September 20, 2020

Volume X, Number 264

September 18, 2020

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Telecom Alert—C-Band Auction Procedures Announced; FCC Denies Reconsideration of $25,000 Land Mobile Fine; Georgia Pole Attachment Bill Signed; 3.5 GHz Band Auction Update; Trump Withdraws Nomination of Commissioner O'Rielly–Vol. XVII, Issue 32

C-Band Auction Procedures Announced

On Friday the FCC released a Public Notice establishing the auction procedures for licenses in the 3.7-3.98 GHz band (C-Band) in Auction 107, which is scheduled to commence on December 8, 2020 (Vol. XVII, Issue 9).  The Commission plans on auctioning 5,684 licenses in the C-Band throughout the country consisting of 280 MHz of spectrum.  Auction 107 will be conducted using an ascending clock auction design with two phases.  The first phase of the auction—the clock phase—will consist of successive clock bidding rounds in which bidders will indicate their demands for a number of generic license blocks in specific categories and partial economic areas (PEAs).  In the second phase—the assignment phase—winning clock phase bidders will have the opportunity to bid for their preferred combinations of frequency-specific license assignments, consistent with the bidders’ clock phase winnings, in a series of single sealed-bid rounds conducted by PEA or, in some cases, PEA group.  The Short Form filing window will open September 9 and will close on September 22, 2020. 

FCC Denies Reconsideration of $25,000 Land Mobile Fine

On August 4 the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau denied a Petition for Reconsideration of a Forfeiture Order imposed against Mobile Relay Associates in the amount of $25,000 for apparently causing harmful interference to another Land Mobile system operating on VHF spectrum.  The Bureau’s Order stated that Mobile Relay Associates operated a trunked Land Mobile radio system but failed to monitor transmissions on shared spectrum VHF channels and operated nearly continuously, causing interference harmful to at least one other licensee.  Mobile Relay Associates filed a Petition for Reconsideration of the forfeiture, arguing that its high occupancy rate of a 95 percent duty cycle did not violate the Commission’s rules and that the forfeiture was a punishment for previously lodging interference complaints with the Commission against other licensees.  

Georgia Pole Attachment Bill Signed

On August 5,Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law House Bill 244, which directs the Georgia Public Service Commission to enact rules determining just, reasonable, nondiscriminatory, and commercially reasonable pole attachment rates, fees, terms, and conditions for attachments by certain communications services providers to poles owned by electric membership corporations.  The bill also permits electric membership corporations and communications services providers to enter into mutual agreements for pole attachments with rates, fees, terms, and conditions that differ from those adopted by the PSC.  

3.5 GHz Band Auction Update

On Friday afternoon the FCC conducted the 31st round of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) auction (Auction 105).  231 County licenses still have demand in excess of supply, and gross bids have reached almost $2.6 billion. 

Trump Withdraws Nomination of Commissioner O’Rielly

Last week the White House announced that it had withdrawn Commissioner Michael O’Rielly’s nomination for another five-year term as a Commissioner at the FCC.  Commissioner O’Rielly was appointed to the Commission in November 2013 and confirmed for a full five-year term in 2015.  O’Rielly’s nomination for reappointment was put on hold late last month by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK).  For more information, see our article on the Beyond Telecom Law Blog here

Timothy A. DoughtyKathleen Slattery Thompson and Adam (AJ) Reust contributed to this article. 

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 223

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