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Telecom Alert—3.65 GHz Deadline Extension.; RDOF Auction Qualified Bidders Announced; CTIA Supports Verizon's Small Cell Petition; New FCC Headquarters Location FCC Set to Clarify Section 230; Toll Free Call Rules Updated—Vol. XVII, Issue 42

3.65 GHz Deadline Extension

Last week, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau released an Order extending the deadline for certain licensees in the 3650-3700 MHz band (3.65 GHz band) to transition their existing Part 90 operations to the Citizens Broadcast Radio Service (CBRS).  The Bureau previously extended the transition deadline to October 17 (Vol. XVII, Issue 12) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and further extended the deadline for specific licensees due to ongoing hardships imposed by the national emergency.  The licensees listed in the Order now have until either December 16, 2020, or February 14, 2021, to transition their operations.  

RDOF Auction Qualified Bidders Announced

The FCC released a Public Notice last week identifying the 386 applicants that are qualified to bid in Auction 904 (Vol. XVII, Issue 36), which is more than a 75% increase in the number of bidders from the CAF Phase II auction in 2018.  Each qualified bidder will be assigned to one of three mock auction dates: Friday, October 23; Monday, October 26; or Tuesday, October 27.  Bidding in Auction 904 will begin on October 29. 

CTIA Supports Verizon’s Small Cell Petition

Last week, CTIA submitted an ex parte filing in support of Verizon’s petition for declaratory ruling (Vol. XVI, Issue 35) regarding fees charged by Clark County, Nevada for small wireless facilities.  Verizon claims that the recurring fees imposed by Clark County materially inhibit Verizon’s ability to provide telecommunications services because they do not reasonably approximate the county’s actual and direct costs associated with a provider’s use of the public rights-of-way and other assets, they are not limited to the county’s objectively reasonable cost, and they are inherently discriminatory.  CTIA asked the Commission to grant the petition and declare the recurring fees unlawful, arguing that they do not fall within the presumptively reasonable safe harbors and are not cost-based.  

New FCC Headquarters Location

On October 15, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing the Commission’s new headquarters location effective immediately.  The FCC is now located at 45 L Street NE, Washington, DC 20554.  The Public Notice does not alter its current prohibition against the delivery of hand-carried documents to the FCC Headquarters because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

FCC Set to Clarify Section 230

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a statement last week, announcing the Commission’s intentions to move forward with clarifying Section 230 of the Communications Act.  Under Section 230, an online platform is not treated as a publisher and held liable for content posted on its site unless it actively engages in editorializing such content.  In May, President Trump issued an Executive Order directing the NTIA to seek clarification from the FCC of Section 230, to which the NTIA subsequently filed a petition regarding which Internet intermediaries are entitled to the liability protections.  Chairman Pai stated that there is bipartisan support in Congress to reform the law and that the FCC has the legal authority to interpret Section 230.  

Toll Free Call Rules Updated

The FCC issued a Report and Order on October 9 that shifts most access charges for toll free or 8YY calls to a bill-and-keep system to reduce costs and discourage fraud.  Specifically, the order combines separate 8YY transport and tandem switching charges into a single access charge capped at $0.001 per minute.  The Order also transitions charges for 8YY database queries needed to route 8YY calls to $0.0002 over nearly three years.  8YY calls will continue to be toll free for consumers.

Timothy A. Doughty, Kathleen Slattery Thompson and Adam (AJ) Reust contributed to this article. 

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 293
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