Telecom Alert: Auction 105 Prohibited Communications Fines; NYPSC Unauthorized Attachment Ruling; RDOF Award Reassignment Waiver; Senate Approves Infrastructure Bill [Vol. XVIII, Issue 33]
Auction 105 Prohibited Communications Fines
Last week, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau entered into Consent Decrees with Nikola Broadband (“Nikola”) and Router12 Networks LLC (“Router12”) for engaging in prohibited communications related to participation in the FCC’s Citizens Broadband Radio Service (“CBRS”) Auction. Under FCC rules, an application for a Commission auction cannot discuss auction strategy with other auction participants for a set period of time before, during, and after the Auction. The president of Nikola sent an email to a group that included other CBRS Auction participants announcing that his company was backing out of the auction. The CEO of Router12 posted a similar statement in a Facebook group. Nikola and Router12 agreed to pay civil penalties of $30,000 and $50,000, respectively, and to implement a compliance plan.
NYPSC Unauthorized Attachment Ruling
The New York Public Service Commission (“NYPSC”) last week approved settlements with pole owners Frontier Telephone (“FTR”) and Rochester Gas and Electric (“RG&E”) pertaining to thousands of unauthorized attachments installed by communications company Greenlight Networks, LLC (“GLN”). The NYPSC has yet to settle with GLN, but since GLN’s unauthorized activity created potential liability for the pole owners, FTR and RG&E agreed in separate NYPSC settlements to inspect all poles with unauthorized attachments, have the violations fixed, collect unpaid rent, and pay $7.5 million into New York’s broadband construction fund ($5.0 million by FTR; $2.5 million by RG&E).
RDOF Award Reassignment Waiver
A2D, Inc. (“A2D”) filed a Petition for Waiver with the FCC last week requesting that the agency assign A2D the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (“RDOF”) funds that the Commission originally awarded to RHMD, LLC (“RHMD”). A winning bidder in Auction 904 may only assign its winning bids to a related entity that is named in its short-form application or that was formed after the short-form application deadline. A2D was a joint venture partner of RHMD, which has since dissolved, and now claims that RHMD is incapable of meetings its obligations. RHMD was awarded $18.303 million in RDOF funding for 6,943 locations in 64 census blocks.
Senate Approves Infrastructure Bill
Last week, the Senate voted to approve a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes roughly $65 billion to support broadband deployment (Vol. XVIII, Issue 31). In its amended form, the bill includes $42 billion in state and territorial grants, $2.75 billion for digital equity programs, and $1 billion for middle-mile grants subject to interconnection and nondiscrimination requirements. It would also provide $14.2 billion for additional funding for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and extend the program beyond the end of the pandemic emergency period.