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

Thursday, January 3, 2019

FCC suspends most operations

Due to the ongoing partial federal government shutdown, the FCC has suspended most of its normal operations.

FF electronic systems still in operation include: the Network Outage Reporting System (NORS), the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS), the Public Safety Support Center (PSSC), the Licensing Management System (LMS), the Consolidated Database System (CDBS), the Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), the Universal Licensing System (ULS), the Electronic Document Management System (EDOCS), the Auctions Public Reporting System (PRS), the Auction Application System, the Auction Bidding System, the Daily Digest, and the Commission Online Registration System (CORES).

FCC staff are also continuing to perform ongoing work related to spectrum auction activities, including the post-incentive auction broadcast transition.  All spectrum auction filing deadlines will continue to apply.

U.S. Senate confirms Geoffrey Starks and Brendan Carr for FCC

The U.S. Senate confirmed Geoffrey Starks as an FCC Commissioner and Commissioner Brendan Carr for a full term.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued the following statement:

“I congratulate Geoffrey on his Senate confirmation.  He brings a wealth of experience and expertise, including having served most recently as Assistant Chief in the Enforcement Bureau.  During his confirmation hearing, I was excited to hear him highlight the need to expand rural broadband and the power of telemedicine.  I look forward to working with him and having a fellow Kansan on the Commission.

“I also congratulate Brendan on his confirmation to a full term.  Brendan has done tremendous work on a number of issues, including his leadership on wireless infrastructure modernization.  He has also been a staunch advocate for rural broadband deployment, particularly for precision agriculture and advancements in telemedicine.”

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, December 12, 2018

FCC sets rules for 2019 5G incentive auction

The FCC adopted new rules that to promote the availability of high-band millimeter wave spectrum .  The airwaves in the combined Upper 37 GHz and 39 GHz bands are the largest amount of contiguous spectrum available for wireless service in the millimeter wave bands — 2,400 megahertz in total — while the 47 GHz band provides an additional 1,000 megahertz of spectrum.

Specifically, the FCC's action:

  • Modifies the band plans for the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands from 200 megahertz blocks to 100 megahertz blocks to be licensed by Partial Economic Area, which will facilitate the simultaneous auction of licenses in the three bands;
  • Adopts an incentive auction mechanism that will offer contiguous blocks of spectrum throughout the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands, while preserving spectrum usage rights for existing licensees; and
  • Adopts a pre-auction process that allows incumbent licensees to rationalize their holdings.

The incentive auction of these spectrum bands will have two phases: a clock phase in which bidders may bid on generic license blocks, and an assignment phase in which clock phase winners may bid on specific frequencies.  Incentive payments will be offered to incumbents who choose to relinquish their spectrum usage rights to make new licenses available.

New entrants and participating incumbents may bid for new licenses.  Incumbents that bid for new licenses may use “vouchers” equivalent to their existing holdings for credit toward the amount they bid in the auction.  For an incumbent that chooses not to relinquish all its existing rights, the Report and Order provides methods to modify the incumbent’s licenses so that they align with the band plan and service areas adopted by the Commission.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stated: "Pushing more spectrum into the commercial marketplace is a key component of our 5G FAST plan to maintain American leadership in the next generation of wireless connectivity. Currently, we’re conducting an auction of 28 GHz band spectrum, to be followed by a 24 GHz band auction. And today, we are taking a critical step towards holding an auction of the Upper 37, 39, and 47 GHz bands in 2019. These and other steps will help us stay ahead of the spectrum curve and allow wireless innovation to thrive on our shores."


FCC boosts funding for rural broadband, sets 25/3 Mbps minimum

The FCC will offer up to $67 million a year in additional support for carriers receiving funding through the Connect America Fund’s Alternative Connect America Cost Model, or A-CAM. The additional funding aims to help small, rural providers, known as rate-of-return carriers, to deliver faster broadband speeds and expanded coverage in rural areas. In return for additional funding, the FCC will require providers to expand availability of service offering downloads of at least 25/3 Mbps service, compared to the current 10/1 Mbps standard.The FCC said this new funding has the potential to increase by 100,000 the number of rural homes and businesses with access to 25/3 Mbps service.

The FCC also acted to open a new window for carriers receiving support through legacy mechanisms to voluntarily move to model-based support through the A-CAM II offer, which incentivizes deployment while reducing regulatory burdens.  In return, these carriers would be required to provide 25/3 Mbps service to all homes and businesses whose costs are fully funded through the A-CAM cost model.

