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Telecom Alert - FCC Approves First 6 GHz Wi-Fi Device; RDOF Winners Breakdown; Annual Report on State 911 Fees; Senate Confirms Simington; C-Band Revenues - Vol. XVII, Issue 50

FCC Approves First 6 GHz Wi-Fi Device

Last week, the FCC approved a Grant of Equipment Authorization for the first Wi-Fi device for use in the 6 GHz band.  The Commission adopted a Report and Order last April that made available 1,200 megahertz of spectrum in 6 GHz band for unlicensed use (Vol. XVII, Issue 17), facilitating the deployment of Wi-Fi 6 and the expansion of the Internet of Things.  The grant authorizes Broadcom Corporation to market an unlicensed transmitter in the band. 

RDOF Phase I Winners Breakdown

The top ten winners in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction secured 76% of the total $9.23 billion in funding awarded, with LTD Broadband taking home the largest award of $1.3 billion (Vol. XVII, Issue, 49).  A major disappointment was that almost $6.8 billion was not awarded.  Of the other top ten winners, three are price cap ILECs (CenturyLink, Frontier, and Windstream), one is a consortium of rural electric membership cooperatives, one is a cable company (Charter), four are wireless internet service providers ( AMG Technology, Resound Networks, Connect Everyone (Starry) and LTD Broadband), and one is the low earth orbit satellite operator SpaceX.  The remaining $6.8 billion will roll over to Phase II of the RDOF, which now has a projected budget of $10.8 billion. 

Annual Report on State 911 Fees

The FCC published its twelfth annual report to Congress on the collection and distribution of 911 fees by states last week.  In its report, the Commission found that in 2019 states and territories collected more than $3 billion in 911 fees, with more than $200 million of that funding being diverted for uses other than 911 services.  Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and West Virginia were found to have diverted 911 fees for other purposes.  Last year’s report found that almost $198 million in 911 fees were diverted for non-911 uses by the same five states.  The FCC also released a Public Notice seeking comment on the report and how it should impact the Commission’s ongoing proceeding to end 911 fee diversion.  Comments are due by January 7, 2021, and reply comments are due by January 22, 2021. 

Senate Confirms Simington

The full Senate voted to confirm Nathan Simington to a five-year term as an FCC Commissioner on December 8.  The Senate confirmed the nomination by a 49-46 vote.  With Chairman Ajit Pai stepping down in January, there will be two Democratic and two Republican Commissioners on Inauguration Day.  Post inauguration, President-Elect Biden is expected to make one of the two sitting Democratic Commissioners acting or full time FCC Chair and will have to nominate an additional Commissioner to establish a Democratic majority after Senate confirmation.

C-Band Revenues Over $3 Billion

As of the close of bidding on December 10, bids in the FCC’s C-Band Auction (Auction 107) reached nearly $3.4 billion.  

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

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© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 349
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Jim Baller Communications Attorney Keller & Heckman Washington, DC
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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.

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Gregory E. Kunkle, Keller Heckman, regulatory attorney, FCC lawyer
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Casey Lide Communication Attorney Keller & Heckman Washington, DC
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