National EAS/WEA Test Expected to Reach Most Mobile Phones

The nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System and wireless emergency alerts that was rescheduled from yesterday to Oct. 3 in light of response efforts to Hurricane Florence (TR Daily, Sept. 17) is expected to deliver the test message to “almost all” of the mobile phones in the country, a senior Federal Emergency Management Agency official told reporters during a conference call today.

The test, which will be the first nationwide test of WEA utilizing the presidential level code, which enables a message to be sent to all points in the U.S. simultaneously, is required by law every three years and is not being conducted in response to the false ballistic missile alert mistakenly sent in Hawaii in January over the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and by wireless emergency alert (WEA), the FEMA official said.  WEA was launched in 2012 and FEMA believes the system has developed to the point that a national test is appropriate, the official added. Continue reading

Wisconsin Awards $7M in Broadband Grants

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R.) and the state’s Public Service Commission have announced the award of an additional $7 million in broadband expansion grants. The 37 new grants will extend high-speed internet access to as many as 1,100 business locations and 14,000 residential locations,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.  The awards must be finalized in a PSC written decision.

“Because of the truly transformative power of broadband we are awarding more than $7 million to extend high-speed internet in Wisconsin,” Gov. Walker said in a statement. “With these grants we are continuing to build on our investments into broadband throughout the state to ensure that Wisconsin families and businesses have access to technology and information they need to excel. Broadband access is revolutionizing education, health care, and business just like electrical revolutionized farming for my grandparents.” Continue reading

Iridium Offers Options for ESIMs’ Use of 29.25–29.3 GHz Band

The FCC could permit land and marine ESIMs (earth stations in motion) in the 29.25–29.3 gigahertz band “at this time, but defer consideration of aeronautical ESIMs to a further stage of the proceeding,” representatives of Iridium Communications, Inc., told Rachel Bender, a legal adviser to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, during a Sept. 19 ex parte meeting regarding the IB docket 17-95 proceeding on facilitating the use of ESIMs in fixed satellite service frequency bands.

The FCC is scheduled to consider a report and order and further notice of proposed rulemaking in the proceeding at its Sept. 26 meeting.

“[A]eronautical ESIMs can be situated directly in-line with the Iridium feeder-link main beam, and thus produce even greater levels of interference into Iridium satellites,” the company’s representatives said during the meeting, according to an ex parte notice filed yesterday.  Continue reading

Role of Tech, Data, Privacy Raised at FTC Hearing

Because technology is “part of every industry,” it is becoming “relevant in more and more matters” before the Federal Commission, including consumer protection in the areas of “cryptocurrencies, data throttling, online marketing, tech support scams, fintech — and even robocalls,” FTC Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter said today during opening remarks at the latest hearing in the agency’s series on competition and consumer protection in the 21st century.

“On the competition side, we have also long had to keep pace with technological advancement. We are seeing more and more mergers and conduct matters with technology-related issues such as data collection, intellectual property, and network effects. And as consumers become data commodities themselves, the nature of competition has been evolving as well,” Commissioner Slaughter said.

She said that “questions about competition and consumer protection no longer happen in isolation. Addressing a legal question on one side often has profound implications for the other.”

For example, in “a hypothetical merger between two companies that each control substantial consumer data; what are the privacy and security implications of that rollup? Consider also the consequences for consumers when limited competition means there is no meaningful choice about whether to patronize a company that may not prioritize user privacy,” she said. Continue reading

Trump Names Permitting Council Executive Director

President Trump today announced his intent to appoint Alexander Herrgott to be the executive director of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council.  Mr. Herrgott is currently associate director–infrastructure at the Council on Environmental Quality.  Previously, he was a congressional staffer in the office of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R., Okla) and on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He has also been director–transportation and infrastructure for Congressional and public affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Courtesy TRDaily

3.7% of Cell Sites Not Working in Florence-Affected N.C. Areas

In the 48 areas in North Carolina covered by the FCC’s activation of its Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) for Hurricane Florence, 3.7% of cell sites were out of service as of 11 a.m. today, down from 4.3% yesterday, the FCC reported. It said that 911 calls to two public safety answering points in North Carolina were being routed without location information to other PSAPs. As for cable and wireline service, the report said that 270,688 subscribers did not have service in North Carolina. One TV station reported being out of service. Two FM radio stations reported being down but programming was being sent to another station, while 21 FM radio stations said they were out of service. Two AM radio stations said they were out of service.

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC Urged to Name Panel to Probe Hurricane Maria Outages

Eighteen advocates for Puerto Rico and racial and social justice and media and telecom experts urged the FCC today to appoint an independent commission to probe the reasons for widespread communications failures in Puerto Rico after it was struck by Hurricane Maria last year.

“As a group of Puerto Rican advocates, racial- and social-justice organizations, and media and telecommunications experts, we call on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to appoint an independent commission to examine the causes for the communications failures in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria last year, and to develop recommendations to avoid such failures in the future,” said a letter filed in PS docket 17-344 and WC docket 18-143. “The ability to communicate is a life and death issue, especially during and after a disaster. But there is still much we do not know about the response of telecom companies and our government. And we also need to know more about the policies and investment decisions made through the years that resulted in a communications network that lacked the resiliency to withstand a major hurricane.

