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.