Posts Tagged ‘Licensing’
On its own motion, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) has reconsidered and modified the Experimental Radio Service (ERS) rules adopted in its January 31, 2013 Report and Order. In the January Order, the Commission made several changes to the ERS rules, including the creation of three new types of ERS licenses: (1) program license; (2) medical testing license; and (3) compliance testing license. In addition to other changes, the Commission amended the title of Section 5.79 of its rules, which addresses ERS license transfers, to include these three new types of licenses. Upon further consideration, the Commission finds that changing the title of Section 5.79 gave the erroneous impression that these new ERS licenses may be transferred with the written approval of the Commission. The Commission now amends Section 5.79 to specifically prohibit the transfer of program, medical testing and compliance testing experimental radio licenses. The Commission will continue to allow conventional experimental licenses to be transferred with the Commission’s written approval.
Guidance has been issued regarding compliance with the FCC’s narrowband operation requirements by private land mobile radio (PLMR) licensees in the 150-174 MHz and 421-470 MHz (VHF/UHF) bands which took effect on January 1. The Public Notice issued by the FCC’s wireless and public safety bureaus and Office of Engineering and Technology addresses licensees, frequency coordinators, equipment vendors, and other interested parties regarding narrowband operation at a maximum 12.5 kHz channel bandwidth or equivalent efficiency and provides information regarding licensing, enforcement, and waiver requests.
The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Tax Relief Act) gave the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) one year from February 22, 2012 to identify 15 MHz of federal spectrum between 1675 and 1710 MHz to be reallocated for commercial use. NTIA has released a tw0 page report to the President recommending the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reallocate the 1695-1710 MHz band for wireless broadband on a shared basis with federal operators. This same recommendation was made to the President in 2011, but that recommendation included exclusion zones around meteorological-satellite earth station sites. Unfortunately, NTIA soon discovered that these exclusion zones would limit the deployment of wireless broadband service in several top U.S. markets. After consulting with its Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee (Committee), which formed a joint government/industry working group, NTIA has now determined that significant progress has been made toward an effective and efficient sharing framework. The Committee’s next meeting is scheduled for February 21, 2013, and it has not yet made its final recommendations to NTIA. However, NTIA is confident the Committee and working group will develop processes and procedures to ensure sharing will work on these frequencies. NTIA believes the Committee will recommend a regulatory framework for sharing that includes the coordination of commercial and federal operations around meteorological-satellite earth station sites, rather than exclusion zones.
Once NTIA has the Committee’s report, it will provide the FCC with additional recommendations for proposing rules to govern the use of the 1695-1710 MHz band. The Tax Relief Act requires the FCC to auction this spectrum by February 22, 2015.
The FCC has release a public notice extending the comment deadline regarding AT&T’s multiple requests for waiver of the Commission’s service area boundary (SAB) rules. Earlier this month AT&T had filed applications to modify cellular facilities to reflect existing SAB extensions where AT&T does not have extension agreements from various neighboring licensees. AT&T and Verizon Wireless jointly filed a request for an extension of time, for a period of 30 days. The FCC has granted that 30 day extension, but only for comments relating to those markets where Verizon Wireless is the neighboring licensee. Accordingly, solely for the markets listed in the appendix to the public notice, the new deadline for filing comments is now Friday, March 22, 2013.
The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications and Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureaus are asking for comments on how to implement Section 6103 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (the Act) as it applies to the 470-512 MHz T-Band. The Act requires the Commission to relocate public safety users operating in this band, and auction the cleared spectrum within nine years of implementation of the Act.
