Bennet & Bennet, PLLC

Prefer more in-depth coverage?

Subscribe to the Informational Memos
Rural Spectrum Scanner

GAO Report Examines FCC Reforms and Effectiveness of Lifeline Program

Posted on April 27, 2015

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has submitted a report to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation which summarizes the results of GAO’s examination of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) efforts to reform the universal service Lifeline program. Specifically, the GAO report discusses (1) the status of Lifeline reform efforts and the extent to which the FCC has evaluated the effectiveness of the Lifeline program; (2) how the Lifeline program verifies household eligibility and addresses associated privacy and data security; (3) the extent to which households participate in Lifeline and the challenges, if any, they face in accessing and retaining Lifeline benefits; and (4) how the FCC plans to evaluate the Lifeline broadband pilot program and the extent to which the pilot program will enable the FCC to decide whether and how to include broadband in the Lifeline program. At the conclusion of the report, GAO “recommend[s] that [the] FCC conduct a program evaluation to determine the extent to which the Lifeline program is efficiently and effectively reaching its performance goals of ensuring the availability of voice service for low-income Americans while minimizing the contribution burden on consumers and businesses.”

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

Comcast Abandons Merger

Posted on April 27, 2015

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts announced on CNBC that the nation’s largest cable operator  has abandoned its attempted $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner, the nation’s second largest cable operator.  Comcast’s decision to walk away from the proposed merger follows discussions with federal regulators which provided indications that both the FCC and the Justice Department were preparing to oppose the deal.  It is estimated that acquisition of Time Warner would have given Comcast control of more than half of the nation’s broadband subscribers as well as 30% of the nation’s pay television customers.  The opposition to the deal comes as the over-the-top broadband video services are making substantial inroads in cutting into cable’s historic dominance of the video distribution market.

For additional information, please contact Howard Shapiro.

DelNero to Be Named Wireline Chief

Posted on April 24, 2015

The FCC has announced that Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) Chief Julie Veach will be leaving the FCC on May 22, 2015 and that Chairman Wheeler will name WCB Deputy Bureau Chief Matt DelNero as the new chief. Additionally, current Acting Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) Kris Monteith will become Deputy Chief of the WCB and Alison Kutler will become Acting Chief of the CGB.

For additional information, please contact Bob Silverman.

Further Comment on DE and Bidding Credit Proposals Due May 14

Posted on April 24, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission has announced that interested parties have until May 14, 2015 to submit further comment on various industry proposals and changes to the FCC’s Designated Entity (DE) and bidding credit rules, which are outlined in the FCC’s recent public notice. The FCC is seeking comments and data on a number of proposals, including bidding credits specifically for rural telcos, bidding preferences for rural and unserved areas, and other possible rule changes regarding the attributable material relationship rule and joint bidding arrangements.

For additional information, please contact Bob Silverman.

Commission Seeks Additional Competitive Bidding Input

Posted on April 22, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) has adopted a Public Notice seeking further comment in its Competitive Bidding/Designated Entity proceeding. The Commission is seeking comment on various industry proposals, regarding how it can meet its statutory obligation to ensure that small businesses, rural telephone companies, and businesses owned by members of minority groups and women (collectively, “designated entities” or “DEs”) have an opportunity to participate in the provision of spectrum-based services, while at the same time ensuring that there are adequate safeguards to protect against unjust enrichment to ineligible entities. Comments will be due 21 days after Federal Register publication of the Public Notice, which has not yet occurred. Reply comments will be due 7 days later.

 

For additional information, please contact Erin Fitzgerald.

FCC Adopts Rules for Citizens Broadband Radio Service

Posted on April 22, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) has adopted rules for the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (3.5 GHz band). The Report and Order adopts spectrum sharing techniques to create a new three-tiered commercial radio service spanning 3550-3700 MHz. The use of advanced spectrum-sharing technology will allow wireless broadband systems to share spectrum with military radars and other incumbent systems, while protecting important federal missions. The Commission also adopted a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on several related implementation issues.

