity may report robocalls or spoofed caller ID to the FCC. The Commission would create on online portal where private entities, meaning any entity other than an individual person or public entity, could submit suspected violations directly to the Enforcement Bureau. The Order clarifies that the new portal would not affect the existing consumer complaint process, and the agency will still use the consumer complaint portal for individual consumer complaints.

Connected Care Pilot Program – The Second Report and Order offers further guidance on the Commission’s Connected Care Pilot Program, including on the Pilot Program budget and administration, eligible services, competitive bidding instructions, invoicing, and data reporting for selected participants. Notably, the Order clarifies that the Pilot Program will reimburse network equipment purchases necessary to make both broadband and connected care information services functional, even if the Pilot Program is not directly supporting the costs of those services. The FCC announced earlier this year that an initial 23 applicants had been selected, with more selected applications to be announced at a later date, and selected applicants could begin the funding request process once this Report and Order becomes effective.

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FCC’s April Open Meeting Focuses on Emergency Services and Wireless Microphones https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fccs-april-open-meeting-focuses-on-emergency-services-and-wireless-microphones https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fccs-april-open-meeting-focuses-on-emergency-services-and-wireless-microphones Tue, 20 Apr 2021 15:30:55 -0400 The FCC Open Meeting, scheduled for April 22, 2021 includes several items of interest. During the April meeting, the third meeting led by Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC will consider seven agenda items plus an enforcement order. The items include two emergency service items -- a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) to examine expanding the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to support text messaging to 988 -- and a Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to promote public safety by ensuring that 911 call centers and consumers are notified of disruptions to 911 service in a timely manner. The FCC will also consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to permit licensed wireless microphone users to operate a new wireless microphone technology called Wireless Multi-Channel Audio System (“WMAS”) technology on frequencies already available for Part 74 licensed wireless microphone operations in certain bands. Finally, the Commission will consider an enforcement item at its meeting, but, as is the custom with enforcement actions, the subject of the enforcement and the nature of the action is not disclosed prior to the vote on the item.

You will find more details about the most significant items on the April meeting agenda after the break.

Text-to-988 – The Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would expand the new 988 designation for suicide prevention services to include text messaging. Specifically, the FNPRM proposes to require covered text providers to support text messaging by routing text messages sent to 988 to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (“Lifeline”). The Lifeline will begin receiving voice calls placed to 988 no later than July 16, 2022. Noting the increasing popularity of texting over voice services, particularly by younger users, the FNPRM seeks comment on the technical considerations for covered text providers, equipment vendors, and software vendors to also enable suicide prevention services to be provided through text-to-988 service. The NPRM considers the possibility of requiring text providers to send automatic bounce-back messages to consumers where the text-to-988 service is not available.

Wireless Microphones – The NPRM would propose to permit licensed wireless microphone users to operate WMAS technology on frequencies already available for Part 74 licensed wireless microphone operations in the TV bands (VHF and UHF). Those frequencies are the 653-657 MHz segment of the 600 MHz duplex gap, and in the 941.5-944 MHz, 944-952 MHz, 952.850-956.250 MHz, 956.45-959.85 MHz, 1435-1525 MHz, 6875-6900 MHz and 7100- 7125 MHz bands. The NPRM also proposes to permit WMAS to use up to 6 megahertz channels when less spectrum is sufficient for applications, or less spectrum is available. The NPRM would require WMAS to operate with a minimum of three audio channels per megahertz of spectrum to ensure an efficient use of spectrum. It would also require WMAS to comply with the emission mask and spurious emission limits for WMAS that were specified in the 2017 European Telecommunications Standards Institution (“ETSI”) standards. The NPRM proposes to update the existing Part 74 and Part 15 wireless microphone technical rules to reference the relevant portions of the 2017 ETSI wireless microphone standards as they currently reference the 2011 version. Lastly, the NPRM seeks comment on whether to authorize WMAS for unlicensed microphone operations under Part 15.

Improving 911 Reliability – The Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposes to harmonize two currently separate outage reporting rules – the rules applicable to covered 911 service providers serving Public Safety Answering Points (“PSAPs”) and the rules requiring telecommunications service providers to report outages affecting 911 service to the public. The NPRM would require all originating service providers to notify potentially affected 911 facilities of an outage within 30 minutes of discovering the outage (the same time period that covered 911 providers have to notify PSAPs of an outage). Service providers would also be required to communicate such information no later than two hours after the initial notification. It would also establish consumer notification procedures for 911 unavailability. This NPRM would standardize the type of information conveyed to PSAPs, which would include information such as the name of the service provider(s) offering the notification and/or experiencing the outage, date and time when the incident began, communications service affected, and potential impact on PSAPs. The NPRM also focuses on service providers maintaining accurate PSAP contact information.

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FCC’s March Open Meeting Highlights 3.45 GHz Band Auction https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fccs-march-open-meeting-highlights-3-45-ghz-band-auction https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fccs-march-open-meeting-highlights-3-45-ghz-band-auction Thu, 11 Mar 2021 14:42:47 -0500 The FCC released the agenda for its next Open Meeting, scheduled for March 17, 2021. The March meeting will notably include a Report and Order that would reallocate 100 megahertz of prized mid-band spectrum in the 3.45 GHz band through Auction 110, and propose a band plan for the new 3.45 GHz flexible use wireless service aimed at supporting 5G technologies. The FCC will also consider a Public Notice for Auction 110 that would seek comment on appropriate auction application and bidding procedures. While the FCC is required to start the auction by the end of 2021, the agency expects Auction 110 to begin in October 2021. The 3.45 GHz band items are the product of long-term FCC, NTIA, and DOJ collaboration to open frequencies currently used by federal agencies for shared use by commercial wireless providers. The FCC also teed up a Report and Order that would increase public safety officials’ access to network reliability information by providing direct access to Network Outage Reporting System (“NORS”) and Disaster Information Reporting System (“DIRS”) data. In addition, the FCC will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would propose reforms to the agency’s Emergency Alert System (“EAS”) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (“WEA”) System to facilitate comprehensive and timely emergency alerts for mobile devices. Lastly, the agency will consider a Notice of Inquiry on the status of open radio access networks (“Open RAN”) that virtualize certain network infrastructure, potentially increasing communications security.

