Federal Communications Commission

Policies on Mobile Spectrum Holdings and Expanding Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions

The Federal Communications Commission has updated its initial screen for review of spectrum acquisitions through secondary markets and makes determinations regarding whether to establish mobile spectrum holding limits for its upcoming auctions of high- and low-band spectrum, in light of the growing demand for spectrum, the differences between spectrum bands, and in accordance with its desire to preserve and promote competition.

The FCC has updated its spectrum screen for its competitive review of proposed secondary market transactions to reflect current suitability and availability of spectrum for mobile wireless services. It adds to its spectrum screen: 40 megahertz of AWS–4; 10 megahertz of H Block; 65 megahertz of AWS–3 (when it becomes available on a market-by- market basis); 12 megahertz of BRS; 89 megahertz of EBS; and the total amount of 600 MHz spectrum auctioned in the Incentive Auction.

It subtracts from its spectrum screen: 12.5 megahertz of SMR; and 10 megahertz that was the Upper 700 MHz D Block. The Commission establishes a market-based spectrum reserve of up to 30 megahertz in the Incentive Auction in each license area to ensure against excessive concentration in holdings of low-band spectrum and ensuring that all bidders bear a fair share of the cost of the Incentive Auction.

It adopts limits on secondary market transactions of 600 MHz spectrum licenses for six years post-auction. It declines to adopt auction-specific limits for AWS–3. It treats certain further concentrations of below-1-GHz spectrum as an enhanced factor in its case-by-case analysis of the potential competitive harms posed by individual transactions.

Radio Experimentation and Market Trials -- Streamlining Rules

The Federal Communications Commission announces that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved, for a period of three years, the information collection requirements contained in the regulations in the .

The information collection requirements were approved on June 9, 2014 by OMB.

FCC Holding Workshop On Accessibility And Social Media

The Federal Communications Commission 's Accessibility and Innovation Initiative will host a public event, "Accessing Social Media," on July 17, 2014, at FCC Headquarters, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington (DC).

The purpose of the event is to facilitate a collaborative, cross-sector exchange of information about making social media tools and content accessible to people with disabilities, including information about authoring tools, client apps and best practices. Among speakers in attendance will include representatives of the US Department of Labor, General Services Administration, and the American Association of People with Disabilities.

Office of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Releases Financial Projections For FCC’s E-Rate Proposal

The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote on a proposal to change E-Rate, a program designed to help schools and libraries connect to the Internet. That proposal promises over $5 billion for Wi-Fi but doesn’t identify where the money will come from to fund this new program.

After crunching the numbers provided by FCC staff, the Office of Commissioner Ajit Pai has developed financial projections that validate the concerns of congressional leaders of both parties that the proposal’s promises would come out of funding available today for Internet connectivity. Here are the results:

  • Over the next five years, the FCC’s Wi-Fi proposal would cut over $2.7 billion ($2,716,652,262) in funding available for Internet connectivity for schools and libraries.
  • In Year 3, the proposal would cut over $645 million ($645,658,643) or 27% of funds available for Internet connectivity.
  • In Year 4, the proposal would cut over $985 million ($985,937,579) or 39% of funds available for Internet connectivity.
  • In Year 5, the proposal would cut over $1.085 billion ($1,085,056,039) or 41% of funds available for Internet connectivity.
  • Because of these spending cuts, many rural schools would lose all of their funding for Internet connectivity in Years 3 through 5.

The FCC’s Washington-knows-best approach would deprive local school districts of the flexibility to meet local needs. By slashing funds available for Internet connectivity, the program will likely provide many American students with “Wi-Fi to nowhere.”

FCC Identifies Tentative Selectees in 79 Groups of Mutually Exclusive Applications Filed in the LPFM Window

In this Public Notice, the Federal Communications Commission considers 79 groups of mutually exclusive (MX) applications filed in the recent low power FM (LPFM) window and uses a point system to tentatively select applications for grant.

The tentative selectees, i.e., the single applicant with the highest point total or the applicants tied for the highest point total from each MX group, are identified.

The FCC has initiated a 30-day period for filing petitions to deny against the applicants tentatively selected and a 90-day period for the filing of voluntary time-share proposals (point-aggregation requests) and major change amendments.

The LPFM point system awards a maximum of six merit points, based on six criteria, with one point awarded under each criterion: (1) established community presence of at least two years; (2) commitment to originate local programming; (3) commitment to maintain a main studio; (4) commitment to originate local programming and to maintain a main studio; (5) diversity of ownership; and (6) tribal applicants serving tribal lands.

Once the petition to deny period has run, FCC staff are directed to conduct a final study of each tentatively selected application in accordance with the FCC Media Bureau’s routine processing procedures. In the case of tied applications, the final study will not be conducted until the tie has been eliminated through amendment, settlement and/or time-share procedures.

