Posts Tagged ‘Licensing’
The FCC has expanded licensing eligibility for certain classes of wireless microphone users, thereby allowing such users to receive interference protection from unlicensed white spaces devices that operate in the same frequency bands. Traditionally, eligibility for wireless microphone licenses has been limited to broadcasters, cable television operators and certain motion picture productions. However, unlicensed wireless microphone use has also grown exponentially as houses of worship, Broadway theaters, entertainers, and businesses have incorporated wireless microphones into their activities. Given that the amount of spectrum available for wireless microphones will be reduced substantially as broadcast spectrum is reclaimed and auctioned for commercial wireless voice and data services, the Commission’s action is designed to ensure that certain wireless microphone activities will continue to have priority use of the remaining spectrum that is shared with unlicensed users. The Commission’s new rules will expand licensing eligibility to include professional sound companies and venues that routinely use 50 or more wireless microphones and where the use of wireless microphones is an integral part of the major productions or events they host. These rule changes would for the first time expand licensing eligibility to venues such as the Broadway theater district and events such as Cirque du Soleil.
Net Neutrality, Wireless Mics, Incentive Auction, and Wireless Mobile Holdings Set for May Open MeetingPosted on May 9, 2014
The FCC has released the final agenda for its next open meeting on Thursday, May 15, 2014. It contains the following four items:
- Net Neutrality: The Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ remand of portions of the Commission’s 2010 Open Internet Order and proposing enforceable rules to protect and promote the open Internet.
- Wireless Mics: The Commission will consider a Report and Order that provides a limited expansion to the class of wireless microphone users eligible for a license.
- Incentive Auction: The Commission will consider a Report and Order that adopts key policies and rules for the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction, laying the groundwork for an unprecedented, market-driven process for repurposing spectrum for mobile broadband use, and promoting competition and innovation.
- Mobile Spectrum Holdings: The Commission will consider a Report and Order that modifies the Commission’s policies and adopts rules regarding the aggregation of spectrum for mobile wireless services through initial licensing and secondary market transactions to preserve and promote competition.
The meeting is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. The meeting will be shown online at www.fcc.gov/live.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s use and enforcement of buildout requirements. The report: (1) describes the buildout requirements the FCC has established for wireless services; (2) assesses the extent to which the FCC follows its process to enforce those requirements; and (3) examines stakeholder opinions on the extent to which commonly cited goals of buildout requirements have been met. To research the report, GAO staff reviewed FCC regulations and guidance on buildout requirements and examined FCC license data on outcomes of buildout requirements. GAO also interviewed FCC officials, commercial spectrum licensees, industry associations, and spectrum policy experts. The report only reports on GAO’s findings; it does not include any recommendations.
The Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) has announced that it will commence a 45-day public trial of Comsearch’s TV band database system on February 24, 2014. As part of its authorization process for TV band database systems, the Commission requires that each database be subject to a public trial period of not less than 45 days to ensure that the database provides accurate results before it is made available for regular public use. This trial will allow the public to test Comsearch’s database to ensure that it correctly identifies channels that are available for unlicensed TV band devices, properly registers radio transmitting facilities entitled to protection, and provides protection to authorized services and registered facilities as specified in the Commission’s rules. Parties may participate in the trial by accessing Comsearch’s TV band database test facility at: https://comsearch.whitespacedatabase.com.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) recently introduced S. 1776, the “Rural Spectrum Accessibility Act of 2013.” The purpose of this legislation is to “encourage spectrum licensees to make unused spectrum available for use by smaller and rural carriers in order to expand wireless coverage.” If enacted, the legislation would amend Section 307 of the Communications Act of 1934 by adding a new sub-section “(g)” pertaining to the “Extension of Licenses.” Specifically, S. 1776 would permit existing licensees the ability to partition or disaggregate portions of their license and presumably sell those disaggregated or partitioned licenses to either “small carriers” or carriers willing to build out in rural America. Any existing licensee willing to partition or disaggregate a portion of their current license portfolio would then have the license term of the original license extended by three years beyond its current expiration date. Unlike incentive auctions, where existing licensees would receive financial compensation and the new licensees are not direct competitors in the mobile wireless industry, S. 1776 presumes that large carriers such as AT&T and Verizon would actually sell spectrum to smaller competitors in the first place. S. 1776 is similar to S.3516, a bill introduced by now-retired Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and cosponsored by Klobuchar during the last Congress. S. 1776 defines “small carrier” as a “carrier with not more than 1,500 employees.” This definition is slightly different than the previous version, which defined “small carrier” as having annual revenue less than $500 million or providing wireless service to less than 1.5 million customers. S. 1776, cosponsored by Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation for consideration.
The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) recently approved Key Bridge Global, LLC’s plan to operate its TV bands database system to provide service to the public. This database system will support unlicensed radio devices that transmit on unused channels in the spectrum bands used by broadcast television (TV white spaces, or TVWS). These devices are required to provide their geographic locations by means of a secure Internet connection to an authorized TV bands database system. When a device provides its location, the database will then return a list of available channels for operation. The Commission has also approved the Spectrum Bridge, Inc., iconectiv (formerly Telcordia Technologies, Inc.) and Google, Inc. TV bands database systems for operation.
An FCC workshop on the proposed Spectrum Access System (SAS) in the 3550-3650 MHz band (3.5 GHz Band) that was originally scheduled for December has been postponed. The workshop, which will address technical requirements, architecture, and operational parameters of the SAS, will now be held on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. EST. A workshop agenda will be released prior to the workshop, along with a public notice outlining the scope of the workshop and encouraging parties to develop detailed technical papers addressing specific technical issues related to the operation of the SAS in advance of the workshop.