FirstNet Opt-out Evaluations and Rural Milestones

The Commission issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking last week soliciting comments on its proposed procedures for managing the process by which states may opt out of the network buildout plan proposed by FirstNet. Under the proposal, each Governor will receive a notice from FirstNet and will have 90 days to determine whether to participate in the deployment of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) or opt-out and implement its own radio access network. The FCC may approve or disapprove plans submitted by states seeking to opt-out based on whether the plan complies with minimum interoperability requirements. Comments are due by September 25 and Reply Comments are due by October 25. In a Report and Order, the Commission declined to establish specific rural milestones as part of its evaluation process for FirstNet’s license renewal. 

Licensees Reminded of FCC’s M&A Rules

Merger and acquisition activity in the U.S. oil and natural gas industry continues to increase. As a reminder, Section 310(d) of the Communications Act requires entities to secure the FCC’s prior consent to assign or transfer control of an FCC license as part of any transaction. Failure to comply with the FCC’s rules may result in substantial fines and other penalties. 

Amendment of Part 90

Last week, the FCC issued an Order amending its rules to allow railroad police officers to use public safety interoperability channels to communicate with public safety providers already authorized to use the channel. Railroad police officers responsible for enforcing the law may now use public safety interoperability channels in the VHF (150-174 MHz, 220-222 MHz), UHF (450-470 MHz), 700 MHz narrowband (769-775/799-805 MHz), and 800 MHz National Public Safety Planning Advisory Committee bands (806-809/851-854 MHz).