FCC Issues Draft CAF II Bidding Procedures and Rules and Resolves Open Issues

Last week, the FCC released a draft Public Notice setting out rules, bidding procedures and important dates for the long anticipated Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) auction. While this draft document may be modified prior to or even after the FCC’s January 30, 2018, Open Meeting, the strong interest in this auction from both the Chairman’s office and interested services providers, the level of detail in the draft Public Notice and the tentative auction timeline, particularly the filing window for short-form applications (3/19/2018 through 3/30/2018) and the start date for the auction (7/24/2018), strongly indicate the rules and procedures adopted on January 30 will track closely those in the draft Public Notice. The FCC also released a draft Order and Order on Reconsideration resolving several related policy questions. For more information on areas eligible for the auction, reserve prices, bidder qualifications and the bidding procedures, please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180) or Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

Executive Order on Broadband Infrastructure

Early last week, President Trump signed the Presidential Executive Order on Streamlining and Expediting Requests to Locate Broadband Facilities in Rural America. The EO advances rural broadband by streamlining the process for locating broadband facilities on Federal lands consistent with Section 6409 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which requires the Government Services Administration to develop a common form for wireless facility siting on buildings and other property owned by the Federal Government. The EO directs the GSA to evaluate the form and make appropriate improvements. It then directs all agencies managing Federal properties to use the common form for requests to locate broadband facilities and to expeditiously review and act upon these requests. On a quarterly basis, the GSA must publish a report detailing the number of common form applications received, percentage approved, percentage rejected and, bases for rejection, and the days an application was pending prior to approval or rejection. For more information, please contact Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202.434.4207).

Plan for FCC Office of Economics and Analytics

Last April, Chairman Pai announced a proposal to establish a new FCC Office of Economics (“OEA”) and Analytics. As part of these efforts, Chairman Pai convened a working group of Commission staff, tasked with “determining best practices, assessing current operations and arrangements within the FCC, and recommending any appropriate changes in organizational structure, practices, and authorities.” The working group published their Recommendations and Report. The working group recommends the OEA have four Divisions: an Economic Analysis Division, an Industry Analysis Division, an Auctions Division, and a Data Division. The working group recommends two sets of practices: “Improving Operations” and “Building Norms/Culture” to promote a culture that “values collaboration across the agency, a consistent application of economic thinking, and ultimately, an environment that promotes sound policy to the benefit of the American public.” For more information, please contact Kathleen Slattery (slattery@khlaw.com; 202.434.4244).

Commission Adjusts Penalties

The Commission issued an Order adjusting its civil monetary penalties to account for inflation in accordance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015. The adjusted penalties or penalty ranges are “calculated by multiplying the most recent penalty amount by the 2018 annual adjustment (1.02041), then rounding the result to the nearest dollar.” The penalty amounts adopted in the Order went into effect on January 15, 2018.