You will find more details about the most significant items on the March meeting agenda after the break.

3.45 GHz Band Plan – The Report and Order would reallocate 100 megahertz of spectrum in the 3450-3550 MHz (3.45 GHz) band for flexible use wireless service and adopt a band plan as well as performance requirements to implement the new 3.45 GHz service. This framework would enable full-power commercial use while including protections for federal incumbents when and where they require access to the band. The FCC is required by statute to start an auction to grant new flexible use licenses in this band by December 31, 2021. The FCC also would propose modifying the licenses of secondary, non-federal radiolocation operations in the 3.45 GHz band to a new 2.9-3.0 GHz band assignment.

3.45 GHz Auction – The Public Notice would propose application and bidding procedures for the new flexible use licenses in the 3.45 GHz band through Auction 110. The FCC expects the auction to begin in early October 2021. Auction 110 would offer up to 100 megahertz of spectrum on an unpaired basis, divided into five 20-megahertz blocks licensed by Partial Economic Area. The Public Notice would seek comment on the proposed auction procedures, with comments due April 14, 2021 and reply comments due April 29, 2021.

Promoting Public Safety Through Information Sharing – The Report and Order would provide direct, read-only access to NORS and DIRS information for state, federal, local, and Tribal partners to increase public safety data sharing while preserving the confidentiality of providers’ network information. Agencies receiving the information would be permitted to share the NORS and DIRS data with agency officials, first responders, and individuals on a need to know basis, and publicly disclose aggregated and anonymized information derived from NORS or DIRS filings. The Report and Order would create an application process to grant agencies access to the information following a certification process to maintain the confidentiality of the information and databases.

Improving EAS and WEA – The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) would implement section 9201 of the National Defense Authorization Act and initiate a proceeding to ensure that mobile devices cannot opt-out of receiving WEA alerts from FEMA. The NPRM also would propose to amend annual reporting requirements for state EAS authorities, enable reporting of false EAS and WEA alerts by the FEMA Administrator as well as state, tribal, and local governments, and require repeating EAS messages when necessary. In an associated Notice of Inquiry, the FCC would seek further comment on delivering and improving EAS messages through Internet platforms, including streaming services.

Promoting Open RAN Networks – The Notice of Inquiry would ask for input on the status of Open RAN and other virtualized network environments. Specifically, the FCC asks for information about the current state of such technologies, what steps are required to deploy and scale Open RAN networks, and how deployment of these Open-RAN-compliant networks could benefit the agency’s policy goals and statutory obligations to increase the security of the nation’s communications networks. The FCC intends for carriers to consider and use the information developed in this proceeding to inform their approaches to next-generation equipment and services.

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Spectrum: 2021 https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/spectrum-2021 https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/spectrum-2021 Thu, 21 Jan 2021 16:14:34 -0500 Join Partner Chip Yorkgitis and the Wireless Communications Alliance for a look at how the spectral landscape continues to evolve and what to expect in 2021. On January 26 at 7:00 pm EST (4:00 PST), this virtual event will feature deep dives on the key spectral allocations at 3, 6 and 60GHz, review anticipated changes at the FCC, and discuss how 5G is shaping up globally.

Click here to register.

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Spectrum Sharing and Caller ID Authentication Top Jam-Packed FCC September Meeting Agenda https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/spectrum-sharing-and-caller-id-authentication-top-jam-packed-fcc-september-meeting-agenda https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/spectrum-sharing-and-caller-id-authentication-top-jam-packed-fcc-september-meeting-agenda Thu, 24 Sep 2020 17:16:46 -0400 The FCC announced a jam-packed agenda for its penultimate meeting before the 2020 general election, with a focus on long-awaited spectrum sharing and caller ID authentication actions. At its meeting scheduled for September 30, 2020, the FCC plans to clear the way for eventual sharing of 3 GHz spectrum between commercial wireless providers and federal incumbents. The FCC announced earlier this year its intention to auction flexible use licenses in the 3.45-3.55 GHz band in December 2021. The Department of Defense, as a primary user of the band, has already devised a sharing framework for the spectrum. The FCC also plans to allow commercial wireless providers to lease spectrum in the 4.9 GHz band, which currently is allocated to public safety operations. The agency claims the band remains underutilized and that leasing arrangements could free up to 50 megahertz of mid-band spectrum to support commercial 5G services. In addition, the FCC plans to hold firm on its June 30, 2021 deadline for most voice providers to implement the STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication framework for IP networks and to extend such requirements to intermediate providers that neither originate nor terminate calls. Rounding out the major agenda items, the FCC plans to streamline executive branch foreign ownership reviews of certain applications formerly handled by “Team Telecom,” adopt a phase down in IP Captioned Telephone Service ("IP CTS") compensation and impose IP CTS service standards, and launch an inquiry into state diversion of 911 fees.

