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FCC

FCC Creates Standardized Process for Cell Tower Siting, Discusses Broadband ‘Gaps’

WASHINGTON, November 22, 2009 – In unanimous 5-0 decision, the commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission voted Wednesday to standardize the application process for tower siting requests.

Advocates of the move said that the action marked another step by the agency to speed adoption of broadband in the United States. For example, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell said, “We are promoting broadband by removing roadblocks to its development.”

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WASHINGTON, November 22, 2009 – In unanimous 5-0 decision, the commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission voted Wednesday to standardize the application process for tower siting requests.

Advocates of the move said that the action marked another step by the agency to speed adoption of broadband in the United States. For example, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell said, “We are promoting broadband by removing roadblocks to its development.”

The application process for tower siting had previously been governed by a provision of the Communications Act stating that applications must be processed within “a reasonable amount of time.” After Wednesday’s decision, the FCC now interprets that to mean 90 days for towers with co-located telecommunications equipment, and 150 days for all other towers.

“Sometimes the commission needs to act to spur innovation,” said commissioner Julius Genachowski about the FCC’s ruling. The commissioners stressed that they were not limiting the power of state and local governments, but said that they were giving direction to them to help speed the development of broadband infrastructure.

“Consumers suffer when government stands in the way of action that will improve quality of life,” added Commissioner Mignon Clyburn.

The agency also ruled that state and local governments may not deny a wireless service facility siting application because service is already available through another provider. But the ruling denied wireless association CTIA’s request that the agency find it a violation of law for a state or local regulation to require a variance or waiver for every wireless facility siting.

This ruling preceded an update from the U.S. Broadband Coalition on the progress of the National Broadband plan. Blair Levin, director of the FCC’s broadband initiative, outlined the purpose of the update:

  • Describe the most important broadband gaps
  • Ensure public awareness of areas of inquiry and start focused discussion of solutions
  • Set the agenda for the next 91 days

The discussion on “gaps hindering adoption” tracked a report presented one week earlier by the Adoption and Use Working Group of the non-profit U.S. Broadband Coalition.

Key gaps included the “middle mile” – or areas between the Internet’s backbone and last-mile consumer access – plus affordability and spectrum gaps.

On the topic of the middle mile gap, Levin shared a recent statistic showing that the cost per subscriber for transit and transport to provide fixed broadband in rural areas is 25 times greater than in urban areas.

Additionally, the Universal Service Fund does not directly pay for these costs. “There’s not a lot of accountability about how much support goes to broadband versus telephone,” said Levin.

The spectrum gap is also cause for concern, stated Ruth Milkman, a member of FCC’s broadband task force. She said that the United States could face a spectrum shortage as soon as 2013.

A concern was raised by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski whether or not the agency’s task force would continue to issue and analyze request for public comment. These comments have provided invaluable feedback, but the concern is that with so little time remaining, will they benefit the agency or just distract it?

“There’s no concrete answer for that,” said Levin. “We want to stay open to new great ideas. We never want to cut of creative thinking.”

FCC

Cable Group NCTA Says Deny Exclusive Multitenant Access, But Not Wiring, Agreements

NCTA said the FCC should deny exclusive access to these buildings, but not exclusive wiring agreements.

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Michael Powell, president and CEO of NCTA

WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021 – The internet and television association NCTA is suggesting that the Federal Communications Commission deny all broadband providers exclusive access to multitenant buildings, but to continue allowing exclusive wiring agreements.

On Tuesday, the FCC opened a new round of comments into its examination of competitive broadband options for residents of apartments, multi-tenant and office buildings.

In a Tuesday ex parte notice to the commission, which follows a formal meeting with agency staff on September 2, the NCTA said the record shows that deployment, competition, and consumer choice in multiple tenant environments “are strong,” and that the FCC can “promote even greater deployment and competition by prohibiting not just cable operators, other covered [multiple video programming distributors], and telecommunications carriers, but all broadband providers from entering into MTE exclusive access agreements.

