BloostonLaw Telecom Update
Published by the Law Offices of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP
[Selected portions reproduced here with the firm's permission.]
| Vol. 11, No. 3|| January 23, 2008 |
FCC Announces Phase II Tests For TV White Spaces
The Commission’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) has announced that it will begin a second phase of laboratory bench testing on the performance of prototype television “white space” devices on January 24. The second phase of testing (Phase II) will be conducted openly and transparently. This testing is part of the ET Docket No. 04-186 proceeding to consider authorizing the operation of new, low power devices in the television (TV) broadcast spectrum at locations where channels are not being used for authorized services. This spectrum is often referred to as the “TV white spaces.” OET is conducting a test program on TV white space prototype devices to provide additional information for the record, which will be considered in assessing the interference potential of such devices and establishing appropriate requirements. Initial tests (Phase I) of early prototypes were completed in July 2007. On October 5, 2007, OET issued a public notice inviting submittal of additional prototype devices for further tests (Phase II). The Public Notice stated that further details on the testing would be released at a later time.
Several prototype devices were recently submitted for Phase II testing, including four devices submitted by Adaptrum, Microsoft, Motorola and Philips, respectively. The devices are not finished consumer products. They are designed to demonstrate the feasibility of various concepts for sharing the TV broadcast spectrum without causing harmful interference. The Commission may ultimately establish requirements that the current prototype devices do not meet. However, all products would need to be certified as complying with the final rules before they may be marketed to consumers.
To help ensure the testing process is open and transparent, OET has developed a Phase II test plan, which can be found on the FCC OET website at http://www.fcc.gov/oet/projects/tvbanddevice/. The Commission said that comments and suggestions offered within the public record regarding both the previous and current testing were considered and included in the test plan where appropriate and practicable. Pursuant to this plan, Phase II testing will include both laboratory (bench) tests and field tests. The laboratory tests will measure the performance capabilities of the prototype devices under controlled conditions. The field tests will be conducted at a variety of locations to provide information on the performance of the devices under real world conditions. The test report is expected to be completed within approximately four to six weeks of completion of the tests. OET staff will adapt the test plan as appropriate based on the specific capabilities of each device and circumstances that may arise as the tests progress.
Bench testing at the FCC laboratory will commence on January 24, 2008, at 10 AM and is expected to continue for approximately four to six weeks. Field testing will immediately follow the bench testing and is expected to conclude at the end of an additional period of approximately four to six weeks. Any updates or changes to the testing schedule for the prototype white space devices will be publicly disseminated and available on OET’s website.
The testing will be open to observation by any interested parties. Parties interested in observing the testing should contact Patricia Goff at (301) 362-3001 or by e-mail at Patricia.Goff@fcc.gov, if they have not already done so.
At the conclusion of this test program, OET will prepare a report that sets forth the results of its Phase II tests of prototype personal/portable white space devices. This report will be inserted into the record, and an opportunity will be provided for interested parties to comment.
BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky and John Prendergast.
