911 Fee Parity Ruling

The Commission will consider a Declaratory Ruling at its October Open Meeting (Vol. XVI, Issue 40) which seeks to clarify the New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008 (NET 911 Act) to ensure regulatory parity between traditional telecommunications services and VoIP services. This follows a primary jurisdiction referral from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama involving litigation over whether 911 fees imposed on business subscribers to VoIP services were higher than those imposed on subscribers to traditional telecommunications services. The Commission held that non-federal governmental entities are prohibited from imposing 911 fees or charges on VoIP services in any manner that would result in a subscriber to such services paying a higher total 911 fee than is imposed on a subscriber to traditional telecommunications services with the same 911 calling capacity. 

FCC Modifies 900 MHz Freeze

The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau issued an Order last week granting Anterix’s (formerly known as pdvWireless) request to modify the 900MHz freeze (Vol. XVI, Issue 28) to allow incumbents to voluntarily exchange frequencies in the broadband segment for an equal number of frequencies in the narrowband segments. Specifically, the Bureau modified the freeze by exempting applications of incumbents in the 897.5-900.5 MHz/936.5-939.5 MHz segment that request an equal or smaller number of frequencies in the 896-897.5/935-936.5 MHz and/or 900.5-901/939.5-940 MHz segments. To prevent an effect on a future band realignment, licensees are not permitted to increase the number of unique channels assigned to them. 

Small Cell Rules Amended

Last week, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau issued an Order modifying its small cell rules in response to the DC Circuit decision vacating and remanding a Report and Order back to the FCC earlier this year (Vol. XVI, Issue 32). The Report and Order exempted certain small wireless facilities from review under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Now, deployments of small wireless facilities are subject to review under NHPA and NEPA to the same extent as larger wireless facilities. 

Arctic Slope Penalized $45,000

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued an Order earlier this month announcing that Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative, Inc. (Arctic Slope) will pay a $45,000 civil penalty as part of a Consent Decree. Arctic Slope failed to perform daily inspections of the lights on three of its antenna structures and failed to display the correct antenna structure registration number (ASR) at the base of one of its towers. In addition to the civil penalty, Artic Slope also agreed to implement a compliance plan.

FCC Dismisses 3.5 GHz Petitions for Reconsideration

On October 4, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau issued an Order dismissing two petitions for reconsideration of a 2018 Report and Order 3.5 GHz band in the CBRS proceeding (Vol. XV, Issue 44). The petitions were filed by CallComm and Mile One Broadband Consortium. CallComm argued that incumbent user protections should have been extended to non-federal Part 90 Land Mobile Radiolocation licensees, and Mile One requested the Commission broaden the consortium exception to competitive bidding. The Bureau dismissed both petitions for being untimely, and additionally concluded that CallComm’s petition raised matters outside the scope of the 2018 Report and Order.