FCC regulatory activity likely will slow in the immediate lead-up to and aftermath of the 2020 general election. As a result, the September agenda may represent the FCC’s last big push on major reforms for the year. You will find more details on the significant September meeting items after the break:

Repurposing 3 GHz Band Spectrum: The draft Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would eliminate the non-federal radiolocation and amateur allocations from the 3.30-3.55 GHz band as a first step toward future sharing of the spectrum between federal incumbents and commercial wireless providers. However, the FCC would allow incumbent non-federal licensees to continue in-band operations until it finalizes its plans to reallocate the spectrum operations to below 3.0 GHz. The FCC would propose making 100 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.45-3.55 GHz band available for flexible use wireless service throughout the contiguous United States. To facilitate such wireless operations, the FCC would propose adding a co-primary, non-federal fixed and mobile (except aeronautical mobile) allocation to the band. It would also seek input on the appropriate licensing, auction, spectrum sharing, and technical rules for the band, and on relocation procedures for the non-federal relocation operators.

Commercial Access to the 4.9 GHz Band: The draft Sixth Report and Order and Seventh Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would allow one statewide 4.9 GHz band licensee per state to lease some or all of its spectrum rights to third parties, including commercial users. Lessees would be required to comply with the same spectrum coordination procedures as public safety licensees in the band. In addition, the FCC would seek comment on establishing a Band Manager in each state to coordinate and authorize new operations in the 4.9 GHz band. The agency also would request input on how to ensure robust use of the 4.9 GHz band, including through dynamic spectrum sharing technologies and cross-state collaborations.

Implementing STIR/SHAKEN Framework: The draft Second Report and Order would require voice service providers to either upgrade their non-IP networks to IP and implement the STIR/SHAKEN framework or develop a non-IP caller ID authentication solution by June 30, 2021. The FCC would adopt extensions of the June 30, 2021 deadline for: (1) small providers (two-year extension); (2) providers that currently cannot get a digital certificate necessary to implement STIR/SHAKEN because they do not obtain direct access to telephone numbers or other technical issues (indefinite extension); (3) services scheduled for discontinuance (one-year extension); and (4) non-IP network services (indefinite extension). The Commission would require all providers subject to an extension to implement a robocall mitigation plan for the parts of their networks where STIR/SHAKEN is not implemented and certify that they implemented such mitigation measures with the FCC. Moreover, the FCC would require intermediate providers to either pass along caller ID authentication information for authenticated calls or authenticate the caller ID information for unauthenticated calls they receive by June 30, 2021. Intermediate providers would be relieved of the independent authentication requirement if they register with the industry traceback consortium or respond to all traceback consortium information requests. Finally, the FCC would prohibit providers from adding line item charges to subscribers for providing caller ID authentication.

Streamlining Foreign Ownership Reviews: The draft Report and Order would establish rules and timeframes for the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Service Sector (Committee) to complete its review of certain applications posing potential foreign ownership concerns (i.e., the applicant has a 10% or greater direct or indirect foreign investor). Specifically, the Committee would be required to complete its initial application review within 120 days and, if necessary, its supplemental application review within 90 days. Affected applicants would be required to provide responses to a standardized set of national security and law enforcement questions regarding: (1) corporate structure and shareholder information; (2) relationships with foreign entities; (3) financial condition; (4) compliance with applicable laws and regulations; and (5) business and operational information. The standardized questions would be developed in a subsequent proceeding following public notice and comment. The new rules would apply to applications: (1) for international Section 214 authorizations or to assign/transfer control of such authorizations; (2) for submarine cable landing licenses or to assign/transfer control of such licenses; and (3) to exceed the foreign ownership limits under Section 310(b) of the Communications Act.

Reforming IP CTS Rates and Standards: The draft Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would establish a compensation rate of $1.30/minute for IP CTS providers through a two-step transition process. The first step would transition from the current $1.58/minute rate to a $1.42/minute rate for the remainder of fund year 2020-21 (effective December 1, 2020), while the second step would transition the rate to $1.30/minute for fund year 2021-22. The FCC would also propose to adopt service standards for IP CTS captioning delay and accuracy, and seek comment on appropriate metrics. The Commission would request input on appropriate IP CTS service standard testing procedures, including sample size and call methodology. In addition, the FCC would ask whether it or a third-party organization should be responsible for such testing.

Reviewing 911 Fee Diversion: The draft Notice of Inquiry would request input on the effects of 911 fee diversion, specifically from states, on the provision of 911 services and the transition to next-generation 911 services. The FCC also would seek comment on how it can use its regulatory authority to discourage 911 fee diversion, including by conditioning state eligibility for FCC licenses, programs, or other benefits on the absence of fee diversion. The FCC would further ask about measures it can take to discourage fee diversion under the Commission’s authority, and how it can encourage states to pass legislation or adopt rules that would prohibit 911 fee diversion.

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COVID-19: What Communications Service Providers Need to Know – July 13, 2020 https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/covid-19-what-communications-service-providers-need-to-know-july-13-2020 https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/covid-19-what-communications-service-providers-need-to-know-july-13-2020 Mon, 13 Jul 2020 16:45:39 -0400 As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly unfolds, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has been active to keep communications services available through various waivers, extensions, and other regulatory relief. Kelley Drye’s Communications Practice Group is tracking these actions and what they mean for communications service providers and their customers. CommLaw Monitor will provide regular updates to its analysis of the latest regulatory and legislative actions impacting your business and the communications industry. Click on the “COVID-19” blog category for previous updates.

If you have any urgent questions, please contact your usual Kelley Drye attorney or any member of the Communications Practice Group. For more information on other aspects of the federal and state response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as labor and employment and other issues, please visit Kelley Drye’s COVID-19 Response Resource Center.

FCC Approves Final Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

On July 8, 2020, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau approved 25 additional funding applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Under the latest funding round, $10.73 million will go to health care providers across 19 states and Guam. Since the start of Program funding on April 16, the FCC approved 539 applications in 47 states plus Washington, D.C. and Guam for a total of $200 million in funding — the amount of money appropriated by Congress for the Program in the CARES Act. There are no immediate plans to provide additional funding for the Program.

