900 MHz NOI; Kari's Law and MOBILE NOW; CAF II Reverse Auction; FCC Nominations; FirstNet Update: Telecom Alert - August 7, 2017
900 MHz Notice of Inquiry
The FCC adopted a Notice of Inquiry to examine possibilities for the future of the 900 MHz band (896-901/935-940 MHz). The NOI responds to Petitions for Rulemaking in asking if it should allow use of the 900 MHZ band for broadband services. The NOI seeks comment on three approaches to the band: retaining the Existing Band Configuration but Increasing Operational Flexibility; Reconfiguring the Band to Create a Broadband Service; or, retaining the current licensing and eligibility rules.
Senate Passes Kari’s Law and MOBILE NOW Act
Before August recess, the Senate passed six telecom related bills, including Kari’s Law and the MOBILE NOW Act. Kari’s Law requires all MLTS systems be configured to enable users to dial “9-1-1” to reach the local PSAP, as opposed to dialing “9+9-1-1.” A similar, but not identical version, passed the House early this year. The next step towards becoming law is a House and Senate Conference to agree on a final version of the bill. The MOBILE NOW Act focuses on advancing wireless technologies by removing barriers to infrastructure deployment and freeing up spectrum for both licensed and unlicensed use. The bill will go to the House for consideration.
CAF II Reverse Auction
Last week, the FCC issued its Public Notice requesting comment on proposed bidding procedures and associated rules for the CAF II reverse auction. A related “Technical Guidance” was released that explains and illustrates the proposed “descending clock bidding procedures” the FCC is proposing to implement. Just under $2.0B per year for ten years will be made available under this reverse auction that is tentatively scheduled for mid-2018 as the FCC must still develop the online bidding platform.
FCC Nominations Move in Senate
The U.S. Senate confirmed the nominations of Former FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel and FCC General Counsel Brendan Carr last week. Commissioner Rosenworcel was reappointed while Brendan Carr was appointed to complete a term for an open Commissioner seat and for a new term beginning July 1, 2018. Though Chairman Pai’s nomination for another term was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee, the full Senate has not yet acted on the nomination. In other confirmation news, the nomination of David Redl to head up NTIA has been held over due to Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) concerns with the ICANN transition.
Last week, FirstNet added three states and the first territory to the list of Opt-In States, bringing the number of states and territories up to 11. New Mexico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Michigan, and Maine all opted-in to the FirstNet/AT&T plan for a nationwide public safety network. Michigan had been considering opting-out, and had selected Rivada as the possible alternative. New Hampshire has also selected Rivada as the alternative if they choose to opt-out.