Responding to demands by high tech companies for more so-called “mid-band” unlicensed spectrum to augment that already made available in the 5 GHz Band, which accommodates Wi-Fi, Internet of Things (“IoT”), and other Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (“U-NII”) applications as well as Licensed Assisted Access and LTE-Unlicensed solutions, the FCC will vote on a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) at its October 26 Open Meeting to make up to 1200 megahertz of nearby spectrum available for similar purposes. The draft leaves no doubt that, to make the 5.925-7.125 GHz band (the “6 GHz Band”) available for unlicensed use, sophisticated sharing mechanisms will need to be in place. Various parts of this frequency range are already used by fixed, mobile, and satellite services, and the draft item commits to protecting these incumbents and allowing these services to grow while at the same time opening the band to increased numbers of unlicensed devices. To achieve this, the Commission is considering drawing upon its experience with white spaces and the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (at 3550-3750 MHz), and would seek comment on numerous subjects before adopting rules. The draft item would be a stepping stone to enabling unlicensed devices to operate with wider bandwidths and higher data rates, which the Commission hopes would set off a new wave of innovation in consumer devices complementing its recent moves to spur the rollout of next-generation 5G networks. The NPRM, when adopted, will be sure to generate a wave of comments from both equipment manufacturers and broadband providers hungry for more spectrum as well as incumbent public safety organizations, utilities, satellite companies, and various other fixed and mobile services licensees seeking to protect and hoping to expand their existing operations in the 6 GHz Band, particularly as relocation options for other similar spectrum are increasingly scarce.
After a lengthy hiatus of more than a decade following Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) review of several provisions in the FCC’s pole attachment complaint rules having information collection requirements, including rules placing obligations on certain cable television operators and pole owners, the Commission earlier this week published notices making those rules effective. In 1998 and 2000, the Commission modified its pole attachment regulations to require, among other things, that cable operators notify pole owners upon commencing to offer telecommunications services and that pole owners and other utilities, within 30 days of a request from a telecommunications carrier or cable operator, provide information to support a rate, term, or condition for attachment to or occupation of a pole, duct, conduit, or other right-of-way of the pole owner or utility.
Earlier this month, the FCC simplified the information that must be provided in certain international reports, action that should be welcomed by many carriers that have been subject to these reporting requirements. The FCC’s Second Report and Order (“Second Streamlining Order”) in IB Docket No. 04-112 built on its May 2011 First Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking eliminating or revising certain international reporting obligation. As a result of this latest action, most international telecommunications carriers will be required, once the new rules take effect, to file annual International Traffic and Revenue reports and Circuit Status reports (collectively, the “Annual International Reports”) under a streamlined Section 43.62 of the FCC’s Rules. The Second Streamlining Order directs the International Bureau to establish and maintain a consolidated filing manual reflecting the rulings in the Second Streamlining Order.
The Second Streamlining Order does impose requirements on some new classes of providers. It extends the requirement to file the Traffic and Revenue Report to providers of both international interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) service and international “one-way” VoIP services. One-way VoIP services are those VoIP providers that permit users either to receive calls from or place calls to the public switched telephone network, but not both. The Second Streamlining Order also requires for the first time a Circuit Status report from all submarine cable licensees, not just licensees that are common carriers, as well as for international common carrier terrestrial and satellite circuits of facilities-based common carriers and the non-common carrier circuits of satellite operators.
The Annual International Reports will retain their current separate filing deadlines — March 31 for the Circuit Status Report and July 31 of the Traffic and Revenue Report. The effective date of the rule changes is currently unknown; it is at present unclear if the requirements will go into effect in time for the filing of either of the International Reports this year. The Office of Management and Budget must first approve the reporting and filing changes. The FCC expressly directed parties in the Second Streamlining Order to continue filing the Annual International Reports pursuant to its existing rules until it announces the new reporting requirements have become effective.