3.5 GHz Band Final Order

The final rules for the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service have been published in the Federal Registerand will become effective on August 25, 2016. The regulatory scheme established will consist of a three-tiered access framework for the band (Incumbent Access, Priority Access, and General Authorized Access) (Vol. XIII, Issue 18). The Commission also addressed several Petitions for Reconsideration filed by CTIA, Motorola, Nokia, and SIA, among others. 

Drones for Electric Utility Repairs

President Obama recently signed into law a bill updating several aviation and drone regulations. Among other provisions, the bill grants utility companies the ability to operate drones to conduct service restoration efforts and perform routine maintenance of electric generation, transmission, or distribution facilities. In addition, the bill directs the FAA to develop a framework of principles and policies to reduce cybersecurity risks to the national airspace system.

FCC Regulatory Fees

The Commission issued a Final Rule updating the Schedule of Application Fees and increased fees to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index. The revised schedule and adjusted fees become effective August 26, 2016. 

Streamlining CMRS Rules

On July 27, 2016, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on a proposal to “streamline and harmonize” the requirements for commercial mobile radio service licensees and applicants. The Commission seeks to modernize the regulations surrounding various mobile services particularly in regard to spectrum acquisitions in the secondary market and how applicants report the regulatory classification of their facilities. Comments are due September 24, 2016 and Reply Comments are due October 25, 2016. 

Electric Grid Cybersecurity

The FERC released a Notice of Inquiry seeking comment on the modification of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Reliability Standards. FERC is specifically concerned about the day-to-day cybersecurity of Control Centers used to operate bulk electric systems. In the notice, FERC proposes disconnecting bulk power control systems from the widely shared, public Internet. Regulators have been put on high alert after a cyberattack of electric power grids within the Ukraine caused over 225,000 customers to lose service. Comments are due by September 26, 2016.

$106K Forfeiture Proposed for AT&T

In a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL), the FCC proposed a penalty of $106,426 against BellSouth Telecommunications, LLC, d/b/a AT&T Southeast unit for allegedly failing to comply with federal statutory and regulatory E-rate provisions. The FCC claims AT&T willfully and repeatedly failed to lower the telephone service rates of two Floridian school districts to reflect the rate of parallel parties. After apparently charging unlawfully high prices, AT&T certified or submitted forms to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), the administrator of the E-Rate Program. The NAL grants AT&T 30 days either to submit payment of the proposed fine or file a statement requesting a reduction or cancellation of the penalty. 

$40,000 Fine for Harmful Interference

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau entered into a Consent Decree with Towerstream Corporation resolving its investigation related to Towerstream’s operation of Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) transmission systems. In 2012, the Bureau investigated several complaints of interference to the FAA’s Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) systems at JFK, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale airports. Following the investigation, Towerstream admitted its U-NII devices were operating in violation of Part 15 of the Commission’s rules. The Consent Decree requires Towerstream to pay a $40,000 civil penalty, prepare compliance reports for the next three years, and admit liability.