Selected portions of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, and/or the BloostonLaw Private Users Update —newsletters from the Law Offices of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP are reproduced in this section with the firm's permission.
|BloostonLaw Telecom Update||Vol. 17, No. 28||October 1, 2014|
Connect America Phase II Challenge Response Period Beings – Responses Due November 10
On Friday, September 26, the FCC announced the lists of census blocks for which a party has made a prima facie case that a census block either should or should not be eligible for Phase II support. Blooston Law strongly encourages all clients to review both lists to ensure that the areas they serve are not marked as eligible when they shouldn’t be. See the article below for more information.
FCC Announces Beginning of Reply Period on CAF Phase II Challenges
On September 26, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice announcing the start of the reply period for challenges to the potential list of CAF Phase II eligible census blocks. Responses to the challenges are due November 10, using FCC Form 505.
There are two types of challenges involved in this proceeding: the first is for census blocks in which a party has made a prima facie challenge that the census block was listed as eligible by the FCC but should not be eligible; and the second is for census blocks in which a party has made a prima facie case that the census block was not listed as eligible by the FCC, but should be eligible.
After assessing the challenges, responses and evidence received, the Bureau will make a final determination as to which census blocks will be treated as unserved and thus potentially eligible for Phase II support. If no responses to a challenge are received, the challenge will automatically be deemed granted. As we have reported in previous editions of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, the FCC has specific requirements for responses to CAF Phase II Challenge filings.
BloostonLaw is experienced in helping clients participate in both types of FCC challenge proceedings, having helped numerous clients successfully make challenge showings regarding support in their service areas, as well as defeat challenges to their own bids for support. Clients should review the FCC's list of census blocks (especially those with CLEC operations in price cap areas) and should respond to any challenges arguing the census blocks they serve should be labeled as unserved, and should consider responding to challenges arguing that census blocks they may potentially be interested in bidding on in later phases (or in the Rural Broadband Experiments).
FCC Releases Rural Broadband Experiments Application Form, Delays Deadline and Webinar
On September 26, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice officially delaying the October 14 filing deadline for Form 5610, the application to participate in the Rural Broadband Experiments program. The FCC will release a subsequent Public Notice establishing a new deadline.
According to the Public Notice, the delay was caused by ongoing testing of the electronic submission system used to accept and process the applications. The FCC anticipates that the testing will be complete in four to six weeks, but did not establish a new deadline for the application. The delay has also prompted the FCC to push back the webinar it had scheduled to provide instruction on Form 5610. The new date for the webinar is October 9 at 2 p.m. EST.
Despite these delays, the FCC also released additional information on Form 5610, including screenshots of the form, a sample project information submission, a guide to working with the rural broadband experiments census block list, and a guide to completing the bid form. All these materials are available at http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/rural-broadband-experiments .
BloostonLaw encourages clients interested in participating in the Rural Broadband Experiments to continue working on their applications notwithstanding the additional time.
FCC Eliminates Sports Blackout Rule
On September 30, the FCC released a Report and Order officially eliminating its sports blackout rules, which prohibit cable operators, satellite carriers, and open video systems from retransmitting, within a protected local blackout zone, the signal of a distant broadcast station carrying a sporting event if the event is not available live on a local television broadcast station. The elimination of the sports blackout rules will not end local blackouts of sports events on its own, however, because the NFL and other sports leagues may choose to continue their private blackout policies.
According to the FCC, the elimination of the sports blackout rules serves the public interest because it remove unnecessary and outdated regulations. Additionally, it removes regulatory reinforcement of the NFL’s private blackout policy, “which prevents consumers — many of whom cannot attend games because they are elderly or disabled or are fans who have been priced out of attending games due to increased costs for tickets, parking, and concessions, yet have subsidized NFL teams with their tax dollars through publicly-financed stadiums and other tax benefits — from watching their teams’ games on local television.”
The FCC first adopted a sports blackout rule for cable operators in 1975, when game ticket sales were the primary source of revenue for sports leagues. This rule was intended to ensure that the potential loss of gate receipts resulting from cable system importation of distant stations did not lead sports clubs to refuse to sell their rights to sports events to those distant stations, which would reduce the overall availability of sports programming to television viewers.
