CommLaw Monitor https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor News and analysis from Kelley Drye’s communications practice group Tue, 11 Jun 2024 20:19:40 -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 Open Meeting Recap Podcast: March 16, 2022 https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-open-meeting-recap-podcast-march-16-2022 https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-open-meeting-recap-podcast-march-16-2022 Wed, 16 Mar 2022 21:16:20 -0400 Full Spectrum returns with our newest series, FCC Open Meeting Recaps. These episodes will 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, partners Tom Cohen, Hank Kelly and Chip Yorkgitis discuss key actions and topics from the March 16th meeting, including digital discrimination, pole replacement disputes, and the Connected Care Pilot Program.

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

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FCC’s January Meeting Agenda Includes Proposed Disclosures for All Broadband Providers https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fccs-january-meeting-agenda-includes-proposed-disclosures-for-all-broadband-providers https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fccs-january-meeting-agenda-includes-proposed-disclosures-for-all-broadband-providers Tue, 25 Jan 2022 17:21:59 -0500 The FCC released its agenda for the next Commission Open Meeting, scheduled for January 27, 2022. The agency will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that would require all broadband Internet access service providers (“ISPs”) to disclose information about various aspects of their service to consumers at the point of sale (“ISP NPRM”). The FCC will address a Report and Order that would amend the E-Rate program rules to clarify that Tribal libraries are eligible for E-Rate support (“E-Rate Tribal Order”). The commissioners also will consider a Second Order on Reconsideration and Order that would revise rules governing white space spectrum to ensure that wireless microphones are protected from harmful interference (“White Space Order”). In addition, the FCC will focus on an NPRM that would propose to amend the equipment authorization rules to incorporate updated technical standards (“Equipment NPRM”).

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

Empowering Broadband Consumers Through Transparency – The ISP NPRM would propose rules to implement certain provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“Infrastructure Act”). Specifically, Section 60504 of the Infrastructure Act directs the Commission to “promulgate regulations to require the display of broadband consumer labels” to “disclose to consumers information regarding broadband Internet access service plans.” In accordance with that statutory mandate, the ISP NPRM would propose consumer labels consistent with a 2016 Public Notice (DA 16-357). In the 2016 Public Notice, the Commission set forth various required consumer disclosures related to fixed and mobile broadband services, including information about pricing, data allowances, broadband speeds, network management practices and fees. The Commission would also seek comment on the following issues: whether any changes should be made to the content of the consumer labels contained in the 2016 Public Notice; where the consumer labels should be displayed; how to ensure the accuracy of the content of the labels; and the effective date of the label requirements.

Connecting Tribal Libraries – The E-Rate Tribal Order would 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. 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”). The amended FCC rule would be consistent with a 2018 amendment to the LSTA which provided that Tribal libraries are eligible for assistance from a State library administrative agency. The Commission’s planned clarification about Tribal libraries’ eligibility for E-Rate support is intended to increase Tribal libraries’ participation in the E-Rate program and lead to more affordable access to high-speed broadband and a narrowing of the digital divide in Tribal regions. The E-Rate Tribal Order would also direct the Office of Native Affairs and Policy and the Wireline Competition Bureau, together with the Tribal Liaison at the Universal Service Administrative Company, to focus on outreach efforts and training for Tribal libraries. Finally, the Commission would implement measures to track Tribal libraries’ participation in the E-rate program.

Facilitating Better Use of ‘White Space’ Spectrum – The White Space Order would revise technical requirements governing how white space devices and white space databases work together to ensure that the licensed operation of wireless microphones is not subject to harmful interference. Under Part 15 of the FCC’s rules, unlicensed devices can operate on unused channels within the broadcast television spectrum and certain other areas of the spectrum where licensed wireless operations have not commenced (commonly known as white spaces), so long as they do not cause harmful interference. As a means to prevent harmful interference, white space devices must contact a white space database (administered by Commission-designated private entities) at least once per day to obtain a list of available channels and the associated maximum power level for those channels. In 2015, the FCC adopted rules to further protect the operation of licensed wireless microphones by requiring white space databases to push changes in channel availability to white space devices. In response to petitions asserting that the push notification is burdensome and technically infeasible, the FCC would replace that requirement with a requirement for white space devices to check the white space database once per hour to protect licensed wireless microphones. In addition, the White Space Order would deny a petition for reconsideration of the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology’s approval of Nominet UK (now RED Technologies) as a white space database administrator.

Updating Equipment Authorization Rules – The Equipment NPRM would propose to update equipment authorization rules to reference new technical standards. The Commission’s equipment authorization procedures ensure that radiofrequency devices operate without causing harmful interference. The FCC’s rules governing equipment authorization of radiofrequency devices incorporate several standards set by industry standard-setting bodies, such as the America National Standards Institute (“ANSI”) and the International Organization for Standardization (“ISO”). The Equipment NPRM would focus on standards that are referenced in the Commission’s equipment authorization rules that relate to the testing of equipment and accreditation of laboratories that test radiofrequency devices. In particular, the Equipment NPRM would seek comment on the following: (1) incorporating “American National Standard Validation Methods for Radiated Emission Test Sites; 1 GHz to 18 GHz” (ANSI C63.25.1:2018) as a new technical standard; (2) referencing a more current version of “American National Standards of Procedures for Compliance Testing of Unlicensed Wireless Devices” (ANSI C63.10:2020); and (3) transitioning to “Conformity assessment – Requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies” (ISO/IEC 17011:2017) and “General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories” (ISO/IEC 17025:2017).

