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Rural Spectrum Scanner

Census Blocks Eligible for Rural Broadband Experiments Announced

Posted on July 29, 2014

The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau has released a list of census blocks that are eligible for rural broadband experiment support and their associated support amounts.  The FCC previously announced that it will accept rural broadband experiment proposals in price cap areas at both the census tract level and the census block level.  The census block list identifies the state and county where each census block is located along with its tract and block ID numbers; the total number of locations in the census block; the total number of price cap locations in the census block; and the total number of price cap locations within the block that are eligible for rural broadband experiment support.  The list can be found at http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/rural-broadband-experiments.  The Bureau also announced revisions to a previously released map that depicts the geographic areas that may be eligible for Phase II support (http://www.fcc.gov/maps/fcc-connect-america-fund-phase-ii-initial-eligible-areas-map).  The map has now been enhanced to provide more detailed information regarding location tools and support amounts at the census tract level.

For additional information, please contact Michael Bennet.

Wireline Competition Bureau Grants Appeals Related to USF Disbursements Under Old Identical Support Rule

Posted on July 29, 2014

The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) has granted five “appeals” related to universal service fund (USF) support disbursements made under the old “identical support” rule and a related waiver petition and request for guidance that were filed by mobile wireless providers.  Under the identical support rule, mobile wireless competitive eligible telecommunications carriers (CETCs) received the same per-line amount of high-cost USF support as the incumbent local exchange carrier serving the same area.  The rule required CETCs to file monthly line counts reports, along with each customer’s billing address for the purpose of identifying the location where service was provided and to calculate the amount of USF support for each line.

The Bureau’s Order clarifies how CETCs “should report line counts in situations when the customer’s billing address is either unavailable or does not accurately represent the location of service” by granting the following requests: The Bureau granted requests for review of Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) decisions filed by ACS Wireless, AT&T, and PR Wireless; The Bureau granted Cordova Wireless Communications, LLC’s request for review, but did not address its request for review of a USAC decision to withhold USF support for certain lines on the ground that the lines had no usage; The Bureau granted ACS Wireless, Inc.’s petition for waiver of the customer billing address requirement; The Bureau granted Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative’s petition for waiver of the customer billing address requirement; The Bureau granted General Communication, Inc.’s request for a declaratory ruling that its practices related to the use of customer billing addresses are consistent with the FCC’s rules; and The Bureau granted Mobi PCS, Inc.’s and Cricket Communications Inc.’s request to provide guidance to USAC regarding the billing address requirement.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Seeks Comment on Cybersecurity Best Practices

Posted on July 28, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC or Commission) Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is seeking comment on the implementation and effectiveness of the Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC III)’s recommendations for Internet service providers (ISPs) to combat major cybersecurity threats such as botnet attacks, domain name fraud, and Internet route hijacking. CSRIC III’s recommendations included voluntary measures in these those three areas, including: an Anti-Bot Code of Conduct to mitigate the proliferation of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, four steps to better secure the Domain Name System (DNS) through incremental implementation of DNSSEC, and steps to strengthen the security of the Internet’s inter-domain routing infrastructure.  CSRIC III also recommended that the FCC encourage ISPs to implement source-address filtering to prevent attackers from spoofing Internet protocol (IP) addresses to launch DDoS attacks.  The Bureau seeks public comment on the implementation status and effectiveness of these voluntary recommendations, or alternatives, by ISPs and other members of the Internet community.  Comments are due September 26, 2014.

For additional information, please contact Erin Fitzgerald.

White House Announces $10 Billion Fund for Rural Economic Development

Posted on July 28, 2014

The White House has announced it is establishing the U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund – a $10 billion dollar investment fund that will promote rural economic development by increasing access to capital for rural infrastructure projects and speeding up the process of rural infrastructure improvements.  CoBank, a national cooperative bank serving rural America and a member of the Farm Credit System, is the fund’s anchor investor, while Capitol Peak Asset Management will manage the fund and work to recruit more investors.  According to a White House press release making the announcement, the fund “is immediately open for business and more investors can now add to the initial $10 billion in available capital. The new fund will allow a wide variety of new participants, including pension funds, endowments, foundations, and other institutional investors that have not traditionally had access to these markets to invest in rural development.”  The fund is expected to provide investments for rural health care and educational facilities, rural water and wastewater systems, rural energy projects, rural broadband expansion, local and regional food systems, and other rural infrastructure.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

Preparations for November AWS-3 Auction Continue

Posted on July 28, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC or Commission) Wireless Telecommunications Bureau has released a Public Notice announcing the filing requirements, reserve prices, minimum opening bids, and other procedures for the AWS (advanced wireless services)-3 auction scheduled to begin November 13, 2014.  Short-form applications for the AWS-3 auction (designated as Auction 97) are due September 12, 2014.  The bureau adopted its proposed reserve prices of $10.07 billion for the 1755-1780 megahertz and 2155-2180 MHz bands and about $580 million for the 1695-1710 MHz band.  In preparation for the auction, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Commission have also jointly released a Public Notice detailing required procedures to coordinate spectrum usage with federal incumbents, and NTIA released a series of federal agency transition plans for the AWS-3 band.

For additional information, please contact Erin Fitzgerald.