The organization, whose member companies include Comcast, Cox Communications and Charter Communications, also said it should continue to allow providers to enter into exclusive wiring agreements with MTE owners. Wiring just means that the provider can lay down its cables, like fiber, to connect residents.

“Exclusive wiring agreements do not deny new entrants access to MTEs. Rather, exclusive wiring agreements are pro-competitive and help ensure that state-of-the-art wiring will be deployed in MTEs to the benefit of consumers.”

The NCTA also told the FCC that there would be technical problems with simultaneous sharing of building wires by different providers and vouched for exclusive marketing arrangements, according to the notice.

The FCC’s new round of comments comes after a bill, introduced on July 30 by Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-New York, outlined plans to address exclusivity agreements between residential units and service providers, which sees providers lock out other carriers from buildings and leaving residents with only one option for internet.

Reached for comment on the filing, a spokesman for NCTA said they had nothing to add to the filing, which was signed by Mary Beth Murphy, deputy general counsel to the cable organization.

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China

Hytera’s Inclusion on FCC’s National Security Blacklist ‘Absurd,’ Client Says

Diversified Communications Group said the FCC flubbed on adding Hytera to blacklist.

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Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021 – A client of a company that has been included in a list of companies the Federal Communications Commission said pose threats to the security of the country’s networks is asking the agency to reconsider including the company.

In a letter to the commission on Tuesday, Diversified Communications Group, which installs and distributes two-way radio communications devices to large companies, said the inclusion of Hytera Communications Corporation, a Chinese manufacturer of radio equipment, on a list of national security threats is “absurd” because the hardware involved is not connected to the internet and “does not transmit any sensitive or proprietary data.

“It seems that Hytera has been lumped in with other Chinese companies on the Covered List simply because they happen to manufacture electronics in the same country,” Diversified’s CEO Ryan Holte said in the letter, adding Hytera’s products have helped Diversified’s business thrive.

“This is a wrong that should be righted. Hytera is not a national security risk. They are an essential business partner to radio companies throughout the U.S.,” the CEO added.

In March, the FCC announced that it had designated Hytera among other Chinese businesses with alleged links to the Communist government. Others included Huawei, ZTE, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, and Dahua Technology.

List among a number of restrictions on Chinese companies

This list of companies was created in accordance with the Secure Networks Act, and the FCC indicated that it would continue to add companies to the list if they are deemed to “pose an unacceptable risk to national security or the security and safety of U.S. persons.”

Last month, the Senate commerce committee passed through legislation that would compel the FCC to no longer issue new equipment licenses to China-backed companies.

Last year the U.S. government took steps to ensure that federal agencies could not purchase goods or services from the aforementioned companies, and had previously added them to an economic blacklist.

In July, the FCC voted in favor of putting in place measures that would require U.S. carriers to rip and replace equipment by these alleged threat companies.

The Biden administration has been making moves to isolate alleged Chinese-linked threats to the country’s networks. In June, the White House signed an executive order limiting investments in predominantly Chinese companies that it said poses a threat to national security.

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Digital Inclusion

FCC Says 5 Million Households Now Enrolled in Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

The $3.2 billion program provides broadband and device subsidies to eligible low-income households.

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Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

August 30, 2021—The Federal Communications Commission announced Friday that five million households have enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.

The $3.2-billion program, which launched in May, provides a broadband subsidy of $50 per month to eligible low-income households and $75 per month for those living on native tribal lands, as well as a one-time reimbursement on a device. Over 1160 providers are participating, the FCC said, who are reimbursed the cost to provide the discounted services.

The agency has been updating the public on the number of participating households for the program. In June, the program was at just over three million and had passed four million last month. The program was part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

“Enrolling five million households into the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program in a little over three months is no small feat,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of nearly 30,000 individuals and organizations who signed up as volunteer outreach partners.”

Rosenworcel added that conversations with partners and the FCC’s analysis shows the need for “more granular data” to bring these opportunities to more eligible families.

The program’s strong demand was seen as far back as March.

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