Join Partner Chip Yorkgitis and the Wireless Communications Alliance for a look at how the spectral landscape continues to evolve and what to expect in 2021. On January 26 at 7:00 pm EST (4:00 PST), this virtual event will feature deep dives on the key spectral allocations at 3, 6 and 60GHz, review anticipated changes
FCC Opens New Chapter in Repurposing Spectrum in the 3 GHz Band
In the wake of the recent completion of the 3550-3650 MHz auction of Priority Access Licenses (“PALs”) in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (“CBRS”) making 70 megahertz of so-called mid-band spectrum available, and the adoption of the regulatory framework in the 3700-4200 MHz band that will make available another 280 megahertz for flexible use commercial wireless operations, the FCC has announced its intention to take significant steps in realigning the 3450-3550 MHz range for non-federal flexible fixed and mobile use on a shared basis with existing federal radiolocation operations. On September 9, 2020, the FCC made available a draft Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“Order and FNPRM”) on which it will vote at its September 30 Open Meeting. This document follows closely on the heels of the FCC’s June 2020 notification to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) of a plan to commence an auction in December 2021 for flexible use licenses within the contiguous United States (“CONUS”) in the 100 megahertz of the 3450-3550 MHz band. In July 2020, the NTIA issued a report concluding that 3450-3550 MHz “is a good candidate for potential spectrum sharing, including at the commercial system power levels sought by the wireless industry.” For its part, the Department of Defense (“DoD”), a primary user of the 3450-3550 MHz band, announced earlier this summer that it had devised a sharing framework for this spectrum and will undertake the work needed to prepare the spectrum for auction in this very aggressive time frame.
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Clock Winding Down on August 31 Lump Sum Election Date for C-Band Earth Stations
Owners and operators with incumbent earth stations operating in the 3700-4000 MHz range have three weeks to choose between the two options created by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) in its so-called C-Band proceeding, which requires transition of those earth stations out of the 300 MHz range. The two options each owner/operator has are either to elect to receive lump sum amounts the FCC announced in a Public Notice on July 30, 2020, for all of an owner/operator’s earth stations operating in the band, or to have the associated space station operators undertake the transition of the earth stations on a turn-key basis in accordance with the space station operators’ transition plans. Those plans will only be finalized on August 14, 2020. The lump sum elections, which are irrevocable if made, must be declared in on-line filings with the Commission on or before August 31, 2020, as explained at the end of the July 30 Public Notice.
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C-Band Earth Stations: The FCC Made the List; It’s Worth Checking It Twice
Incumbent earth stations operating in the 3700-4000 MHz range are entitled to have eligible space station operators provide a turnkey solution to transition them out of the band to the upper 200 megahertz of the 3.7-4.2 GHz Band. All of an earth station’s actual, reasonable, and necessary transition costs, for such transitions are reimbursable. As an alternative to having the space station operator conduct the transition, earth station operators may choose to accept a pre-determined per-earth station lump sum – still being worked on by the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC’s”) Wireless Telecommunications Bureau – for all their earth stations as sole compensation for moving out of the band themselves regardless of what solution is pursued after the transition, including moving to another band or off the radiofrequency spectrum altogether. (Previously, we covered the Commission’s schedule for the C-Band transition in detail.) The trick, however, is that, to qualify for reimbursement or the lump sum option, the earth stations must be “incumbent.” On Monday, July 6, 2020, the International Bureau (“Bureau”) issued a preliminary list of incumbent earth stations that would qualify for reimbursement or the lump sum. The Bureau, in the accompanying Public Notice, provided ten (10) days for interested persons to comment on the list, until Thursday, July 16.
Continue Reading C-Band Earth Stations: The FCC Made the List; It’s Worth Checking It Twice
Comment Date on Refresh of Team Telecom Reform Proceeding Approaches
The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) seeks to refresh the record in a long-dormant 2016 proceeding that sought to lend greater certainty to reviews by the group of Executive Branch agencies informally referred to as “Team Telecom.” As we discussed in a prior post, an April 4, 2020 Executive Order 13913 (“E.O. 13913”) formalized Team Telecom – including naming it, officially, the “Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector.” Despite E.O. 13913 conferring some structure on the Team Telecom review process, many aspects of the review process remain to be developed. Intent on lending a helping hand filling in gaps, the FCC seeks comment on whether and how E.O. 13913 affects the 2016 proceeding proposals. The 2016 proceeding floated some proposals that would be broadly applicable, such as new certifications for all applicants not just those involving disclosable levels of foreign ownership, the usual trigger for Team Telecom review. Consequently all licensed providers may want to assess if this proceeding warrants a close look.
