Showing posts with label FCC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FCC. Show all posts

Monday, October 1, 2018

Ajit Pai's 5G FAST Plan

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai outlined his strategy for pushing the U.S. into a leadership position with a "5G FAST Plan". There are three key components: (1) pushing more spectrum into the marketplace; (2) updating infrastructure policy; and (3) modernizing outdated regulations.

These are summarized by the FCC as follows.

Spectrum

  • High-band: The FCC has made auctioning high-band, millimeter-wave spectrum a priority.  The FCC will hold its first 5G spectrum auctions this year in the 28 GHz and 24 GHz bands.  In 2019, the FCC will auction the upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands.  With these auctions, the FCC will release almost 5 gigahertz of 5G spectrum into the market—more than all other flexible use bands combined.  And we are working to free up another 2.75 gigahertz of 5G spectrum in the 26 and 42 GHz bands.
  • Mid-band: Mid-band spectrum has become a target for 5G buildout given its balanced coverage and capacity characteristics.  With our work on the 2.5 GHz, 3.5 GHz, and 3.7-4.2 GHz bands, we could make up to 844 megahertz available for 5G deployments.
  • Low-band: The FCC is acting to improve use of low-band spectrum (useful for wider coverage) for 5G services, with targeted changes to the 600 MHz, 800 MHz, and 900 MHz bands.
  • Unlicensed: Recognizing that unlicensed spectrum will be important for 5G, the agency is creating new opportunities for the next generation of Wi-Fi in the 6 GHz and above 95 GHz band.

Infrastructure Policy

  • Speeding Up Federal Review of Small Cells: The FCC adopted new rules that will reduce federal regulatory impediments to deploying the small-cell infrastructure needed for 5G (as opposed to large cell towers) and help to expand the reach of 5G for faster, more reliable wireless service.
  • Speeding Up State and Local Review of Small Cells: The FCC has reformed rules designed decades ago to accommodate small cells.  

Modernizing Outdated Regulations

  • Restoring Internet Freedom: To lead the world in 5G, the United States needs to encourage investment and innovation while protecting Internet openness and freedom.  The FCC adopted the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which sets a consistent national policy for Internet providers.
  • One-Touch Make-Ready: The FCC has updated its rules governing the attachment of new network equipment to utility poles in order to reduce cost and speed up the process for 5G backhaul deployment.
  • Speeding the IP Transition: The FCC has revised its rules to make it easier for companies to invest in next-generation networks and services instead of the fading networks of the past.
  • Business Data Services: In order to incentivize investment in modern fiber networks, the FCC updated rules for high-speed, dedicated services by lifting rate regulation where appropriate.
  • Supply Chain Integrity: The FCC has proposed to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to purchase equipment or services from companies that pose a national security threat to the integrity of American communications networks or the communications supply chain.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

California enacts Net Neutrality law, Washington moves to block

California governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Internet Consumer Protection and Net Neutrality Act of 2018 (Senate Bill 822), which prohibits fixed and mobile Internet service providers from blocking lawful content, applications, services, or nonharmful devices, impairing or degrading lawful Internet traffic on the basis of Internet content, application, or service, or use of a nonharmful device, and specified practices relating to zero-rating.

The new law also prohibits fixed and mobile Internet service providers from offering or providing services other than broadband Internet access service that are delivered over the same last-mile connection as the broadband Internet access service, "if those services have the purpose or effect of evading the above-described prohibitions or negatively affect the performance of broadband Internet access service."

The U.S. Department of Justice immediately announced a lawsuit against the state of California regarding Senate Bill 822.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued the following statement: “I’m pleased the Department of Justice has filed this suit.  The Internet is inherently an interstate information service.  As such, only the federal government can set policy in this area.  And the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently reaffirmed that state regulation of information services is preempted by federal law.   Not only is California’s Internet regulation law illegal, it also hurts consumers.  The law prohibits many free-data plans, which allow consumers to stream video, music, and the like exempt from any data limits.  They have proven enormously popular in the marketplace, especially among lower-income Americans.  But notwithstanding the consumer benefits, this state law bans them.  The Internet is free and open today, and it will continue to be under the light-touch protections of the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order.  I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Department of Justice to ensure the Internet remains ‘unfettered by Federal or State regulation,’ as federal law requires, and the domain of engineers, entrepreneurs, and technologists, not lawyers and bureaucrats.”