Please contact the authors or your Kelley Drye attorney for more information about these items or to participate in the proceedings.

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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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Early December Deadline for Comments on FCC’s Resilient Networks NPRM https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/early-december-deadline-for-comments-on-fccs-resilient-networks-nprm https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/early-december-deadline-for-comments-on-fccs-resilient-networks-nprm Thu, 18 Nov 2021 15:10:47 -0500 Recent natural disasters like Hurricane Ida have highlighted the importance to the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) of stable communications networks. Such disasters can cause disruptions and delays to the transmission of 911 calls, first responder communications, Emergency Alert Systems (“EAS”), and other important communications during emergencies. The FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) seeking comment on proposed rules to improve the resilience and reliability of communications networks during emergencies at its September Open Meeting. The NPRM was published in the Federal Register on November 4, 2021 and therefore comments are due on December 6, 2021, and reply comments are due on January 4, 2022.

The FCC emphasized the importance of resilient networks by hosting a virtual field hearing on improving the resiliency and recovery of communications networks during disasters during its October Open Meeting. The hearing included two panels: “Lesson’s from the Ground” and “Building Resiliency into U.S. Networks.” The panels included experienced public safety and communications stakeholders and provided discussions about opportunities to improve emergency network resiliency.

The NPRM seeks comment on three main topics: (1) measures to help communications services remain operational amid disasters; (2) promoting situational awareness during disasters through a Disaster Information Reporting System (“DIRS“) and the Network Outage Reporting System (“NORS“); and (3) communications resilience strategies to address electric power outages.

Keeping Communications Services Operational Amid Disasters

Currently, there is a voluntary Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework (“Framework”) that provides participants with access to NORS and DIRS information to aid in public safety. The Commission seeks comment on how the Framework can be improved, activation timing, the scope of Framework obligations and whether participants should be expanded. The NPRM also asks how to better address the use of roaming during a disaster and foster mutual aid. The Commission also contemplates whether to codify portions of the Framework.

Situational Awareness During Disasters

DIRS is a web-based means for service providers to voluntarily report their communications infrastructure status, restoration information, and situational awareness information to the FCC specifically during times of crisis. The NPRM seeks comment on additional methods to increase broader voluntary participation during disasters and whether the Commission should require service providers to participate.

The FCC requires communication providers to report network outages that last at least 30 minutes and meet additional conditions in NORS. The NPRM seeks comment on the public interest benefits and costs of reporting broadband service outages and whether the NORS reporting requirements should be suspended during disasters.

Addressing Electric Power Outages

Power outages are a common factor in disaster and emergency situations and the NPRM seeks comment on the actions the FCC, providers, and power companies can take to coordinate in all stages of emergencies and disasters. The Commission seeks feedback regarding existing requirements for covered 911 service providers to implement central-office backup power measures to help ensure 911 reliability. Currently, covered 911 services must certify their compliance with backup standards for public safety answering points (“PSAPs”) and central offices that have a selective router that directs 911 calls. PSAPs have the opportunity to weigh in and help the FCC develop regulations that take PSAP experience into consideration. Additionally, the FCC requests information about any changed circumstances since the FCC’s last consideration of backup power that may affect the continuity of power and alternative measures that promote continuity of power.

Please contact the authors of this post or your Kelley Drye attorney if you are interested in filing comments on this NPRM, monitoring the proceeding, or understanding how it could impact your business.

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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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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 Closes Out the Summer With STIR/SHAKEN Revocation in August Open Meeting https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-closes-out-the-summer-with-stir-shaken-revocation-in-august-open-meeting https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-closes-out-the-summer-with-stir-shaken-revocation-in-august-open-meeting Thu, 05 Aug 2021 10:54:40 -0400 Today, the FCC is holding its last Open Meeting of the summer. Here is the agenda. The meeting will first consider a Public Notice to establish two new Innovation Zones for experimental licenses in Boston, MA and Raleigh, NC to study wireless technology use cases and test integration with new technologies. The FCC will next consider a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) that would propose to adopt clarifications and revisions to the agency’s numbering rules, including requiring additional certifications and ownership disclosures for authorization of direct numbering access. The Commission will also hear a Third Report and Order that would authorize the agency’s private Governance Authority overseeing the STIR/SHAKEN framework to review and revoke a voice service provider’s participation in STIR/SHAKEN. The Order would further establish an appeals process and procedures for providers affected by a revocation. Additionally, the FCC will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that would update the compensation methodology for the Internet Protocol Relay (“IP Relay), a form of Telecommunications Relay Service. Lastly, the FCC will consider an NPRM proposing to update the agency’s political programming rules, followed by a Memorandum Opinion and Order on Reconsideration that would grant three petitions for reconsideration of the Part 95 Personal Radio Services Rules Report and Order.

