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Telecom Alert - Rural Digital Opportunity Fund; 911 Items at August Open Meeting; Broadband Data Collection Order; 900 MHz Freeze; FCC Actions Impacting Multitenant Properties; Millimeter Wave Auction - Vol. XVI, Issue 28

Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

In a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released on July 11 (scheduled to be adopted at the FCC’s August 1 Open Meeting), the FCC proposes to implement the $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund through a two-phase approach that would allocate support using a multi-round, descending clock auction, as utilized in the CAF II auction conducted in 2018.  Phase I of the RDOF would allocate support to wholly-unserved census blocks not having broadband speeds at or above 25/3 Mbps with a budget of at least $16 billion over ten years.  Many of these census blocks were included in the FCC’s 2015 state-wide offers to the price cap ILECs that set a performance obligation of 10/1 Mbps. Phase II would allocate the remaining support to unserved locations in partially unserved census blocks along with areas not won in Phase I.  Bidding preferences for technologies would be established for higher speeds, such as fiber-based gigabit service.  25/3 Mbps will be the minimum bidding tier.

FCC to Consider 911 Items at August Open Meeting

Last week, the FCC issued the draft text of an Order that would adopt rules implementing Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’S Act.  Kari’s Law requires MLTS systems sold or installed after February 16, 2020, to enable users to dial 911 directly, without having to dial a prefix to reach an outside line.  The law also requires MLTS systems to provide a notification (ex. to a front desk or security office) when a 911 call is made.  RAY BAUM’S Act requires the Commission to consider rules that ensure a dispatchable location is conveyed along with every 911 call, regardless of the technological platform used.  This would ensure a 911 call center receives the caller’s location automatically and can dispatch responders more quickly.  The Order will be voted on during the Commission’s Open Meeting next month.

Broadband Data Collection Order

The Commission released a draft Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the collection of broadband deployment data.  If adopted, the Report and Order portion would establish the “Digital Opportunity Data Collection” to collect geospatial broadband coverage maps from ISPs, adopt a process to collect public input on the accuracy of the ISPs’ maps, and make changes to the FCC Form 477 to reduce reporting burdens and incorporate new technologies.  The Second FNPRM generally seeks comment on how to ensure greater precision, accurate, and reliable coverage data in the Digital Opportunity Data Collection.  The FNPRM also seeks comment on sunsetting the FCC Form 477 broadband deployment collection once the Digital Opportunity Data Collection is created.

Request to Modify 900 MHz Freeze

In March, the Commission adopted the 900 MHz Freeze NPRM 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 11).  Anterix (formerly pdvWireless) filed a request to modify the 900 MHz Freeze. Anterix requested that incumbents “be permitted to exchange frequencies in the broadband segment voluntarily for frequencies in the narrowband segments on a 1:1 basis.”  Anterix explained that allowing incumbents to begin voluntary relocation will accelerate the relocation process without compromising the outcome of the proceeding.

FCC Ruling and NPRM Impacting Multitenant Properties

On July 10, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Declaratory Ruling impacting owners and operators of commercial and residential multitenant properties (MTEs), focusing on multiple dwelling units (MDUs).  In the Declaratory Ruling, the FCC preempted San Francisco’s local ordinance that authorizes sharing of in-use wiring in MDUs but endorsed state and local laws that require facilities-based access to MDUs for broadband services.  The NPRM raises questions on (i) access and marketing agreements for fixed broadband, video and voice services (“Triple Play Agreements”) routinely negotiated by services providers and MDUs, (ii) wireless rooftop leases, and (iii) wireless carrier access to inbuilding distributed antenna systems (DAS).

Millimeter Wave Auction Procedures

The Commission issued a Public Notice with procedures for the Millimeter Wave Incentive Auction.  The Auction will reconfigure the 39 GHz band to offer new flexible use licenses in the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands (Vol. XVI, Issue 12).  Bidding for the auction is scheduled to begin December 10, 2019.  The Commission will offer 100 MHz blocks of spectrum licensed by Partial Economic Area (PEA) service area, for a total of 3,400 MHz of spectrum.

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 196


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,...