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

FCC eases regulatory barriers for small cells and 5G infrastructure

The FCC adopted an order aimed at removing regulatory barriers that inhibit the deployment of infrastructure necessary for 5G and other advanced wireless services.

In a Declaratory Ruling, the FCC focuses primarily on local fees for the authorizations necessary to deploy small wireless facilities.  Specifically, the Declaratory Ruling concludes that state and local governments may not charge fees that "are greater than a reasonable approximation of objectively reasonable costs for processing applications and for managing deployments in the rights-of-way." The ruling sets specific fee levels for small wireless facility deployments that presumably comply with the relevant standard; and provides guidance on when certain state and local non-fee requirements that are allowed, such as aesthetic and undergrounding requirements—may constitute an effective prohibition of service.

The second part of the FCC's decision establishes two new shot clocks for small wireless facilities (60 days for collocation on preexisting structures and 90 days for new builds); and codifies the existing 90 and 150 day shot clocks for wireless facility deployments that do not qualify as small cells that were established in 2009.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stated "To be sure, there are some local governments that don’t like this Order.  They would like to continue extracting as much money as possible in fees from the private sector and forcing companies to navigate a maze of regulatory hurdles in order to deploy wireless infrastructure.  But these actions are not only unlawful, they’re also short-sighted.  They slow the construction of 5G networks and will delay if not prevent the benefits of 5G from reaching American consumers.  And let’s also be clear about one thing:  When you raise the cost of deploying wireless infrastructure, it is those who live in areas where the investment case is the most marginal—rural areas or lower-income urban areas—who are most at risk of losing out.  And I don’t want 5G to widen the digital divide; I want 5G to help close that divide."

Dissenting, in part, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel writes: "Instead of working with our state and local partners to speed the way to 5G deployment, we cut them out.  We tell them that going forward Washington will make choices for them—about which fees are permissible and which are not, about what aesthetic choices are viable and which are not, with complete disregard for the fact that these infrastructure decisions do not work the same in New York, New York and New York, Iowa.  So it comes down to this: three unelected officials on this dais are telling state and local leaders all across the country what they can and cannot do in their own backyards.  This is extraordinary federal overreach."

http://www.fcc.gov

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

FWD: The FCC's much needed Disaster Working Group

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) opened a nominating process to select members for a new Disaster Response and Recovery Working Group of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC).

The long bureaucratic name might suggest to some a tedious process of government meetings, argumentation, and report writing geared at creating new rules that broadband service providers will likely find difficult to interpret, let alone implement without breaking their CAPEX budgets.

However, in light of the shocking telecom disaster in Puerto Rico last year, which revealed woeful preparedness and lax regulatory oversight, any action from the FCC on disaster response and preparedness should be welcomed.

The mission of the new working group is to provide advice and recommendations to the Commission on steps that can be taken to improve disaster preparation, response, and recovery for broadband infrastructure. The same is needed for mobile networks and for optical transport.

A good place to start would be Puerto Rico. All five of the island's mobile networks collapsed during Hurricane Maria, the strongest in a century, with understandable 95% cell tower outages in the early hours, but continued 80% outages lasting for weeks. Not only were all backhaul connections foolishly connected by aerial wire on an island with dense vegetation in hurricane alley, there simply were not plans in place to restore even basic SMS to the majority of the population in the first hours when communications are most needed. The situation soon devolved into the worst mobile telecom disaster in history -- 3.4 million people cut off from telecom services. The outage lasted not for minutes or hours or days, but for weeks!

The broadband network in Puerto Rico was equally impacted -- nearly a total blackout for cable customers and no restoration for weeks or months.  PREPANET, which is the telecom division of the local electric utility, was the leading provider of backhaul service across the island for all of the mobile and broadband operators. Their optical backbone suffered severe damage but the extent of this damage was never clear from the FCC reporting. Some reports claimed water damage disrupted the single point of interconnection between PREPANET's optical backbone and the main cable landing station for the island.