FCC Grants Section 106 Emergency Authorization for AT&T

On July 10, 2020, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“WTB”) granted via email AT&T’s request for an emergency Section 106 authorization. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires the FCC to account for the effect of any proposed “undertakings” on historic properties, including construction or collocation of wireless communications facilities. On June 25, 2020, the WTB issued a Public Notice (DA 20-668) announcing an electronic process for FCC licensees to apply for expedited Section 106 review or for emergency Section 106 authorization to resume standard review for qualifying critical infrastructure projects. On July 6, 2020, AT&T requested an emergency authorization under this process for seven priority public safety projects.

Groups Ask Congress to Extend Rural Tribal Priority Window

On July 7, 2020, more than a dozen groups sent a letter urging Congress to extend the 2.5 GHz band rural tribal priority application window until February 1, 2021, citing the “significant impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on American Indian Tribes.” The Rural Tribal Priority Window allows Tribes in rural areas to directly access unassigned spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band, subject to buildout requirements. The Window opened Monday, February 3, 2020, and currently is scheduled to close on Monday, August 3, 2020. Public Knowledge, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society, and New America’s Open Technology Institute were among the groups asking Congress to require the FCC to extend this deadline for 180 days until February 1, 2021.

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FCBA CLE: Furthering UAS Deployment in U.S. Airspace https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcba-cle-furthering-uas-deployment-in-u-s-airspace https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcba-cle-furthering-uas-deployment-in-u-s-airspace Tue, 09 Jun 2020 15:41:32 -0400 Join Partner Steve Augustino and the FCBA’s Internet of Things committee for “Furthering U.S. Drone Operations: An Update on FAA and Spectrum Policy Developments,” a virtual CLE on Monday, June 15th from 3:00 – 5:10 p.m. Steve will moderate the first of two panels. His session, “Furthering UAS Deployment in U.S. Airspace,” will provide an update on FAA initiatives, Congressional requirements, and industry efforts that are aimed at the full integration of small UAS into the nation’s airspace.

Click here for more information and to register.

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COVID-19: What Communications Service Providers Need to Know – June 8, 2020 https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/covid-19-what-communications-service-providers-need-to-know-june-8-2020 https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/covid-19-what-communications-service-providers-need-to-know-june-8-2020 Mon, 08 Jun 2020 16:06:01 -0400 As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly unfolds, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has been active to keep communications services available through various waivers, extensions, and other regulatory relief. Kelley Drye’s Communications Practice Group is tracking these actions and what they mean for communications service providers and their customers. CommLaw Monitor will provide regular updates to its analysis of the latest regulatory and legislative actions impacting your business and the communications industry. Click on the “COVID-19” blog category for previous updates.

If you have any urgent questions, please contact your usual Kelley Drye attorney or any member of the Communications Practice Group. For more information on other aspects of the federal and state response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as labor and employment and other issues, please visit Kelley Drye’s COVID-19 Response Resource Center.

FCC Approves Ninth Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Applications, Nears Halfway Mark for Currently-Available Funding

On June 3, 2020, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau approved 53 additional funding applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Under the latest funding round, $16.46 million will go to health care providers across 25 states and Washington, D.C. With this latest set of approvals, the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program has funded 238 health care providers in 41 states, plus D.C., for a total of $84.96 million in funding awarded so far. Congress appropriated $200 million for the Program and the FCC continues to evaluate applications and distribute funding on a rolling basis. As the FCC nears the halfway point for currently-available funding, providers should take action to assess their interest and ability to participate in the Program, if they have not already done so.

FCC and NARUC Partner to Help Low-Income Consumers Stay Connected Through Lifeline

On June 1, 2020, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (“NARUC”) President Brandon Presley issued a joint letter asking state officials to distribute educational materials regarding the federal Lifeline program to low-income consumers. The letter notes that Americans newly-unemployed or otherwise facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may not be aware that they are eligible for Lifeline service. The letter urges state officials to circulate the Lifeline education materials as widely as possible, especially to state agencies that administer Medicaid, SNAP, and unemployment benefits. The letter also highlights features of the federal Lifeline program, including recent steps taken to ease the application and enrollment process.

FCC Grants Temporary Spectrum Access Request in Rural Kentucky

On June 2, 2020, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau granted Harlan 2-Way, Inc.’s emergency Special Temporary Authority request to operate in the 2.5 GHz band in Harlan County, Kentucky. This is the latest action in the FCC’s continued effort to improve communications and broadband service in rural and other hard-to-serve areas during the crisis through increased spectrum access.

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Proposed Wireless Infrastructure Item Clarifies Rules Concerning Local Reviews to Speed 5G Deployments https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/proposed-wireless-infrastructure-item-clarifies-rules-concerning-local-reviews-to-speed-5g-deployments https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/proposed-wireless-infrastructure-item-clarifies-rules-concerning-local-reviews-to-speed-5g-deployments Thu, 04 Jun 2020 17:38:48 -0400 A draft Declaratory Ruling and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("NPRM"), if adopted, would clarify the agency’s 2014 rules governing the process state and local governments use to review deployments of new antenna and equipment on existing wireless infrastructure and seek comment on a related proposal concerning excavations for such expansions. The clarifications, which are meant to speed the deployment of 5G infrastructure, largely mirror those sought in a pair of petitions for declaratory ruling filed by the Wireless Infrastructure Association ("WIA") and CTIA in the fall of 2019. Those petitions allege that despite the 2014 rules, states and localities continue to erect barriers that slow their ability to add new facilities to existing infrastructure. In comments on the petitions, states and localities contend that they are substantially complying with the rules and that any delays are caused by applicants or their contractors. However, the FCC apparently plans to move forward with adopting most, though not all, of the industry group clarification requests.

