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Sprint Turns Off Cell Tower Amid Cancer Concerns; Broadband Deployment and USF Items on Circulation; Vertical Location Accuracy for Wireless 9-1-1 Calls; CAF II Auction Update- Vol. XVI, Issue 14

Broadband Deployment and USF Items on Circulation

The 2019 Broadband Deployment Report and a document referred to as the Universal Service Fund (USF) Contribution Methodology are currently on circulation, pending action by the FCC.  In the USF item, the Commission will reportedly propose an aggregate annual USF expenditure budget of $11.42 billion. According to Commissioner O’Rielly, this budget cap exceeds current expenditures by $2.0 billion. This expenditure cap is eliciting concerns from some groups whose members benefit from USF programs.

Vertical Location Accuracy For Wireless 9-1-1 Calls

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau announced in an April 4 Public Notice that it is seeking comment on a proposal to use a vertical or “z-axis” location accuracy metric of plus or minus three meters to identify wireless 9-1-1 callers’ location in multi-story buildings (Vol. XIV, Issue 11).   Comments and reply comments on the Further Notice are due by May 20 and June 18, respectively.

Sprint Turns Off Cell Tower Amid Cancer Concerns

According to news reports, Sprint has turned off its cell tower on a California elementary school campus following concerns from parents that the tower could have exposed children to harmful radiation and be linked to four recent diagnoses of childhood cancer at Weston Elementary.  Sprint asserts that the tower is safe and has operated well below federal safety limits, but decided to shut down its transmitters and relocate the tower to a new site.  In November 2018, the Ripon Unified School District (RUSD) initiated an investigation into the tower by engineering consultant Hammett & Edison, Inc. (H&E), which issued a report stating that the tower complied with guidelines limiting human exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields. 

CAF II Auction Update

On April 3, the FCC announced in a Public Notice that it is ready to authorize Connect America Fund Phase II Auction 903 (CAF II) support for 822 winning bids (Vol. XVI, Issue 13). This is the second group of CAF II winners whose long-form applications have been approved by the Wireline Competition Bureau.  The Commission “accepted” an initial group of winning bids in March (Vol. XVI, Issue 9). To receive support, the long-form applicants identified in the Public Notice must submit their letters of credit and bankruptcy counsel’s opinion letters prior to 6:00 p.m. ET on April 17. The Bureau is expected to accept additional long-form applications in the coming weeks. 

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Douglas Jarrett joined Keller and Heckman in 1979. Mr. Jarrett specializes in telecommunications law, policy and procurement matters.

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