The rule will remain in effect until thirty days after the Report and Order is published in the Federal Register, which itself could take a number of weeks, suggesting it is unlikely the FCC’s decision will have any effect on this season.
Law & Regulation
FCC Issues Tentative Agenda for October 17 Open Meeting
On September 26, the FCC issued the tentative agenda for its October 17, 2014 Open Meeting. At the meeting, the FCC is scheduled to consider the following items:
- Spectrum Frontiers NOI: The Commission will consider a Notice of Inquiry to explore innovative developments in the use of spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile wireless services, and how the Commission can facilitate the development and deployment of those technologies.
- Wireless Infrastructure Report and Order: The Commission will consider a Report and Order that takes critical steps to promote the deployment of wireless infrastructure necessary to provide the public with ubiquitous, advanced wireless broadband services.
- Aggregate Interference and Inter-Service Interference Second Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: The Commission will consider a proceeding to address aggregate broadcaster-to-broadcaster interference and the methodology for predicting interference between broadcast and wireless operations in the same or adjacent channels in nearby markets during and following the Incentive Auction.
- Digital Low Power Television Third NPRM and Suspension Public Notice: The Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding measures to facilitate the final conversion of low power TV and TV translator stations to digital service, and mitigating the potential impact of the incentive auction and the repacking process. The Commission will also consider a concurrent Public Notice suspending expiration dates and construction deadlines for all outstanding unexpired construction permits for new digital low power television and TV translator stations.
- 911 Outage Presentation: The Commission will hear a presentation regarding an inquiry into a major 911 service outage that affected seven states in April 2014. The presentation will include findings from a report on the causes and effects of the outage as well as recommendations on actions the industry, the Commission and state governments can take to strengthen the reliability and resiliency of 911 services as the nation transitions to Next Generation 911.
As always, the Open Meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m., and will be webcast live at www.fcc.gov/live .
Wireline Bureau Announces CAF Phase I Round 2 Deadlines
On September 25, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau released a Public Notice announcing a specific deadline for CAF Phase I Round 2 location information. This information is due no later than February 24, 2015.
The location information in question, which includes latitude and longitude data, was originally required to be filed one year after filing notices of acceptance. In order to improve administrative efficiency, the FCC has consolidated the filing deadline on the date the last acceptance was filed – February 24.
Despite the consolidation of the location information filing requirement deadline, the FCC specifically stipulated that the relevant date for recipients to complete deployment of broadband-capable infrastructure to two-thirds of the required number of locations within two years of providing notice of acceptance of funding, and to complete deployment to all required locations within three years, is the date on which the amount of Round 2 funding for each carrier was finalized.
FCC Announces Release of Lifeline Reform Order Procedures
On September 25, the FCC released a Public Notice announcing the revised procedures for executing the transfer of subscribers’ Lifeline benefits and the procedures for exceptions management and dispute resolution. Clients should review these revisions as soon as possible. According to the Public Notice, in its Lifeline Reform Order the FCC concluded that the National Lifeline Availability Database (NLAD) should allow the transfer of a subscriber’s Lifeline benefit from one ETC to another, and that there must be the capability of performing third-party identification verification checks on potential subscribers, and ETCs may not receive reimbursement for those subscribers whose identities cannot be verified.
Specifically, the following procedures have been implemented:
- The ETC to which the subscriber is transferring his or her benefit (the initiating ETC) will initiate the benefit transfer transaction in the NLAD.
- The initiating ETC must obtain the affirmative consent of the subscriber to transfer the Lifeline benefit prior to the initiation of the transfer in the NLAD.
- The initiating ETC must keep a record of all communications made with the subscriber when obtaining consent, including records documenting the subscriber’s affirmative consent.
Exceptions Management and Dispute Resolution:
- When an ETC attempts to load subscriber data into the NLAD, and the subscriber cannot be verified and/or is rejected, USAC will provide the ETC with specific information regarding the nature of the failure ( e.g., subscriber’s identity, age (under 18) or address cannot be verified).
