FCC Digital Infrastructure Plan Promotes Broadband at Expense of Utility Pole Owners

The FCC Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis released a White Paper proposing ways to improve digital infrastructure that include not only federal funding and changes to the tax code, but also lower pole attachment rates and burdensome new regulations for utility pole owners. For more information, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202-434-4128) or Tim Doughty (doughty@khlaw.com; 202-434-4271).

Higher Ground 6 GHz Application Granted

The FCC has granted Higher Ground's Application for a nationwide license to operate up to 50,000 earth stations in the 5925 - 6425 MHz band (downlink) and 3700 - 4200 MHz band (uplink). In the Order and Authorization, the Commission stated "[t]he authorization will serve the public interest by allowing Higher Ground to provide new communications services to U.S. consumers, with safeguards designed to minimize the risk of harmful interference to primary users operating in these frequency bands." A number of organizations filed ex parte communications requesting the Commission dismiss the application and address Higher Ground's requests in a rulemaking. The Commission declined, explaining that Higher Ground's proposal is "a specific, unique application of the C-band that does not warrant a rulemaking proceeding of general applicability." For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239)

FCC Staff Releases E-rate Progress Report

Last week, FCC staff released "E-rate Modernization: Progress and the Road Ahead," which examined the progress of the two 2014 E-rate Modernization Orders, noting the decline in funded projects under the E-rate program for the cost of connectivity to the Internet (Category 1 costs): $22.00 per Mbps in 2013 to just above $7.00 per Mbps in 2016. Consistent with the $1.0 Billion set aside (of the $3.9 Billion annual budget) for on-premise connections (principally WiFi connectivity), the report emphasized the increase in WiFi connectivity within schools and libraries over the last two years. For more information, please contact Tim Doughty (doughty@khlaw.com; 202.434.4271).

Small ISP Exemption from Transparency Rules Expires

Under the 2015 Open Internet Order, the Commission adopted enhanced transparency requirements for ISPs. Small ISPs, those with 100,000 or fewer subscribers, were initially exempted from the enhanced requirements. The exemption was extended for another year in December 2015. Although a draft Order to extend the exemption circulated in the fall, the Order was not adopted and the exemption expired in 2016, and is now in effect. A more expansive exemption may be adopted in the coming months. For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).