HOUSE PANEL SCHEDULES HEARING ON DTV TRANSITION: The House Energy and Commerce Committee has announced a Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, February 13, on the status of the digital television (DTV) transition. The hearing will assess the nation’s preparedness to make the switch from analog to digital television on February 17, 2009. “As the one-year countdown to the DTV transition approaches, it’s time to make sure every American household will be able to take advantage of the great benefits this transition promises,” said Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. “Right now, I am not confident that government agencies, retailers, broadcasters and all other stakeholders are taking all the steps necessary to ensure consumers are adequately informed and ready for this transition. The Committee will continue its oversight of the DTV transition process until the big day arrives and afterwards, if needed, to ensure consumers are not left behind.” A particular focus will be placed on consumer access to converter boxes that will allow digital signals to be displayed on analog televisions. Hearing witnesses will be announced at a future date. To date, the Committee on Energy and Commerce has held three hearings on the status of the DTV transition during the 110th Congress. Any action taken to modify the DTV transition could have an impact on our clients holding 700 MHz licenses, since their build out deadline is geared to the DTV transition date. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
CALIFORNIA STUDY SEES DEBT AS WAY OF PUS HING BROADBAND: The California Broadband Initiative, a state task force, to study broadband, said the state should consider issuing debt to augment private investment in enhancing and expanding high-speed communications services, according to Reuters. The study said that better, faster and more available broadband capabilities would propel economic growth for the most populous U.S. state, where 96 percent of households already have access to basic high-speed communications. The task force did not specify how much debt California should issue, or in what kind, to help finance future broadband infrastructure, noting public debt is just one form of funding that should be considered. "It's a way to get different pots of money available," Anne Neville, manager of the California Broadband Initiative in the state's business, transportation and housing agency, told Reuters in a telephone interview. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commissioned the report, which recommends California issue infrastructure bonds and use proceeds "in partnership" with investment from the private sector to finance components of high-speed capable networks in unserved and underserved markets. "Supporting broadband infrastructure using funds made available through a bond issuance makes sense," the task force's report said. "The infrastructure will remain useful for decades, often past the repayment of the bond. "Broadband is a capital improvement, and the technology has a long, useful life and, therefore, it is appropriate to pay for it over time, like other state investments," the report added. "A sizable investment, allocated judiciously, could generate five times that amount in commercial investment," the report said, according to Reuters. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
CANADA FUNDS RURAL BROADBAND FROM PENALTIES FROM OVERCHARGING CUSTOMERS: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has approved individual plans by the largest phone companies to bring broadband service to some 350 areas throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail. They will use about half of a $650 million fund collected between 2002 and 2006 by overcharging customers in cities. Some of the funds will be used to improve communications services for people with disabilities, including a video service that would let people communicate via sign language through a third person. But phone customers in urban areas will also get some money back, about $300 million of the so-called deferral account, according to the CRTC. The amounts have yet to be finalized, the Globe and Mail said. When the deferral account was created in 2002, the CRTC directed the phone companies to put amounts equal to any potential rate reduction into the account. The aim was to keep rates high enough to encourage new competitors to enter the local phone market. The CRTC decided two years ago that the money should go to bridge the digital divide for rural areas. Consumer groups have appealed the decision, saying the money should go back to customers. Bell Canada is also appealing. Bell, Manitoba Telecom Services Inc., Telus Corp. and Saskatchewan Telecommunications have until 2011 to complete the broadband rollout. The CRTC has instructed them to use the lowest-cost technology. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
FEBRUARY 1: FCC FORM 502, NUMBER UTILIZATION AND FORECAST REPORT: Any wireless or wireline carrier (including paging companies) that have received number blocks—including 100, 1,000, or 10,000 number blocks--from the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA), a Pooling Administrator, or from another carrier, must file Form 502 by February 1. Carriers porting numbers for the purpose of transferring an established customer’s service to another service provider must also report, but the carrier receiving numbers through porting does not. Resold services should also be treated like ported numbers, meaning the carrier transferring the resold service to another carrier is required to report those numbers but the carrier receiving such numbers should not report them. New this year is that reporting carriers are required to include their FCC Registration Number (FRN). Reporting carriers file utilization and forecast reports semiannually on or before February 1 for the preceding six-month reporting period ending December 31, and on or before August 1 for the preceding six-month reporting period ending June 30. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
FEBRUARY 1: FCC FORM 499-Q, TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPORTING WORKSHEET. All telecommunications common carriers that expect to contribute more than $10,000 to federal Universal Service Fund (USF) support mechanisms must file this quarterly form. The FCC has modified this form in light of its recent decision to establish interim measures for USF contribution assessments. The form contains revenue information from the prior quarter plus projections for the next quarter. Form 499-Q relates only to USF contributions. It does not relate to the cost recovery mechanisms for the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund, the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), and the shared costs of local number portability (LNP), which are covered in the annual form (Form 499-A) that is due April 1. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens and Gerry Duffy.