- In certain cases, the ETCs may override the failure by submitting a code through the NLAD. ETCs may submit an override code only after viewing a document that verifies the information provided by the subscriber ( e.g., for an identity failure, the ETC may view the subscriber’s driver’s license).
- In other cases, the ETC must work with USAC through a manual process to override the failure.
- ETCs must keep a record of any documents viewed to override NLAD failures.
Comment Dates Announced for Healthcare Connect Fund Annual Reports
On September 26, the FCC published the Public Notice of June 19 on the Healthcare Connect Fund Order (HFC Order) in the Federal Register, establishing a comment deadline of October 27 and a reply comment deadline of November 10.
In the HCF Order, the Commission identified three performance goals for the newly constituted HCF: (1) to increase access to broadband for health care providers (HCPs); (2) to foster the development and deployment of broadband health care networks; and (3) to minimize the burden on the federal universal service fund by ensuring the cost-effectiveness of the program.
To measure progress toward the first goal, the FCC proposes to collect data on the extent to which program participants subscribe to higher levels of broadband over time; participation in HCF relative to the universe of eligible participants; the bandwidths obtained by different types of HCPs; and whether those bandwidths are sufficient for their needs.
To measure progress toward the second goal, the FCC proposes to collect data on the extent to which eligible HCPs participating in HCF are connected to other HCPs through broadband health care networks; the reach of broadband health care networks supported by our programs, including connections to those networks by eligible and non-eligible HCP sites; and how program participants use their broadband connections to deliver health care, including whether and to what extent HCPs are engaging in telemedicine, exchanging electronic health records (EHRs), or participating in health information exchanges, remote training, and other telehealth applications.
To measure progress toward the third goal, the FCC proposes to collect data on the cost of administering the program as compared to funds disbursed to program participants; the prices and speeds of the broadband connections supported by HCF; and the number and nature of all responsive bids received through the competitive bidding process, as well as an explanation of how each winning bid was chosen.
It appears that most, if not all, of the information collected under this program will be supplied by the healthcare provider fund recipient rather than the service provider. Nevertheless, service provider cooperation may be necessary to provide the information sought by the FCC, and such information may raise confidentiality concerns with service providers. Clients that provide service to HCF recipients should feel free to contact the firm for more information.
FCC Announces Panelist Information for Open Internet Roundtable
On September 24, the FCC announced the panelists for its October 2, 2014 Open Internet roundtable, entitled Economics of Broadband: Market Successes and Market Failures.
The roundtable will consider incentives to provide high quality open Internet access service, the relevance of market power and policies to address market power, consumer protection, and shared benefits of the Internet. Panelists for the roundtable are: Jonathan Baker , Professor at the Washington College of Law at American University; Nicholas Economides , Professor of Economics and Executive Director of the NET Institute at Stern School of Business, New York University; Thomas Hazlett , Hugh H. Macaulay Endowed Professor, Department of Economics at Clemson University; Christiaan Hogendorn , Associate Professor, Department of Economics at Wesleyan University; John Mayo , Professor of Economics, Business and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University; and Hal Singer , Principal of Economists Inc. and Senior Fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute.
The roundtables will be free and open to the public, and the FCC also will stream them live at http://www.fcc.gov/live . The FCC encourages members of the public to submit suggested questions in advance and during the roundtables by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter using the hashtag #FCCRoundtables.
FCC Asks Media Firms for Details of Comcast Contracts
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Federal Communications Commission is asking media companies to submit details of their programming agreements with Comcast as it reviews the company’s proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable.
According to the article, the FCC believes the documents — which cover details of the carriage arrangements between Comcast and TV channel owners — contain information that would be relevant in its review. Media companies are reportedly (and perhaps predictably) pushing back, as the agreements likely contain sensitive competitive information. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal reports that officials from several media companies, including CBS, 21st Century Fox, Walt Disney, Discovery Communications, Time Warner, Viacom, met with FCC staff earlier this month to voice their "grave concerns" about releasing "certain highly confidential materials," according to a regulatory filing.
