Bennet & Bennet, PLLC

Prefer more in-depth coverage?

Subscribe to the Informational Memos
Rural Spectrum Scanner

LMDS, 39 GHz and Other Bands Above 24 GHz May Open Door to 5G Mobile Services

Posted on October 20, 2014

By unanimous vote at its latest commission meeting, the FCC has launched an inquiry proceeding seeking comment on the spectrum bands that would be most suitable for Fifth Generation (5G) mobile services using millimeter wave (mmW) frequencies above 24 GHz.  Acting on a recommendation from the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council, the FCC seeks to build on “significant developments” in antenna and processing technologies to examine any regulatory changes needed to ensure that this technology flourishes rather than waiting for 5G technology to develop in an inconsistent regulatory structure.  The FCC’s Notice of Inquiry (NOI) poses numerous detailed questions regarding technology developments (e.g., antenna, bandwidth, coverage, architecture); spectrum band suitability (namely LMDS and 39 GHz, among others); and possible licensing mechanisms (e.g., auctioning vacant spectrum using geographic licensing, nonexclusive licensing, licensing under Part 15).   Comments on the NOI are due by December 16, 2014 and reply comments by January 15, 2015.

For additional information, please contact Bob Silverman.

FCC Issues Report on Massive 911 Outage

Posted on October 20, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (Bureau) has issued a report on the massive 911 outage that occurred in April 2014 and resulted in a loss of 911 service for more than 11 million people for up to six hours in seven states.  A software coding error in a 911 call-routing facility in Englewood, Colorado caused the outage, and ultimately prevented over 6,600 calls to 911 from reaching a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).  In the report, which is based upon confidential outage reports, public comments and documents, and interviews with stakeholders, the Bureau analyzes the causes and effects of the outage, provides a thorough examination of how most 911 networks are structured, including the increasing reliance on third-party vendors, and summarizes the policy implications of the outage.  In the end, the Bureau finds that “the technical and operational failures that caused and prolonged the outage suggest the need for a close examination of the transition to IP-supported 911 services,” and provides a number of recommendations for maintaining a reliable end-to-end 911 system.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

Consumer Bankers Association Asks for Clarification of TCPA Rules

Posted on October 20, 2014

The FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau is seeking comment on a Petition for Declaratory Ruling filed by the Consumer Bankers Association (CBA), which asks for clarification that “called party,” for purposes of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the FCC’s rules refers to the intended recipient of the call.  Pursuant to the FCC’s rules, a calling party must obtain the prior express consent of the called party before placing autodialed or artificial or prerecorded-voice calls to wireless numbers.  The CBA wants certain time-sensitive informational calls to be exempt from the restrictions on automated calls to mobile devices, such as calls that alert consumers about transactions and events that suggest a risk of fraud or identity theft, and calls concerning possible breaches of the security of consumer’s personal information.  The CBA contends that, “[i]f a caller is liable for obtaining the consent of persons, such as holders of reassigned numbers, whose identities cannot be ascertained before calls are placed, then complete compliance with the prior express consent requirement is impossible.”  Comments on the petition are due on or before November 17, 2014, and reply comments are due December 1, 2014.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

Ronald A. Brisé of Florida PSC Appointed to Universal Service Joint Board

Posted on October 20, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission has appointed the Honorable Ronald A. Brisé, Commissioner, Florida Public Service Commission, to serve on the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service.  Mr. Brisé will fill the open position created by the departure of the Honorable Anne C. Boyle, Commissioner, Nebraska Public Service Commission.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

Reports Show Increased Broadband Speeds and Increased VoIP Subscriptions

Posted on October 17, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released reports on Internet Access Services and Local Telephone Competition which summarize information about subscribership, technologies, and service characteristics of Internet access services and telephone services, respectively, as of December 31, 2013.  The Internet Access Services report summarizes information about Internet access connections over 200 kilobits per second (kbps) in at least one direction, as reported on FCC Forms 477 by telephone companies, cable system operators, terrestrial wireless service providers (fixed and mobile), satellite service providers, and other facilities-based providers.  A few of the main findings include the following:

  • The number of Internet connections over 200 kbps in at least one direction increased by 12% from December 2012 to 293 million.
  • In December 2013, there were 78 million fixed and 133 million mobile connections with download speeds at or above 3 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds at or above 768 kbps, compared to 65 million fixed and 65 million mobile connections at those speeds in December 2012.
  • The number of Internet connections with downstream speeds of at least 10 Mbps increased by 104% from December 2012, from 60 million to 122 million connections (64 million fixed connections and 58 million mobile connections).