For additional information, please contact Erin Fitzgerald.

Bureau Announces 2015 Urban Rate Survey Results

Posted on April 22, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC or Commission) USF/ICC Transformation Order required Connect America Fund recipients to offer voice and broadband services in supported areas at rates that are reasonably comparable to rates for similar services in urban areas.  In the Order, the  FCC directed the Wireline Competition and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus to conduct a survey of residential urban rates for fixed voice, fixed broadband, mobile voice, and mobile broadband services.  The Commission has made data collected in the 2015 urban rate survey available to the public here.

The Wireline Competition Bureau has announced the 2015 rate floor for incumbent eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) and the reasonable comparability benchmark for fixed voice and broadband services. Based on the survey results, the 2015 rate floor for voice services is $21.22, and the reasonable comparability benchmark for voice services is $47.48. By July 1, 2015, all ETCs that are incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) recipients of high-cost support must report in their annual FCC Form 481 the number of residential service lines for which the sum of the local rate and state fees (as of June 1, 2015) is below $21.22.

For additional information, please contact Erin Fitzgerald.

NTIA Releases Latest Spectrum Progress Report

Posted on April 22, 2015

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) has released the Fifth Interim Progress Report on the Obama Administration’s initiative to identify and make available 500 megahertz of federal and non-federal spectrum for commercial wireless broadband use by 2020. The report outlines the progress made, in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other federal agencies, from October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014.  Between October 2010 and September 2014, NTIA formally recommended or otherwise identified for study for potential reallocation up to 589 MHz in the following bands:

  • Federal or shared bands (335 MHz total):
    • 40 MHz from the 1695-1710 MHz and 1755-1780 MHz bands;
    • 100 MHz from the 3.5 GHz band (3550-3650 MHz)
    • 195 MHz from two of the 5 GHz bands (5350-5470 MHz and 5850-5925 MHz)
  • Non-Federal bands (152-254 MHz total):
    • 30 MHz from the 2305-2320 MHz and 2345-2360 MHz bands;
    • 10 MHz from the 1915-1920 MHz and 1995-2000 MHz bands;
    • 40 MHz from the 2000-2020 MHz and 2180-2200 MHz bands;
    • 25 MHz from the 2155-2180 MHz band;
    • 5 MHz from the 2020-2025 MHz band;
    • 42-144 MHz from the 512-698 MHz band.

The FCC has initiated rulemaking proceedings for these and other bands based upon its 2010 National Broadband Plan. NTIA and the FCC have also made significant progress toward the implementation of the key spectrum-related provisions of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, with one spectrum auction occurring in early 2014, another beginning in November 2014, and a third with an anticipated start date in early 2016.

For additional information, please contact Erin Fitzgerald.

Deadline Set for Open Internet Appeals

Posted on April 15, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC or Commission) Open Internet decision was published in the Federal Register on April 13, triggering the deadline for petitions for review. Petitions for judicial review must be filed within 60 days of the release of the agency decision – June 12, 2015. AT&T, CTIA, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and the American Cable Association have all filed petitions for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

For additional information, please contact Erin Fitzgerald.

2015 Tariff Review Plans Now Available For Download

Posted on April 15, 2015

The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) has released the Tariff Review Plans (TRPs) that incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) must file in 2015. Among other things, the 2015 TRPs will be used by ILECs to revise intrastate and interstate rates, revise intercarrier compensation rates, calculate Eligible Recovery and make necessary true-ups, calculate reciprocal compensation rates, and calculate access recovery charges. Price cap and rate-of-return ILECs can download their TRPs from the FCC’s 2015 TRP resource page. Procedures and deadlines for filing TRPS and annual access charge tariffs were recently announced by the Bureau: TRPs and tariffs for 2015 must be filed with an effective date of July 1, 2015.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.