Today's Regulatory Mix: Court Declines to Rehear Challenges to FCC Restoring Internet Freedom Order, FCC C-Band Proposal, US House Field Hearing on Rural Broadband
Court Declines to Rehear Challenges to FCC Restoring Internet Freedom Order
The US Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit denied petitions for an en banc rehearing of its decision to uphold the FCC’s 2018 Restoring Internet Freedom Order. Among other things that Order reclassified broadband Internet access service (BIAS) as an information service and also reclassified mobile BIAS as a private mobile service. Inteserra Briefing Service subscribers see Briefings dated 2/13/18 and 10/11/19.
FCC C-Band Proposal
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced he has circulated draft rules that would reform the use of the C-band and make a large amount of spectrum available for 5G, the next generation of wireless technology. The C-band is a 500 megahertz segment of spectrum from 3.7 to 4.2 GHz, which is now mostly used by fixed satellite companies to beam content to video and audio broadcasters, cable systems, and other content distributors. However, satellite companies don’t need the entire C-band to provide the services they are providing today. They can provide the same services with less bandwidth, which would free up a significant amount of spectrum for 5G.
According to the Fact Sheet, Chairman Pai’s draft rules would make the lower 280 megahertz of the C-band available for flexible use, including 5G, through a public auction that will start December 8, 2020. Existing satellite operations would be repacked into the upper 200 megahertz of the band with relocation costs covered. Relocation costs of the C-band’s current users would be reimbursed by the winning bidders. Additionally, satellite operators would have the opportunity to receive accelerated relocation payments if they are able to clear the lower portion of the C-band on an accelerated timeline. The accelerated payments could total up to $9.7 billion and would be paid by winning bidders in the C-band auction.
Eligible satellite operators would have the option to clear according to the following accelerated timeline: (1) clearing 120 megahertz (3.7-3.82 GHz) by September 2021 in 46 of the nation’s top 50 Partial Economic Areas; and (2) clearing the remaining 180 megahertz (3.82-4.0 GHz) in those areas as well as all 300 megahertz (3.7-4.0 GHz) in the rest of the contiguous United States by September 2023. Under the accelerated timeframe, 5G deployments could happen in the lower 100 megahertz of the C-band in 46 of the nation’s top 50 Partial Economic Areas by September 2021 and in the remaining spectrum by September 2023. This is much sooner than September 2025, which would be the timeframe without accelerated relocation payments.
The full Commission will vote on this Report and Order on February 28, 2020 at the FCC’s Open Meeting.
US House Field Hearing on Rural Broadband
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), a member of the Subcommittee, announced that the Communications and Technology Subcommittee will hold a field hearing on Thursday, February 20, at 2 pm at the Prince George County Central Wellness Center on the importance of rural broadband access. The hearing is entitled, “Rural Broadband: Connecting Consumers and Empowering Small Businesses Across America.”
“Access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband is critical to compete in today’s economy. At its best, the American story is one of furthering and preserving equal opportunity, yet despite broad bipartisan agreement on the importance of expanding broadband access, too many of our rural communities are still being left behind. The problems we face in Washington working to ensure every community has access to the high-speed internet needed to grow small businesses and create good-paying jobs are complex; however, Virginia’s Fourth District is already implementing viable solutions,” said Congressman McEachin. “I am very much looking forward to working with Chairmen Pallone and Doyle to bring Congress to Prince George County, whose transformative story—from limited broadband access to gigabyte-speed fiber—offers a successful blueprint for underserved communities throughout the country.”
“Too many small businesses and families in rural America lack access to a broadband internet connection. To close this gap, we must invest federal funds to bring affordable and high-speed internet access to these communities, as well as improve the accuracy of coverage maps,” said Pallone and Doyle. “Congressman McEachin is a fierce advocate for bringing broadband to unserved and underserved areas. We are looking forward to holding this field hearing in his congressional district to explore how best to connect rural America and promote economic growth and innovation.”
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.