FirstNet Releases Final PEIS

The First Responder Network Authority has released its final programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) for the following non-contiguous areas: Alaska, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The PEIS is one of five prepared by FirstNet.

Courtesy TRDaily

Pleading Cycle Set for Blue Alert NPRM

Comments are due July 31 and replies Aug. 29 in PS docket 15-94 in response to a notice of proposed rulemaking adopted earlier this month that proposes to amend the FCC’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) rules to add the event code “BLU” for Blue Alerts (TR Daily, June 22). The new alert would enable the dissemination of information when law enforcement officers have been killed or seriously injured, are in imminent danger, or are missing.

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC Waives RHS Support Rules for Remote Alaskan Providers

Acting on its own motion, the FCC today waived on a one-time basis its rules regarding the Rural Health Care universal service support mechanism to enable “service providers in remote Alaska to reduce the cost of service to affected HCPs,” or health-care providers.

Specifically, the Commission waived its “support calculation rules that would otherwise be triggered by a reduction in service price” and waived “any other requirement, to the extent necessary, in these special circumstances to effectuate the relief granted, including restrictions on ineligible sources of funding, certification requirements, pro-ration requirement to the extent any interpretation of that rule might suggest the need to pro-rate the newly lowered price, and restrictions on evergreen contracts.”

Courtesy TRDaily

New Round of 911 Testing Announced

A new round of testing was announced today by an entity established by CTIA to help implement the FCC’s 911 indoor location accuracy rules (TR Daily, Jan. 29, 2015). The 9-1-1 Location Technologies Test Bed LLC said it is seeking location accuracy technology vendors that want to test their “new and evolving” products.

“Stages 1 and 2 of the Test Bed focused on verifying the indoor performance of existing or commercially available 9-1-1 location technologies. The new round, Stage 2a, will enable wireless industry and public safety community stakeholders to evaluate how new and evolving technologies can continue to enhance the capabilities of our nation’s 9-1-1 system. Stage 2a testing is scheduled to begin in the San Francisco and Atlanta regions later this year,” according to a news release.

“We look forward to Stage 2a of the 9-1-1 location technology testing to support further innovation in emergency communications, including indoor location accuracy,” said Test Bed LLC Vice President Tom Sawanobori.

Applications to participate in Stage 2a are due July 21. A Stage 3 also is planned (TR Daily, Feb. 3). —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC Rejects IMSA Part 90 Waiver Request

The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, and Office of Engineering and Technology have denied a request filed by the International Municipal Signal Association (IMSA) for a waiver of the agency’s section 90.203(j)(4)-(5) mandate that requires applications for type acceptance of part 90 land mobile radio equipment using the 150-174 megahertz and 450-512 MHz bands to have 6.25 kilohertz or equivalent capability (TR Daily Sep. 26, 2016).

The requirement took effect on Jan. 1, 2015. IMSA had asked that the mandate be delayed until at least Jan. 1, 2020.

“The Commission has stated repeatedly that the migration to 12.5 kilohertz operation was only a transitional step in the eventual migration to 6.25 kilohertz technology, and that it intends, if necessary, to establish a deadline for mandatory migration to 6.25 kilohertz technology,” said the order released today in PS docket 99-87. “We find that resuming the certification of PLMR equipment that is not capable of operating on 6.25 kilohertz channels or with equivalent efficiency would not serve the public interest. Such an action would increase the embedded base of equipment that is not 6.25 kilohertz-capable, and such equipment would eventually have to be replaced as part of the migration to 6.25 kilohertz technology, thus delaying the transition. We conclude, therefore, that delaying the 6.25 kilohertz capability requirement again would be contrary to the intent of the Commission in establishing the narrowbanding rules and would frustrate the purpose of the underlying rule.” Continue reading

Senate Commerce Committee Approves Ban on Cellphone Voice Calls During Flights

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee today approved by voice vote Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization legislation (S 1405) that includes a provision requiring the Department of Transportation to issue regulations banning cellphone voice communications during scheduled flights, except by on-duty flight crew members, flight attendants, or federal law enforcement officers. The legislation also includes a provision that expresses support for an effort to analyze whether some spectrum used by the FAA could be freed up for commercial use.

As introduced last week (TR Daily, June 23), the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017 would have permitted DoT to ban in-flight voice communications but would not have required it. Today, however, the committee approved an amendment backed by Sens. Edward J. Markey (D., Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.), and Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) mandating such a ban. Yesterday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved its version of FAA reauthorization legislation (HR 2997), the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act, which also includes a ban on in-flight voice communications (TR Daily, June 28). Also yesterday, Sens. Markey and Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) introduced legislation that would direct DoT to issue regulations banning the use of cellphones for voice calls on regularly scheduled flights, except by on-duty members of the flight crew or law enforcement officers (TR Daily, June 28).

“Passengers should not have to suffer through the conversations of others, and flight crews should not be disrupted while performing their important safety and security duties,” according to a news release issued by Sen. Markey’s office today.

The ban is backed by air travelers, pilots, and flight attendants. Continue reading

Trump Nominates Carr to FCC Vacancy

President Trump has nominated FCC General Counsel Brendan Carr to fill the last vacancy on the FCC. Mr. Carr took over as the agency’s general counsel when Ajit Pai became Chairman of the FCC in January. Before that, he was a legal adviser to Mr. Pai. The president previously renominated Mr. Pai, whose term expired June 30, 2016, and former Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, whose term expired June 30, 2015, to additional terms (TR Daily, March 7 and June 14).  President Obama had renominated Ms. Rosenworcel, but the nomination never received a confirmation vote in the Senate, so she had to leave when the 2016 session of Congress adjourned, as Chairman Pai would have to leave when the current session adjourns, unless he is confirmed to another term first.

Chairman Pai and Ms. Rosenworcel’s renominations are for the terms immediately succeeding their own expired terms.  Mr. Carr has been nominated for the remainder of former Chairman Tom Wheeler’s term, which expires June 30, 2018, and for an additional five-year term commencing on July 1, 2018. Before serving as legal adviser to then-Commissioner Pai, Mr. Carr was an attorney in the FCC’s Office of General Counsel. He has also worked in private practice at Wiley Rein LLP.

Traditionally, a Republican and a Democratic nominee to independent agencies are paired for confirmation votes, although FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly was confirmed without a paired Democratic nominee, on the pledge, according to Democratic senators, that Ms. Rosenworcel would receive an unpaired confirmation vote, which did not happen.  Continue reading