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.