What made this record-breaking telecom disaster even more shocking was that it occurred in a territory of the United States, not a developing country or a place torn by war, extreme poverty or served by network operators with limited technical capabilities. Puerto Rico is served by a multitude of top-tier mobile operators: AT&T, Claro (America Movil), T-Mobile, Sprint and Open Mobile.

To respond to the disaster in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the FCC did set up a Hurricane Recovery Task Force, which produced daily reports on the number of cell sites out of service. However, the Task Force was not capable of procuring equipment and personnel. It did not seem to have any meaningful budget and never imposed deadlines to get things done. Concerning emergency funds, the FCC did allocate $77 million to help restore networks, drawing upon funds that were already designated for universal service support on the island. In March, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed a new $954 million fund for restoring and expanding communications networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is not clear if Congress has allocated money for this fund, and whether it would be given as grants or loans to the existing operators.

Even more surprising, the FCC never called on the CEOs of the mobile operators and broadband operators in Puerto Rico to explain in a public forum why their networks failed so spectacularly. Nor have we seen assurances that the rebuilt networks are substantially more resilient, or that minimal emergency communications services could be restarted following another disaster.

Could we imagine this intensity and duration of Puerto Rico telecom disruption occurring in Boston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Denver or San Diego? It has been nearly a year since Hurricane Maria, and so far we have yet to hear the key learnings from the worst mobile outage to date.

Maybe this new Disaster Response and Recovery Working Group will have something to say. It was not so long ago that Five Nines reliability was an absolute requirement.

https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-seeks-applicants-bdac-disaster-response-and-recovery-group

Thursday, August 2, 2018

FCC targets faster access to utility poles for new uses

The FCC adopted new rules aimed at promoting broadband and fiber backhaul buildouts by speeding the process and reducing the costs of attaching new network facilities to utility poles.

The new “one-touch, make-ready” allows the party seeking to attach new equipment to a pole to prepare the pole quickly, rather than spreading the work across multiple parties. The FCC estimates that "one-touch, make-ready" could result in approximately 8.3 million incremental premises passed with fiber and about $12.6 billion in incremental fiber capital expenditures.  The process will not apply to more complicated attachments, or above the “communications space” of a pole, where safety and reliability risks are greater, but the Order improves current processes for attachments in these spaces.

The FCC also clarified that it will preempt, on a case-by-case basis, state and local laws that inhibit the rebuilding or restoration of broadband infrastructure after a disaster.  The FCC declaratory ruling further states that state and local moratoria on telecommunications services and facilities deployment are barred by the Communications Act because they “prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the ability of any entity to provide any interstate or intrastate telecommunications service.”

FCC approves compensation for low-power entities regarding incentive spectrum auction

Responding to a recent Congressional directive, the FCC announced rules to reimburse certain Low Power TV (LPTV), TV translator, and FM stations for costs incurred as a result of the spectrum incentive auction. 

Full power, Class A, and MVPD already receive compensation for certain costs incurred by the incentive auction. The list of eligible entities is now being expanded.

Monday, July 30, 2018

FCC appoints Babette Boliek as chief economist

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today announced the appointment of Dr. Babette Boliek as chief economist for the Federal Communications Commission. She earned her doctorate in economics from the University of California, Davis, and her law degree from Columbia University School of Law. 

“Our work at the FCC often sits at the intersection between law and economics.  It seems only fitting, then, that our new chief economist has deep experience in each of these fields,” said Chairman Pai.  “Our current efforts to better integrate economic analysis factors into many aspects of the agency’s work, from closing the digital divide to merger review.  Adding an extraordinarily talented, well-respected expert like Dr. Boliek to our team will help us continue to make well-informed decisions that reflect basic principles of economics as well as the rule of law.  I’m grateful that Dr. Boliek has agreed to join our team.”

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Spectrum auctions to top FCC's August meeting

The Federal Communications Commission's open meeting scheduled for Thursday, August 2, 2018, is expected to clear up key spectrum issues: On the agenda:

Spectrum Frontiers Auction Procedures – setting the rules for auctioning Upper Microwave Flexible Use Licenses in the 28 GHz (Auction 101) and 24 GHz (Auction 102) bands.

