Telecom Alert — FCC Approves SAS Administrators for 3.5 GHz Band; Regulatory Fees Due Sept. 24; Senate Appropriations Bill for FCC; FirstNet Approves Investments; FCC Launches Automated Connection Between Medicaid, Lifeline — Vol. XVI, Issue 38
FCC Approves SAS Administrators for 3.5 GHz CBRS Band
Last week the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Office of Engineering and Technology approved the Spectrum Access Systems (SASs) operated by Amdocs, CommScope, Federated Wireless, Google, and Sony to begin initial commercial deployments in the 3.5 GHz Band. The SAS manages the operations of CBRS systems (Vol. XVI, Issue 18) to mitigate interference between the three tiers of service. The initial commercial deployment phase means that the unlicensed GAA tier of service is now available on a limited basis. The initial commercial deployment phase will last a minimum of 30 days, after which the FCC may approve full commercial deployment.
The FCC announced that regulatory fees for fiscal year 2019 will be due by September 24, 2019. The Commission also adopted a de minimis fee exemption of $1,000. Licensees of certain facilities, such as Satellite Earth Stations, are required to make annual regulatory fee payments. For many licensed facilities, such as microwave and land mobile systems, the regulatory fees are paid when the application for new authority or renewal is filed with the FCC.
Senate Appropriations Bill for FCC Funding
On Thursday Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced S.2524, which appropriates $339 million for the FCC for FY 2020, the same amount appropriated in FY 2019. The bill also requires that up to $132,539,000 of spectrum auction proceeds be retained to fund such auctions. In its report, the Senate Appropriations Committee makes several recommendations to the FCC, including encouraging a public auction of the C-Band and clarifying the definition of fee diversion in its annual report to Congress on the collection and distribution of State 911 fees.
FirstNet Approves Investments to Expand and Enhance Coverage
Last Wednesday the FirstNet Board of Directors passed Resolution 102, which approves funding for coverage and network enhancements and directs management to take all actions necessary to implement the Board’s recommendations. Investments were cleared for expansion of the FirstNet fleet of deployables and initial generational upgrades to the FirstNet core to enable 5G capabilities. The Board previously approved $145 million for network reinvestments for FY2020 (Vol. XVI, Issue 34).
FCC Launches Automated Connection Between Medicaid, Lifeline
The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) announced that a nationwide automated connection between Medicaid and the Lifeline National Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier) went live on Tuesday. The connection between the two databases is meant to streamline and strengthen consumer eligibility verification for the Lifeline program, with the ability to automatically verify up to 60% of the Lifeline-eligible population. It also will help protect against waste, fraud, and abuse. The National Verifier has launched in 38 states and territories so far and is scheduled to be available throughout the United States by the end of the year (Vol. XVI, Issue 6).