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

Appeals of STIR/SHAKEN Revocation Decisions – The Third Report and Order (“Order”) would establish a process for the FCC’s private Governance Authority that oversees the STIR/SHAKEN framework to review and revoke the ability of a voice service provider to participate in STIR/SHAKEN. The Order would also create an appeals process for voice service providers to challenge any revocation decisions, modeled on the established appeals process and procedures for reviewing decisions by the Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”). Voice service providers affected by a revocation could file a request for review with the FCC, and third parties would be permitted to file oppositions and replies to the request in ECFS.

Establishing Two New Innovation Zones – The Public Notice would approve the creation of two new Innovation Zones for experimental licenses in Boston, MA (Northeastern University) and Raleigh, NC (NC State University), and would expand the geographical boundary of the Innovation Zone in New York City. Innovation Zones allow experimental licensees to conduct unrelated experiments at designated locations without requiring explicit FCC approval. The NC State Innovation Zone would be intended to study new use cases for advanced wireless technologies emerging in unmanned aerial systems (“UAS”), while the Northeastern Innovation Zone would allow researchers to use the Colosseum wireless network emulator to extend and accelerate research in wireless networked systems. The two Innovation Zones would also promote platforms to test the integration of Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN). Both Innovation Zones would be established for a renewable period of five years.

Updating FCC Numbering Policies – The Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would adopt clarifications and revisions to the Commission’s numbering rules, consistent with the Congressional directives in the TRACED Act. The FNPRM would propose to require additional certifications as part of the direct access application to numbering resources and would require disclosures of foreign ownership information of applicants, proposing to refer applicants with 10% or greater foreign ownership to the Executive Branch agencies. It would also require direct access authorization holders to more frequently update the FCC of any ownership changes, and would seek comment on expanding the direct access to numbers authorization process to one-way VoIP providers or other entities using numbers.

Updating TRS Compensation – The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would propose changes to the compensation methodology for the Internet Protocol Relay, a form of Telecommunications Relay Service (“TRS”) that allows an individual with a hearing or speech disability to communicate with voice telephone users by transmitting text via the Internet. The NPRM would propose to modify the compensation methodology to permit recovery of reasonable costs of outreach and operating margins, and would seek comment on permitting recovery of indirect overhead costs. It would also propose to calculate the base compensation level using projected costs and demand over a multi-year compensation period. The NPRM further would seek comment on a proposed potential hybrid compensation model that would rely in part on compensation for state-program relay service.

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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 Tees Up Broadband and Telehealth Updates for First Meeting under Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-tees-up-broadband-and-telehealth-updates-for-first-meeting-under-acting-chairwoman-rosenworcel https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-tees-up-broadband-and-telehealth-updates-for-first-meeting-under-acting-chairwoman-rosenworcel Tue, 02 Feb 2021 19:23:38 -0500 The FCC released the agenda for its next Open Meeting, scheduled for February 17, 2021, which will be the first with Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel at the helm. The FCC plans to kick off the meeting with three presentations detailing the Commission’s progress in implementing programs designed to support broadband access and deployment. First, the FCC will hear a presentation on the creation of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which will allow low-income consumers to receive discounted broadband services and devices. Second, the FCC will hear a presentation covering the agency’s next steps for its COVID-19 Telehealth program, which provides funding to health care providers to offer telehealth and connected care services to patients. Third, the FCC will hear a presentation on the agency’s efforts to improve its broadband mapping data, including through the Digital Opportunity Data Collection. Rounding out the meeting agenda, the FCC will consider proposed rulemakings that would modify the agency’s supply chain security rules and address 911 fee diversion in line with recent legislation.

The February meeting begins what is expected to be a busy 2021 for the FCC’s agenda. You will find more information about the meeting items after the break.

Emergency Broadband Benefit Program: On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act ("CAA"), 2021, which included Section 904 authorizing the $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program. The Program will reimburse up to $50 per month per eligible low-income household to discount broadband service and certain connected devices during an emergency period. To participate, providers must have offered broadband internet access service as of December 1, 2020 and must either be an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier or be approved by the FCC pursuant to an expedited approval process. Congress gave the FCC 60 days to promulgate regulations to implement the EBB program and the FCC released a Public Notice establishing a comment cycle on January 4, 2021. Comments were filed on or before January 25, 2021 and reply comments are due by February 16, 2021. The Commission is also holding a roundtable discussion on the EBB implementation on February 12, 2021.

COVID-19 Telehealth Program: The FCC will hear a presentation about the agency’s plans for the next stage of the COVID-19 Telehealth program. The agency already approved $200 million in funding under the program for health care providers in 2020, exhausting the initial funding appropriated by Congress to support connected care services to patients. But Congress recently provided an additional $249.95 million for the program and the FCC already has sought comment on the appropriate metrics for evaluating requests for this funding and potential program improvements and taken action to streamline the process for disbursing future funding.

Improving Broadband Mapping Data: The FCC will hear a presentation on the agency’s work to improve its broadband maps, including through the Digital Opportunity Data Collection (DODC) that will require service providers to submit granular data regarding their current and potential broadband service territories. Among other things, the FCC will use this information to determine the areas eligible for the second round of support under the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which will provide at least $4.4 billion over ten years to spur broadband deployment in unserved areas. The DODC enjoys bipartisan support at the FCC, but has received criticism for its complex reporting requirements, crowdsourcing and challenge processes, enforcement standards, and lack of exceptions for smaller providers.