For those who have been following the FCC over the past three years under Chairman Pai’s leadership, the draft item builds on the agency’s multifaceted effort to pave a clear path for the private sector to deploy 5G technologies. Prior efforts include repurposing low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum for mobile wireless operations, reducing the circumstances under which wireless infrastructure deployments must undergo federal historic preservation and environmental reviews, and preempting states and localities from using review processes to slow the deployment of small cells.

The agency is set to vote on the item at its June 9, 2020, open meeting.

Declaratory Ruling Clarifying Local Review Rules

The draft Declaratory Ruling is meant to strengthen several of the rules the FCC adopted in 2014 to implement Section 6409(a) of the Spectrum Act of 2012. That section says that “a State or local government may not deny, and shall approve, any eligible facilities request for a modification of an existing wireless tower or base station that does not substantially change the physical dimensions of such tower or base station.” The Commission’s rules implementing the statute were meant to provide clarity and guidance to state and local governments and the wireless industry on how to apply the statutory directive. The WIA and CTIA petitions claim that certain conditions established by states and localities continue to impede the deployment of private 5G networks. Accordingly, the draft Declaratory Ruling addresses the following:

  • Trigger for 60-Day Shot Clock – Under existing rules, state and local governments must approve or deny an eligible facilities request within 60 days or the request is deemed granted. The shot-clock begins on the day an applicant submits a request. The draft Declaratory Ruling would clarify that an applicant is deemed to have submitted a request when it “takes the first procedural step in a locality’s application process and submits written documentation showing that a proposed modification is an eligible facilities request.” This clarification is intended to preserve localities flexibility to structure their permitting procedures, but prohibit localities from treating applications as incomplete unless applicants comply with a series of time-consuming requirements.
  • Other Shot Clock Clarifications – The Declaratory Ruling would also prohibit localities from delaying the triggering or starting of the shot clock by (1) “establishing a ‘first step’ that is outside of the applicant’s control or is not objectively verifiable”; (2) “defining the ‘first step’ as a combination or sequencing of steps”; (3) declining to accept documentation required under FCC rules to demonstrate the eligible facilities request conditions are satisfied or requiring the submission of other documentation; and (4) using requirements to obtain conditional use permits, variances, or other similar types of authorizations to cause delays. Additionally, it would establish the submission of a typical filing for a standard zoning or siting review as the first procedural step in jurisdictions that have not established specific procedures.
  • Separation Between Existing and New Antenna ­– Under existing rules, a tower modification outside public rights-of-way would cause a substantial change if it “increases the height of the tower by more than 10% or by the height of one additional antenna array with separation from the nearest existing antenna not to exceed twenty feet, whichever is greater.” The Declaratory Ruling would clarify that “separation from the nearest existing antenna” means the distance from the top of the highest existing antenna to the bottom of the proposed new antenna that would be deployed above it.
  • Equipment Cabinets ­– Under existing rules, the number of new equipment cabinets affects whether a modification would cause a substantial change. The Declaratory Ruling would clarify that “equipment cabinets” does not include “small pieces of equipment such as remote radio heads/remote radio units, amplifiers, transceivers mounted behind antennas, and similar devices” if they “are not used as physical containers for smaller, distinct devices.” It declines to determine that “equipment cabinets” means only those installed on the ground.
  • Concealment Elements – Existing rules state that a modification would substantially change an existing structure if it would “defeat the concealment elements” of the structure that was originally approved. The Declaratory Ruling would specify that a “concealment element” is one “that is part of a stealth-designed facility intended to make a structure look like something other than a wireless facility” and was part of a prior approval. An attribute that minimizes the visual impact of a facility or that was not considered a concealment element at the time of initial approval would not be considered a modification. The FCC proposes to clarify that a proposed modification “defeats” a concealment element if it would “cause a reasonable person to view a structure’s intended stealth design as no longer effective.”
  • Limits on Other Conditions – Existing rules provide that a modification is a substantial change if it does not comply with any other original “conditions associated with the siting approval.” The Declaratory Ruling would clarify that “conditions associated with the siting approval” can include aesthetic conditions to minimize the visual impact of a wireless facility as long as the conditions do not prevent modifications explicitly allowed by rules that would permit modifications based on antenna height, antenna width, equipment cabinets, and excavations or deployments outside the current site, and “so long as there is express evidence that at the time of approval the locality required the feature and conditioned approval upon its continuing existence.”
  • Effect of Environmental Impact Agreements – Under existing rules, environmental impact assessments must occur when certain defined actions during construction of a facility might significantly affect the environment, including historic properties. The Declaratory Ruling would clarify that such assessments are not required when the FCC and applicants have entered into a memorandum of agreement to mitigate effects of a proposed deployment on historic properties if the only basis for the assessment was the potential for significant effects on such properties.
NPRM Concerning Excavation Outside of Existing Tower Sites

The Commission opted to issue an NPRM on one additional proposal in the WIA petition, regarding when a modification requires excavations. Existing rules provide that “[a] modification substantially changes the physical dimensions of an eligible support structure if . . . [i]t entails any excavation or deployment outside the current site” of a tower or base station, and is therefore not eligible for the streamlined procedures under the statute. Industry and localities disagree on whether “current site” means the boundaries at the time the tower was first approved or at the time the applicant seeks approval for a modification. WIA also asked the Commission to change its rules so that “a modification would not cause a “substantial change” if it entails excavation or facility deployments at locations of up to 30 feet in any direction outside the boundaries of a macro tower compound,” on the basis that colocation on existing towers is difficult to achieve without increasing the size of compounds. The NPRM seeks comment on these issues.