For those interested in participating, comments and replies are due by June 18, 2020 and July 2, 2020, respectively.…
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Webinar: New Developments on Foreign Investment Reviews in the Telecommunications Sector
For decades, parts of the Federal government have examined transactions that introduce and increase foreign investment in United States telecommunications businesses. Transactions that implicate reviews by the Departments of Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security (collectively, “Team Telecom”) and/or by the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) can face procedural hurdles and delays…
President Formalizes Executive Agency Review of FCC Applications and Licenses; Quick Action on FCC License Revocation
For years, there have been critiques about the lack of procedures surrounding the review, by a group of Executive Branch agencies commonly referred to as “Team Telecom”, of applications before the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) for licenses and transaction approvals involving foreign ownership, including the absence of timeframes for completing reviews. The FCC tried to implement limited changes within its jurisdiction by launching a rulemaking, but that never progressed to a conclusion. Now, by Executive Order (“EO”) on April 4, 2020, President Trump established a framework to govern such reviews and clearly include reviews of existing licenses and authorizations even where there are no current mitigations. There are still a lot of unknowns regarding the new “Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector” (the “Committee”). It is too soon to know whether the Committee will bring a welcome measure of regularity to a previously unshackled process or will prove to be an even greater bane to applicants and licensees than the Team Telecom process its work will replace.
Continue Reading President Formalizes Executive Agency Review of FCC Applications and Licenses; Quick Action on FCC License Revocation
Coronavirus Increases Use of Conferencing Services Leading to Company-Specific Access Stimulation Rule Waiver
On Friday, March 27, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau (“Bureau”) granted Onvoy d/b/a Inteliquent a temporary and limited waiver of the Commission’s rules that treats competitive local exchange carriers with an interstate terminating-to-originating traffic ratio of at least 6:1 as engaging in access stimulation. The Bureau found that the extraordinary circumstances accompanying the current COVID-19-related public health crisis leading to increased conferencing traffic warranted a company specific waiver, which temporarily exempts Inteliquent from the requirement, if it exceeds the 6:1 ratio due to traffic from its existing customers (as of March 17, the date of Inteliquent’s petition for waiver), of assuming the financial responsibility for any applicable intermediate access provider’s terminating charges for any traffic between a local exchange carrier’s terminating end office or equivalent and the associated access tandem switch. However the Bureau stresses that the waiver was limited to Inteliquent and expressly rejected a request that the waiver extend to all conferencing traffic.
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Scheduling the Race to the “C-Band” Auction
On March 3, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) released its Report and Order and Order of Proposed Modification (FCC 20-22) (respectively, the “C-Band Order” and the “Proposed License Modification”) realigning the 3.7-4.2 GHz Band in the contiguous United States and proposing to modify most of the satellite, earth station, and fixed service licenses in the Band. If one sorts out the significant deadlines established by the C-Band Order leading up to the target date for the auction of the 3700-3980 MHz range, namely December 8, 2020, and the transition of incumbent space station and earth station operations and fixed service stations which must be completed in the auction’s wake, the heavy lifting required before the auction proceeds is plain. In the attached advisory, these deadlines are discussed in some detail. Here, they are presented in abridged fashion.
For more information, register here for our April 2 C-Band Update webinar.…
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FCC Postponing 3.5 GHz Auction on Account of COVID-19; Agency Hopes to Keep 3.7-4.2 GHz Auction on Track
On March 25, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission announced a one-month postponement of the 3.5 GHz auction (3550-3650 GHz) in the Citizen’s Broadband Radio Service (“CBRS”), a.k.a. Auction 105. The Commission cited the need “to protect the health and safety of Commission staff during the auction and [the ancillary benefit” that parties have additional time to prepare to participate.” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai reiterated the agency’s commitment to hold the auction this summer. The band is the first in the so-called mid-band, a range of spectrum seen as critical to the roll out of 5G wireless applications. Commissioner Michael O’Rielly tweeted today that a further delay would be unlikely absent absolutely compelling circumstances. The start of the auction has been postponed to July 23, 2020, (from June 25, 2020), and the new short-form application filing window is April 23 through May 7, 2020.
The Commission also postponed indefinitely its Auction 106, which was set to begin April 28, 2020, and was selling through competitive bidding construction permits in the FM broadcast service.…
Continue Reading FCC Postponing 3.5 GHz Auction on Account of COVID-19; Agency Hopes to Keep 3.7-4.2 GHz Auction on Track