Today's Regulatory Mix: NARUC Resolution on ETCs, FCC Announces 5G Mid-Based Spectrum Auction, FCC Urban Rate Survey Released
NARUC Resolution on ETCs
At its Summer Policy Summit, the National Association Of Regulatory Utility Commissioners adopted a resolution urging Congress decline to pass a House bill that eliminates the State eligible telecommunications carrier (“ETC”) designation role. An ETC designation is a prerequisite for a carrier to gain access to federal universal service subsidies. It also is a prerequisite for such carriers to have either the obligation or the right to provide federal lifeline services. The process allows states to condition the designation and provide oversight of expenditures. The resolution also (i) asks Congress to amend H.R. 7302, which proposes a broadband lifeline fund, to require that providers also be designated as ETCs and (ii) urges the FCC to continue to cooperate with the States and acknowledge States’ significant role in closing the digital divide. See the Regulatory Mix dated 6/19/20 and 6/25/20.
FCC Announces 5G Mid-Band Spectrum Auction
The FCC announced that today is beginning its first auction of licenses for prime, mid-band spectrum suitable for 5G. The auction will offer county-based Priority Access Licenses (PALs) in the 3550-3650 MHz band, which will encourage the rapid deployment of next-generation wireless networks in the band. This is a critical step in freeing up spectrum for the commercial marketplace—a core part of the FCC’s 5G FAST Plan.
Specifically, the auction, designated as Auction 105, will offer seven PALs in each county-based license area, for a total of 22,631 PALs nationwide—the largest number of flexible-use spectrum licenses ever made available for bidding in a single auction. Each PAL will consist of a 10-megahertz unpaired channel in the 3.55-3.65 GHz band. The FCC adopted procedures for Auction 105 in a public notice adopted earlier this year.
“5G is critical to America’s global economic and technological leadership, and the start of the 3.5 GHz auction today is a key milestone in our work advancing this national priority,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “I thank the FCC auctions staff and staff in the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau for their work on this challenging project. And I especially thank my friend and colleague, Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, for his leadership. His efforts have helped ensure that we maximize the effectiveness of this auction.”
FCC Urban Rate Survey Released
The FCC announced the initiation of the urban rate survey for 2021. The information collected in this survey will be used to develop voice and broadband reasonable comparability benchmarks that will be in place in 2021.
To obtain this year’s samples, the FCC will be collecting the rates offered by a random sample of providers of fixed services identified using December 2019 FCC Form 477 data. Separate samples will be collected for fixed voice and fixed broadband services with up to 500 urban Census tracts in each. Because some providers serve many urban Census tracts, these providers may receive surveys for multiple Census tracts. Notifications that a provider is required to complete a survey will be sent via email to each selected provider’s FCC Form 477 contact person and certifying official. Completed surveys will be due on Friday, August 28, 2020.
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.