The Wall Street Journal also reports that the media companies suggested an alternative strategy, used earlier in the Comcast/NBCU merger, in which the Justice Department would have all of the information and the FCC could access it through them.
A copy of the full article can be found here .
Oct. 1 – FCC Form 477 due (Local Competition and Broadband Reporting) .*
Oct. 2 – Economics of Broadband Roundtable.
Oct. 6 – Comments due on IP Captioning proceeding.
Oct. 9 – Webinar on FCC Form 5610 (Rural Broadband Experiments Application).
Oct. 14 – Deadline for applications for rural broadband experiments.*
Oct. 15 – Auction 97 upfront payments are due.
Oct. 17 – Comment deadline for FirstNet RFI.
Oct. 17 – FCC Open Meeting.
Oct. 27 – Comments are due on the Healthcare Connect Fund Public Notice.
Nov. 3 – FCC Form 499-Q (Quarterly Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet) is due.
Nov. 3 – Reply comments are due on IP Captioning proceeding.
Nov. 10 – Auction 97 Mock Auction begins.
Nov. 10 – Responses to CAF Phase II Challenges are due.
Nov. 10 – Reply comments are due on the Healthcare Connect Fund Public Notice.
Nov. 13 – Auction 97 begins.
Nov. 14 – Comments are due on USDA Notice on Changes to Guaranteed Loan Program Regulations.
Nov. 14 – Comments are due on Part 32 Accounting Rules NPRM.
Dec. 1 – Deadline to Increase Residential Rate Floor to $16.
Dec. 15 – Deadline for Special Access Data Collection.
Dec. 15 – Reply comments are due on Part 32 Accounting Rules NPRM.
* These deadlines have been suspended indefinitely. New deadlines have not been set at this time.
|BloostonLaw Private Users Update||Vol. 15, No. 9||September 2014|
Reminder: Part 90 Class B Signal Booster Registration Must be Completed by November 1, 2014
The FCC has announced that Part 90 licensees and signal booster operators that operate or intend to operate Part 90 Class B private land mobile (non-consumer) signal boosters will be required to register existing signal boosters with the Commission by November 1, 2014. Any new Class B signal boosters installed on or after November 1, 2014 must be registered before the device can be operated. Registration will be made electronically and paper filings will not be accepted.
If you have a signal booster that requires registration, please contact our office for assistance.
FCC Seeks Comment on Request of ACD Telecom, LLC to be Certified as a Part 90 Frequency Coordinator
The FCC is seeking comment on the proposal by ACD Telecom, LLC to be certified as a public safety Part 90 Frequency Coordinator. Comments are due October 8, 2014 and Reply Comments are due October 23, 2014.
In evaluating a proposal for certification as a frequency coordinator under Part 90 of the FCC’s Rules, the entity must demonstrate that (a) it is able to represent users of the frequencies that will be coordinated, (b) provide its overall coordination plan (including how recommendations will be made and the equality of applicant treatment, (c) its experience coordinating frequencies in the service or technical expertise and (d) its nationwide coordination capability.
ACD Telecom states that it was formed in 1998 and that it satisfies the “representativeness” requirement for frequency coordination. Additionally, ACD Telecom states that it has an effective coordination plan, has extensive PLMR technical experience and a nationwide coordination capability. As a result, ACD Telecom states that it is qualified to be a coordinator and therefore seeks certification to coordinate public safety frequencies in the VHF and UHF bands below 512 MHz, the 700 MHz narrowband band and the 800 MHz public safety frequencies, including the NPSPAC band.
We’re Getting the Band Back Together: Sprint Sells 900 MHz Spectrum to Former Nextel Head for Push to Talk Service
A company led by former Nextel co-founders Morgan O’Brien and Brian McAuley has raised $218 million in a private equity deal and is using a portion of these proceeds to acquire all of Sprint Corporation’s 900 MHz spectrum licenses (approximately 6 megahertz nationwide). The spectrum was formerly used in Sprint’s nationwide 800 MHz/900 MHz iDEN network.