Democrats and Republicans Clash in Congressional Letters on Item

Democrats and Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent competing letters to FCC Chairman Pai concerning the draft item. Democrats asked that he delay the vote on the item, saying that “under the guise of clarifying . . . existing rules, [it] would grant companies the right to expand existing cell sites without any regard to local processes” and without meaningful insight from local governments, who are currently burdened with responding to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Republicans urged the FCC to press forward with the vote, also evoking the coronavirus pandemic to assert that the item would reduce “unnecessary regulatory burdens,” which would further streamline deployment and facilitate connectivity that is even more critical “[d]uring these unprecedented times.”

At the FCC, the two Democratic commissioners, Rosenworcel and Starks, expressed support for delaying the vote.As of this writing, Chairman Pai and Commissioner O’Rielly have not commented on the delay request. Republican Commissioner Carr strongly supports the item and is leading the charge for its adoption. We expect the vote to proceed and the item to be approved largely unchanged.

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COVID-19: What Communications Service Providers Need to Know – June 1, 2020 https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/covid-19-what-communications-service-providers-need-to-know-june-1-2020 https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/covid-19-what-communications-service-providers-need-to-know-june-1-2020 Mon, 01 Jun 2020 17:24:26 -0400 As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly unfolds, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has been active to keep communications services available through various waivers, extensions, and other regulatory relief. Kelley Drye’s Communications Practice Group is tracking these actions and what they mean for communications service providers and their customers. CommLaw Monitor will provide regular updates to its analysis of the latest regulatory and legislative actions impacting your business and the communications industry. Click on the “COVID-19” blog category for previous updates.

If you have any urgent questions, please contact your usual Kelley Drye attorney or any member of the Communications Practice Group. For more information on other aspects of the federal and state response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as labor and employment and other issues, please visit Kelley Drye’s COVID-19 Response Resource Center.

FCC Eases Lifeline Application Process for Tribal Consumers, Extends Previous Waivers

On June 1, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (“WCB”) released an Order (DA 20-577) aimed at easing the Lifeline program application and enrollment process for consumers who reside in rural areas on Tribal lands and qualify for Lifeline benefits. Specifically, the WCB FCC’s Wireline issued a temporary waiver to allow Lifeline carriers to begin providing Lifeline service to consumers in rural Tribal areas even if those consumers have not yet submitted certain documentation to complete their application. The FCC noted that consumers living in rural areas on Tribal lands already face difficulties in providing this documentation, and the pandemic has added to these hardships.

Under the June 1 waiver, until August 31, 2020, a Lifeline eligible telecommunications carrier (“ETC”) may choose to immediately begin providing Lifeline service to a consumer living in a rural Tribal area who applies for Lifeline but is unable to provide the necessary documentation to resolve a failed automated eligibility check at the time of application. The consumer will have 45 days from the time of application to submit the documentation. If the applicant then does provide the necessary documentation within 45 days and is determined to qualify for Lifeline service, the Lifeline provider can go back and claim reimbursement for the discounted service provided during the 45-day period.

In addition, in the Order, WCB also extended its recent waivers of the Lifeline program’s recertification, reverification, general de-enrollment, usage requirements, and three-month documentation requirements for income verification through August 31, 2020. Those waivers were set to expire at the end of June.

FCC Approves Latest Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Applications

On May 28, 2020, the WCB approved 53 funding applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth program. Under the latest funding round, $18.22 million in funding will go to health care providers across 24 states. With this latest set of approvals, the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program has funded 185 health care providers in 38 states, plus Washington D.C., for a total of $68.22 million in funding awarded. Read the latest issue of Kelley Drye’s USF Tracker for details on awards granted.

FCC Grants Washington Tribe’s Temporary Spectrum Access Request

On May 29, 2020, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“WTB”) granted the Makah Tribe emergency Special Temporary Authority (“STA”) request to operate in the 2.5 GHz band in Washington State. This is the latest action in the FCC’s continued effort to improve communications and broadband service in rural and other hard-to-serve areas during the crisis.

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FCC Plans to Finalize Phase I RDOF Auction Procedures and Explore 5G Use of High-Band Frequencies at June Meeting https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-plans-to-finalize-phase-i-rdof-auction-procedures-and-explore-5g-use-of-high-band-frequencies-at-june-meeting https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-plans-to-finalize-phase-i-rdof-auction-procedures-and-explore-5g-use-of-high-band-frequencies-at-june-meeting Wed, 27 May 2020 20:31:32 -0400 The FCC plans to focus on “bread and butter” issues of broadband deployment and expanding commercial spectrum use at its next meeting, scheduled for June 9, 2020. Specifically, the FCC anticipates adopting final auction procedures for Phase I of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (“RDOF”), which will provide up to $16 billion over 10 years to support broadband deployment in rural and other hard-to-serve areas. Rejecting calls for delay during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the FCC would commence the auction on October 29, 2020. The FCC also would address bidding area, performance requirement, and letter of credit issues that drew heated debate at the rulemaking stage. In addition, the FCC anticipates seeking comment on rule changes to expand use of high-band spectrum in the 71-76 GHz, 81-86 GHz, 92-94 GHz, and 94.1-95 GHz bands (“70/80/90 GHz Bands”) to support wireless 5G backhaul and other services. The 70/80/90 GHz Bands proposal is just the latest in a slew of FCC actions designed to open up more spectrum for commercial use, and would seek input on technical and operational rules to avoid interference to incumbent operations. Rounding out the major June items, the FCC plans to clarify key timeframes and criteria for state and local reviews of requests to modify existing wireless infrastructure to remove purported barriers to network improvements.