In addition, the FCC is increasing the $1.4 billion annual budget for carriers that continue to get support from legacy mechanisms by initiating an annual inflation adjustment, eliminating 2018 cuts mandated by budgetary rules established under the prior Administration, and setting a guaranteed floor of minimum support for each carrier.  In return, legacy providers would be required to expand deployment of 25/3 Mbps service.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stated: "Today, we take a major step toward closing the digital divide.  The trees are thick:  We’re substantially reforming the high-cost universal service support program for some of the country’s smallest rural carriers, and the program’s rules are complicated to say the least.  But the forest is easy to see:  We’re helping to ensure that rural Americans can participate in the digital economy. We’re changing the system for rural carriers and consumers alike in three basic ways.  Each will result in material improvements in rural connectivity."

https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-increases-universal-service-support-faster-rural-broadband

Friday, December 7, 2018

FCC releases Communications Marketplace data

The FCC released 581 pages of data indices for its Communications Marketplace Report.

The FCC said these appendices reflect updates to data received and processed after the release of the draft Communications Marketplace Report on November 21, 2018.

https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-355405A1.pdf

Two items from the report



Wednesday, November 21, 2018

FCC grants approvals to four more next-gen satellite constellations

Earlier this month, the FCC approved the requests of four companies seeking to deploy next-gen satellite constellations:

Space Exploration Holdings (SpaceX) -- authorized to construct, deploy, and operate a new very-low-Earth orbit constellation of more than 7,000 satellites using V-band frequencies.  The FCC also granted SpaceX’s request to add the 37.5-42.0 GHz, and 47.2-50.2 GHz frequency bands to its previously authorized NGSO constellation.  SpaceX now has the flexibility to provide both diverse geographic coverage and the capacity to support a wide range of broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental, and professional users in the United States and globally.
Kepler Communications -- has been granted a request for U.S. market access with certain conditions.  The FCC will allow Kepler to offer global connectivity for the Internet of Things, especially sensors and other intelligent devices as well as other FSS offerings using its proposed constellation of NGSO satellites in the 10.7-12.7 GHz and 14.0-14.5 GHz frequency bands.  Kepler’s proposed NGSO system, consisting of 140 satellites, is licensed by Canada.
Telesat Canada (Telesat) -- has been granted its request for U.S. market access with certain conditions in the 37.5-42.0 GHz, and 47.2- 50.2 GHz frequency bands. The Commission’s action enables Telesat to offer high-speed, low-latency communication services in the United States using its proposed constellation of NGSO satellites enhancing competition among existing and future FSS satellite systems.  Telesat’s proposed NGSO system, consisting of 117 satellites, is licensed by Canada. 
LeoSat -- has been granted its request for U.S. market access with certain conditions in the 17.8-18.6 GHz, 18.8-19.4 GHz, 19.6-20.2 GHz, 27.5-29.1 GHz, and 29.5-30.0 GHz frequency bands, using its proposed constellation of NGSO satellites.  Today’s action facilitates the provision of new and innovative satellite broadband services in the United States by LeoSat, including high-speed connectivity for enterprises and underserved communities.  LeoSat’s proposed NGSO system consists of 78 satellites, which will operate under the ITU filings of France and a planned authorization from the Netherlands. 

To date, the FCC has granted 13 market access requests and satellite applications to nine companies for NGSO FSS constellations seeking authority to provide next-generation connectivity across the country in the past 18 months.  The Commission continues to process additional requests.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

FCC begins 5G spectrum auctions

The FCC commenced its first 5G spectrum auctions.

Auction 101:  The auction of the licenses in the 28 GHz band uses a simultaneous multiple round auction format.  The 3,072 Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service (UMFUS) licenses in the 27.5–28.35 GHz (28 GHz) band.will be offered in two 425 megahertz blocks by county.  http://www.fcc.gov/auction/101/factsheet.

Auction 102:  The auction of the licenses in the 24 GHz band will employ a clock auction format, beginning with a clock phase that will allow bidding on generic blocks in each Partial Economic Area in successive bidding rounds.  There will then be an assignment phase to allow winners of the generic blocks to bid for frequency-specific license assignments.  The 24 GHz licenses will be offered in seven 100 megahertz blocks.  http://www.fcc.gov/auction/102/factsheet

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel issued the following statement:

“Today, we finally get out of the starting gate with our first 5G spectrum auction.  In doing so, we follow the lead of South Korea, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Ireland, and Australia.  But we put ourselves back in the running for next-generation wireless leadership. From here on out, we need to do more than just join the pack with an auction in 2018.  If we want to lead, we need a pipeline of both millimeter wave and mid-band spectrum for 5G.  That means making transparent our plans for every subsequent auction.  We can do this with something simple:  a calendar.  Let’s publish a calendar that states clearly to the entire wireless ecosystem—from existing providers to new spectrum interests to manufacturers and consumers—just when and how the FCC will auction new airwaves to support 5G services.”


Sunday, November 4, 2018

FCC forms best practices disaster recovery working group

The FCC has formed a new Disaster Response and Recovery Working Group to look for ways to improve the resiliency of broadband infrastructure before a disaster occurs, as well as actions that can be taken to more quickly restore broadband infrastructure following a disaster.