Pacific DataVision, Inc. (“PDV”) plans to use the spectrum to launch a modern ( i.e., non-iDEN) push-to-talk radio network dedicated solely to serving business customers. The service will target dispatch-oriented small and medium-sized businesses in the major metropolitan markets of the United States and will be offered primarily through Motorola Solutions, Inc.’s Authorized Dealer Network.
Mr. McAuley, Chairman of PDV, said, “Morgan and I are proud of the role we played in building Nextel into a carrier focused on the needs of the enterprise community. With the availability of Motorola Solutions’ digital radio technology, we see an opportunity to incorporate PDV’s proprietary cloud-based mobile resource management solutions into a next generation offering for businesses. These solutions increase productivity through the delivery of real-time information from and about mobile workers to their managers.”
The license assignment transaction, which involved 893 Major Trading Area (or “MTA”) and 512 site-specific 900 MHz licenses, was approved by the FCC’s Wireless Bureau last week. PDV intends to implement a push-to-talk dispatch service using its Dispatch Plus™ communications system, which features handset technology from Motorola and PDV’s proprietary mobile resource management solution. The company has been developing dispatch-centric, business mobility solutions for over ten years and has reportedly secured six U.S. and two foreign patents.
While some traditional Commercial Mobile Radio Service (“CMRS”) providers, including Sprint, also provide PTT services, PDV expects that its network solution, which will be dedicated to dispatch, will restore the speed and simplicity demanded by its targeted dispatch-centric customers and will greatly enhance the instant communication abilities of business users within their organizations and with their suppliers, vendors, and customers. Sprint decommissioned its iDEN network in June 2013, and has been transitioning its 800 MHz spectrum to wideband CDMA and wideband LTE.
FirstNet Seeks Input on Rural Telco Partnership, Non-First Responder Access
FirstNet has issued a request for information (RFI) at its Sept. 17 board meeting, seeking input on issues such as whether FirstNet can be accessed by non-public safety users, which may be of interest to public utilities and other companies that may be compatible with the restrictions likely to be imposed on FirstNet participants. Comments on the RFI are due Oct. 17.
The RFI also seeks information on the potential for partnering with established carriers, especially rural telephone companies, to complete the buildout of the nationwide public safety broadband network as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The RFI also asks a number of detailed questions focused on the core, radio access network (RAN), security and partnerships. The RFI is designed to lead to an RFP to move implementation of the network along.
As reported by Fierce Wireless, Ed Parkinson, FirstNet's director of government affairs, indicates: "It's the vendor community that is going to dictate the best way this is going to be built." He noted contracts for the network will be subject to a competitive process and will have to follow federal acquisition regulations.
FCC Rejects Waiver Request from Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
The Commission has rejected the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s request for waiver to utilize the frequencies 159.045 and 159.075 MHz on a co-primary basis. The Turnpike Commission stated in its waiver request that it operates a state-wide VHF 2-way voice system that consists of 26 mobile repeaters and 3,000 mobile units that support public safety activities, including: routine highway maintenance, inclement highway maintenance and interoperable emergency dispatch services with the Pennsylvania State Police, maintenance utility workers, fire and EMS agencies and towing companies. Additionally, the Turnpike Commission stated that it uses its system to coordinate with local law enforcement, military personnel and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The FCC noted that the Turnpike Commission claimed that the FCC recently placed a condition on the licenses for two of its call signs which indicated that the frequency 159.045 MHz would be authorized on a secondary basis even though its remaining licenses did not have that condition. As a result, the Turnpike Commission stated that the frequency would no longer be usable since it could not rely on a secondary frequency for emergency response operations.
In evaluating the Turnpike Commission’s waiver request, the FCC concluded that the base station use of the frequency 159.045 MHz was made on a secondary, noninterference basis in order to protect mobile-only licensees from the potential for harmful interference from the much more powerful base stations. As a result, the FCC stated that the purpose of the rule would not be served by a waiver. In reaching this conclusion, the FCC noted that the Turnpike Commission had not shown that there were unique or unusual factual circumstances that would distinguish it from any other licensee operating a base station on a secondary basis relative to the mobile-only operations authorized on the channel. This, taken with the fact that the Turnpike Commission had been operating on the frequency on a secondary basis for more than 40 years clearly demonstrated that the status quo was a viable alternative and that the perceived harm was speculative in nature.
