Federal Communications Commission

FCC Announces Anticipated Renewal of Its Disability Advisory Committee and Solicits Applications for Membership

By this Public Notice, the Federal Communications Commission announces the anticipated renewal of its Disability Advisory Committee and solicits applications for membership on the Committee, subject to renewal of the Committee’s charter. It is expected that the two-year membership term on the Committee, if renewed, would commence on December 30, 2016. Applications for membership are due by 11:59 P.M. on October 20, 2016. The Committee, which was created under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, provides a vehicle for consumers and other stakeholders to provide feedback and recommendations to the Commission on a wide array of disability issues within the FCC’s jurisdiction.

FCC adopts an integrated plan to address both fixed and mobile voice and broadband service in high-cost areas of the state of Alaska

Given the unique climate and geographic conditions of Alaska, the Federal Communications Commission finds that it is in the public interest to provide Alaskan carriers with the option of receiving fixed amounts of support over the next ten years to deploy and maintain their fixed and mobile networks. If each of the Alaska carriers elects this option, we expect this plan to bring broadband to as many as 111,302 fixed locations and 133,788 mobile consumers at the end of this 10-year term.

Incentive Auction Stage 2 Clearing Target, Schedule Announced

By this Public Notice, the Incentive Auction Task Force and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau announce the 114 megahertz spectrum clearing target that has been set by the Auction System’s optimization procedure for the second stage (Stage 2) of the incentive auction. This Public Notice also describes the band plan associated with the 114 megahertz spectrum clearing target, and the number of Category 1 and Category 2 generic license blocks in each Partial Economic Area (PEA) that will be offered during the forward auction in Stage 2. In addition, we provide details and specific dates regarding bidding and the availability of educational materials for Stage 2 of the incentive auction. We also remind reverse and forward auction applicants of their continuing obligations. Stage 2 bidding in the reverse auction will start on September 13, 2016.

FCC Announces Addition to Senior Technology Staff

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced the appointment of Henning Schulzrinne as Senior Advisor for Technology, based in the agency’s Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis. Dr. Schulzrinne will take over as FCC Chief Technologist at the end of 2016, when the current Chief Technologist, Scott Jordan, leaves the agency.

Dr. Schulzrinne previously served as FCC Chief Technologist from 2011 to 2014, and has continued to serve the FCC as a part time advisor. He is Levy professor of computer science and electrical engineering at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University. Schulzrinne received his undergraduate degree in economics and electrical engineering from the Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany, his MSEE degree as a Fulbright scholar from the University of Cincinnati (OH) and his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst (MA). He helped develop key protocols that enable voice-over-IP (VoIP) and other multimedia applications including the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). Dr. Jordan, who will remain as FCC Chief Technologist until he leaves the agency in December, joined the FCC in 2014 from the University of California, Irvine, where he is a professor of computer science. He received his undergraduate degrees, as well as his Master’s Degree and Ph.D in electrical engineering and computer science, from the University of California, Berkeley. His research has focused on communications platforms, and differentiated services on the Internet.

Chairman Wheeler's Response to Senator Warren Regarding Privacy of Broadband Customers' Personal Information

On June 21, Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wrote to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler to express her support for strong consumer privacy rules for broadband Internet access service.

On August 23, Chairman Wheeler replied saying, “I agree that privacy should not be a luxury good reserved only for the wealthy. In the Commission's broadband privacy proposal, we have sought comment on business practices that offer customers financial inducements, such as discounted service rates, for their consent to use and share their information. The record developed in this proceeding reflects widely disparate views on this issue. Some commenters argue that these business models unfairly disadvantage low-income or vulnerable populations. Other commenters maintain that consumers, including low-income consumers, stand to benefit from the use and sharing of their information and should be given the opportunity to make that choice. As the Commission continues to examine the substantial record in the proceeding, I can assure you that we will carefully consider the risks and benefits of adopting rules regarding such practices with particular attention to the effect of these business models on low-income consumers.”

FCC Chairman Wheeler's Response to Senator Schumer Regarding Implementation of Text to 911 and Next Generation 911

On June 27, Sen Charles Schumer (D-NY) wrote to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler about emergency 911 services.

Sen Schumer wrote: “Recent events have demonstrated the need to access 911 dispatchers with more than traditional voice calls. In fact, during the Orlando shooting, many individuals were able to use their cell phones to text loved ones; however they were unable to text 911. The usefulness of an advanced 911 system in states where the technology exists demonstrates the substantial help it is for those with disabilities or in situations where initiating a voice call may be too dangerous. In areas where call centers experience high call volumes, 911 technologies like Next Generation (NG911), which supports voice, text, data, and video communication, can help overburdened emergency centers better handle their response.”