Supply Chain Security: The draft Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) would align the FCC’s supply chain security rules with the recently-enacted CAA, which allocated $1.9 billion to reimburse providers for the costs of removing, replacing, and disposing of network equipment and services posing a national security risk. In particular, the FCC plans to: (1) raise the cap on reimbursement eligibility to encompass providers with 10 million or fewer customers; (2) seek comment on allowing providers to use reimbursement funds to cover the removal, replacement, and disposal of all network equipment and services provided by Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE that were deemed a national security threat last year; (3) request input on allowing providers to use reimbursement funds to cover the removal, replacement, and disposal of unsecure network equipment and services obtained on or before June 30, 2020; (4) prioritize reimbursement funding to smaller providers with two million or fewer customers and non-commercial educational broadband service (“EBS”) providers as well as “core” network transition costs; and (5) expand the definition of advance communications service providers eligible for reimbursement to explicitly include EBS providers, libraries, and health care providers, in line with the CAA.

911 Fee Diversion: The draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) would implement section 902 of the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act of 2020, which requires the FCC to take action to address the diversion of 911 fees by states and other jurisdictions for purposes unrelated to 911 operations. Section 902 specifically directs the FCC to issue final rules within 180 days of defining what uses of 911 fees by states and taxing jurisdictions constitute 911 fee diversion. The NPRM seeks comment on proposed rules to implement these provisions. Notably, fee diversion was a key focus area for former FCC Commissioner O’Rielly and remains a controversial issue within the agency.

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FCC Plans to Finalize Internet Reform, 5G Fund, and TV White Spaces at October Open Meeting https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-plans-to-finalize-internet-reform-5g-fund-and-tv-white-spaces-at-october-open-meeting https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-plans-to-finalize-internet-reform-5g-fund-and-tv-white-spaces-at-october-open-meeting Thu, 22 Oct 2020 15:49:03 -0400 The FCC announced the agenda for its last Open Meeting before the upcoming 2020 general election, scheduled for October 27, 2020. The FCC first plans to respond to the remand from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on its Restoring Internet Freedom Order. The Commission will address three issues sent back to the agency for further consideration and largely reiterate its original conclusions regarding the impact of its reforms on public safety, pole attachments, and the Lifeline program. The Commission also plans to finalize its proposed 5G Fund with a two-phase reverse auction to target support for the deployment of 5G networks in rural areas, establishing a ten-year support term and a $9 billion overall budget. The October meeting will also consider allowing unlicensed white space devices to operate on broadcast television channels, as well as streamlining the state and local approval processes for wireless tower modifications. Lastly, the FCC plans to eliminate certain unbundling and resale requirements for incumbent local exchange carriers.

Unlike most monthly Commission meetings, none of the items on the October agenda initiate new proceedings or propose new rules. Instead, the items focus on implementation of a number of policies prioritized under Chairman Pai. FCC regulatory activity will likely slow in the aftermath of the election. As a result, the October agenda may represent the FCC’s final push for any major reforms in the near-term. However, on October 15, Chairman Pai did announce his intention to move forward with a rulemaking to interpret the meaning of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. You will find more details on the significant October meeting items after the break:

Restoring Internet Freedom Order Remand: The draft Order on Remand would respond to the remand from the D.C. Circuit in Mozilla Corp v. FCC, which upheld a majority of the FCC’s decisions on broadband Internet access service regulation and classification in the 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom Order, but remanded three issues back to the agency for further consideration. The FCC would address each issue and find that its initial conclusions in the 2017 order promote public safety communications, facilitate broadband infrastructure deployment through pole attachment rights, and allow the Commission to continue to provide Lifeline support conditioned on providing broadband internet access service. The agency would find there is no basis for departing from these original conclusions and that any negative effects on these sectors resulting from its classification of broadband Internet access service in the 2017 order would be limited or otherwise outweighed by the benefits of the “light-touch” regulatory framework for broadband.

Establishing a 5G Fund for Rural America: The draft Report and Order would adopt the 5G Fund using a two-phase reverse auction targeting support for deploying 5G networks in areas without an unsubsidized provider of either 4G LTE or 5G mobile broadband. Proposed in an April 2020 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”), the draft Order would adopt a 10-year term of support and an overall budget of $9 billion for the 5G Fund. Phase I of the auction would make available up to $8 billion, with $680 million set aside for bidders offering to serve Tribal lands, and Phase II would make at least $1 billion available to target deployment facilitating adoption of precision agriculture technologies. The FCC would adopt its proposal to determine which areas would be eligible for 5G Fund support from data collected through the upcoming Digital Opportunity Data Collection, and would impose performance requirements on carriers continuing to receive legacy mobile high-cost support.

