Federal Communications Commission

Straight Path To Pay $100 Million Fine In Failure To Deploy Investigation

The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau announced a settlement valued in excess of $100 million with Straight Path Communications to resolve an investigation of Straight Path’s failure to deploy wireless services as required under its FCC spectrum licenses.

The Enforcement Bureau investigated allegations that Straight Path violated the FCC’s buildout and discontinuance rules in connection with approximately 1,000 licenses in the 39 GHz and Local Multipoint Distribution Service GHz spectrum bands. These high frequency bands have been identified by the Commission as extremely valuable for use in the next generation evolution of wireless technology or “5G.” To settle this matter, Straight Path will pay to the United States Treasury a $100 million civil penalty, surrender to the Commission 196 of its licenses in the 39 GHz spectrum band, sell the remainder of its license portfolio, and remit 20 percent of the proceeds of that sale to the Treasury as an additional civil penalty.

“Squatting on spectrum licenses without any meaningful effort to put them to good use in a timely manner is fundamentally inconsistent with the public good,” said Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. “Wireless spectrum is a scarce public resource. We expect every person or company that receives a spectrum license to put it to productive use.”

FCC Fines Straight Path $100M To Settle Investigation For Failure To Deploy Wireless Service

The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau announced a settlement valued in excess of $100 million with Straight Path Communications to resolve an investigation of Straight Path’s failure to deploy wireless services as required under its FCC spectrum licenses.

The Enforcement Bureau investigated allegations that Straight Path violated the Commission’s buildout and discontinuance rules in connection with approximately 1,000 licenses in the 39 GHz and Local Multipoint Distribution Service GHz spectrum bands. These high frequency bands have been identified by the Commission as extremely valuable for use in the next generation evolution of wireless technology or “5G.” To settle this matter, Straight Path will pay to the United States Treasury a $100 million civil penalty, surrender to the Commission 196 of its licenses in the 39 GHz spectrum band, sell the remainder of its license portfolio, and remit 20 percent of the proceeds of that sale to the Treasury as an additional civil penalty.

Pai Statement on FCC's Midnight Regulation of Free Data

It is disappointing that the Federal Communications Commission’s current leadership has yet again chosen to spend its last days in office the same way it spent the last few years—cutting corners on process, keeping fellow Commissioners in the dark, and pursuing partisan, political agendas that only harm investment and innovation. This time the midnight regulations come in the form of a Bureau-level report casting doubt on the legality of free data offerings—offerings that are popular among consumers precisely because they allow more access to online music, videos, and other content free of charge.

This report, which I only saw after the FCC released the document, does not reflect the views of the majority of Commissioners. Fortunately, I am confident that this latest regulatory spasm will not have any impact on the Commission’s policymaking or enforcement activities following next week’s inauguration. It was my hope—as I have consistently expressed to my colleagues—that we could spend the remaining days of this Administration working together with bipartisan comity to ensure a smooth transition. It is sad that the outgoing leadership of the agency has chosen a different path.

Strategies and Recommendations for Promoting Digital Inclusion

A fundamental principle underlying the work of the Federal Communications Commission is that “[a]ccessing the Internet has become a prerequisite to full and meaningful participation in society.” Unfortunately, despite the benefits that flow from being online, many Americans do not have broadband Internet access. Among those who remain offline, affordability has been consistently cited as the primary barrier to broadband adoption.

With this plan, several of the following goals laid out in the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order are or can be realized. First, this plan marks another step in the Commission’s efforts to better understand non-price barriers to digital inclusion and to facilitate existing and forthcoming efforts addressing them. This plan also seeks to promote and highlight digital inclusion initiatives generally and those that leverage the modernized Lifeline program to bring broadband access to more Americans. Second, this plan explores how the Bureau can engage consumer groups, community groups, philanthropic organizations, local governments, and corporations to increase broadband adoption and digital literacy among those who remain offline.

Policy Review of Mobile Broadband Operators’ Sponsored Data Offerings for Zero-Rated Content and Services

This report presents the results of the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau staff review during 2016 of sponsored data and zero-rating practices in the mobile broadband market. Based on this review of these offerings, the report puts forward a draft framework for evaluating mobile zero rated data offerings generally.

