Coalition Fights NCTA Pole Attachment Petition
In response to NCTA’s petition asking the FCC to require investor-owned utilities to begin paying the lion’s share of costs for replacing poles to accommodate communications company broadband deployments in “unserved” areas, and to speed up those pole replacements, the Coalition of Concerned Utilities (Arizona Public Service Co., Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Evergy, Eversource Energy, Exelon Corp., FirstEnergy, Minnesota Power and NorthWestern Energy) last week filed Comments with the Commission, arguing that NCTA’s proposal would result in less broadband deployment, not more, and is otherwise anticompetitive, misleading and ill-informed.
CBRS Auction Long-Form Applications Due
Last week the FCC released the CBRS Auction Public Notice announcing that 228 bidders won a total of 20,625 licenses nationwide. The auction raised a total of $4,548,663,345 in gross bids. The Public Notice also confirmed that successful bidders’ down payments and long form applications are due September 17, and final payments are due on October 1.
$163,000+ Fine for Inaccurate Broadband Deployment Reporting
The FCC released a Notice of Apparent Liability last week proposing a $163,912 forfeiture penalty (the statutory maximum) against Barrier Communications Corporations d/b/a BarrierFree for apparently failing to file the FCC Form 477 27 times and for inaccurately filing FCC Form 477 data on four other occasions. The Commission collects Form 477 data twice per year on broadband connections to end-user locations, wired and wireless local telephone services, and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services and ultimately uses the data to “describe the deployment of broadband infrastructure and competition to provide local telecommunications services.” BarrierFree acknowledged that it had not submitted Form 477 filings from September 2005 through September 2017 because it thought the requirement was voluntary. Accordingly, the Commission’s Enforcement Bureau began an investigation and ultimately proposed the maximum forfeiture against BarrierFree for the alleged violations.
RDOF Phase I Auction Update
On September 1, the FCC released its Public Notice announcing that 505 applicants filed to participate in Auction 904, including multiple bidding consortia. The FCC accepted 121 short-form applications and found 384 short-form applications to be “incomplete,” and provided the applicants three weeks (until September 23, 2020) to re-submit the applications to address deficiencies. The FCC will review the resubmitted applications and release a final list of qualified bidders in the coming weeks. All qualified bidders will be eligible to participate in the mock auction scheduled for October 23, 2020 with the descending-clock reverse auction beginning on October 29, 2020. Up to $16 billion in funding will be made available in Auction 904.
3.7 GHz Band Auction Filing Window Opens
Earlier this year the FCC adopted a Report and Order re-allocating the C-Band (3.7 GHz – 4.2 GHz) for mobile and fixed terrestrial operations, shifting all C-Band satellite space stations, earth stations, and fixed service networks licensees to the 4.0 – 4.2 GHz frequency band (while retaining a 20 MHz guard band). The remaining 280 MHz of spectrum will be auctioned on an unpaired basis across partial economic areas (PEAs), consisting of two blocks of 100 MHz (divided into five 20 MHz sub-blocks) and one block of 80 MHz (divided into four 20 MHz sub-blocks). Winning bidders will be obligated to contribute their respective pro rata portions of the estimated $9.7 billion cost to relocate C-Band space station, earth station, and terrestrial fixed licensees to frequencies between 4.0 – 4.2 GHz, based on their respective percentages of the total gross bid amount in Auction 107. Last month the Commission released a Public Notice confirming that the filing window for submitting short-form applications will be open from September 9 to September 22. The Public Notice also detailed the bidding procedures for the auction and other key dates. The auction is scheduled to begin on December 8, 2020.
2.5 GHz Band Auction Update
In its 2019 Report and Order, the FCC substantially revised the rules governing the Educational Broadband Service (EBS) spectrum (2.5 GHz), and granted an 8-month Tribal Priority Window for federally recognized Tribes or Alaska Native Villages to apply for unassigned 2.5 GHz licenses for operations within their Tribal lands. The Tribal Priority window closed last week. In its Report and Order, the FCC established an “overlay” auction of three broadband channels derived from 2.5 GHz band to be assigned on a county-wide basis: a 49.5 MHz channel, a 50.5 MHz channel, and a 17.5 MHz channel. Existing EBS licensees may continue to operate on their licensed spectrum and renew their licenses, or they may assign or lease spectrum to 2.5 GHz auction winners or other entities. The 2.5 GHz band auction is projected to begin in early 2021.