Telecom Alert — 60-Day Buildout Extension; Public Safety STA and Waiver Guidance; 6 GHz Band Concerns; Rural Broadband Support Bills; Ligado's 5G Network Approved; COVID-19 Telehealth Applicants Approved — Vol. XVII, Issue 16

Date: Apr 20, 2020

FCC Grants 60-Day Extension of Construction Requirements

The FCC issued an Order last week partially granting Enterprise Wireless Alliance’s (EWA) petition for waiver of construction requirements for certain site-based and mobile-only wireless licensees due to the COVID-19 pandemic (Vol. XVII, Issue 14).  The Commission’s Order provides an additional 60 days to all licensees with construction deadlines from March 15, 2020 through and including May 15, 2020 to meet their construction requirements. For more information, please contact Tim Doughty (doughty@khlaw.com; 202.434.4271). 

Public Safety STA and Waiver Request Guidance

The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau issued a Public Notice on April 10 offering guidance to public safety licensees and applicants on filing Special Temporary Authority (STA) requests or waiver requests in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  For emergency requests for STA that the Commission grants and that are not filed in the first instance in ULS, the grant may include a requirement that the applicant file a subsequent request in ULS within ten days, or file a request for waiver.  Additionally, during evening hours, weekends, and holidays, public safety licensees in need of FCC emergency assistance or STAs can call the FCC’s Operation Center, which is open 24/7.  For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).

Critical Infrastructure Expresses Concerns with 6 GHz Band Draft Order

At its Open Meeting scheduled for April 23, the FCC is expected to release a draft Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking authorizing unlicensed operations in the 6 GHz band (Vol. XVII, Issue 14).  Last week a number of critical infrastructure companies filed letters with the Commission expressing concern that the proposals did not adequately protect point-to-point microwave systems.  In particular, objections were raised regarding the Commission’s intent to allow low power unlicensed devices to operate indoors without automated frequency control (AFC).  Stakeholders also urged the Commission to require more robust testing for unlicensed devices before authorizing their use in the 6 GHz band.  For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

Rural Broadband Support Bills Released

The texts of the Keeping Critical Connections Act (S.3569) and its House companion bill (H.R.6394) were released last week, which directs the FCC to promulgate rules on an expedited basis to provide up to $2 billion in reimbursements to small broadband service providers for offering certain services during the COVID-19 pandemic (Vol. XVII, Issue 14).  Providers with fewer than 250,000 customers would be reimbursed for providing free or discounted service, or free upgrades, to a customer because there is a student in the household who needs distance learning capabilities.  They also will be reimbursed for refraining from disconnecting a customer for nonpayment if the customer’s household income is less than 135% of the Federal poverty guidelines and the customer is unable to pay due to the impact of the pandemic.  For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180) or Tim Doughty (doughty@khlaw.com; 202.434.4271).

Ligado’s 5G Network Application Approved

The Commission issued a News Release today announcing the adoption of an order approving Ligado’s application to deploy a low-power terrestrial network in the L-Band that would primarily support 5G and Internet of Things services.  Ligado is only seeking terrestrial use of the 1526-1536 MHz, 1627.5-1637.5 MHz, and 1646.5-1656.5 MHz bands, and has committed to providing a 23 MHz guard-band using its own licensed spectrum to further separate its terrestrial base station transmissions from neighboring operations.  Ligado had also amended its application to significantly reduce its base station power levels from 32 dBW to 9.8 dBW.  For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

COVID-19 Telehealth Applicants Approved

The Wireline Competition Bureau announced the approval of the first six applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program last week, three days after the application window opened (Vol. XVII, Issue 14).  A total of $3.23 million was awarded to these applicants, and the Commission will continue to evaluate applications and award funding on a rolling basis.  The healthcare providers that received funding include Grady Memorial Hospital (GA), Hudson River HealthCare, Inc. (NY), Mount Sinai Health System (NY), Neighborhood Health Care, Inc. (OH), Ochsner Clinic Foundation (LA), and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (PA).  For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178). 

Send Us Your Feedback

We welcome your feedback on topics of interest that you would like to see covered in our Telecom Business Alert. To make suggestions, please e-mail telecomalert@khlaw.com.

Keller and Heckman LLP's Telecom Business Alert is a complimentary weekly electronic update created by the Telecommunications Practice Group of Keller and Heckman LLP.  All articles, videos, and quotations are on topics of general interest and do not constitute legal advice for particularized facts.  Keller and Heckman LLP's Telecom Business Alert © 2020.  All rights reserved.  Articles may be copied with attribution.  To sign up for our weekly alert, please send us an email at telecomalert@khlaw.com and provide us with your name and email.  Please follow us on twitter at @KHtelecom.