1-2/2017 Regulatory Updates


Commissioner Ajit Pai was designated FCC Chairman by President Trump on January 23, 2017. Appointments of two more commissioners to join Pai and Commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Mignon Clyburn are anticipated to fill out the five-member FCC

  • Chairman Pai’s initial actions were:
    • Appointment of staff, bureau, and office chiefs
    • Revocation of regulations, orders, and reports issued by the previous administration
    • Commencement of FCC process reforms including increased transparency in rulemaking proceedings

Higher Ground LLC application for consumer-based text messaging/light email and Internet of Things communications using a cell phone attachment and via geostationary C-band satellites

  • Rule waivers requested:
    • Mobile operations in a fixed service band
    • Replace Part 101 frequency coordination with self-coordination
  • FCC approved waivers and granted the application on January 18, 2017
  • Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition (FWCC) filed Application for Review and Motion for Stay in opposition to the grant on February 10, 2017

Broadcast Television Spectrum Incentive Auction

  • The auction satisfied both conditions of the final stage rule on January 18, 2017, assuring that the auction would close in Stage 4
  • The Stage 4 clock phase began January 18, 2017 and ended February 10, 2017
  • The Incentive Auction will re-purpose 84 MHz of spectrum from television broadcasting to mobile broadband (70 MHz) and unlicensed usage (14 MHz)
  • So far, proceeds of $19.6 Billion are offset by relocation and other expenses of $12.0 Billion
  • The voluntary assignment phase to allow winners to bid on frequency-specific licenses will commence on March 6, 2017

Spectrum Frontiers – Above 24 GHz Proceeding (GN Docket No. 14-177)

  • Thirteen Petitions for Reconsideration of the Report and Order were submitted on December 14, 2016
    • Petitions raise numerous issues including sharing conditions with satellite systems in various bands and whether additional spectrum should be allocated to licensed vs. unlicensed use
  • Comments on the Reconsideration petitions were due on January 31 and Reply Comments are due on February 24, 2017

FWCC rulemaking petition to limit routine full-band full-arc licensing of earth stations in the fixed satellite service (RM-11778)

  • Comments were submitted on January 9, 2017 and Reply Comments were submitted on January 24, 2017
  • Predictably, the proposals were supported by terrestrial interests and opposed by satellite interests
  • Some comments urged the FCC to further relax service rules to enable even greater terrestrial usage, particularly in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band