WTB issues this report in fulfillment of its established responsibility to “advise[ ] and make[ ] recommendations to the Commission” regarding “policy goals, objectives, programs and plans for the Commission on matters concerning wireless telecommunications, drawing upon relevant economic, technological, legislative, regulatory and judicial information and developments.” Mobile broadband providers are experimenting with a variety of sponsored data and zero-rating initiatives. While this dynamic environment has benefited consumers, these business arrangements may raise many of the same economic and public policy issues involving network owners that the Commission has long considered. In particular, sponsored data offerings by vertically integrated mobile broadband providers may harm consumers and competition in downstream industry sectors by unreasonably discriminating in favor of select downstream providers, especially their own affiliates.

FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for January 2017 Open Meeting

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced that the following item is tentatively on the agenda for the January Open Commission Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, January 31, 2017:

Streamlining the Public File Rules: The Commission will consider a Report and Order that would eliminate the requirement that commercial broadcast stations retain copies of letters and e-mails from the public in their public inspection file and the requirement that cable operators retain the location of the cable system’s principal headend in their public inspection file.

FCC To Host Universal Service Webinar For State And Local Government Officials

The Federal Communications Commission Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs announced a webinar to provide an overview of the Commission’s Universal Service programs. This free, one-hour webinar is particularly tailored to the needs and interests of state and local government offices, agencies, and public officials and will be held on Thursday, January 24, 2017.

The federal Universal Service Fund is comprised of four programs designed to ensure access to affordable communications services for schools, libraries, health care providers, and rural and low-income consumers. This webinar will introduce participants to each of the components of the Federal Universal Service Fund: Connect America (or High Cost); E-Rate (Schools and Libraries); Rural Health Care; and Lifeline (LowIncome). The webinar will also explain how the programs are funded and how the funds are distributed, and will include an opportunity to pose questions about the Universal Service Fund to Commission staff.

Petition for Waiver of Registration and Certification Requirement of Closed Captioning Rules

This Public Notice seeks comment on a petition filed by the Alliance for Community Media (ACM) for waiver of certain Commission registration and certification requirements for video programmers that provide video programming exclusively to public, educational, and governmental access channels (PEG channels), to the extent that such channels are exempt from the provision of closed captioning under the Commission’s rules. Specifically, ACM requests waiver of the requirements for this class of video programmers to register contact information with the Commission and to certify to the Commission that their programs are exempt from the closed captioning rules. According to ACM, PEG channels generally fall within one or more of the exemption categories, including channels or streams producing revenues of less than $3,000,000. As grounds for its waiver petition, ACM states that the certification rule will burden many thousands of PEG video programming providers. Comments are due Feb 9, and reply comments due Feb 24.

FCC Clarifies Lifeline Standalone Broadband Offering Requirement

The Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau issued an Order on January 6, 2017, to clarify that an eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) must permit Lifeline-eligible customers to apply the Lifeline discount to standalone broadband internet access service (BIAS) if the ETC subject to high-cost support broadband obligations commercially offers a standalone BIAS service. The Bureau said this clarification renders moot the Petition for Temporary Waiver filed by the NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association and WTA – Advocates for Rural Broadband, and dismissed that petition. The Bureau said while high-cost recipients are required to offer BIAS consistent with specified benchmarks as a condition of receiving high-cost support, there is no specific requirement that high-cost recipients offer standalone BIAS service, and said recipients of high-cost support may meet their broadband public interest obligations by offering BIAS as part of a bundle with voice or on a standalone basis, at the carrier’s discretion.

Appointment of Membership for the 2017-9 Term of the Disability Advisory Committee and Announcement of Tentative Dates for DAC Meetings

By this Public Notice, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (Bureau or CGB) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) sets a tentative date for the first 2017 meeting of the Commission’s Disability Advisory Committee (DAC or Committee) and announces the appointment of Committee members for the DAC’s second two-year term. The DAC is organized under, and operated in accordance with, the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and provides advice and recommendations to the Commission on a wide array of disability matters within the jurisdiction of the Commission. A tentative date for the DAC’s first meeting of the new term is set for Tuesday, March 21, 2017, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET, at the FCC’s headquarters