The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) took a major step forward on closing the “digital divide” in mobile broadband at its February meeting by unanimously adopting an Order resolving the remaining challenges to the Mobility Fund Phase II (“MF-II”) auction.  The order eases the letter of credit requirements and clarifies the collocation obligations for funding recipients, but generally preserves the MF-II auction budget, disbursement, and performance rules announced last year.  After clearing away these challenges, the FCC will focus on identifying the areas eligible for funding and conducting the auction later this year.

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On July 13, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) revisited the regulatory framework applicable to wireless microphones in several important ways.  The Order on Reconsideration addressed petitions for reconsideration pertaining to licensed and unlicensed wireless microphone operations under the 2015 Wireless Microphones Order and TV Bands Part 15 Order.  The 2015 Wireless Microphones Order sought to provide licensed wireless microphones users with access to different spectrum bands such as VHF channels, the 600 MHz duplex gap, and the 1435-1525 MHz aeronautical mobile telemetry (“AMT”) band to address the needs of various types of wireless microphone users, particularly in wake of the broadcast incentive auction.  In the TV Bands Part 15 Order, the Commission established rules on a broad range of issues pertaining to unlicensed operations in the television bands, the 600 MHz guard bands and duplex gap, the 600 MHz service band, and Channel 37.  The results of the Wireless Microphones Order on Reconsideration will be welcomed in some circles by manufacturers and bemoaned in others. 
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At its April 20, 2017 Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (“Commission” or “FCC”) initiated two proceedings to review ways in which the Commission might alleviate obstacles wireless providers face at the state, local, and Tribal levels when trying to install new or upgrade existing wireless infrastructure. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai welcomed new ideas for “updating state, local, and Tribal infrastructure review to meet the realities of the modern marketplace.” The Commission’s release, a combined notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) and notice of inquiry (“NOI”), explains that wireless providers need to be able to deploy many wireless cell sites across the country in response to growing demand for wireless broadband to support high-bandwidth applications and the growth of the Internet of Things. The NPRM and NOI on wireless infrastructure deployment complement a second pair of proceedings that will be looking at wireline infrastructure, also adopted at the FCC’s Open Meeting. A blog and advisory on the wireline counterpart is forthcoming.

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On August 6, 2015, a summary of the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC’s”) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) proposing changes to further streamline the FCC’s equipment authorizations procedures was published in the Federal Register.   The NPRM seeks comment on several proposals to update and modify the rules governing the procedures Radiofrequency (“RF”) devices must satisfy

iStock_000036215158LargeLast week, the Federal Communications Commission (“Commission”) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) seeking comment on several proposals to update and modify the rules governing the procedures Radiofrequency (“RF”) devices must satisfy prior to being marketed.  Comments are due September 8, 2015 and reply comments are due September 21, 2015.

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In an earlier blog post, we reported on the Federal Communications Commission’s December 30, 2014, decision to expand the role of Telecommunications Certifications Bodies (“TCBs”), requiring them to process all applications for transmitters and other equipment subject to the certification procedure.  The FCC’s Order was recently published in the Federal Register, establishing the effective

Just before the New Year, the Commission released revised equipment authorization rules providing that Telecommunications Certifications Bodies (“TCBs”) will soon process and grant all applications for certification.  As set forth in the Report and Order released December 30, 2014, although the Office of Engineering and Technology (“OET”) of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) will cease accepting and granting applications for Certification upon the rules’ effective date, OET will still administer pre-approval guidance pursuant to codification of its “permit but ask” procedures. Those procedures will be extended to all RF devices currently on OET’s exclusion list which has reserved a changing list of device types for Commission-only certification.  Under the pre-approval guidance process, OET will continue to exercise oversight by identifying the types of devices for which a TCB will be required to consult with OET before the TCB can issue a grant of certification.  Future changes to the list of devices subject to the pre-approval guidance will be made via Commission/OET decision documents and OET’s Knowledge Database, in much the same way as the periodically changing exclusion list has been maintained to date.  In this way, the FCC intends to preserve its control over the authorization of devices with a greater potential for causing harmful interference while facilitating a greater responsibility for TCBs.

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The FCC has solicited comment on the rights of a Wi-Fi operator to manage its network through the use of FCC-authorized equipment to monitor and mitigate threats to the security and network interference. On November 19th, the Commission issued a Public Notice seeking comment on a joint petition filed by the American Hospitality & Lodging Association (“AHLA”), Marriott International, Inc. and Ryman Hospitality Properties (the “Petitioners”) that addresses the rights of Wi-Fi operators to manage and protect their networks (“AHLA Petition”). This issues raised by the AHLA Petition, which was filed in August 2014, potentially impact a broad range of Wi-Fi premise operators, including local businesses, educational institutions, hospitals, hotels, airports and other enterprises that operate Wi-Fi networks on their premises.

Statements opposing or supporting the AHLA Petition are requested by December 19, 2014.


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On October 3rd, the FCC announced a settlement with Marriott International, Inc. and Marriott Hotel Services, Inc. to resolve an investigation into the hotel operator’s use of a Wi-Fi monitoring and blocking system.  In the investigation, the Commission concluded that an operator cannot use such a system to prevent users from connecting to the Internet via their own personal Wi-Fi networks, rather than being limited to the hotel’s own Wi-Fi network, when these users did not pose a threat to the security of the hotel operator or its guests.  This consent decree reminds hotel operators and property owners, as well as other property owners that, while they may control the deployment of fixed radio stations on their property, they may not interfere with communications, including Internet wireless access, that occur on their property using mobile devices.  As part of the consent decree, the hotel operator agreed to pay $600,000 in “civil penalties” and to implement an extensive three-year compliance plan, with quarterly reporting, focusing on the hotel operator’s access point containment features at all of its U.S. properties, including properties owned and/or operated by the company.
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A recently adopted Consent Decree entered into between the Enforcement Bureau (“Bureau”) and Wal-Mart.com USA leaves no doubt that retailers are advised to be aware of their regulatory responsibilities for the electronics they offer for sale, whether on their physical shelves or on their website.   Those responsibilities essentially require retailers to be the pro-active policemen of their suppliers’ compliance with the Commission’s equipment authorization rules.  In return for selling wireless microphones without equipment authorization manufactured by ne vendor and for failing to provide a consumer alert regarding conditions of operation at the point of sale for these devices as required in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) rules, the on-line retailer agreed to pay $120,000 and submitted to a three-year compliance plan regarding the offering for sale of all radio frequency devices within the United States.
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