Data in the Local Telephone Competition report are derived from FCC Forms 477 submitted by incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs), competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs), interconnected VoIP providers, and mobile wireless providers.  Unsurprisingly, the report shows continued growth in subscribership to interconnected VoIP and mobile services and continued decline in subscribership to traditional wireline telephone services.  A few of the main findings include the following:

  • For voice services, there were 85 million end-user switched access lines in service, 48 million interconnected VoIP subscriptions, and 311 million mobile voice subscriptions (444 million total retail local telephone service connections) as of December 31, 2013.
  • Over the three years between December 2010 and December 2013, interconnected VoIP subscriptions increased at a compound growth rate of 15 percent, mobile voice subscriptions increased at a compound annual growth rate of 3 percent, and retail switched access lines declined at 10 percent a year.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

Rural Broadband Experiments Application Window Opens Oct. 23; Application Deadline is Nov. 7

Posted on October 17, 2014

The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau has announced that the rural broadband experiments application filing window will open on Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. EDT.  Applicants will have 15 days from the opening of the filing window to submit their FCC Form 5610, making the application filing deadline Friday, November 7 at 6:00 p.m. EST.  To apply, parties must submit a completed FCC Form 5610, along with a dedicated bid form for each proposed project, a single descriptive data form listing all of their proposed projects, and certain project information.  FCC Form 5610 will be available for download on October 23 at www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/rural-broadband-experiments.  Applicants are encouraged to file as early in the application filing window as possible in order to have a sufficient amount of time to correct any errors.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

Bureaus to Refresh Record on Compliance With Broadband Speed Obligations

Posted on October 17, 2014

The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, and Office of Engineering and Technology (collectively, Bureaus) are seeking comment on the methodology to be used for demonstrating compliance with speed obligations for carriers that receive high-cost support to deploy broadband networks to fixed locations.  Under the FCC’s reformed universal service regime, recipients of high-cost support must offer broadband service that meets certain basic performance requirements: speeds of 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream; latency suitable for real-time applications, such as VoIP; and usage capacity reasonably comparable to that available in comparable offerings in urban areas.  The FCC previously sought comment on how support recipients should measure whether their broadband services are meeting these requirements, along with the format in which they should report their results, but according to the Bureaus, the record is “not well developed.”  For that reason, the Bureaus are seeking to refresh the record on the methodology to be used for demonstrating compliance with these obligations.  Additionally, they ask whether the same testing methodologies adopted for price cap carriers accepting model-based Connect America Fund Phase II support should be applied to other recipients of support, such as rate-of-return carriers and carriers awarded support through a competitive bidding process, and they request comment on what circumstances should trigger an audit of the speed and latency metrics.  Comments are due 30 days after the Bureaus’ Public Notice has been published in the Federal Register, which has not yet occurred.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

FCC to Hold Nov. 7 Forum on Accessible Wireless Emergency Communications

Posted on October 17, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will hold a forum to promote the latest advances in accessible wireless emergency communications.  The “Accessible Wireless Emergency Communications Forum” will commence with a morning session where government and disability technology experts share the latest research and development activities for accessible emergency communications, alerts, and notifications.  During the afternoon session, FCC staff will give an update on the status of its text-to-911 rules, and wireless carriers and public safety officials will report on their progress in rules implementation.  The forum will be held Friday, November 7, 2014, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at the FCC’s Headquarters in Washington, DC.  It is free and open to the public, and will be shown live online at www.fcc.gov/live.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

WTB Stops Paper Authorizations – Looks to Save $304,000 Per Year

Posted on October 14, 2014

In 2013, the FCC printed and mailed out 451,072 paper antenna structure registrations and wireless licenses at a cost of nearly $304,000.  For this reason, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau of the FCC has announced that it will make changes to the Universal Licensing System (ULS) and Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) system by eliminating paper copies of authorizations, unless an entity notifies the Bureau that it wants to continue to receive paper copies.  After an interim test period, the Bureau will no longer automatically print and mail out paper copies of authorizations. Licensees and registrants will be able to access official electronic authorizations through the License Manager in ULS or the ASR Dashboard.  The Bureau is considering automatically sending official electronic authorizations via e-mail when an application or ASR has been approved and seeks comment on this proposal as well as its processes for continuing to provide options for parties that want to receive official paper authorizations.  Comments are due November 10, 2014.

For additional information, please contact Tara Shostek.

FCC Considers LPTV and TV Translator Issues

Posted on October 14, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission has released a Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in which it seeks comment on a number of issues involving low power television (LPTV) and TV translator stations.  The Commission is considering various measures discussed in the Incentive Auction Report and Order, other measures to ensure the successful completion of the LPTV and TV translator digital transition, and other related matters.  The FCC has tentatively concluded that it should: (1) extend the September 1, 2015 digital transition deadline for LPTV and TV translator stations; (2) adopt rules to allow channel sharing by and between LPTV and TV translator stations; and (3) create a “digital-to-digital replacement translator” service for full power stations that experience losses in their pre-Incentive Auction service areas.  Comments are due 30 days after Federal Register publication of the Third NPRM and replies are due 15 days later.

For additional information, please contact Erin Fitzgerald.