The auction of the 28 GHz band (Auction 101) would employ the FCC's standard simultaneous multiple round (SMR) auction format, which offers every license for bid at the same time and consists of successive bidding rounds in which bidders may place bids on individual licenses. This auction is scheduled to commence on November 14, 2018,

The auction of the 24 GHz band (Auction 102) would employ a clock auction format, which would allow bidding on generic blocks in each PEA in successive clock bidding rounds. The bidding for the 24 GHz band (Auction 102) will be scheduled to commence after the conclusion of bidding in Auction 101.

Making 39 GHz Band Auction Ready – transitioning existing spectrum holdings in the 39 GHz band (38.6-40 GHz) to a new flexible-use band plan by offering new licenses for contiguous spectrum in the band.

Wireline Infrastructure – an order to reform the pole attachment process, allowing one-touch, make-ready for most pole attachments. The FCC may also issue a Declaratory Ruling to prohibit state and local moratoria on telecommunications facilities deployment.

https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-announces-tentative-agenda-august-open-meeting-4

Thursday, July 12, 2018

FCC looks to open 3.7 and 4.2 GHz for 5G

The Federal Communications Commission has identified up to 500 megahertz of mid-band spectrum between 3.7 and 4.2 GHz that could be open for 5G wireless services.

A newly adopted FCC order sets forth several steps toward making more mid-band spectrum available for terrestrial fixed and mobile broadband use.  Specifically, the Order will require Fixed Satellite Service earth stations operating in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band to certify the accuracy of existing registration and license information and will collect additional information from space station licensees on their operations in the band to assist the Commission and commenters in developing a clearer understanding of how the band is currently being used.  The Commission will then use this information to evaluate the most efficient way to drive the deployment of mid-band spectrum for mobile services and more intensive fixed services.

The FCC said its Notice also proposes to add a mobile (except aeronautical mobile) allocation to all 500 megahertz in the band and seeks comment on various proposals for transitioning part or all of the band for flexible use, working up from 3.7 GHz, including market-based, auction, and alternative mechanisms.  The Notice also seeks comment on allowing more intensive point-to-multipoint fixed use in some portion of the band, on a shared basis, working down from 4.2 GHz and on how to define and protect incumbent users from harmful interference, and it seeks comment on service and technical rules that would enable efficient and intensive use by any new services in the band.

"Our focus here is on making more intensive use of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, commonly called the C-band.  To help us figure out the best way forward, we authorize the collection of additional information from the band’s current users.  That data will help us figure out how to accommodate the needs of incumbents, which are primarily using the band to provide Fixed Satellite Service.  It’ll also enable us to free up more spectrum for advanced wireless services," stated FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

U.S. seeks to block China Mobile from entering U.S. market

Citing national security concerns, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration is requesting that the FCC deny a license request from China Mobile to offer services in the U.S. market.

“After significant engagement with China Mobile, concerns about increased risks to U.S. law enforcement and national security interests were unable to be resolved. Therefore, the Executive Branch of the U.S. government, through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration pursuant to its statutory responsibility to coordinate the presentation of views of the Executive Branch to the FCC, recommends that the FCC deny China Mobile’s Section 214 license request.”

https://www.ntia.doc.gov/press-release/2018/ntia-statement-china-mobile-s-section-214-application-fcc

  • China Mobile initially filed its petition for global facilities-based and global resale international Section 214 authority in September 2011.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

FWD: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai advances his reform agenda

Building on a series of regulatory reforms adopted last November, the FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai has just adopted a new set of orders aimed at eliminating "unnecessary regulatory hurdles for carriers seeking to move from the networks of yesterday to the networks of tomorrow."