Unlicensed Wireless Opportunities in TV White Spaces: The draft Report and Order would adopt changes to the Part 15 unlicensed device rules, as proposed in the Commission’s February 2020 NPRM, to expand the ability of white spaces devices to deliver wireless broadband services in rural areas. The Order would increase the maximum permissible power for fixed white space devices operating on TV channels 2-35 in “less congested areas” and allow higher-power mobile operations within defined geographic areas. The FCC would also adopt rule changes to facilitate the development of narrowband Internet of Things devices and services in the TV bands.

Streamlining Approval of Wireless Infrastructure Modifications: The draft Report and Order would revise the Commission’s section 6409(a) rules to provide for streamlined state and local review of tower modifications that involve limited ground excavation or deployment beyond site boundaries. The rule revision would establish that, for towers not located in the public rights-of-way, a modification of an existing site needing ground excavation or deployment of up to 30 feet will not be disqualified from streamlined processing on that basis. The draft Order would also promote accelerated deployment of 5G and other advanced wireless services by facilitating the collocation of antennas and associated equipment on existing infrastructure, while preserving the ability of state and local governments to manage and protect local land-use interests.

Modernizing Unbundling and Resale Requirements: The draft Report and Order would eliminate and modernize unbundling and resale requirements for incumbent local exchange carriers (“LECs”). The FCC would eliminate certain unbundling requirements for specific broadband-capable loops, subject to reasonable transition periods, in more densely populated areas, but preserve unbundling requirements in less densely populated areas without sufficient evidence of competition. The draft Order would also forbear from the avoided-cost resale obligation for non-price cap carrier incumbent LECs, subject to a three-year transition period.

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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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FCC Previews C-Band Auction Procedures and Inmate Calling Services Reform for August Open Meeting https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-previews-c-band-auction-procedures-and-inmate-calling-services-reform-for-august-open-meeting https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-previews-c-band-auction-procedures-and-inmate-calling-services-reform-for-august-open-meeting Sun, 02 Aug 2020 14:17:27 -0400 The FCC is slowing down from its busy summer going into August, with its next open meeting scheduled for August 6, 2020. Kicking off the meeting, the Commission anticipates adopting procedures for the auction of new flexible-use overlay licenses in the 3.7-3.98 GHz band (“C-band”), or Auction 107, which is scheduled to begin on December 8, 2020. The FCC would establish specific auction dates and procedures for the clock auction of 280 MHz of spectrum in the C-band. The agency will also consider an item on inmate calling services, responding to remands by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and proposing comprehensive rate reform for inmate calling services. The remainder of the agenda focuses on eliminating and streamlining existing FCC rules. Specifically, the Commission will consider two actions aimed at streamlining broadcast rules that would eliminate the radio duplication rule for AM stations and eliminate the common antenna siting rules for FM and TV broadcaster applicants and licensees. Finally, the Commission plans to repeal certain telecommunications relay service (“TRS”) rules that are no longer necessary given advances in technology since the rules were initially adopted.

You will find more details on the most significant August meeting items after the break:

C-Band Auction Procedures: The draft Public Notice would establish the procedures for Auction 107, the auction of new flexible-use overlay licenses in the 3.7-3.98 GHz band. It will be the FCC’s second auction of mid-band spectrum and is scheduled to begin on December 8, 2020. Auction 107 will offer 5,684 new licenses in the C-band, and the 280 MHz of spectrum available will be licensed on an unpaired basis in three blocks divided into 20 MHz sub-blocks by partial economic area (“PEA”) in the contiguous states and in D.C. The Commission would use an ascending clock auction format for bidding for each PEA, with an initial clock phase for bidding on generic blocks in successive rounds and a subsequent assignment phase for bidding on frequency-specific license assignments. The draft Notice details the FCC’s procedures, terms, conditions, dates, and deadlines for Auction 107, as well as the post-auction application and payment processes. Notably, the FCC would open the application filing window for auction participation on September 9, 2020 and close the window on September 22, 2020.

Inmate Calling Services Reform: The draft Report and Order on Remand and Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) would respond to remands from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on inmate calling services reform and propose further rate reforms. The Order would find that ancillary service charges, or separate fees that are not included in per-minute rates assessed for individual inmate calling services calls, cannot be segregated between interstate and intrastate jurisdictions, except in a limited number of cases. This determination would prohibit inmate calling service providers from imposing any charges for ancillary services, other than those charges permitted by the FCC’s rules, and would prohibit providers from imposing such charges that exceed the FCC’s ancillary service fee caps. The FNPRM would seek comment on further rate reforms of inmate calling services, proposing to lower the interstate rate caps to $0.14 per minute for calls from prisons and $.16 for calls from jails, and proposing to cap rates for international inmate calling services, which are currently uncapped. Comments on the FNPRM would be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, with reply comments due 60 days following publication.

