Commissioner Clyburn to Leave the FCC
Commissioner Clyburn announced at the FCC’s April Open Meeting that she will be stepping down from the Commission. Commissioner Clyburn began her tenure in 2009 and served as the FCC’s first Acting Chairwoman. Although her term expired June 30, 2017, the Commission’s rules allowed her to stay on through the end of 2018. Both industry and the other Commissioners thanked Commissioner Clyburn for her public service. Commissioner Rosenworcel will be the only Democrat on the Commission until a replacement is nominated and confirmed by the Senate. Commissioner Clyburn did not announce any future plans, but stated that she would step down prior to the May 10 Open Meeting.
Draft 2.5 GHz NPRM
The Commission’s tentative agenda for the May 10 Open Meeting includes a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the 2.5 GHz band. The Commission released draft text of the Transforming the 2.5 GHz NPRM. Currently, significant portions of the band are unused in nearly half of the US, including the Gulf of Mexico. The NPRM proposed changes to service areas and additional flexibility to Educational Broadband Spectrum (EBS) licenses. It then proposes three filing windows, giving priority to existing licensees. After the three filing windows close, the NPRM proposes making remaining spectrum available through competitive bidding.
Process Begins for Spectrum Frontier Auctions
The FCC released a Public Notice to begin the “spectrum frontier” auction process for the 28 GHz (Auction 101) and 24 GHz (Auction 102) spectrum bands (Vol. XV, Issue 10). The Public Notice seeks comment on application and bidding procedures, specific auction rules, and separate application filing windows. The Commission launched a webpage for both auctions, where technical guides and other relevant information can be found. The auctions will offer nearly 6,000 Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service (UMFUS) licenses. Auction 101 is scheduled to begin November 14, 2018, and Auction 102 will follow. Comments on the Public Notice are due May 9 and Reply Comments are due May 23.
FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) introduced House version of the FAA Reauthorization Act. Among other things, the bill limits the rural tower lighting and marking requirements included in the 2016 FAA Reauthorization bill. As we previously reported, this provision could have required the lighting and marking of thousands of towers for which it was not previously required (Vol. XIII, Issue 33). House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) stated the bill would go to the House Floor this week.
Temporary Freeze on Certain Satellite and Microwave Applications
The FCC released a Public Notice to temporarily freeze applications for new or modified satellite earth station licenses and fixed microwave licenses in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. As a limited exception, the International Bureau opened a 90-day window for fixed-satellite service (FSS) earth stations operating in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band to file applications to register new earth stations or modify their existing stations. The freeze is effective immediately and runs until July 18, 2018. The freeze is intended to preserve the current landscape as the Commission considers issues raised in the Mid-Band Spectrum Notice of Inquiry released in August 2017. Some stakeholders stressed the need to identify unregistered or inoperable earth stations before the FCC moved forward with any proposed changes.
Consumer Signal Booster Rule Published in Federal Register
The Signal Booster Second Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the Federal Register. Publication in the Federal Register sets the effective date of the Order as May 18, 2018. It also sets the deadlines for Comments and Reply Comments as May 18, 2018 and June 18, 2018, respectively. As we previously reported (Vol. XV, Issue 13), the rule eliminates personal use restrictions on consumer signal boosters for businesses, public safety entities, educational institutions, and other consumers who could benefit from amplifying wireless signals. The FNPRM proposed further Commission action to increase the usefulness and effectiveness of signal boosters.