FCC Partially Grants XO Petition; Clarifies Wholesale USF Contribution Rules

Posted on July 28, 2014

The FCC has issued an Order on Reconsideration that addresses a petition filed by XO Communications Services, LLC (XO) which sought clarification or partial reconsideration of the Wholesaler-Reseller Clarification Order.  In that order, the FCC clarified certain federal Universal Service Fund (USF) contribution obligations of wholesale providers and their customers.  In its Order on Reconsideration, the FCC has granted XO’s request to “reconsider the use of the clear and convincing evidence standard when the wholesale provider relies on ‘other reliable proof’ to establish a ‘reasonable expectation’ that its reseller customer is contributing to the Fund, and when establishing the reseller’s actual payment of USF contributions.”  As a result, the preponderance of the evidence standard will be applied in those situations.  Additionally, the FCC has denied XO’s request to clarify, or in the alternative reconsider, the use of Confirmatory Certificates to establish actual payment into the USF.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

FCC Reminds Lifeline Providers of ETC Designation and Compliance Plan Requirements

Posted on July 25, 2014

The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) has issued a Public Notice to remind communications providers of a number of requirements that must be met in order to receive Lifeline support from the universal service fund (USF).  First, the Bureau reminds all communications providers that they must be deemed an eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) pursuant to the Communications Act and the FCC’s rules before they are eligible to receive Lifeline support.  Next, the Bureau reminds entities of the requirements that must be met if they are seeking designation as an ETC for purposes of providing Lifeline service only.  Specifically, providers that are seeking to operate as Lifeline-only ETCs that are not offering service over their own facilities, or a combination of their own and “resold” facilities must submit and have the Bureau approve a Lifeline compliance plan that meets the requirements set forth in the Lifeline Reform Order.  Those providers that are providing service as Lifeline-only ETCs pursuant to an approved compliance plan “must adhere to the terms laid out in their compliance plans” at all times.  According to the latest data on the FCC’s website, there are currently 58 Lifeline compliance plans pending before the Bureau.  The site shows that 20 compliance plans have been approved by the Bureau.  Finally, the Bureau reminds providers that the “transfer of control of licenses and other authorizations from an entity already designated as an ETC to another entity that has not been designated as an ETC is insufficient for the transferee itself to assume the ETC status of the acquired ETC.”  The transferee must obtain its own ETC designation in order to receive USF reimbursements for providing Lifeline service.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

FCC Denies RWA Petition to Block AT&T Purchase of Aloha AWS-1 Spectrum

Posted on July 25, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Wireless Telecommunications Bureau has issued an Order denying a petition filed by the Rural Wireless Association, Inc. (RWA) which sought to block a proposed sale of AWS-1 spectrum from Aloha Partners II, L.P. (Aloha) to AT&T Mobile Spectrum LLC (AT&T), or in the alternative, postpone the Commission’s review of the transaction until such time as the FCC had released an order in the Mobile Spectrum Holdings proceeding, WT Docket No. 12- 269.  On January 7, 2014, AT&T and Aloha filed an application seeking Commission consent to assign the subject licenses from Aloha to AT&T.  Specifically, AT&T is seeking to purchase between 10 and 20 megahertz of AWS-1 licenses in 280 counties in 19 states.  In its petition, RWA raised general concerns that the proposed transaction would contribute to excessive spectrum aggregation on the part of AT&T.  The Commission determined that there were no “specific facts or evidence to support a finding that the transaction is likely to cause competitive or public interest harms.”  Furthermore, the Commission noted that it also adopted its Mobile Spectrum Holdings Report and Order on May 15, 2014 and released it on June 2, 2014.  Because of these determinations, the petition was denied.

For additional information, please contact Daryl Zakov.

FCC Waives Bright-Line Trigger of Attributable Material Relationship Rule Waived

Posted on July 24, 2014

The FCC has waived the application of its attributable material relationship (AMR) rule, which establishes a bright-line trigger for the attribution of a lessee’s gross revenues to a Designated Entity (DE) applicant that has leased more than 25% of the capacity of any one of its licenses. The Commission waived application of the AMR rule for Grain Management LLC (Grain) although it leased 100% of the spectrum associated with four licenses to Verizon Wireless and AT&T because the licenses were not subject to DE benefits and, at the time the leases became effective, Grain held no other licenses subject to DE benefits. Application of the AMR rule would have resulted in Verizon Wireless’ and AT&T’s gross revenues being attributed to Grain when determining Grain’s DE eligibility. The Commission reserved the right to assess whether these leases or any other aspects of the parties’ relationships require the attribution of gross revenues to Grain should Grain win licenses claiming DE benefits.

For additional information, please contact Tara Shostek.

Reply Comment Deadline in T-Mobile Roaming Proceeding Extended

Posted on July 24, 2014

The FCC has granted the joint request filed by the Rural Wireless Association, Inc., NTCA – the Rural Broadband Association and the Blooston Rural Carriers (Petitioners) seeking an extension of the reply comment filing deadline in connection with T-Mobile USA, Inc.’s petition for expedited declaratory ruling regarding commercially reasonable data roaming obligations. Petitioners asked that the Commission extend the reply comment deadline because the original deadline fell in the middle of NTCA’s regional conference and just before RWA’s Rural Communications show. The new reply comment filing deadline is August 20, 2014.

For additional information, please contact Tara Shostek.