This set of reforms intends to:

  • Streamline the grandfathering of lower-speed data services where the carrier already provides fixed replacement data services at download speeds of 25 Megabits per second and 3 Mbps for uploads.  The streamlined process provides 10 days for public comment, and grandfathering is allowed automatically in 25 days, barring substantive objections.
  • Streamline the permanent discontinuance of services already grandfathered by the Commission for 180 days.  The process will now provide 10 days for comment and 31 days for an automatic grant.
  • Relieve carriers of discontinuance approval obligations for services with no customers and no reasonable requests for service for at least the preceding 30 days.
  • Eliminate burdensome, inflexible, and unnecessary education and outreach requirements for carriers discontinuing legacy voice services in the transition to next-generation IP services.
  • Allow carriers to seek streamlined discontinuance of legacy voice services when a carrier provides stand-alone interconnected VoIP throughout its affected service area, and at least one other stand-alone, facilities-based voice service is available from another provider.
  • Eliminate unnecessary and burdensome or redundant notifications for changes that may impact compatibility of customer premises equipment.
  • Facilitate rapid restoration of communications networks in the face of natural disasters and other unforeseen events by eliminating advance notice and waiting period requirements for network changes in exigent circumstances.

Currently, the five-person commission is missing one member, as the term of Mignon L. Clyburn, a Democrat, has expired. This means the FCC is currently served by 3 Republicans (Chairman Ajit Pai, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, and Commissioner Brendan Carr) and only one Democrat (Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel). Not surprisingly, on issues of regulatory reform and "elimination of burdensome rules" the Republicans voted in favor of the measuring, believing it to be business-friendly, while the lone Democrat voted against it, arguing that rules are needed as safeguards for the public.

Ajit Pai put it this way: "Last November, we took steps to accelerate the transition to next-generation networks.  Today, we do even more to modernize our rules.  These reforms can free up billions of dollars which carriers can devote to building new networks instead of propping up old ones.  This is especially important in rural America, where the business case for building broadband is often hard.
The end result of all these efforts will be more rapid deployment, which means better, faster broadband and more competition for American consumers. One example of a reform we adopt today is our decision to streamline the discontinuance process for low-speed data services if a carrier is already providing high-speed broadband—i.e., at least 25/3 Mbps.  This links regulatory relief to the provision of high-quality replacement services, which will both encourage the building of modern networks and ensure that consumers are protected." 

In dissent, Jessica Rosenworcel writes: "When a carrier wants to make big changes to its network, this agency had policies in place to ensure no consumers were cut off from communications.  In other words, leave no consumer behind.  We had rules that required carriers to educate their customers about network alterations and simply answer calls about how their service might be changed when old facilities were swapped out for new.  Today the FCC guts these basic consumer protection policies.  It tosses them out.  It says we don’t need them.  So what does that mean?  Imagine a grandmother living in a rural community.  Her service provider wants to make big network changes because the cost of serving that remote area with traditional network technology now exceeds the revenue.  That makes sense for the carrier.  But for our grandmother, she just wants to know that her phone, her health monitor, and her alarm system—all of which rely on her current network—continue to work.  She wants a heads up.  She wants to be able to navigate change and understand what will require a new contract.  She wants information about what will involve a new service and at what cost... This is mean.  It’s not just mean to my fictional grandmother, it’s mean to millions of Americans who will find that their carriers can switch out services without advance notice or consumer education, leaving them scrambling to find alternatives, reconfigure their homes and businesses in order to keep connected."

President Trump recently nominated Geoffrey Adam Starks, of Kansas, to be the replacement commission for Mignon Clyburn, for a term of five years from July 1, 2017. If approved by the Senate, his nomination is expected to restore a 3-2 balance inside the FCC. Sufficient for Ajit Pai to continue his reform program.

In the meantime, the 3-1 voting balance means that Pai has more leeway. Another order adopted this week with all 3 Republicans voting in favor waives the requirement for small, rural carriers to contribute to the Universal Service Fund (USF) on their broadband Internet access transmission service revenues. Hopefully, these small, rural carriers will pass the savings on to their end customers, thus lowering the cost of rural broadband. On the other hand, it may weaken the Universal Service Fund.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Trump nominates Geoffrey Starks as FCC Commissioner

President Trump nominated Geoffrey Adam Starks, of Kansas, to be a Member of the Federal Communications Commission for a term of five years from July 1, 2017. If approved by the Senate, he would replace Democrat Mignon L. Clyburn, whose term expired.

Starks currently serves as assistant bureau chief for the FCC's Enforcement division. Previously, he served at the Department of Justice as a senior counsel to Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole. He has a JD from Yale Law School.




