Telecom Alert - APTS Promotes Inquiry Into FirstNet Interoperability; Proposed Updates to NEPA; RDOF Could Benefit 6 Million Homes and Businesses; Tower Lighting Violation Settlement; E911 Location Accuracy Requirements - Vol. XVII, Issue 3
APTS Promotes Inquiry into FirstNet Interoperability
Representatives of America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) met with the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau on January 9 to discuss the benefits of digital datacasting and how it can be used to complement public safety networks such as FirstNet. During the meeting, APTS emphasized how digital datacasting allows broadcast television signals to deliver encrypted and targetable IP directly to first responders, and that public television’s broad coverage can provide access to otherwise underserved rural areas. APTS encouraged the Commission to open an inquiry into how FirstNet’s current interoperable arrangements are serving public safety, particularly in rural areas.
Proposed Updates to NEPA
On January 9, the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that aim to modernize and clarify the regulations. Some of the revisions include establishing a one-year time limit to complete environmental assessments, a two-year time limit to complete environmental impact statements, and a 150-page limit for environmental impact statements. CEQ also proposes to revise the recommended EIS format by no longer requiring a list of agencies, organizations, and persons to whom copies are sent.
Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Could Benefit 6 Million Homes, Businesses
The FCC issued a News Release last week announcing that an estimated six million rural homes and businesses could benefit from Phase I of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (Vol. XVII, Issue 2). Phase I funding would allocate $16 billion to areas that lack access to broadband service that meets the Commission’s minimum speed standard of 25/3 Mbps. According to the Commission’s estimates, twenty-five states have more than 100,000 locations that would be eligible for Phase I funding.
FCC Reaches $1.13 Million Settlement for Tower Lighting Violations
Last week, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau entered into a Consent Decree with Scripps Broadcasting Holdings LLC following an investigation into its predecessor-in-interest, Cordillera Communications, LLC, for violating the Commission’s antenna structure rules. Specifically, the Commission found that subsidiaries of Cordillera failed to conduct required daily inspections of the lighting systems of ten antenna structures, completely log twelve lighting failures at seven antenna structures, and timely notify the Commission of its acquisition of two antenna structures. As part of the Consent Decree, Scripps will pay a $1,130,000 civil penalty and implement a compliance plan that includes establishing a compliance training program and filing compliance reports with the Commission over the next two years.
Comments Due for E911 Location Accuracy Requirements
The FCC’s Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on E911 location accuracy requirements was published in the Federal Register last Thursday (Vol. XVI, Issue 47), meaning comments and reply comments are due by February 18, 2020, and March 16, 2020, respectively. The FNPRM sought comment on whether the Commission should further tighten the established vertical (z-axis) location accuracy metric of plus or minus three meters over time, and on alternative deployment milestones.