• "Net Neutrality" Proposal, 911 Wireless Location Rules, AWS-3 Auction is Good News for FirstNet, FCC Considers Preempting State Muni Broadband Laws, FCC Fines Land Mobile Licensee for Unauthorized Operation, Vol XII, Issue 6
  • March 27, 2015 | Authors: C. Douglas Jarrett; Gregory E. Kunkle; Thomas B. Magee; Tracy P. Marshall
  • Law Firm: Keller and Heckman LLP - Washington Office
  • “Net Neutrality” Proposal

    Last week, FCC Chairman Wheeler released a Fact Sheet and published an article in Wired Magazine outlining his proposed net neutrality rules. The Chairman’s proposal would reclassify broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service subject to regulation by the FCC under Title II of the Communications Act. It is intended to establish three “bright line” rules prohibiting broadband providers from: (i) blocking access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices; (ii) impairing or degrading lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices; and (iii) offering paid prioritization that favors some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for payment. The rules also will apply to mobile broadband but will not involve rate regulation, tariffs, or last-mile unbundling. Critical Infrastructure entities appear split on the proposal. Some prefer to be able to pay for priority access while others are happy with the FCC’s mandate that all lawful traffic must be treated equally. The proposal also raises important pole attachment issues regarding the appropriate classification of broadband providers. The Commission is expected to vote on these proposed rules at its February 26th meeting. The text of the rules should be available shortly thereafter.

    911 Wireless Location Rules

    Last week, the FCC released a Report and Order on wireless location accuracy requirements for calls placed to 911 from a mobile phone operating indoors. The rules establish benchmarks for wireless carriers to provide PSAPs with enhanced latitude, longitude, and vertical location information for 911 calls from mobile devices. The rules also codify a commitment made by the four national wireless carriers to develop and deploy technology that will provide a PSAP with dispatchable location information. Late last year, the carriers, along with the NENA and APCO, voluntarily agreed to a roadmap aimed at improving indoor 911 location accuracy. The final rules closely track the roadmap despite protestations from other public safety organizations that refused to sign onto the roadmap and urged the FCC to adopt stronger rules setting a firm benchmark for carriers to provide dispatchable location information.

    AWS-3 Auction is Good News for FirstNet

    The FCC’s AWS-3 auction concluded last week, raising $44.9 Billion for the U.S. Treasury. The auction included 65 MHz of spectrum in the 1.7 GHz and 2.1 GHz bands. The auction’s success is good news for FirstNet, because a portion of the auction’s proceeds will be applied to the funding of FirstNet’s nationwide public safety broadband network. In a recent blog post, FirstNet’s Vice Chair, Jeff Johnson, described FirstNet’s outreach initiatives and sought to clarify a common misunderstanding in the public safety community about FirstNet’s network: initially the network will provide access to high-speed data and video services and when launched will not replace land mobile radio systems for mission critical voice communications.

    FCC Considers Preempting State Muni Broadband Laws

    Last week, Chairman Wheeler issued a Statement asserting that the FCC has authority to preempt state laws that bar or restrict municipal ownership or investment in broadband networks. The statement pertains to petitions filed by the Electric Board of Chattanooga, TN and the City of Wilson, NC, requesting the FCC preempt state laws that restrict their ability to expand broadband service offerings to surrounding areas where customers have expressed interest in these services. Chairman Wheeler’s position dovetails with the FCC’s recent actions making USF funds available for Rural Broadband Experiments and increasing funding for rural E-Rate projects.

    FCC Fines Land Mobile Licensee for Unauthorized Operation

    Last week, the FCC released a Forfeiture Order imposing a penalty of $10,000 against a land mobile licensee for operating an 800 MHz channel for which it was not authorized. The channel was inadvertently programmed into the operator’s radio and caused interference to a nearby public safety licensee that was properly authorized to operate on the channel. The Commission found that the unauthorized operation was a “willful” violation of the agency’s rules because the licensee knowingly operated the radio, even though he was unaware of the exact channel on which he was operating.