FEBRUARY 29: COPYRIGHT STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT FORM FOR CABLE COMPANIES. This form, plus royalty payment for the second half of calendar year 2007, is due February 29. The form covers the period July 1 to December 31, 2007, and is due to be mailed directly by cable TV operators to the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office. If you do not receive the form, please contact Gerry Duffy.
MARCH 1: CPNI ANNUAL CERTIFICATION. Although the rules do not specify when carriers should modify and complete their “Annual Certification of CPNI Compliance” for 2007, we recommend that you do so as soon as possible. The certification must be filed with the FCC by March 1. Note that the annual certification should include the following three required Exhibits: (a) a Statement Explaining How The Company’s Operating Procedures Ensure Compliance With The FCC’S CPNI Rules to reflect the Company’s policies and information; (b) a Statement of Actions Taken Against Data Brokers; and (c) a Summary of Customer Complaints Regarding Unauthorized Release of CPNI. A company officer with personal knowledge that the company has established operating procedures adequate to ensure compliance with the rules must execute the Certification, place a copy of the Certification and accompanying Exhibits in the Company’s CPNI Compliance Records, and forward the original to BloostonLaw for filing with the FCC by March 1. BloostonLaw is prepared to help our clients meet this requirement, which we expect will be strictly enforced, by assisting with preparation of their certification filing; reviewing the filing to make sure that the required showings are made; filing the certification with the FCC, and obtaining a proof-of-filing copy for your records. Clients interested in obtaining BloostonLaw's CPNI compliance manual should contact Gerry Duffy (202-828-5528) or Mary Sisak (202-828- 5554).
MARCH 1: FCC FORM 477, LOCAL COMPETITION AND BROADBAND REPORTING FORM. The current form has two categories: First, all providers of local telephone service, including cellular and PCS carriers, that serve 10,000 or more voice-grade equivalent lines or 10,000 or more wireless channels (or customers) in a given state must file Form 477 for that state. Second, facilities-based providers that serve at least 250 one-way or two-way broadband service lines (in excess of 200 Kbps) or 250 or more wireless broadband customers in a given state must file Form 477 for that state. Such providers may include incumbent and competitive local exchange carriers (LECsl), cable companies, fixed wireless service providers, multipoint distribution service (MDS) providers, utilities, and others. Entities that only resell broadband services should not report broadband lines or customers on Form 477. In particular, an Internet service provider (ISP) that purchases broadband service from another entity should not report such lines or customers. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
APRIL 1: FCC FORM 499-A, TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPORTING WORKSHEET. This form must be filed by all contributors to the Universal Service Fund (USF) support mechanisms, the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund, the cost recovery mechanism for the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), and the shared costs of local number portability (LNP). Contributors include every telecommunications carrier that provides interstate, intrastate, and international telecommunications, and certain other entities that provide interstate telecommunications for a fee. Even common carriers that qualify for the de minimis exemption must file Form 499-A. Entities whose universal service contributions will be less than $10,000 qualify for the de minimis exemption. De minimis entities do not have to file the quarterly report (FCC Form 499-Q), which was due February 1, and will again be due May 1. Form 499-Q relates to universal service contributions, but not to the TRS, NANPA, and LNP mechanisms. Form 499-A relates to all of these mechanisms and, hence, applies to all providers of interstate, intrastate, and international telecommunications services. Form 499-A contains revenue information for January 1 through December 31 of the prior calendar year. And Form 499-Q contains revenue information from the prior quarter plus projections for the next quarter. Block 2-B of the Form 499-A requires each carrier to designate an agent in the District of Columbia upon whom all notices, process, orders, and decisions by the FCC may be served on behalf of that carrier in proceedings before the Commission. Carriers receiving this newsletter may specify our law firm as their D.C. agent for service of process using the information in our masthead. There is no charge for this service. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
APRIL 21: FCC FORM 497, LOW INCOME QUARTERLY REPORT. This form, the Lifeline and Link -Up Worksheet, must be submitted to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) by all eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) that request reimbursement for participating in the low-income program. The form must be submitted by the third Monday after the end of each quarter. It is available at: www.universalservice.org. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.