Covering the gamut of network funding, spectrum resources, and construction, the June meeting items will impact nearly all providers of 5G and other next-generation technologies and deserve close attention. You will find more information on the significant June meeting items after the break:

RDOF Phase I Auction Procedures: The FCC’s draft Public Notice would establish RDOF Phase I auction procedures that largely mirror the agency’s initial proposals for the program. In particular, the FCC would require auction participants to bid by census block group and establish an auction weighting mechanism that favors higher-speed, lower-latency services when awarding support. Auction winners would be required to offer service at the bid-upon performance level to 40% of the supported locations by the end of the third full calendar year following funding authorization and to an additional 20% of locations each year thereafter. As expected, service providers would be required to file a short-form application including basic ownership, technical, and financial information to participate in the auction, followed by a long-form application from auction winners providing detailed network descriptions and deployment plans. Auction winners would be obligated to obtain a letter of credit that would increase in value until the service providers begin to satisfy their deployment milestones. Service providers would not be required to receive designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier by the FCC or state authority to participate in the RDOF Phase I auction, but they would need to receive such designation before receiving any funding under the program.

Expanding High-Band Frequency Access: The FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order would seek comment on proposed changes to the rules governing the use of the 70/80/90 GHz Bands to support wireless 5G backhaul and broadband services onboard aircrafts and ships. First, the FCC would propose changes to antenna standards for the 70 and 80 GHz Bands to permit the use of smaller antennas and ask whether it should make similar changes to the standards for the 90 GHz Band. Second, the FCC would seek input on authorizing point-to-point links to endpoints in motion in the 70 and 80 GHz Bands and classifying those links as “mobile” services to support new offerings. Third, the FCC would request comment on whether it should change its link registration process for the 70/80/90 GHz Bands to eliminate never-constructed links from third-party registration databases, thereby opening the spectrum for new registrations. Finally, the FCC would propose power limits and other technical and operational rules to prevent harmful interference to incumbent operations in the 70/80/90 GHz Bands. As the 70/80/90 GHz Bands are currently allocated to co-primary Federal and non-Federal use, the FCC would coordinate any rule changes with affected federal agency incumbents through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Clarifying State/Local Wireless Review: The FCC’s Declaratory Ruling and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would clarify agency rules implementing Section 6409(a) of the Spectrum Act of 2012, which streamlines state and local reviews of requests to modify existing wireless infrastructure. Section 6409(a) and associated FCC rules require state and local governments to approve modification requests for existing wireless towers and base stations within 60 days as long as the modification does not “substantially change” the physical dimensions of the tower or base station. However, confusion exists among service providers and government authorities on when this 60-day shot clock begins. The FCC would clarify that the 60-day shot clock begins to run when a requester takes the first procedural step in a locality’s application process and submits written documentation showing that a proposed modification is eligible for streamlined treatment under Section 6409(a). The FCC would find that this approach would prevent localities from effectively postponing wireless network modifications through multiple interim procedural hurdles. The FCC also would clarify what types of infrastructure modifications represent a “substantial change” that would not qualify for streamlined treatment under Section 6409(a).

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COVID-19: What Communications Service Providers Need to Know – May 18, 2020 https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/covid-19-what-communications-service-providers-need-to-know-may-18-2020 https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/covid-19-what-communications-service-providers-need-to-know-may-18-2020 Mon, 18 May 2020 17:10:07 -0400 As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly unfolds, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has been active to keep communications services available through various waivers, extensions, and other regulatory relief. Kelley Drye’s Communications Practice Group is tracking these actions and what they mean for communications service providers and their customers. CommLaw Monitor will provide regular updates to its analysis of the latest regulatory and legislative actions impacting your business and the communications industry. Click on the “COVID-19” blog category for previous updates.

If you have any urgent questions, please contact your usual Kelley Drye attorney or any member of the Communications Practice Group. For more information on other aspects of the federal and state response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as labor and employment and other issues, please visit Kelley Drye’s COVID-19 Response Resource Center.

FCC Approves Latest Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications, Bringing Approvals to $33 million

On May 13, 2020, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (“WCB”) approved 33 funding applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Under the latest funding round, $8.36 million will go to health care providers across 18 states for telehealth services during the pandemic. With this latest set of application, the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program has approved and funded 82 health care providers in 30 states for a total of $33.26 million in funding. Congress authorized up to $200 million in funding for the program.

Over 750 Providers Extend Keep Americans Connected Pledge

On May 14, 2020, the FCC announced that 774 broadband and telephone service providers have taken the Keep Americans Connected Pledge and extended that commitment through June 30, 2020. On April 30, 2020, Chairman Pai announced he was extending the Pledge, originally set to expire on May 12, to June 30. Since Pai’s announcement, the number of companies covered by the Pledge has increased, as more companies have signed onto the Pledge for the first time than declined to extend it. The pledge involves service providers committing to not terminate service, to waive late fees for residential and small business customers who cannot pay during the pandemic, and to make their Wi-Fi hotspots available to any American who needs them.

In the latest episode of Kelley Drye's Full Spectrum podcast, we discuss the unique issues the Keep Americans Connected Pledge creates in a bankruptcy proceeding involving an affected customer. Click here to listen.

Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau Extends Temporary Waivers for Relay Services Rules

On May 14, 2020, FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau extended temporary waivers (DA 20-517) through June 30, 2020 for Telecommunications Relay Service (“TRS”) providers to ensure relay services remain available for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind, or have a speech disability. These waivers extend actions previously taken to grant TRS providers flexibility.

WTB Permits More WISPs to Use 5.9 GHz Spectrum on a Temporary Basis

Last week, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“WTB”) granted requests by United Wireless Communications, Inc. and Comcell, Inc. for emergency Special Temporary Authority (“STA”) to operate in the 5850-5895 MHz band to provide relief during the pandemic. The grants are for a period of 60 days, provided the applicant files a complete FCC Form 601 application within 10 days. These actions are part of the FCC’s continued effort to improve communications and broadband service in rural and other hard-to-serve areas during the pandemic.