The Bureaus do not propose rule changes in this Public Notice. They are looking for information “related to the technical, financial, administrative, legal and policy implications of the Act for T-Band licensees.” The Bureaus are looking for information on the number of licensees, the percentage of public safety operators compared to non-public safety operators, the types of systems (analog or digital) and types of equipment used in the band, main uses of the band (dispatch, field communications), relocation costs and whether the Commission should take the full nine years to implement the relocation and auction. They also ask what spectrum bands might be used to relocate public safety users, and whether the FirstNet public safety broadband network, when it is operational, is a viable option. Non-public safety licensees in the band are not subject to relocation, but the Bureaus ask for comments about whether they should be relocated and whether mechanisms exist whereby they would be eligible for reimbursement of relocation costs. They also ask whether the current freeze on T-Band applications should continue or if certain applications should be processed considered it may take the Commission nine years to relocate public safety licensees. Comments on the Public Notice must be filed by May 13, 2013 and Replies must be filed by June 11, 2013.
The FCC has made sweeping changes to its experimental radio service rules that create a more flexible framework for experimenters seeking licenses and implement the recommendations the FCC made in its 2010 National Broadband Plan. The new rules add three new types of experimental licenses and streamline the existing rules and procedures for experimenting, testing and marketing radio frequency devices, while protecting incumbent licensees from interference. Currently, the FCC issues an individual license for each experiment. The new rules allow experimenters to hold a single license that allows for changes to existing experiments and allow the licensee to conduct new experiments within a range of frequencies, emissions, and power levels at a defined location. This change eliminates the need for experimenters to apply for a new license for each experiment or every time they want to change an experiment. The Commission is also implementing a web-based registration system to track and manage individual experiments for program and medical testing licenses.
Deutsch Telekom AG, T-Mobile USA, Inc. and MetroPCS Communications, Inc. have filed applications with the FCC to transfer control of PCS and AWS licenses and leases, a single lower 700 MHz license, and an international 214 authorization, which are held by MetroPCS and T-Mobile, to a newly combined company called T-Mobile US, Inc.. The merger agreement involves transferring ownership interests and then issuing stocks. At the end of the transaction, Deutsche Telekom and MetroPCS shareholders will hold 74% and 26% ownership interests, respectively, in the newly combined entity. T-Mobile and MetroPCS will combine their AWS-1 and PCS spectrum, as well as one lower 700 MHz license in 248 Cellular Market Areas. Where the two licensees have overlapping spectrum holdings, the newly merged entity would hold as much as 110 MHz of spectrum covering 141 million people, or 46% of the US population. Some of the areas covered by the merger include New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia, Las Vegas and San Francisco. The new entity will eventually phase out the MetroPCS CDMA network and move customers to LTE. Since Deutsch Telekom is a foreign corporation, it requires FCC authority to directly or indirectly hold US licenses. It was given authority to hold its currently licenses in 2001 and again in 2006. However, it must again request authority from the FCC to hold an indirect controlling interests in the new licenses. Petitions to deny the applications are due Monday, November 26, 2012, oppositions to any petitions to deny are due Thursday, December 6, 2012 and replies to oppositions are due Monday, December 17, 2012. If you would like to participate in this proceeding, please contact us.
During its September meeting, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing wholesale changes to its satellite licensing and operating rules. This is the FCC’s first review of its satellite rules in over a decade and many industry experts consider this review long overdue. The proposed rule changes will eliminate unnecessary technical and informational filing requirements, remove unnecessary technical restrictions to eliminate the need for some waiver requests, and reorganize and simplify the remaining requirements.
In a companion Order, the Commission made several non-substantive changes to the satellite rules, which include adding definitions of technical terms that are used in Part 25 of the FCC’s rules but were not previously defined, and removing definitions of technical terms that are defined, but not used in the rules. These changes also include eliminating redundant text, clarifying the wording of other confusing sections, updating cross-references to Commission rules or recommendations of the International Telecommunications Union, and correcting grammatical, spelling and typographical errors. In this companion Order, the FCC also makes two substantive rule changes. The first change eliminates the requirement to identify a radio service and station location in correspondence. The second change codifies the “established practice of allowing applicants to cross-reference, rather than re-submit, previously filed information regarding non-U.S.-licensed satellites.” Comments on the NPRM are due 45 days after it is published in the Federal Register, which has not yet happened.