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FCC Previews a Jam-Packed July Open Meeting with National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Call Blocking, and Supply Chain Items Leading the Agenda https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-previews-a-jam-packed-july-open-meeting-with-national-suicide-prevention-lifeline-call-blocking-and-supply-chain-items-leading-the-agenda https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-previews-a-jam-packed-july-open-meeting-with-national-suicide-prevention-lifeline-call-blocking-and-supply-chain-items-leading-the-agenda Thu, 02 Jul 2020 19:12:10 -0400 The FCC is moving full steam ahead this summer with a jam-packed agenda for its next open meeting, scheduled for July 16, 2020. Headlining the meeting is the creation of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, establishing 988 as the 3-digit dialing code for the suicide and mental health crisis hotline. All telecommunications carriers and VoIP providers would be required to implement 988 on their networks by July 16, 2022. The FCC continues to move forward on eliminating unwanted and illegal robocalls, planning to carve out safe harbors from liability for call blocking based on reasonable analytics and seeking comment on any additional obligations for blocking providers. The supply chain rulemaking would adopt the Commission’s prohibition on using universal service funds to support equipment or services provided by identified companies posing a national security threat, and propose further requirements for securing communications networks. The agency also plans to affirm and build upon vertical location requirements for enhanced 911 location accuracy and to establish procedures for enhanced broadband mapping and data collection. In addition, the agenda includes items to modernize the leased access rate formula and streamline and update the priority service program rules for emergency workers.

While FCC action historically dwindles going into an election year, the July agenda shows no signs of slowing down on the Commission’s main priorities. You will find more details on the most significant July meeting items after the break:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: The draft Report and Order would designate 988 as the 3-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and mental health crisis hotline (“Lifeline”). The Commission would require all telecommunications carriers, interconnected VoIP providers, and one-way VoIP providers to make any network changes necessary to ensure that all users can dial 988 to reach the Lifeline by July 16, 2022. Service providers would be required to transmit all calls initiated by an end user dialing 988 to the current toll free access number for the Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK). The Commission would also require covered providers to implement 10-digit dialing in areas that use both 7-digit dialing and 988 as an NXX numbering prefix to ensure direct dialing to the Lifeline and avoid delayed and misdirected calls.

Call Blocking Rules: The draft Third Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) would continue the Commission’s efforts to stop unwanted and illegal robocalls. Consistent with the TRACED Act, the Commission would establish a safe harbor from liability for terminating providers for blocking wanted calls, as long as the call blocking was based on reasonable analytics indicating that the call was unwanted, including STIR/SHAKEN information when available. A second safe harbor would also enable voice service providers to block traffic from bad-actor upstream voice service providers that continue to allow unwanted calls on their network. Blocking providers would also be required to establish a single point of contact to remedy unintended or inadvertent blocking, and to ensure that calls to 911 are never blocked. The Commission asks for input on how it can further implement the TRACED Act, and proposes establishing obligations for voice service providers to respond to certain traceback requests, mitigate bad traffic, and take affirmative measures to prevent customers from originating illegal calls on their networks. It also would propose requiring terminating service providers that block calls to provide a list of those blocked calls to their customers on demand and at no additional charge.

Secure Networks Act: The draft Declaratory Ruling and Second FNPRM would integrate provisions of the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 (“Secure Networks Act”) into the Commission’s existing supply chain rulemaking proceeding. The FCC would adopt the prohibition on the use of universal service funds for equipment and services produced or provided by companies, such as Huawei and ZTE, designated as a national security threat, upholding the 2019 Supply Chain Order. The FNPRM would seek comment on implementing certain portions of the Secure Networks Act, proposing several different processes and definitions that will aid the FCC in compiling and publishing a list of covered communications equipment and services. Additionally, the FCC proposes to: (1) ban the use of federal subsidies for any equipment or services on the new list of covered communications equipment and services; (2) require that all advanced communications providers report whether they use any covered equipment and services; and (3) establish regulations to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in the proposed reimbursement program to remove, replace, and dispose of insecure equipment. These proposed regulations would include penalties for violations of the reimbursement program and repayment provisions for any violations. The FCC Orders issuing final designations of both Huawei and ZTE as covered companies were effective immediately upon release on June 30, 2020.

Z-Axis Location Accuracy Requirements: The draft Sixth Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration would affirm the FCC’s vertical location (“z-axis”) requirements and deadlines, building on the existing Enhanced 911 location accuracy rules to more accurately identify floor level location for wireless calls made from multi-story buildings. The FCC would adopt its proposals to require CMRS providers that elect to deploy z-axis technology meet the 3-meter accuracy metric by April 2021 for the top 25 CMAs, and by April 2023 in the top 50 CMAs, requiring 80 percent coverage of the population in a CMA. Finding that deploying z-axis technology is technically feasible in the near future, the draft ruling would require all nationwide wireless CMRS providers to deploy z-axis technology nationwide by April 2025, and require non-nationwide providers to deploy z-axis technology in their top 50 CMA service areas by April 2026. The FCC also revises its rules to allow CMRS providers to deploy dispatchable location solutions that rely on a range of technical approaches. Additionally, consistent with Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act, the rules would require all CMRS providers to provide dispatchable location for individual 911 calls, if it is technically feasible and cost-effective to do so, by January 6, 2022.

