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Rural Spectrum Scanner

Commission Unanimously Adopts Incentive Auction Interference Order and NPRM

Posted on October 22, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission has released a Second Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing several outstanding issues related to the upcoming 600 MHz Broadcast Incentive Auction.  The Commission rejected proposals for additional limits on any new interference between television stations as a result of the Incentive Auction repacking process. It has established a methodology to predict inter-service interference between television and wireless services in certain areas for use during the Incentive Auction, and proposed a post-auction inter-service interference methodology and input values. The principal difference between the two methodologies for auction use and the one proposed for use after the auction is that the latter will be based on actual 600 MHz Band wireless network deployments, whereas the former require assumptions because networks will not yet be deployed. The Commission also proposed protection standards for any television stations and new 600 MHz Band wireless services on co- or adjacent-channel frequencies in nearby areas.

For additional information, please contact Erin Fitzgerald.

FCC Makes it A Little Easier to Deploy New Towers or Modify Existing Ones

Posted on October 21, 2014

The FCC has adopted rules changing the way it evaluates the impact the deployment of certain wireless infrastructure, including new towers and modifications to existing towers, will have on the environment and historic properties by expanding the list of deployments that are excluded from environmental and historic preservation review. The Commission has also adopted rules that “deem granted” an application for an eligible request for modification of an existing wireless tower if a State or local government fails to act on the application within a set period of time. In addition, temporary towers that will be in place for a short period of time are now exempt from the environmental public notification process.

For additional information, please contact Tara Shostek.

Paging and Radiotelephone Service Licensees May Gain Technical Flexibility

Posted on October 21, 2014

The Wireless Bureau of the FCC has released a Public Notice reminding Paging and Radiotelephone service licensees that while they are permitted to operate various voice and data services, they must comply with certain technical rules including those addressing channel bandwidth, emissions limitations, effective radiated power limits, permissible operations and communications paths, equipment authorizations, protecting existing services from co-channel interference and the requirement that licensees planning to operate north of Line A must seek Canadian clearance.  The Bureau also seeks comment on whether it should update its rules to provide greater flexibility in the types of uses and technologies that can operate on these channels, such as Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA), for more intensive use of the band. Comments are due December 17, 2014 and reply comments are due January 19, 2015.

For additional information, please contact Tara Shostek.

UPCS Device Applicants No Longer Required to be Members of UTAM

Posted on October 21, 2014

The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OETC) has issued an Order in which it removes and reserves Section 15.307 of the FCC’s rules, and as a result, applicants for certification of Unlicensed Personal Communications Service (UPCS) devices will no longer be required to be members of UTAM, Inc. (UTAM).  When the FCC reallocated the 1910-1930 MHz band from Private Operational Fixed Microwave Service use to UPCS use in 1993, it designated UTAM to manage the transition by paying or sharing the costs to relocate incumbent services in the band.  UPCS device manufacturers were required to reimburse UTAM for their share of incurred relocation costs and become a member of UTAM to ensure payment.  After the FCC re-designated the 1910-1915 MHz and 1915-1920 MHz bands from UPCS use to Broadband PCS and Advanced Wireless Service operations, respectively, UTAM was reimbursed by Nextel Communications, Inc. (the 1910-1915 MHz band licensee) and DISH, (the licensee in the 1915-1920 MHz band) for portions of the relocation costs incurred in clearing the 1910-1930 MHz band.  Based on the reimbursements paid by Sprint and DISH, as well as other fees and reimbursements, UTAM has determined that it can satisfy all of its financial obligations associated with clearing the entire 1910-1930 MHz band, and thus has prepared a plan of dissolution.  OET agrees with UTAM’s decision, and has concluded that Section 15.307 of the FCC’s rules requiring UPCS applicants to be a member of UTAM “no longer serves its intended purpose.”

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

Kiddoo Named Deputy Bureau Chief of FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

Posted on October 21, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that Jean L. Kiddoo has been named the new Deputy Bureau Chief of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.  Ms. Kiddoo comes to the FCC from the law firm Bingham McCutchen LLP where she served as a partner in the firm’s Telecommunications, Media, and Technology practice in Washington, D.C.

For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.

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.