WTB Grants GE Healthcare Waiver to Expedite Medical Equipment from New Suppliers

On May 11, 2020, the WTB granted GE Healthcare’s request for a waiver (DA 20-489) to allow the importation, marketing, and operation of certain GE medical devices, including wearable patient monitors, diagnostic testing systems, and portable x-rays. The action will enable GE Healthcare to overcome disruptions in the medical device supply chain. Without the waiver, many of GE’s devices that are sourced from new suppliers or that contain new components would have required prior FCC equipment certification.

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FCC Plans to Realign 900 MHz Land Mobile Band to Include Commercial Broadband Mobile Licenses and Expand Frequencies Available to Earth Stations in Motion at May Meeting https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-plans-to-realign-900-mhz-land-mobile-band-to-include-commercial-broadband-mobile-licenses-and-expand-frequencies-available-to-earth-stations-in-motion-at-may-meeting https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-plans-to-realign-900-mhz-land-mobile-band-to-include-commercial-broadband-mobile-licenses-and-expand-frequencies-available-to-earth-stations-in-motion-at-may-meeting Tue, 12 May 2020 17:28:37 -0400 At its May Open Meeting on May 13, 2020, in addition to items on regulatory fees and broadcaster applications notices, the Commission will consider two spectrum related items designed to further expand wireless broadband opportunities. In a draft Report and Order to transition the 900 MHz Band, the Commission would make six of the ten megahertz between 896-901 and 935-940 MHz available on a paired basis for commercial broadband mobile services while reserving four megahertz for incumbent narrowband communications. The Commission would also establish a transition mechanism based on voluntary negotiations to move narrowband incumbents operations to the lower and upper portions of each sub-band. In a draft Second Report and Order, the Commission would add new Ku- and Ka-Band frequencies for Earth Stations in Motion (“ESIMs”) and allow ESIMs, which have always communicated with geostationary orbit (“GSO”) fixed satellite service (“FSS”) satellites, to also communicate with non-geostationary satellite orbit (“NGSO”) satellites orbiting closer to Earth.

Stakeholders in the 900 MHz and Ku- and Ka-Bands should closely examine these two items and the impact on their business. You will find more information on the key May meeting items after the break:

900 MHz Transition: The Commission will consider a draft Report and Order that would realign the 900 MHz Band (896-901/935-940 MHz) to make available six megahertz of low-band spectrum (897.5-900.5/936.5-939.5 MHz) for Part 27 broadband mobile services and technologies, while reserving the remaining four megahertz of the band (896-897.5/935-936.5 MHz and 900.5-901/939.5-940 MHz (the “Narrowband Sub-Bands”) for continued narrowband Part 90 Business and Industrial Radio Private Land Mobile Radio Services that has until now occupied the entire Band. The draft Report and Order would establish a transition mechanism, based primarily on negotiations between prospective broadband licensees and narrowband incumbents, but also allowing a 900 MHz broadband licensee, once certain conditions are satisfied through voluntary relocations, to relocate mandatorily a small number of incumbents (except those with complex systems) by providing comparable facilities and reimbursing incumbent costs. The draft Report and Order would provide that any transition to a broadband segment should not disrupt or harm incumbent narrowband uses of the band. In the Narrowband Sub-Bands, 158 paired 12.5 kilohertz channels would remain available for continued narrowband operations. The draft item would also address license application requirements, transition procedures, and operating and technical rules that will apply to the new Part 27 licensees.

If adopted, the new rules and requirements would be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, with the exception of the application and performance reporting requirements, which contain new or modified information collections that require review by the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

ESIMs Reorganization: The Commission will consider a draft Second Report and Order to expand the frequency bands available to ESIMs that provide satellite communications to ships, vehicles, trains and aircraft, and advance regulatory consistency between GSO and NGSO bands available to ESIMs. The draft Second Report and Order would expand on the First Report and Order to allow ESIMs to use the following bands to communicate with GSO satellites with certain limitations.

  • GSO ESIMs in the Extended Ku-band: The draft order would allow communications from GSO FSS satellites to ESIMs in the 10.7-10.95 GHz and 11.2-11.45 GHz bands, where ESIMs are receive-only, on an unprotected basis with respect to non-Federal fixed service stations that have primary status in the bands. A requirement to protect radio astronomy in the bands would also apply to ESIM operations.
  • GSO ESIMs in the Ka-Band: The draft order would allow ESIMs to receive signals from GSO FSS satellites on a secondary basis in the 17.8-18.3 GHz band and on a primary basis in the 19.3-19.4 and 19.6-19.7 GHz band; and allow ESIMs to operate with GSO FSS satellite networks in the 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz bands on an unprotected, non-interference basis with respect to NGSO FSS satellite systems.
ESIMs have historically communicated with GSO satellites, but the draft item would also adopt a regulatory framework for ESIMs to communicate with NGSO FSS satellites in the Ku- and Ka-bands, including blanket earth station licensing (as opposed to individual licensing for terminals) for ESIM networks and common self-monitoring and network monitoring and control requirements.
  • NGSO ESIMs in the Ku- and Ka-Bands: The framework would also allow ESIMs to operate with NGSO FSS satellites in the 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz band on a primary basis and in the 11.7-12.2 GHz, 14.0-14.5 GHz, 18.3-18.6 GHz, 19.7-20.2 GHz, 28.35-28.6 GHz and 29.5-30 GHz bands on a primary basis (except they may not cause harmful interference to, or claim protection from, GSO FSS networks). ESIMs would be permitted to receive signals from NGSO FSS satellites in the 10.7-11.7 GHz, 19.3-19.4 GHz and 19.6-19.7 GHz bands on an unprotected basis with respect to non-Federal fixed service stations and in the 17.8-18.3 GHz band on a secondary basis.
If adopted, the new rules and requirements would be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

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