Wednesday, May 16, 2018

U.S. Senate votes to rescind FCC order ending Net Neutrality

The FCC voted 52-to-47  in favor of a bill that reverses the FCC's recent order ending Net Neutrality.

The bill now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.


FCC votes 3-2 to end Net Neutrality rules

The FCC voted 3-2 along partisan lines to adopt the "Restoring Internet Freedom Order" proposed by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to rollback Obama-era Net Neutrality rules. Voting in favor of the order were Republicans Ajit Pai, who argued that measure will usher in a new era of investment for Internet infrastructure. Also voting in favor were Republicans Michael O'Rielly and Brendan Carr. Voting against the measure were Democrats Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel.

FCC Chairman said that by returning to the classification of Internet services as an “information service”— removing the current Title II regulatory regime that gives the FCC say over the delivery of Internet content — the new order returns the industry to the status quo prior to 2015.

The vote proceeded despite an urgent request from the Attorney Generals of 18 states urging a delay to the vote due to a criminal investigation into possible fraudulent manipulation of the FCC's public comment process for this issue.  In a public letterto FCC Commissioners, the Attorney Generals said their ongoing review of the public comments process has revealed a large number of fake comment submissions using the names and identities of real people. The initial assessment is that there were over 1 million fake comments indicating a deliberate effort to skew the public comment process on an issue of national importance. The Attorney Generals are also requesting the help of the FCC in their investigation of "massive identity theft."

President Trump Picks Pai for FCC Chairman



President Donald J. Trump designated Ajit Pai as his choice to be Chair of the FCC. Ajit Varadaraj Pai was nominated for FCC Commissioner by President Obama in 2011. Pai took over the seat abandoned by Meredith Baker who left the FCC to take a job as a lobbyist for Comcast. Pai was previously a Partner in the Litigation Department of Jenner & Block LLP. Previously, Pai worked in the Office of the General Counsel at the Federal Communications...







FCC Votes 3-2 to Adopt Open Internet Rules

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to adopt a new set of Open Internet rules proposed by Commissioner Wheeler and backed by the Obama Administration. All of the new rules, which are based on the FCC's authority under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, would apply to fixed and mobile broadband alike, while leaving room for reasonable network management and its specific application to mobile and unlicensed WiFi networks.

Here are the key provisions and rules of the Open Internet Order as outlined by the FCC:

Bright Line Rules:  The first three rules ban practices that are known to harm the Open Internet.

  • No Blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind—in other words, no “fast lanes.”   This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates. It also prohibits practices that target specific applications or classes of applications.  

Thursday, May 3, 2018

FCC requests 2019 budget of $333 million

The FCC is requesting a FY 2019 budget of $333,118,000, derived from regulatory fees for regular FCC operations, and an auction spending cap of $112,734,000. 

For comparison, the FCC received an appropriation of $322,035,000 for FY 2018, which was down approximately five percent from the FY 2017 appropriation.

The FCC noted that some of the additional funding will be used for upcoming spectrum auctions, including the nearly $2 billion Connect America Fund Phase II reverse auction this year to expand fixed broadband service to unserved regions The FCC is targeting 2019 for the $4.5 billion Mobility Fund Phase II reverse auction.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mignon L. Clyburn to leave the FCC

Mignon L. Clyburn announced her intention to step down as FCC commissioner.

Clyburn has served on the FCC since July 2009 and has become known for her advocacy of Net Neutrality, efforts to close the digital divide, and reform of predatory telecom practices that take advantage of the poor and of prison inmates.  She previously was a member of South Carolina's Public Service Commission.

In 2013, Clyburn took on the role of acting chair of the FCC until Tom Wheeler was confirmed by the Senate for the role. She was the first woman to hold the chair at the FCC.