Globe Wireless Radio Services Inc. Obtains Waiver to Allow Use of HF Public Coast Frequencies
The FCC has granted the request of Globe Wireless Radio Services to use high frequency (HF) public coast spectrums above 5 MHz for communications between its high seas public cost stations at Palo Alto and Rio Vista, California, Bishopville, Maryland, Pearl River, Louisiana and a new station on Long Island, New York.
Under the FCC’s Rules, VHF band frequencies are allocated to serve port areas while HF bands serve vessels on the high seas — which may be hundreds or even thousands of miles from land. Public Coast stations are commercial mobile radio service providers that allow ships at sea to send and receive messages and interconnect with the telephone public switched network. In this regard, each public coast station has one or more exclusive use public correspondence channels within its service area or region of operation so that it serve foreign and domestic vessels along inland water ways, in coastal areas and on the high-seas.
Rule Section 80.453 permits public coast stations to provide radiotelephone and radiotelegraph service to ships and shore stations under certain conditions — but limits communications between shore stations to frequencies between 0.415 – 5 MHz. In granting the rule waiver request, the FCC agreed with Globe Wireless Radio Services that limiting communications between public coast stations to frequencies below 5 MHz created an unnecessary burden on operators. As a result, the FCC concluded that the purpose of Rule Section 80.453(d)(5) would not be served. This is because there has been a decline in the number of public coast stations, which in turn, has created longer distances between the stations. Additionally, the disruptive HF propagation characteristics, such as sunspot cycles, atmospheric and seasonal conditions make it necessary for public coast stations to have access to all licensed HF frequencies.
FCC Fines Equity Communications $20,000 for Tower Violations Following Surprise Inspection
The FCC has imposed a $20,000 forfeiture against Equity Communications for failing to properly paint its tower and for failing to enclose the antenna tower within an effectively locked fence or enclosure. In assessing this fine, the FCC noted that the maintenance of marking and lighting is critical to aviation safety, while having proper fencing around antenna towers is necessary to ensure that the public is not exposed to RF radiation.
In March, 2010, the FCC’s Philadelphia field office inspected the antenna tower that was located in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The inspectors noted that the tower was required to be painted and lighted. However, at the time of the inspection, the paint was faded and chipped. During the course of the inspection, the FCC’s field agents noted that the southeast gate was unlocked, which would allow unrestricted access to the tower. Because the tower held an AM station, it had the potential for harmful RF radiation at the base of the tower.
Equity stated that it had never seen the gate unlocked, but that there are several tenants on the tower who could have inadvertently left the gate unsecured. Nonetheless, on November 16, 2010, the FCC reinspected the tower and found that the violations had not been corrected.
As a result of its findings, the FCC had proposed a $20,000 fine.
It is important to note that the FCC expects licensees to come into compliance immediately when a tower violation is involved (because of the safety issues raised), and that such action is not used in determining a downward adjustment to a proposed fine. Additionally, even though Equity claimed to have taken immediate action, the FCC found that taking 11 months to install white strobe lighting to resolve the painting violation was not immediate. Rather, the FCC found that this delay constituted a “deliberate disregard” for the FCC’s Rules. Finally, the FCC also declined to reduce the fine based upon Equity’s overall history of regulatory compliance since it had prior tower violations in 2002 and a new violation in 2011.
Canadian National Railway Agrees to Record $5.25 Million Consent Decree to Settle Numerous FCC Licensing Violations
Canadian National Railway agreed to a civil settlement of $5.25 million in order to resolve an investigation into the Company’s acquisition and operation of hundreds of wireless radio facilities without obtaining prior FCC approval. In some cases, the unauthorized operation continued for more than 20 years before the violations were disclosed to the FCC. This is the largest civil penalty in FCC history for unauthorized radio operations and transfers of control.
