FCC Releases Order that Would Free Up Spectrum

December 16, 2016–The FCC released an order on reconsideration and a memorandum opinion and order today that would free up spectrum from Maritime Communications/Land Mobile LLC (MCLM) for use by requesting railroad and critical infrastructure industry (CII) companies.

The item had been on the agenda for today’s FCC meeting, but it was deleted yesterday after it was adopted (TRDaily, Dec. 14). The item in WT docket 13-85 responds to petitions for reconsideration of a September 2014 MO&O that addressed requests to approve the assignment of AMTS (automated maritime telecommunications system) licenses caught up in a hearing before an administrative law judge concerning the character qualifications of MCLM (TRDaily, Sept. 11, 2014). The earlier order in WT docket 13-85 removed from the hearing an application to assign a license from MCLM to the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) for positive train control (PTC). But it declined requests to provide the same relief and free up spectrum sought by CII entities, angering that industry.

The 2014 order acknowledged “that important public benefits stem from the operation of, for example, SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition] systems by oil and gas companies and smart grid systems by electric cooperatives and other utilities. Although the CII Companies’ proposals to use the spectrum licenses for SCADA, smart grid and similar applications would be beneficial to the public, unlike PTC, those other services are not dedicated to communications to prevent human injury and property damage, but are also used for day-to-day facilities management and other purposes that primarily serve the business needs of the licensee.”

“As discussed below, we find that changed circumstances—the discharge in bankruptcy of Donald DePriest, an alleged real-party-in-interest in MCLM—arising after the adoption of the MO&O warrant reconsideration of the MO&O and support granting Second Thursday relief,” the FCC said in the item released today. “We therefore grant the MCLM and Choctaw petitions for reconsideration. This decision also terminates the hearing as to MCLM’s basic qualifications, eliminates the need to address the merits of the other pending petitions for reconsideration of the MO&O, and paves the way for MCLM’s remaining licenses to be assigned to qualified third parties, with the proceeds benefitting innocent creditors of MCLM. We also deny an application for review filed by Warren Havens and associated entities seeking Commission review of an action by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau’s Mobility Division (Division) denying petitions for reconsideration of orders by the Division and its predecessor.” – Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily