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Telecom Alert— FCC Adopts 5.9 GHz Proposal; Rip-and-Replace Report and Order; 988 Location ID Comment Period; Lifeline Rule Waivers Extended; RDOF Auction Update— Vol. XVII, Issue 47

FCC Adopts 5.9 GHz Proposal

The FCC unanimously adopted a Report and Order at its November Open Meeting last week that repurposes the 5.9 GHz band for unlicensed uses (Vol. XVI, Issue 48).  Specifically, the Report and Order adopts rules that designate the lower 45 MHz of the band for unlicensed use and the upper 30 MHz for enhanced automobile safety using Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology.  The new rules will enable full-powered, indoor unlicensed operations in the lower 45 MHz portion immediately, as well as opportunities for outdoor unlicensed use on a coordinated basis under certain circumstances. The FCC also adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing rules for outdoor unlicensed operations in the lower part of the band.  

Rip-and-Replace Report and Order

Last week, the FCC released a draft Report and Order that would require eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) to remove and replace any equipment deemed to “pose an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States or the safety and security of its people.”  The proposed “Secured and Trusted Communications Network Reimbursement Program” would reimburse smaller carriers for the costs of removing and replacing such equipment, subject to congressional appropriation of at least $1.6 billion.  The Report and Order would also require providers of advanced communications services to report whether their networks use covered communications equipment or services acquired after August 14, 2018.  The Commission plans to vote on the Order at its Open Meeting on December 10.  

Comments Sought on 988 Location ID Costs

The FCC issued a Public Notice last week seeking comment on the costs and feasibility of conveying automatic dispatchable location information with calls to the 988 national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline (Vol. XVI, Issue 47). Acting under the directive of the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020, the Commission seeks comment on including location information with 988 calls as well as the technical issues that could arise in doing so.  In the Public Notice, the Commission also clarified that the implementation date for all telecommunications carriers, interconnected voice over Internet Protocol providers, and one-way VoIP providers to make necessary changes so customers can dial 988 to reach the hotline is July 16, 2022.  Comments are due by December 21, 2020, and reply comments are due by January 11, 2021.  

FCC Extends Lifeline Rule Waivers

The Wireline Competition Bureau adopted an Order last week extending waivers it previously granted for various Lifeline rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Specifically, it extended the waiver of the rule requiring Lifeline subscribers respond to reverification documentation requests and directs the Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC) not de-enroll any subscriber for failure to respond until February 28, 2021.  It directs USAC not issue reverification requests until that date. The Order also extends the waiver of the annual recertification rules and clarifies that a subscriber’s eligibility needs to be recertified only once in 2021. 

Two Rounds Per Day for RDOF Auction

The FCC will hold two rounds of bidding per day in its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction (Auction 904) on Monday, November 23, and Tuesday, November 24.  Each round will last two and a half hours, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.  There will only be one round on Wednesday, November 25. 

Sean Stokes, Wesley K. Wright, Michael T. N. Fitch, Timothy A. Doughty, Kathleen Slattery Thompson and Adam (AJ) Reust contributed to this article. 

© 2021 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 328
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About this Author

Jim Baller Communications Attorney Keller & Heckman Washington, DC
Partner

James (Jim) Baller represents clients across the U.S. in a broad range of communications matters including high-capacity broadband network projects, public-private broadband partnerships, telecommunications, wireless facility siting, right-of-way management, pole and conduit attachments, and barriers to community broadband initiatives.

Jim was the founder and president of the U.S. Broadband Coalition, a diverse group of more than 160 communications service providers, high technology companies, labor unions, public interest and consumer groups, state and local government entities,...

202-434-4175
C. Douglas Jarrett, Keller Heckman, telecommunications lawyer, procurement law
Partner

Douglas Jarrett joined Keller and Heckman in 1979. Mr. Jarrett specializes in telecommunications law, policy and procurement matters.

Mr. Jarrett is a recognized expert in representing enterprises in negotiating telecommunications services agreements with the major wireline and wireless carriers, domestically and globally.  He also advises enterprises on M2M services, cloud computing and IVR technology procurements. 

Mr. Jarrett represents technology companies in securing amendments to the FCC rules to enable the...

202-434-4180
Gregory E. Kunkle, Keller Heckman, regulatory attorney, FCC lawyer
Partner

Gregory Kunkle joined Keller and Heckman in 2006. Mr. Kunkle practices in the area of telecommunications, with an emphasis on assisting corporate clients and trade associations with various legal and regulatory matters before the Federal Communications Commission.

Mr. Kunkle regularly counsels critical infrastructure companies, such as electric utilities, oil and gas companies, and railroads, public safety agencies, and commercial providers regarding FCC wireless licensing and compliance issues.  He assists clients in identifying and acquiring...

202-434-4178
Casey Lide Communication Attorney Keller & Heckman Washington, DC
Partner

Casey Lide represents clients on a broad range of communications matters including telecommunications, cable television, broadband Internet access service, wireless communications, right-of-way management, pole and conduit attachments, and barriers to community broadband initiatives.

Casey counsels public- and private-sector clients on contract drafting and negotiation matters, including fiber optic IRUs and leases, easements, franchises, attachment agreements, ISP service agreements, interconnection and collocation agreements, strategic MoUs and others.   

He collaborates...

202-434-4186
Thomas B. Magee, Keller Heckman, transactional counsel, litigation attorney, FCC law, safety violation lawyer
Partner

Thomas Magee joined Keller and Heckman in 2000. Mr. Magee provides regulatory, transactional and litigation counsel to investor-owned electric utilities, electric cooperatives and municipalities regarding pole attachments and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensing of private wireless telecommunications services.

Mr. Magee has helped to resolve dozens of pole attachment disputes affecting make-ready costs, safety violations, unauthorized attachments, annual rental rates and other terms and conditions of access. He negotiates,...

202-434-4128
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