Telecom Alert - October 10, 2017: 3.5 GHz NPRM; Redl and Pai Confirmation Updates; FirstNet Update; USF High Cost Support Advances for Puerto Rico; Mid-Band Spectrum NOI Responses
3.5 GHz NPRM on Tentative Agenda
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced last week that the Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order Terminating Petitions that will seek comment on and make changes to the Priority Access License rules in the 3.5 GHz band. The Fact Sheet for the Draft NPRM stated that the rules must increase incentives for investment, promote more efficient use of spectrum, and foster faster and increased broadband network deployment. The Commission terminated the dockets opened to address Petitions filed by the CTIA and T-Mobile in June 2017 and the 3.5 GHz rulemaking initiated in 2012.
Redl and Pai Confirmation
Last week, the Senate Commerce Committee approved by voice vote the nomination of David Redl to direct NTIA. Senator Ted Cruz (R- TX), who is responsible for delaying confirmation of Redl, stated he would block a full Senate vote unless his concerns regarding Internet governance are resolved. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was confirmed for a second term as Chairman last week in a 52-41 Senate vote.
Last week, Minnesota became the 23rd state to opt-into the FirstNet AT&T plan. Earlier in the week, NTIA released the construction-grant funding levels for states looking to build their own radio access network. This action started the clock on the time period in which Governors have to decide whether to opt-in or -out of FirstNet. Governors must make a decision by December 28.
FCC Advances USF High Cost Support Payments to Carriers in Puerto Rico
The FCC released an Order last week making $76.9 million immediately available to eligible telecommunication carriers (ETCs) in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to aid the rebuilding efforts in each territory. The Order will allow ETCs to “use high-cost universal service support that they are currently receiving to repair and maintain telecommunications infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Maria” and waive certain requirements associated with providing service to consumers in these regions. Carriers may also adopt a single advance payment of “up to seven months of high-cost support” to assist with more pressing needs and repairs to restore communications on these islands.
Mid-Band Spectrum NOI Responses
The FCC received diverse responses to their mid-band spectrum Notice of Inquiry adopted in August. Wireless companies are requesting the FCC to make spectrum in the C-band (4-8 GHz) available for terrestrial broadband services immediately, while satellite stakeholders are urging the Commission to proceed with caution. Current C-band licensees called upon the Commission to guard their operations from interference.