Telecom Alert - 911 Fee Diversion NPRM; Rip-and-Replace NPRM; Broadband Reporting R&O and FNPRM; C-Band Auction Assignments Set to Begin; Emergency Broadband Benefit Fund Roundtable - Vol. XVIII, Issue 5
911 Fee Diversion NPRM
Last week, the FCC released a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on proposed rules that would define the types of expenditures of 911 fees and charges that are acceptable under section 902 of the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act (Vol. XVIII, Issue 3). The proposed rules would consider a fee to be diverted if it is used for a purpose or function other than the purposes or functions designated by the FCC as acceptable. Under the NPRM, acceptable purposes and functions would be limited to (i) supporting and implementing 911 services provided by or in the state or taxing jurisdiction imposing the fee or charges; and (ii) operational expenses of PSAPs within such state or taxing jurisdiction. The proposed rules would also disqualify a state that the FCC identifies as a “fee diverter” from serving on any FCC or FirstNet committee. The Commission is expected to vote on the NPRM at its February Open Meeting on February 17, 2021.
The FCC issued a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking last week seeking comment on proposals to modify its rules consistent with changes made to the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Vol. XVII, Issue 47). Specifically, the NPRM proposes to raise the cap on eligibility for participation in the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program to providers with ten million or fewer customers. It also proposes to allow program recipients to use reimbursement funds to remove, replace, or dispose of equipment or services that were obtained on or before June 30, 2020, among other modifications. The Commission will vote on the NPRM at its Open Meeting on February 17, 2021.
Broadband Reporting R&O and FNPRM
On January 19, 2021, the FCC released a Third Report and Order (Third R&O) taking additional steps to implement the Broadband Data Act and to establish new broadband reporting procedures under the Digital Opportunity Data Collection program that will supplement and eventually phase out the FCC Form 477. The Third R&O specifies that facilities-based fixed service providers are required to report broadband Internet access service coverage and identify where such services are offered to residential and business locations. The Third R&O establishes speed and latency reporting requirements for fixed service providers and requires terrestrial fixed wireless services providers to report the coordinates of their base stations. Mobile service providers are required to provide even more information. The program will not go into effect until at least six months after the Office of Economic Analysis issues a Public Notice announcing the initial filing deadline. While the Digital Opportunity Data Collection program will eventually replace Form 477, at present providers are required to continue to file Form 477.
C-Band Auction Assignments Set to Begin
The FCC’s Office of Economics and Analytics released a Public Notice last week announcing that the assignment phase of the C-Band auction (Auction 107) will begin on February 8, 2021. Bidders that won at least one generic block of spectrum in one Partial Economic Area (PEA) in the clock phase of the auction are eligible to bid in the assignment phase for frequency-specific licensing blocks. Bidders will be able to download their assignment phase bidding options from the online bidding system and identify the rounds in which they will be eligible to participate between 10:00 a.m. EST on February 2, 2021, and 12:00 p.m. EST on February 3, 2021. The FCC will conduct a mock auction for the assignment phase on February 4, 2021.
Emergency Broadband Benefit Fund Roundtable
The FCC issued a Public Notice last week announcing that it will hold an Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Roundtable to provide an opportunity for Commission staff and interested parties to examine proposed actions the FCC should take to establish the program. The Commission is currently gathering information on comments submitted in its initial request for input on the program (Vol. XVIII, Issue 2), with reply comments due February 16, 2021. Specifically, the roundtable discussion will focus on the important public policy and program administration decisions that will shape the Commission’s approach to administering the funding. The event will take place on February 12, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. EST, and is expected to last no longer than half a day.
Wesley K. Wright contributed to this article.