“The 36-page hurricane season report released by the FCC last month attempted to inform the public about the Commission’s actions following the hurricanes that struck the United States last year. But the report failed to provide the kind of comprehensive examination that is needed following such a historic tragedy in Puerto Rico,” the letter added. “We agree with FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who said ‘this slim and long-overdue review fails to capture the gravity of these storms.’” Continue reading

House Hearing on Public Safety Bills Rescheduled for Sept. 26

The House communications and technology subcommittee plans to hold a hearing on three public safety bills on Sept. 26 at 10:30 a.m. in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing had originally been scheduled for last Friday but it was postponed (TR Daily, Sept. 13). The hearing will consider three bills: the 9-1-1 Fee Integrity Act (HR 6424), the National Non-Emergency Mobile Number Act (HR 5700), and the Anti-Swatting Act (HR 6003).

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC Releases Nine-Item Agenda for Sept. 26 Meeting

The FCC today released a nine-item agenda for its Sept. 26 meeting, including those streamlining the siting of small cells, proposing ways to enable 911 calls to be made from multi-line telephone systems, consolidating rules for earth stations in motion (ESIMs), and establishing a framework to auction toll-free numbers.

The agency also plans to consider eliminating the filing of Form 325 by cable operators, adopting an item addressing two local franchising issues raised by a court remand, and approving two Enforcement Bureau items.

The “sunshine” notice released today also includes a presentation on the recently completed Connect America Phase II Auction (TR Daily, Aug. 28). The presentation was not on the tentative agenda that was released earlier this month (TR Daily, Sept. 5).

The meeting is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m.

The draft small cell declaratory ruling and third report and order item in WT docket 17-79 and WC docket 17-84 would bar localities from adopting rules that prohibit the deployment of wireless infrastructure, impose limits on the fees that municipalities can charge for reviewing small cell deployments, and set shot clocks for acting on small cell applications. However, it would not adopt a “deemed granted” remedy sought by the wireless industry but opposed by localities.  The item has drawn widespread criticism from groups representing localities and many localities themselves.

The Commission also plans to consider a notice of proposed rulemaking in PS dockets 18-261 and 17-239 to address “calls to 911 made from multi-line telephone systems, pursuant to Kari’s Law, the conveyance of dispatchable location with 911 calls, as directed by RAY BAUM’S Act, and the consolidation of the Commission’s 911 rules,” today’s agenda said. The item would “[p]ropose rules to implement the direct dial and notification requirements of Kari’s Law. The proposed rules are intended to provide clarity and specificity regarding the statutory requirements and to enable covered entities to meet those requirements cost-effectively,” a fact sheet released when the item was circulated said.

It also would “[p]ropose to apply dispatchable location requirements to MLTS, fixed telephone service, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, and Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS). It seeks comment on the technical feasibility of providing dispatchable location and the benefits and costs associated with different technical solutions,” the fact sheet noted.

The FCC also plans to consider a report and order and further NPRM in IB docket 17-95 to harmonize three types of fixed-satellite service earth stations that transmit in motion on vessel, vehicles, and aircraft.  The earth stations in motion (ESIMs) order would “[a]dd new rules for the operation of ESIMs in the conventional Ka-band,” a fact sheet noted.

It said it would improve the structure and eliminate redundancy in the FCC’s regulations by (1) “[c]onsolidating the technical and operational rules for C- and Ku-band ESIMs in Part 25 and extending those rules to cover ESIM operations in the conventional Ka-band”; (2) “[c]onsolidating the specific application rules for C- and Ku-band ESIMs into a general Part 25 earth station application rule and adding application provisions for ESIMs operating in the conventional Ka-band”; (3) “[m]erging the blanket licensing provisions for conventional Ka-band GSO FSS earth stations into Part 25 rule sections, which contain similar provisions for GSO FSS earth stations in the conventional and extended C- and Ku-bands, to improve the organizational coherence of Part 25”; and (4) “[e]liminating repetition in certain ESIM rules by referring to existing provisions in other rules that apply to other GSO FSS earth stations.”

The agenda also includes a draft report and order in WC docket 17-192 and CC docket 95-155 that would establish “as an experiment” an auction process for distributing any phone numbers in the 833 toll-free code opened last year that are sought by more than one entity. Insights gained from the 833 auction experiment would be used for future toll-free number assignments. It would also modify FCC rules to allow for a secondary market in toll-free phone numbers.

The agenda also includes two draft items addressing cable system operators.

A draft second FNPRM in MB docket 05-311 would address two issues raised in the remand by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Cincinnati) last year of FCC order orders treating “in-kind” payments as franchise fees (TR Daily, July 12, 2017).

A draft report and order in MB dockets 17-290 and 17-105 would eliminate the annual FCC Form 325 annual report filing requirement for cable television systems.

The agenda also includes two enforcement items. The Commission does not disclose details on enforcements actions until they are adopted.- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com; Lynn Stanton, lynn.stanton@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

4.1% of Cell Sites Out of Service in Florence-Affected Area

In the 99 counties in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia covered by the FCC’s activation of its Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) for Hurricane Florence, 4.1% of cell sites were out of service as of 11 a.m. today, down from 6% yesterday, the FCC reported. The communications status report said that 8% of cell sites in North Carolina were out, 0.5% of sites in South Carolina, 0.1% of sites in Georgia, and no sites in Virginia. It said that 911 calls to two public safety answering points in North Carolina and one in South Carolina were being routed without location information to other PSAPs.

As for cable and wireline service, the report said that 285,725 subscribers had lost service in North Carolina; 30,053 in South Carolina; and none in either Georgia or Virginia. Three TV stations reported being out of service. Four FM radio stations reported being down but programming was being sent to another station, while 22 FM radio stations said they were out of service. Four AM radio stations said they were out of service.

Courtesy TRDaily