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Telecom Alert - NPRM on Spectrum Partitioning, Disaggregation and Leasing; Spectrum Horizons Order; 900 MHz NPRM; 800 MHz Update; 911 Location Accuracy Rules - Vol. XIV, Issue 11

FCC to Explore Changes to Partitioning, Disaggregation, and Spectrum Leasing Rules

On March 15, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to evaluate how changes to its partitioning, disaggregation, and spectrum leasing rules might further the Commission’s goals of closing the digital divide and increasing spectrum access in rural areas.  Additionally, the NPRM seeks comment on certain considerations delineated in the Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless (MOBILE NOW) Act, and whether to allow “reaggregation” for spectrum that has been partitioned or disaggregated on the secondary market.  

Promotion of Spectrum Above 95 GHz

The FCC adopted the Spectrum Horizons First Report and Order on March 15 to encourage technological development and deployment of services in the spectrum above 95 GHz.  This follows an NPRM adopted in February 2018 (Vol. XV, Issue 15).  The Order provides opportunities for new experimental and unlicensed use in the frequencies above 95 GHz, including making 21.2 GHz available for unlicensed use.  In his blog post, FCC Chairman Pai stated that this action will, “add a new experimental license type that would permit experimental use on any frequency from 95 GHz to 3 THz, with no limits on geography or technology.”  In the Press Release, the Commission stated that “study of these uses could ultimately lead to further rulemaking actions and additional licensing opportunities within the Spectrum Horizons bands.”  

900 MHz NPRM

On March 12, the FCC adopted a NPRM that will reconfigure the 900 MHz band to facilitate a 3 x 3 MHz broadband sub-band through voluntary negotiations with current 900 MHz narrowband licensees, relocating these narrowband incumbent operations to the remaining 2 x 2 of the 900 MHz band (Vol. XVI, Issue 8).  The 900 MHz band is currently designated for narrowband Private Land Mobile Radio (PLMR) communications of Business/Industrial/Land Transportation (B/ILT) licensees and for Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) providers. The principal narrowband, site-based licensees in the 900 MHz band are utilities and operators of major petroleum refining and petrochemical facilities, typically deploying systems having several thousand mobile units.  

 800 MHz Expansion/Guard Band Access Update

The FCC’s Report and Order updating its rules governing spectrum capacity in the 800 MHz and other Private Land Mobile Radio (PLMR) bands took effect after publication in the Federal Register on December 27, 2018.  Many frequency coordinators began accepting applications for 800 MHz Expansion and Guard Band (EB/GB) channels shortly thereafter (Vol. XVI, Issue 10).  The new 800 MHz channels and PLMR Central Station Alarm channels will be unavailable until FCC announcement and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval, respectively (Vol. XVI, Issue 3).  We understand frequency coordinators will continue accepting applications, but will not submit them to the Commission until the FCC issues further guidance.  

New 9-1-1 Vertical Location Accuracy Rules

On March 15, the FCC considered a Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would help first responders more accurately locate individuals who make wireless 9-1-1 calls from multi-story buildings by assisting 9-1-1 call centers in identifying the floor levels where such calls occur (Vol. XVI, Issue 8).  In the Further Notice, the Commission proposed that a vertical or “z-axis” location accuracy metric of plus or minus three meters would be sufficiently accurate to identify callers’ floor levels in most cases and feasible under the timeframes set forth in the FCC’s Enhanced 911 (E911) rules. 

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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,...

Tracy Marshall, Keller Heckman, regulatory attorney, for-profit company lawyer

Tracy Marshall assists clients with a range of business and regulatory matters.

In the business and transactional area, Ms. Marshall advises for-profit and non-profit clients on corporate organization, operations, and governance matters, and assists clients with structuring and negotiating a variety of transactions, including purchase and sale, marketing, outsourcing, and e-commerce agreements.

In the privacy, data security, and advertising areas, she helps clients comply with privacy, data security, and consumer protection laws, including laws governing telemarketing and...

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,...