FCC Releases Draft Order for Rural Development Opportunity Fund Phase I Auction

The FCC has released a draft Report and Order for the RDOF $16.0 billion Phase 1 auction; the draft order likely will be adopted at the FCC’s January 30 Open Meeting. The most significant aspects of the draft order are the areas eligible for inclusion in the auction and a major change in how winning bids will be selected. Beginning in the clearing round, the system will select the bid having the lowest performance tier and latency weights (“T&L combination”) – principally fiber-based networks. In the CAF II auction, the bid having the lowest price point regardless of the bidder’s T&L combination prevailed.

Public Safety Bureau Issues Order on Microwave License Assignment

Earlier this month, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau released an Order addressing Zayo Group, LLC’s late application for the assignment of 42 microwave licenses from Eagle-Net Alliance. In its waiver request, Zayo requested that the Commission grant the Assignment retroactively, despite the fact that the ownership change occurred in May of 2018. Zayo stated that it failed to file a timely Assignment of Authorization application due to an administrative oversight. The Commission denied the waiver request, stating that "’administrative oversight’ does not excuse rule violations,” and per the Commission’s usual practice granted the application but reserved the right to initiate enforcement action.

2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Priority Window Procedures

Last week, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau issued a Public Notice outlining the procedures for the submission of applications in the 2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Priority Window (Vol. XVI, Issue 25). To apply, applicants must meet four eligibility requirements: (1) be a federally recognized Tribe or Alaska Native Village, a consortium of federally recognized Tribes or Alaska Native Villages, or an entity majority owned and controlled by a federally recognized Tribe or Alaska Native Village or a consortium of federally recognized Tribes or Alaska Native Villages; (2) seek a license in an area that is an eligible Tribal land; (3) the Tribal land must be rural; and (4) maintain a local presence for each Tribal land. Every applicant must demonstrate that it meets all four of the eligibility requirements, and an applicant filing multiple applications must separately demonstrate that it meets all of the eligibility requirements for each application filed. The filing window spans from 9:00 a.m. EST on February 3, 2020, until 6:00 p.m. EST on August 3, 2020.

Proposed Changes to Forms 499-A, 499-Q

The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau issued a Public Notice last month seeking comment on proposed revisions to the annual Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet (Form 499-A) and the quarterly Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet (Form 499-Q). Some of the proposed changes include updating the circularity factor based on the quarterly contribution factors, deleting references to text messages, and updating instructions to reflect that providers are no longer required to file quarterly traffic studies relied on to report interstate revenues. Comments are due on January 27, 2020. 

FCC Adjusts Forfeiture Penalties

The FCC issued an Order last month adjusting its civil forfeiture penalties for inflation, in accordance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (Vol. XV, Issue 3). The adjusted penalty or penalty range for each applicable penalty is calculated by multiplying the most recent penalty amount by the 2020 annual adjustment, then rounding the result to the nearest dollar. The 2020 annual adjustment multiplier is 1.01764. The adjustments apply to penalties assessed on and after January 15, 2020. 

President Trump Signs Robocall Abuse Act

On December 30, President Trump signed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act into law, which requires carriers to develop and implement call authentication technologies (Vol. XVI, Issue 3). It also directs the FCC to commence a proceeding to determine how its policies could be amended to reduce potential perpetrators’ access to phone numbers and to initiate a rulemaking to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts from unauthenticated numbers.

Beyond Telecom Law Blog: “WRC-19 and the Process for International Spectrum Decisions"

The 2019 World Radio Conference addressed a forward-looking framework for 5G and established procedures and regulations regarding many new technologies and services. Please read “WRC-19 and the Process for International Spectrum Decisions” by KH Senior Counsel Mike Fitch on the Beyond Telecom Law Blog.