Improving Broadband Data and Maps: The draft Second Report and Order and Third FNPRM would adopt specific measures and requirements to develop the new broadband maps implemented by the Digital Opportunity Data Collection and the Broadband DATA Act. Although the FCC lacks funding to implement the new maps at this time, these actions would meet the requirement to complete the broadband mapping rulemaking within the set deadline and to develop the service availability maps as soon as feasible. The draft action would adopt a number of requirements for fixed and mobile broadband providers, including specific coverage reporting and disclosure requirements and standards for data use and verification. It would also establish a Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (“Fabric”), creating a nationwide dataset containing geocoded locations for all areas where broadband connections can be installed, as well as a Broadband Map, showing served and unserved areas for both fixed and mobile coverage. The FNPRM would seek comment on other actions that may be necessary to implement other provisions of the Broadband DATA Act, specifically on which providers are subject to the data collection, data reporting standards for fixed and mobile service, a challenge process for map accuracy, and on processes for implementing the Fabric.

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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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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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FCC Plans to Mandate STIR/SHAKEN Anti-Spoofing Framework, Deregulate End-User Access Charges at March Meeting https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-plans-to-mandate-stir-shaken-anti-spoofing-framework-deregulate-end-user-access-charges-at-march-meeting https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-plans-to-mandate-stir-shaken-anti-spoofing-framework-deregulate-end-user-access-charges-at-march-meeting Mon, 16 Mar 2020 09:48:20 -0400 The FCC plans to mandate that voice service providers adopt caller ID authentication technology to combat illegal “spoofing” and deregulate longstanding end-user access charges at its next meeting scheduled for March 31, 2020. Under the FCC’s proposal, voice service providers that originate or terminate calls would be required to employ STIR/SHAKEN technology (a framework of interconnected standards to authenticate phone calls as they are passed from carrier to carrier) in their networks no later than June 30, 2021, allowing them and other providers in the call chain to verify that calls are coming from the displayed caller ID number. The proposal would implement provisions of the recently-passed TRACED Act, which requires the FCC to kick off a multitude of near-term rulemakings and other actions aimed at addressing unlawful spoofing and robocalling operations. FCC Chairman Pai previously urged major providers to adopt STIR/SHAKEN technology voluntarily, but his assessment is that the voluntary approach did not move fast enough. In addition, the FCC anticipates launching a rulemaking to deregulate a host of end-user charges related to interstate access service and prohibit carriers from invoicing such charges through separate line items to simplify customer bills.

Although the March agenda is relatively light, the STIR/SHAKEN and access charge items could significantly impact provider costs, tariffing practices, and billing procedures. As a result, providers should closely examine the FCC’s proposals and get their input in early in light of the agency’s recent decision to restrict in-person meetings and expand telework in response to the coronavirus pandemic. You will find more information on the key March meeting items after the break:

Mandating STIR/SHAKEN Framework: The TRACED Act mandates a number of measures designed to combat unlawful robocalls. One of the key measures in the Act is a requirement that all voice providers implement SHAKEN/STIR in IP networks and an alternative call authentication framework in non-IP networks. The draft Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking responds to these mandates in the Commission’s existing call authentication docket. The draft order would mandate that originating and terminating voice service providers implement the STIR/SHAKEN framework in the IP portions of their networks by June 30, 2021. A carrier’s obligations under the proposal would vary depending on where it is in the call chain. First, a voice service provider that originates a call that exclusively transits its own network would be required to authenticate and verify the caller ID information in accordance with the STIR/SHAKEN framework. Second, a voice service provider originating a call that it will exchange with another provider would be required to authenticate the caller ID information in accordance with the STIR/SHAKEN framework and (unless technically impossible) transmit that information to the next provider in the call path. Finally, a voice service provider terminating a call with caller ID information it receives from another provider would be required to verify that information in accordance with the STIR/SHAKEN framework before delivering the call to an end user. The FCC would estimate carrier STIR/SHAKEN implementation costs to range from $15,000 to $300,000.

In the FNPRM portion of the order, the FCC plans to seek comment on whether it should extend the STIR/SHAKEN implementation deadline for smaller voice service providers (i.e., those with 100,000 or fewer subscriber lines), as well as those operating in rural areas, so long as they adopt a robocall mitigation program. The FCC also plans to ask whether it should expand the STIR/SHAKEN mandate to cover intermediate voice service providers that neither originate nor terminate calls, and require them to pass along any verified caller ID information they receive. In addition, the FCC would request input on requiring voice service providers using legacy time-division multiplexing and other non-IP technologies to either (1) upgrade their networks to IP to enable the implementation of the STIR/SHAKEN framework or (2) develop a non-IP caller ID authentication technology and adopt a robocall mitigation program in the interim. The FCC anticipates adopting procedures to exempt providers from the full STIR/SHAKEN implementation process in exchange for meeting aggressive call authentication deployment milestones. The Commission also would seek comment on implementing the TRACED Act’s prohibition on voice carriers imposing additional line item charges on consumers and small businesses for the costs of implementing caller ID authentication services.

The FNPRM also would address a topic identified in the TRACED Act for further Commission inquiry. The Act requires the Commission to examine measures to bar access to numbering resources by service providers allegedly assisting unlawful spoofing or robocalling operations. The Commission would examine a number of options for doing so, including imposing “know your customer” obligations on RespOrgs and carriers receiving numbering resources and/or imposing U.S. residency requirements for telephone numbers.

The draft order would include an expedited comment period for these questions. Comments on the proposed STIR/SHAKEN reforms would be due by May 15, 2020, with reply comments due by May 29, 2020.

