Vehicular Repeaters

Last week the FCC released a Public Notice announcing it will begin accepting applications on March 15, 2016 for the operation of vehicular repeaters (VRS) on six offset VHF channels in the 173 MHz band.  The Commission adopted a Report and Order in August of 2015 that amended its rules to allow vehicular repeaters on the channels (Vol. XII, Issue 33).  The Notice also serves as an acceptance of the Land Mobile Communications Council’s (LMCC) frequency coordination consensus protocol for VRS.       

Video Programming Accessibility Rules

Also last week, the Commission published a Final Rule (Rule) in the Federal Register pertaining to the accessibility of user interfaces and video programming guides and menus pursuant to the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA).  The CVAA requires that certain advanced communications services and video programming be accessible to individuals with disabilities.  The Rule requires manufacturers of digital apparatus (e.g., removable media players) and manufacturers and multichannel video programming distributors of navigation devices (e.g., cable modems, set-top boxes) provide notice on its official website about the availability of accessible devices and other accessibility information.

Lower Pole Attachment Rates Effective April 1, 2016

You recall that on November 24, 2015, the FCC issued an Order lowering the “Telecom” pole attachment rate that investor-owned utilities can charge in the 30 “FCC states” to the very low level of the “Cable” rate in almost all cases.  The Order was published last week in the Federal Register and specifies an effective date of April 1, 2016.

FirstNet Hearing

Last week FirstNet’s President TJ Kennedy testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the status of the Public Safety Broadband Network. David Furth, Deputy Bureau Chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the FCC also testified on FirstNet issues relating to the Commission.  The Committee members asked Kennedy and Furth a variety of questions related to rural buildout issues, the state opt-out process, Cybersecurity, NG9-1-1, and the relocation of T-Band and incumbent narrowband licensees. 

Municipal Broadband

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments for the appeals brought by the states of Tennessee and North Carolina challenging the FCC’s preemption of those states‘ laws which prevented municipal broadband providers from expanding their broadband networks and service beyond their authorized service areas.  Arguments are scheduled for March 17, 2016.

Annual CPNI Certifications Due March 1, 2016 

The Commission issued an Enforcement Advisory reminding telecommunications carriers and interconnected VoIP providers to file their Customer Proprietary Network Information (or "CPNI") compliance report with the FCC by March 1, 2016.  In the past, the Commission has taken enforcement action against companies failing to file their CPNI certifications with the Commission. The FCC has indicated it intends to continue strict enforcement of the CPNI requirements.