Canadian National Railway provides rail, trucking, warehousing and distribution services throughout Canada and portions of the United States. In 1995, it acquired a several railroad companies in the United States that held FCC radio licenses. The FCC also noted that as far back as 1990, Canadian National Railway and its predecessors had either constructed, relocated, modified or otherwise operated several hundred wireless radio facilities without first obtaining FCC approval.
If you are planning a transaction, including asset sales or acquisitions, mergers, or even internal corporate reorganizations in the near future, please contact our office so that we can evaluate whether or not there are any FCC regulatory impacts. It is also important to note that most modifications to your radio facilities will also require prior approval.
FCC Orders Sprint to Reimburse R&M Repeater for 800 MHz Rebanding
The FCC resolved a dispute between R&M Repeater and Sprint regarding Sprint’s obligation to reimburse R&M Repeater for expenses associated with its 800 MHz rebanding efforts. The dispute arose over whether R&M was entitled to reimbursement for the rebanding of 800 MHz spectrum that it acquired from Vulcan Materials, and whether or not R&M’s installation of the frequencies in its radio system during the summer months when school was not in session was appropriate. Sprint asserted that R&M was not entitled to rebanding costs because it installed the current frequencies rather than the replacement frequencies — meaning the frequencies that would ultimately be assigned by the 800 MHz Transition Administrator to replace the current channels as part of the 800 MHz rebanding effort. Further, Sprint asserted that R&M should have been aware of the rebanding requirements since its affiliate had been the subject of an 800 MHz rebanding agreement in 2004.
The FCC concluded that R&M did not become subject to the FCC’s 800 MHz rebanding rules until it closed its transaction with Vulcan Materials in November 2013. As a result, any actions taken by R&M prior to the closing, including the installation of frequencies in its radios during the summer break, had no impact on whether or not R&M was entitled to reimbursement from Sprint.
Sprint argued that if R&M was entitled to reimbursement, it should be limited to $60,015, which is the additional cost associated with the rebanding if it is completed during R&M’s annual radio maintenance cycle during the summer break. R&M argued that the reimbursement amount should be $249,522. The FCC stated that while R&M has the obligation to complete the rebanding in the most cost effective way as possible, it is also constrained by the requirements imposed by the 800 MHz Transition Administrator, especially since its rebanding must occur ahead of three other licensees. That said, the FCC concluded that R&M is entitled to costs of up to $249,522 if an off-cycle rebanding is required.
FCC Updates Rules Concerning Satellite Emergency Beacons
The FCC has amended Parts 90, 87 and 95 of its Rules to update certain mailing and e-mail addresses pertaining to satellite emergency beacons — which are required for registration or for obtaining additional information.
These addresses include those for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Beacon Registration Database, the Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services, the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics and the United States Coast Guard. These addresses are important because manufacturers and users of Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs), Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs) and Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) are required to make certain notifications or filings in connection with the registration and use of EPIRB devices. In particular, owners of EPIRBs, ELTs and PLBs are required to register emergency and other pertinent information such as the name, telephone number, type of aircraft/vessel and the beacons unique identification code with the NOAA (the United States program manager for the COSPAS/SARSAT satellite system).
From an end-user standpoint, manufacturers of EPIRB devices are required to provide purchasers with a post card to facilitate the registration of the EPIRB’s NOAA code with the NOAA. Additionally, vessel owners are required to advise the NOAA in writing of a change in ownership of a vessel or EPIRB device, the transfer of an EPIRB to another vessel or any other change in registration information. Similar requirements exist for Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs) that are installed in aircraft so that the owner can provide the NOAA with the name, address, telephone number, type of aircraft, alternate emergency contact and other information required by NOAA. Likewise, owners of Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) must also register with NOAA, using the post card provided with the device.
If your device does not come with the appropriate notification post card, please contact your vendor as soon as possible so that it can be registered before you use the beacon. The FCC’s Rules state that a failure to properly register EPIRBs, ELTs and PLBs could subject the owner to a monetary forfeiture.