The working group is also charged with developing best practices for coordination among wireless providers, backhaul providers, and power companies during and after a disaster.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stated: “Recently, I announced that the FCC will comprehensively re-evaluate the agency’s Wireless Resiliency Framework. The BDAC Working Group’s recommendations will be key to this review. We encourage and expect all stakeholders—including government at all levels, power companies, fixed and mobile broadband providers, first responders, and others—to work together to develop ways to harden networks for future disasters and quickly restore communications services.”

https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-18-1121A1.docx

MEMBERS OF THE DISASTER RESPONSE AND RECOVERY WORKING GROUP
* indicates a member of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee

Chair:
Red Grasso, FirstNet State Point of Contact
North Carolina Department of Information Technology

Vice-Chair:
Jonathan Adelstein, President & Chief Executive Officer*
Wireless Infrastructure Association

Members:

Andrew Afflerbach, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Engineering, CTC Technology and Energy
National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors

Allen Bell, Distribution Support Manager, Georgia Power Company*
Southern Company

Megan Bixler, Technical Program Manager for Communications Center and 911 Services
Association of Public Safety Communications Officials

Skyler Ditchfield, Chief Executive Officer
GeoLinks

Patrick Donovan, Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs
CTIA

Tony Fischer, Director, Information Technology
City of Germantown, Tennessee

Monica Gambino, Vice President, Legal
Crown Castle

Larry Hanson, Executive Director*
Georgia Municipal Association

David Hartshorn, Chief Executive Officer
Geeks Without Frontiers

Greg Hauser, Communications Branch Manager/Statewide Interoperability Coordinator,
North Carolina Emergency Management Division
National Emergency Management Association

Kurt Jacobs, Corporate Director, Emerging Technology & Solutions
JMA Wireless

Richard Kildow, Director of Business Continuity & Emergency Management
Verizon

Frank Korinek, Director of Government Affairs
Motorola

Wyatt Leehy, Information Technology Manager
Great Plains Communications

David Marshack, Telecommunications Regulatory Lead
Loon

Jim Matheson, Chief Executive Officer*
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Kelly McGriff, Vice President & Deputy General Counsel*
Uniti Group

Wendy Moser, Commissioner, Colorado Public Utilities Commission
National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners

Alexandra Fernandez Navarro, Commissioner
Puerto Rico Public Service Regulatory Board

John O’Connor, Director, National Coordinating Center for Communications
Department of Homeland Security

Eddie Reyes, Prince William County Emergency Communications Center
National Public Safety Telecommunications Council

Rikin Thaker, Vice President, Telecommunications and Spectrum Policy*
Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council

Pete Tomczak, Manager, Spectrum Coordination and Clearance
FirstNet

Rocky Vaz, Director of Emergency Management
City of Dallas, Texas

Joseph Viens, Senior Director of Government Affairs
Charter

Debra Wulff, Public Safety Director
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation


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...




FCC microwave spectrum auctions to begin Nov 14

The FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau approved 40 applications received for Auction 101, which will offer 3,072 Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service (UMFUS) licenses in the 27.5–28.35 GHz (28 GHz) band.

The Bureau also announced that 58 of the 60 applications received for Auction 102 have been deemed to be complete. Auction 102 will offer 2,909 Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service (UMFUS) licenses in the 24.25–24.45 GHz and 24.75–25.25 GHz (24 GHz) band.


Both auctions are scheduled to begin on November 14, 2018.

The list of approved bidders is posted here.

https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-issues-qualified-bidders-pn-spectrum-frontiers-auction-101

https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-issues-spectrum-frontiers-auction-102-completed-applications-pn

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

FCC eyes 1200 megahertz of spectrum in 6 GHz band for unlicensed use

The FCC is proposing to make up to 1200 megahertz of spectrum in the 6 GHz band (5.925-7.125 GHz) available for use by unlicensed devices.

The FCC said its proposed rules will allow unlicensed devices to operate in the 6 GHz band without interfering with the operation of the licensed services that will continue to use this spectrum. 

In those portions of the 6 GHz band that are heavily used by point-to-point microwave links, the FCC proposes to allow unlicensed devices to operate where permitted by an automated frequency coordination system and invites comment as to whether this is necessary for devices operated only indoors.  In the other portions of the band where licensed mobile services, such as the Broadcast Auxiliary Service and Cable Television Relay Service, operate, the unlicensed devices would be restricted to indoor operations at lower power. 

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel stated: "Today, Wi-Fi adds more than $500 billion to the United States economy every year—and $2 trillion globally.  It has democratized internet access, helped carriers manage their networks, and fostered all sorts of wild innovation.  In fact, it’s the perfect sandbox for experimentation, because access does not require contract or permission. As exciting as this is, it means the airwaves used by Wi-Fi are getting crowded.  Already our current Wi-Fi bands are congested because they are used by more than 9 billion devices.  By the end of the decade, we will see as many as 50 billion new devices connecting to our networks through the internet of things.  Add this up.  We’re going to need a significant swath of new unlicensed spectrum to keep up with demand. Now is the time to do something about it." 

https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-proposes-more-spectrum-unlicensed-use

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.

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.

See also