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Telecom Alert — FCC Proposes 3.5 GHz CBRS Auction Procedures; NTIA Releases Report on Spectrum Repurposing; House Broadband Maps Hearing; FCC Open Meeting Agenda Announced; Fatal TV Tower Fall Citation Overturned — Vol. XVI, Issue 36

FCC Proposes 3.5 GHz CBRS Auction Procedures

Last week, FCC Chairman Pai released a draft Public Notice seeking comment on proposed procedures for the auction of 70 MHz of Priority Access Licenses (PALs) in the 3.5 GHz band  (Vol. XVI, Issue 31).  Auction 105 is scheduled to take place on June 25, 2020.  The Commission proposes to conduct Auction 105 as an ascending clock auction and to implement bidding credit caps of $25 million for small businesses and $10 million for rural service providers, as well as a $10 million cap on the total amount of bidding credits that a small business bidder may apply to winning licenses in smaller markets.  Additionally, the proposed procedures would differ from those in Auctions 102 and 103 in that there would be no assignment phase, any bidder will have the option to bid at a Cellular Market Area (CMA) level in the 172 CMAs that are classified as Metropolitan Statistical Areas and comprise multiple counties, and participants would be permitted to submit bids that exceed their current bidding eligibility.  A total of 22,631 PALs nationwide will be up for auction and each PAL will consist of one 10 MHz unpaired channel.  

NTIA Releases Report on Spectrum Repurposing

Last week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) issued its first annual report on the status of spectrum repurposing initiatives as required by a 2018 Presidential Memorandum that established a national policy for the efficient and effective use of spectrum.  According to the report, the U.S. leads the world in spectrum that could be used for 5G, with a total of nearly 5.9 GHz available for licensed, exclusive use and the potential for an additional 7.25 GHz.  14.7 GHz has already been made available for unlicensed use.  The report analyzes 24 categories of frequency bands and lists the status of activities such as economic benefits from auctions and bands currently under study and targeted for future action.  

House Broadband Maps Hearing

The House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a legislative hearing on September 11, 2019, on broadband mapping legislation.  In a joint press release, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), Chairman of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, stated that Congress must step in to assist the FCC in ensuring the reliability of national broadband maps.  The Commission recently released a Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the collection of broadband deployment data (Vol. XVI, Issue 28).  

FCC Open Meeting Agenda Announced

On Thursday, the Commission announced a tentative agenda for its next Open Meeting on September 26, 2019.  Among other items, the Commission will consider a Report and Order that would provide $950 million in funding to storm-harden, improve, and expand broadband networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as part of Stage 2 of the Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund and the Connect USVI Fund.  It will also consider a Report and Order and Modification of Section 214 Authorizations that would adopt reforms to eliminate wasteful access arbitrage schemes and promote the efficient use of the nation’s communications networks. 

Fatal TV Tower Fall Citation Overturned

Last week, an administrative law judge on the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) vacated a federal safety citation that was issued against Tower King II, Inc. (Tower King) in 2017 following the deaths of three workers who fell from a television tower in Florida.  OSHA alleged that Tower King violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act by failing to have a complete rigging plan for the equipment attached to the tower, resulting in the overloading of the rigging components.  In vacating the citation, the reviewing judge held that the government failed to show Tower King did not follow industry standards for conducting and following engineering review of how tower components should be installed.  

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLP


About this Author

C. Douglas Jarrett, Keller Heckman, telecommunications lawyer, procurement law

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...

Gregory E. Kunkle, Keller Heckman, regulatory attorney, FCC lawyer

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 wireless spectrum through a variety of means, including spectrum leasing, purchase and sale of licenses, and the FCC's auction process. His spectrum acquisition practice spans all of the FCC’s wireless frequency allocations, including the 220 MHz band, AMTS (217/219 MHz), VHF/UHF Part 22 Paging, the 1.4 GHz band, Part 90 800/900 MHz bands, MAS, the 2.5 GHz EBS/BRS band, and the 700 MHz band.

Mr. Kunkle counsels clients that become involved in the FCC's enforcement process including by responding to and vigorously defending against complaints and investigations and, where appropriate, negotiating settlements with the Commission. 

Thomas B. Magee, Keller Heckman, transactional counsel, litigation attorney, FCC law, safety violation lawyer

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,...

Wesley K. Wright, Keller Heckman, Telecommunications Lawyer, FCC Enforcement Attorney, DC

Wesley Wright joined Keller and Heckman in 2006 and practices in the areas of telecommunications law.  He assists corporate clients and trade associations with various legal and regulatory matters before the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Aviation Administration, courts and state agencies.

Mr. Wright’s practice includes private wireless licensing, FCC enforcement, and related transactional matters.  He counsels clients on internal operations and governance matters and has drafted and negotiated asset purchase agreements,...

Michael T. N. Fitch, Keller Heckman, Wireless Communications Attorney
Senior Counsel

Michael Fitch has over 40 years of experience in wireless, international, infrastructure and other telecommunications regulatory areas.  Mr. Fitch advises clients on a wide range of issues in these areas.

Mr. Fitch began his career at the Federal Communications Commission, where he advanced from staff attorney to Bureau Chief and Senior Legal and International Advisor to the Chairman. He also served as a Presidential Exchange Executive from the FCC to the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in Pittsburgh for one year.