Deregulating End-User Access Charges: The draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would eliminate FCC pricing regulation for five access charges currently included in some carrier tariffs: the Subscriber Line Charge, the Access Recovery Charge, the Presubscribed Interexchange Carrier Charge, the Line Port Charge, and the Special Access Surcharge. These charges represent the last handful of interstate end-user charges subject to ex ante price regulation by the agency. The FCC would find that increased competition in the voice service market, including by interconnected VoIP, wireless, and over-the-top providers, ameliorates the need for strict pricing controls for these charges. The Commission would seek comment on completely prohibiting carriers from tariffing the charges or whether alternative approaches are necessary to address areas where competition may be lacking. The FCC also would request input on barring carriers from assessing the charges through separate line items on customer bills. The FCC would find that the current descriptions of the charges vary significantly among carriers and unnecessary complicate customer bills. As many of the charges currently are used in the calculation of high-cost support and universal service contributions, the FCC would ask how it can ease the deregulation transition for carriers to ensure they receive sufficient support without increasing the contribution burden.

Comments on the proposed access charge reforms would be due 30 days after Federal Register publication of the item, with reply comments due 15 days later.

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FCC to Propose National Crisis Hotline, Tackle Mid-Band Spectrum Items at December Meeting https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-to-propose-national-crisis-hotline-tackle-mid-band-spectrum-items-at-december-meeting https://www.kelleydrye.com/viewpoints/blogs/commlaw-monitor/fcc-to-propose-national-crisis-hotline-tackle-mid-band-spectrum-items-at-december-meeting Mon, 02 Dec 2019 17:07:10 -0500 The FCC plans to follow last month’s major 911 location accuracy item with another significant public safety rulemaking at its next meeting scheduled for December 12, 2019. Under the FCC’s plan, all telecommunications carriers and interconnected VoIP service providers would be required to transmit calls to 988 to 24-hour crisis services maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, the FCC anticipates launching two rulemakings aimed at opening up more mid-band spectrum for commercial and unlicensed uses to meet growing consumer demand for wireless broadband. The meeting agenda also includes an item addressing contentious issues surrounding intercarrier switched access charges. Moreover, the FCC will vote on three enforcement actions at the December meeting. Although, per normal practice, the agency provided no specifics on the planned enforcement actions, enforcement meeting items normally entail large fines in high-profile FCC focus areas like robocalling. While not as jam-packed as prior meetings, the December agenda underscores the FCC’s steadfast focus on public safety and spectrum reallocation in 2019.

You will find more information on the most significant proposed December meeting items after the break:

998 Crisis Hotline: The draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would seek comment on designating 988 as the dialing code for a national suicide and mental health crisis hotline. The proposed rules would require telecommunications carriers and interconnected VoIP service providers (including one-way interconnected VoIP service providers) to transmit all 988 calls to the hotline. If adopted, the proposed rules would give service providers 18 months to complete any necessary equipment upgrades/replacements to enable 988 hotline dialing. The FCC would note that 988 currently is not assigned as an area code and presents fewer hotline implementation issues when compared to other potential three-digit codes. However, the FCC would request input on whether other hotline codes should be considered as well as the costs, timeframe, and technical challenges presented by its proposal.

Unlicensed Use of Mid-Band Spectrum: The draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would request input on repurposing the lower 45 megahertz of the 5.850-5.925 GHz band, which currently is reserved for short-range vehicle-related communications, for unlicensed operations like Wi-Fi. The FCC would argue that much of this band has gone unused since it adopted service rules over 20 years ago and that other vehicle-related communications technologies have been deployed in other frequencies in the interim. The FCC also would observe that unlicensed operations already are permitted in adjacent frequency bands and throughout the 5 GHz band, creating potential spectrum harmonization benefits. The proposed rulemaking would reserve the upper 30 megahertz of the band for vehicle-related communications and would ask whether a portion of this band segment should be allocated to newer Cellular Vehicle to Everything (“C-V2X”) operations, which enable a broad range of vehicle safety services over drivers’ mobile broadband networks such as automated driving applications. The item also would ask for comment on transition and protection mechanisms for incumbent operations should the FCC designate certain spectrum for unlicensed and/or C-V2X uses.

Shared Use of Mid-Band Spectrum: The draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would propose to remove existing non-federal radiolocation and amateur allocations in the 3.30-3.55 GHz band and relocate such operations to the 3.1-3.3 GHz band or other frequencies. Current non-federal uses in the 3.30-3.55 GHz band include commercial weather tracking operations and numerous temporary authorizations to provide supplemental wireless capacity during sporting events. The band also is used for federal defense radar systems and aeronautical radionavigation services on a primary basis. The proposal implements provisions of the MOBILE NOW Act, which required the FCC to identify spectrum bands for commercial wireless operations to share with federal users. The item would seek comment on the appropriate transition process for non-federal users, transition costs, and protection mechanisms for federal incumbents.

VoIP Symmetry Rule: The draft Order on Remand and Declaratory Ruling would significantly narrow the application of the so-called VoIP Symmetry Rule, which allows carriers that partner with VoIP providers to recover intercarrier switched access charges under certain circumstances. The proposed action comes in response to a 2016 D.C. Circuit remand.

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