Friday, March 30, 2018

FCC issues its order to speed rollout of 5G small cells

The Federal Communications Commission issued its expected order streamlining the wireless infrastructure siting review process to facilitate the deployment of 5G small cells. The order addresses the differences between large and small wireless facilities, and clarifies the treatment of small cell deployments. Specifically, the Order:

  • Excludes small wireless facilities deployed on non-Tribal lands from National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review,
  • concluding that these facilities are not “undertakings” or “major federal actions.” Small wireless facilities deployments continue to be subject to currently applicable
  • state and local government approval requirements.
  • Clarifies and makes improvements to the process for Tribal participation in Section 106 historic preservation reviews for large wireless facilities where NHPA/NEPA
  • review is still required.
  • Removes the requirement that applicants file Environmental Assessments solely due to the location of a proposed facility in a floodplain, as long as certain conditions are met.
  • Establishes timeframes for the Commission to act on Environmental Assessments.

Ajit Pai, FCC Chair, stated: "We take a giant leap forward in updating our wireless infrastructure rules.  By cutting unnecessary red tape, weíll make it substantially easier for carriers to build next-generation wireless networks throughout the United States.  That means faster and more reliable wireless services for American consumers and businesses.  That means more wireless innovation, such as novel applications based on the Internet of Things.  And ultimately, that means American leadership in 5G.  Specifically, we clarify today that small cells are inherently different from large towers.  So they shouldnít face identical regulatory review under the National Historic Preservation Act and National Environmental Policy Act.  We also streamline the process for Tribal review notifications through our Tower Construction Notification System."

In dissent, Jessica Rsosenworcel, writes: "It is not a sure thing that the United States will lead the world in 5G wireless.  In fact, the available evidence is that weíre falling behind.  If we want to lead in 5G, we unconditionally need a spectrum auction this year.  South Korea, Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Romania are now leading the way with definitive plans for wireless auctions in 2018.  We do not do that here.  If we want to lead in 5G, we need policies to encourage deep fiber investments.  Our wireless facilities will need to be connected to millions of miles of fiber, requiring creative thinking about everything from permitting to securing access to rights of way.  We do not do that here.  If we want to lead in 5G, we need serious policies to address our equipment supply chain challenges.  That means developing a real plan rather than relying on opaque decisions issued from behind the closed doors of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.  We do not do that here.   If we want to lead in 5G, we need to modernize our approach to wireless infrastructure.  We need to streamline the process for the deployment of small cells because over the next eight years we will require as many as 800,000 of them.  Thatís daunting.  At the same time, we need to modernize our approach to larger wireless facilitiesóand thatís daunting, too.  A solution to this infrastructure challenge is long overdueóand while todayís decision purports to be oneóit misses the mark."

FCC approves SpaceX's NGSO Satellite System

The FCC voted authorized SpaceX to construct, deploy, and operate a proposed non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellite system comprising 4,425 satellites for the provision of fixed-satellite service (FSS) around the world. 

In July 2016, OneWeb was granted approval to build a similar constellation of MEO satellites.

Two months ago, SpaceX successfully launched the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) PAZ observation satellite on behalf of Hisdesat and two satellites of its own.  Tintin A & B are the first two demonstration satellites for SpaceX's planned Starlink broadband satellite service. Both were successfully deployed into polar orbit and are communicating with Earth stations.

In regulatory filing, SpaceX has revealed that its initial system will consist of 4,425 satellites operating in 83 orbital planes (at altitudes ranging from 1,110 km to 1,325 km).  The system will require associated ground control facilities, gateway earth stations, and end-user earth stations. The system will use Ka- and Ku-Band spectrum.  SpaceX has separately filed for authority to operate in the V-Band, where the company has proposed an additional constellation of 7,500 satellites operating even closer to Earth. To implement the system, SpaceX will utilise the availability of significantly more powerful computing and software capabilities.  On the launch broadcast for the PAZ satellite, SpaceX said quite a bit of development work remains ahead on its satellite constellation plans.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Intelsat and SES agree on joint use of C-band by satellite and mobile operators

Intelsat and SES last week both agreed to back a proposal to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the seeks to protect satellite services in the 3700-4200 MHz C-band downlink spectrum while opening a specified portion of that spectrum for terrestrial mobile use.

The companies said their joint proposal sets a commercial and technical framework that would enable wireless operators to quickly access approximately 100 MHz of nationwide C-band downlink spectrum in the United States, speeding the deployment of next-generation 5G services. The idea builds on an innovative model first put forward to the FCC by Intelsat and Intel in October 2017 for spectrum sharing.

