FCC Small Cell Appeals Update

On February 25, the Commission filed a Motion to consolidate the appeals of the small cell order, abate proceedings pending agency reconsideration, and defer filing of the administrative record. There are thirteen cases appealing the small cell order pending in the Ninth Circuit (Vol. XVI, Issue 2). The motion seeks to consolidate the 13 cases and requests the court place the “cases in abeyance pending the agency’s disposition of a petition for reconsideration that raises substantially the same issues raised by the local government petitioners in their petitions for review here.” The Commission’s filing states that all parties who responded when contacted by the Commission concur with the request to consolidate the cases, but some oppose the motion for abeyance.

Form 477 Due March 8

The deadline to file FCC Forms 477 is March 8 (Vol. XVI, Issue 5). In August 2017, the FCC adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) to examine current data requirements in an effort to collect more accurate and useful information regarding the Form 477, which the Commission uses to measure broadband deployment. Currently data is collected on a census block level. The FNPRM seeks comment on whether data should be collected on a more granular level. Even if the Commission modifies the Form 477 reporting rules, these changes will likely not be implemented sooner than the September 1, 2020 Form 477 due date. 

Local Officials Support Bill That Would Overturn FCC Small Cell Order

A group of over 90 local government officials have added their names to a letter supporting Rep. Anna G. Eshoo’s (D-CA) Accelerating Wireless Broadband Development by Empowering Local Communities Act of 2019 (HR 530). The Bill, introduced in January, would overturn the FCC’s Small Cell Order that limits local governments’ ability to regulate the deployment of 5G infrastructure (Vol. XVI, Issue 5). While supporters of HR 530 recognize the FCC’s goal of providing affordable access to broadband nationwide, they contend that the Small Cell Order overreaches in its prioritization of national corporations over local governments and inhibits communities from maintaining control of small cell application and review processes necessary to ensure responsible 5G deployment. 

Revised Form 499-A Due April 1

On February 14, the FCC released a Public Notice with a revised Form 499-A and accompanying Instructions in furtherance of the Commission’s goal to ensure efficient administration of Universal Service Fund programs. The changes made to the Form 499-A and Instructions include updated contact information and dates, clarification for reporting international revenues, and a new link for electronic filing. Filers should review the updated Form and Instructions. The deadline to submit completed Forms 499-A is April 1. 

CAF II Support Ready to Be Authorized

The FCC announced in a Public Notice on February 27 that it is ready to authorize Connect America Fund Phase II Auction 903 (CAF II) support for certain winning bids. This is the initial group of winning bids for which the applicants’ long-form applications were “accepted” by the Commission; the FCC is reviewing the long-form applications of all winning bidders sequentially. Public notices announcing the acceptance of additional long-form applications are expected in the coming weeks. To receive support, the long-form applicants identified in the Public Notice must submit their letters of credit and bankruptcy counsel’s opinion letters prior to 6:00 p.m. on March 13.