Telecom Alert - September 18, 2017: Spectrum Frontier Order Expected; FirstNet Update; Wideband Emissions Forfeiture Order; USF Proposed Contribution
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that he plans to circulate a draft of a second Spectrum Frontiers Order to his fellow commissioners by year’s end. The order would make additional high band spectrum available to wireless service providers. Pai recounted that the initial Spectrum Frontiers Order (Vol. XIII, Issue 26) freed up almost 11 GHz of spectrum in bands above 24 GHz for mobile use (3.85 GHz for licensed use in the 28, 37, and 39 GHz bands and 7 GHz for unlicensed use in the 64-71 GHz band). Pai stated that the Commission should continue to examine the 28 GHz, 37 GHz, and 39 GHz bands, but should also consider other high band spectrum suitable for shared commercial use.
The Commission issued an Order establishing the two-prong review process for state plans for states that choose to opt-out of FirstNet. The Order specifically addresses “Prong 2,” which pertains to interoperability. The Commission concluded that Prong 2 should be limited to Recommended Requirements  and  of the Interoperability Board report, which apply to the use of Access Point Names (“APNs”). In the Order, the Commission stated “we anticipate that there are a variety of commercially standard and reasonable ways that a state alternative plan could satisfactorily demonstrate that it will meet the interoperability standard established for Prong 2.” The Commission declined to address the issue of whether states may operate a separate core, and left it to FirstNet or NTIA to determine.
Enforcement Bureau Issues Forfeiture Order for Wideband Emissions
The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued a Forfeiture Order last week imposing a $13,000 fine against Global Paratransit Inc., a transit company focused on providing transportation for the physically disabled, for failing to operate its private land mobile radio station on a narrowband basis. The order follows the company’s failure to respond to both a Notice of Violation and Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (Vol. XIV, Issue 13), which were issued after the Commission received an anonymous tip.
USF Proposed Contribution
The Office of Managing Director of the Federal Communications Commission announced that the universal service contribution factor (the percentage of USF-assessable revenues that telecommunications providers must contribute to support universal service programs) will be 18.8% for the 4th Quarter of 2017. This is the highest level ever for the USF contribution factor.