FCC Enforcement Bureau Adds Decorated Prosecutor to its Leadership Team

The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau announced that Katherine Winfree has joined the Bureau as Chief of Staff. Winfree previously served as the Chief Deputy Attorney General for the State of Maryland -- the second highest law enforcement officer in the state.

Winfree is a nationally recognized leader in the area of prosecution and law enforcement. During her time as Chief Deputy Attorney General, Winfree supervised the 32 divisions of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. In 2013, she successfully represented the state before the US Supreme Court in Maryland v. King, in which the Court upheld the constitutionality of the Maryland DNA Collection Act.

Before joining the Maryland Attorney General’s office, Winfree served for nearly two decades as a federal and state prosecutor, trying high-profile cases including federal public-corruption cases and the prosecution of the Beltway snipers, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo.

Among other roles with the US Department of Justice, she has worked in the Appellate Section of the Criminal Division and has served as Chief of the Economic Crime and Public Corruption Sections in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Most Definitely: Terminate Dormant Proceedings

[Commentary] The Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) has released a Public Notice seeking comment on whether to terminate almost 650 dormant proceedings (i.e., dockets that have no planned action and no further comments expected).

I applaud FCC Chairman Wheeler for initiating this item as well as the CBG staff and the individual Bureaus and Offices that worked on this document. The FCC has over 2,800 open proceedings pending. I believe that closing outdated FCC proceedings makes a lot of sense. Doing so could help the agency become more organized and focused on decisions that need to be made.

It could also make it easier for both Congress and the public to track what the agency is working on or still considering. And it could help prevent the FCC from using antiquated information as a basis for regulating.

Statement of Commissioner Ajit Pai On The Breakdown Of E-Rate Negotiations

Any good math teacher would give the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate proposal an “F” because the numbers just don’t add up.

It promises over $5 billion for Wi-Fi but doesn’t identify where the money will come from to fund this new program. As it stands, the proposal will blow a $2.7 billion hole in E-Rate’s budget -- one that the FCC has promised outside parties it’ll fill with a post-election increase in Americans’ phone bills. The proposal also doesn’t pass the test in other respects.

Rather than giving small, rural schools and libraries a fair shake, it continues to direct the bulk of E-Rate funds to large, urban school districts.

Instead of fundamentally reforming the E-Rate bureaucracy, the plan doubles down on complexity. Schools and libraries will still have to file reams of paperwork, operate on Washington’s timeline, and hire consultants -- that is, if they participate in the program at all.

Rather than giving local school boards, principals, teachers, and librarians the flexibility to decide what services and technologies best meet their communities’ particular needs, the plan takes a Washington-knows-best mindset.

FCC Announces Updated Agenda and Panelists For Workshop On Inmate Calling Services Reform

The updated agenda for the Federal Communications Commission’s July 9 workshop to analyze the impact of reforms and gather information to inform additional reforms of Inmate Calling Services (ICS) will include four panel discussions, as follows:

  1. Impact of Reform and Potential Need for Additional Reform -- This panel will address the impact of reforms since the 2013 ICS Report and Order and FNPRM, the benefits to consumers, and the potential need for additional FCC and/or state reforms.
  2. Ancillary Charges -- This panel will discuss ancillary charges, the types, rates, whether new charges have occurred since the 2013 Order, and potential reforms to limit these charges.
  3. Understanding the Provision of ICS in Different Facilities – This panel will focus on understanding the primary cost drivers of providing ICS in different types of correctional facilities.
  4. New Technologies -- This panel will consider new and emerging forms of communications in correctional settings beyond the traditional wireline telephone call.

FCC Announces Review Teams For Proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable-Charter And AT&T-DirecTV Transactions

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced the members of an inter-bureau steering committee and the working team leaders established to coordinate the agency’s review of merger applications from Comcast-Time Warner Cable-Charter and AT&T-DirecTV. Jonathan Sallet, General Counsel, will chair the steering committee that will oversee both sets of transactions.

Bureau chiefs on the steering committee include Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake, International Bureau Chief Mindel de la Torre, Wireline Competition Bureau Chief Julie Veach, and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Chief Roger Sherman.

Hillary Burchuk will lead the working team responsible for the review of the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable-Charter transaction. Bill Dever from the Wireline Competition bureau will be her deputy.

The Comcast-Time Warner Cable-Charter working team will report to the steering committee. Jamillia Ferris will join the Office of General Counsel to lead the working team for the review of the proposed AT&T-DirecTV transaction.

Elizabeth Andrion from the Office of Strategic Planning & Policy Analysis will serve as her deputy.

William Rogerson will serve as senior economist overseeing the review of the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable-Charter and has been selected to serve as senior economist overseeing the review of the proposed AT&T-DirecTV transactions.

Shane Greenstein will serve as senior economic consultant, providing guidance on the proposed Comcast-TWC-Charter and AT&T-DirecTV transactions.