On August 23, Chairman Wheeler replied saying, “I agree that we collectively can do more to help the nation's PSAPs overcome the funding, planning, and operational challenges that are stalling the transition to NG911 , and I will continue to be an aggressive champion towards that end. In your letter, you urge the Commission to convene all the appropriate stakeholders to identify barriers to NG911 implementation and ways to speed up the process. We have already begun this task by convening our PSAP Task Force, which has brought together many of the nation's leading experts on 911 and NG911 , including practicing 911 professionals from state and local government, as well as representatives from public safety organizations, industry, consumer groups, and the federal government. Earlier this year, the Task Force issued a comprehensive report containing recommendations to help PSAPs migrate to Next Generation architecture, develop sustainable funding models, and provide cybersecurity protection to the 911 system as it transitions to IP-based technology. The Task Force is continuing to refine its recommendations and we are committed to working with all stakeholders to help implement them. In particular, we intend to expand our engagement to include local and state government leaders, including state legislators and governors, who are essential to making the NG911 transition happen in their states and communities.”

FCC Announces Further Details for Roll-Out Schedule for New Network Outage Reporting System

On July 22, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau announced the roll-out schedule for the new version of the Network Outage Reporting System (NORS) platform. We also stated in the July 28 Public Notice that user profile information was moved to the new platform on August 1, 2016, and that August 31, 2016 would be the planned cutover date for filing NORS outage reports using the new platform. We have since concluded, based on discussions with communications providers that NORS users should migrate to the new platform during a cutover window in two steps.

In the first step beginning August 31, 2016, CenturyLink, Verizon, and T-Mobile will be moved to the new production system. When a company is moved to the new production system, the company’s NORS users will be required to file all outage reports using the new platform and will not be permitted to use the current platform. Before a company is moved to the new platform, NORS users from that company should continue to make all required filings under Part 4 in the current version of the NORS system. In the second step, the remaining companies will be migrated. The second step will be completed as soon as possible, but no later than September 30, 2016. The current NORS platform will not be available for filing of formal NORS reports after the completion of the second step.

FCC Review of State Opt-Out Requests from FirstNet, et al.

This Report and Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addresses the 758-769/788-799 MHz band, which the Federal Communications Commission licensed to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) on a nationwide basis pursuant to the provisions of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. The Report and Order adopts rules intended to resolve the remaining questions posed in the 2013 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in these dockets. The FCC provides a mechanism to facilitate the relocation of the public safety narrowband incumbents currently operating on FirstNet’s spectrum. The FCC also affirmatively declines at this time to impose specific build-out requirements on FirstNet as a condition of renewal of its license. Rather, the FCC finds that the build-out obligations and specifications of the Act, coupled with the specifications of FirstNet’s recently released Request for Proposal (Final RFP), provide adequate milestones to ensure rural coverage while also providing both FirstNet and the states flexibility in terms of planning for optimal network coverage. The FCC will continue to monitor FirstNet’s buildout progress against these milestones, and expect that existing reporting obligations will be sufficient to allow the FCC to carry out its license renewal responsibilities.

In the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC opens a new proceeding to seek comment on proposed procedures for administering the state opt-out process as provided under the Public Safety Spectrum Act, as well as on its implementation of the specific statutory standards by which the FCC is obligated to evaluate state opt-out applications.

FCC Releases 2014 Quadrennial Review of the Commission's Broadcast Ownership Rules

The Federal Communications Commission adopted on August 10 and released on Aug 25 its Second Report and Order, bringing to a close the 2010 and 2014 Quadrennial Review proceedings. The FCC maintains strong media ownership rules, takes steps to help promote small business participation in the broadcast industry, and adopts rules that will help to promote transparency in local television markets. The FCC found that the public interest is best served by retaining its existing rules, with some minor modifications.

FCC Denies Request to Suspend Spectrum Auction Bidding

The Federal Communications Commission denied a request by the Rural Wireless Association and NTCA: The Rural Broadband Association to suspend or slow the incentive spectrum auction in September while the organizations attend a pair of conferences.

"Suspending or reducing the bidding schedule for six full days could undermine our goal of promoting an efficient and successful auction process," said Margaret Wiener, chief of the auctions and spectrum access division of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, adding there needs to be a compelling reason to do so.