Telecom Alert: Secured and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program Procedures; 900 MHz Applications Granted; First, Sixth Circuits Rule on Cable Franchise Decisions; Mobile Broadband Map; 911 Outage Reporting NPRM [Vol. XVIII, Issue 32]
Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program Procedures
FCC released a Public Notice last week adopting final procedures for the application filing and reimbursement process for the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program (“Reimbursement Program”) (Vol. XVIII, Issue 28). In December 2020, the Commission adopted its Rip-and-Replace Report and Order requiring eligible telecommunications carriers to remove and replace any equipment deemed to pose an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States, and reimbursing carriers for such projects. In the Public Notice the Commission finalized the list of eligible expenses and estimated costs, as well as the list of categories of suggested replacement equipment and services. The FCC set a target date of October 29, 2021 to begin accepting applications but will officially announce the opening of the filing window in a forthcoming notice.
900 MHz Applications Granted
The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau issued a Public Notice last week granting the first round of 900 MHz broadband segment applications (Vol. XVIII, Issue 18). The FCC realigned the 900 MHz band in May 2020 to make available six megahertz of low-band spectrum for the development of critical wireless broadband technologies and services, while reserving four megahertz of spectrum for continued narrowband operations. The Commission granted three applications of PDV Spectrum Holding Company, LLC to conduct operations in the band in the state of Illinois.
First Circuit Upholds Maine Cable Franchising Provisions; Sixth Circuit Denies Rehearing on Appeal of FCC Cable Franchise Order
Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit adopted an Opinion affirming a lower district court decision upholding a Maine law that requires cable operators to place public educational and government (“PEG”) access channels in their basic cable tier and on lower channels in the vicinity of broadcast stations. The law also requires cable operators to include channels in program guides and to retransmit PEG channel signals in the format in which they are received and at the same signal quality as the operator retransmits local broadcast channel signals. The First Circuit also upheld a requirement that cable operators “extend cable service to areas that have a population density of at least 15 residences per linear strand mile.” In a separate action last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit denied a request for rehearing of an earlier panel decision of the Court largely upholding a 2019 FCC Cable Franchising Order (Vol. XVIII, Issue 22).
FCC Releases Mobile Broadband Map
Last week, the FCC launched a first-of-its-kind mobile broadband map that shows broadband coverage and availability data in the United States from the country’s largest wireless providers. The map shows 4G LTE broadband data and voice mobile coverage as of May 15, 2021 for each of the nation’s four largest mobile carriers, making it the first public map showing updated coverage released by the Commission. The Commission is seeking comment on technical details on the challenge and verification process for its mobile maps and will hold a webinar on these proposals on August 12.
911 Outage Reporting NPRM Raises Criticisms
In contrast to broad support from the Public Safety community, several industry groups have raised concerns over the FCC’s recent proposals to amend its 911 outage reporting requirements (Vol. XVIII, Issue 17). The Commission proposes requiring service providers to report network outages within 60 minutes of discovering 911 service is unavailable and to maintain accurate contact information for 911 call centers, among other changes. CTIA commented that many of the proposals are “broad and open-ended” and could potentially lead to more issues if not implemented appropriately. US Telecom highlighted that the information available to providers and the type of information that is helpful for public safety answering points (“PSAPs”) will vary depending on the specific incident, urging the FCC to provide flexibility so that providers are only required to provide information available to them. Reply comments are due by August 30, 2021.