Under the proposal, a consortium of satellite operators would be created to oversee the governance of the initiative, define and implement the methodology for spectrum clearance, and serve as the sole interface for market-based transactions with parties interested in deploying terrestrial mobile services in specific portions of the C-band.

“The C-band is and remains a critical component of the U.S. network architecture. Space and ground segment operators have invested billions of dollars in U.S. C-band networks and connectivity and generate important value out of it. It is, therefore, our duty and mission to protect the C-band in the U.S. from any form of disruption and preserve its use,” stated Karim Michel Sabbagh, President and CEO of SES.

"Our proposed market-based solution provides a speedy resolution to the U.S. objective of accelerating deployment of 5G services. With Intelsat and SES now in agreement on major tenets of the framework and with the support of Intel, we are confident in our ability to implement this proposal quickly and efficiently, ultimately to the benefit of American consumers and the U.S. economy,” said Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Proposal to nationalize 5G draws immediate criticism from FCC, CTIA

National Security Council officials in the Trump administration are considering a federal role in building and operating a national 5G network, according to a report by Axios based on a leaked Powerpoint and memo. The idea is to develop a secure, nationwide 5G network at the federal level to stave off security concerns from China. The nationalized infrastructure would then be leased to mobile operators.

The report has drawn immediate criticism across the board.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai: "“I oppose any proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network.  The main lesson to draw from the wireless sector’s development over the past three decades—including American leadership in 4G—is that the market, not government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment.  What government can and should do is to push spectrum into the commercial marketplace and set rules that encourage the private sector to develop and deploy next-generation infrastructure."

CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker: “The wireless industry agrees that winning the race to 5G is a national priority. The government should pursue the free market policies that enabled the U.S. wireless industry to win the race to 4G.”

Thursday, December 14, 2017

FCC votes 3-2 to end Net Neutrality rules

The FCC voted 3-2 along partisan lines to adopt the "Restoring Internet Freedom Order" proposed by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to rollback Obama-era Net Neutrality rules. Voting in favor of the order were Republicans Ajit Pai, who argued that measure will usher in a new era of investment for Internet infrastructure. Also voting in favor were Republicans Michael O'Rielly and Brendan Carr. Voting against the measure were Democrats Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel.

FCC Chairman said that by returning to the classification of Internet services as an “information service”— removing the current Title II regulatory regime that gives the FCC say over the delivery of Internet content — the new order returns the industry to the status quo prior to 2015.

The vote proceeded despite an urgent request from the Attorney Generals of 18 states urging a delay to the vote due to a criminal investigation into possible fraudulent manipulation of the FCC's public comment process for this issue.  In a public letter to FCC Commissioners, the Attorney Generals said their ongoing review of the public comments process has revealed a large number of fake comment submissions using the names and identities of real people. The initial assessment is that there were over 1 million fake comments indicating a deliberate effort to skew the public comment process on an issue of national importance. The Attorney Generals are also requesting the help of the FCC in their investigation of "massive identity theft."

President Trump Picks Pai for FCC Chairman



President Donald J. Trump designated Ajit Pai as his choice to be Chair of the FCC. Ajit Varadaraj Pai was nominated for FCC Commissioner by President Obama in 2011. Pai took over the seat abandoned by Meredith Baker who left the FCC to take a job as a lobbyist for Comcast. Pai was previously a Partner in the Litigation Department of Jenner & Block LLP. Previously, Pai worked in the Office of the General Counsel at the Federal Communications...







FCC Votes 3-2 to Adopt Open Internet Rules

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to adopt a new set of Open Internet rules proposed by Commissioner Wheeler and backed by the Obama Administration. All of the new rules, which are based on the FCC's authority under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, would apply to fixed and mobile broadband alike, while leaving room for reasonable network management and its specific application to mobile and unlicensed WiFi networks.

Here are the key provisions and rules of the Open Internet Order as outlined by the FCC:

Bright Line Rules:  The first three rules ban practices that are known to harm the Open Internet.

  • No Blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind—in other words, no “fast lanes.”   This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates. It also prohibits practices that target specific applications or classes of applications.  

The FCC's  Wireless Telecommunications Bureau has ended its investi

See also