FCC to Vote on Emergency Alerts, Space Stations, Robocalls and Microphones

The commission is set to consider robocall rules, emergency alerts.

FCC to Vote on Emergency Alerts, Space Stations, Robocalls and Microphones
FCC headquarters

WASHINGTON, January 26, 2023 – The Federal Communications Commission released on Thursday a tentative agenda for its February 15 open meeting.

Commissioners are set to vote on four items, including seeking comment on multilingual emergency alert rules, a proposed licensing scheme for in-space manufacturing, more robocall restrictions, and updated wireless microphone rules.

Also slated for review are a proposed enforcement action and an adjudicatory matter.

Multilingual emergency alerts

The draft notice of proposed rulemaking would propose creating template alert scripts and audio files in the 13 most commonly spoken languages in the country, which could be distributed when the Emergency Alert System is activated.

The templates would be produced by the commission, and the NPRM would seek comment on the feasibility of implementing the template system via a software patch.

Also up for comment would be including American Sign Language in the EAS system and whether to allow EAS participants to issue template alerts in languages other than the language of their programming content.

In-space servicing, assembly, and manufacturing

Another draft NPRM would propose licensing ISAM space stations under the commission’s existing framework, as well as subjecting them to its standard orbital debris mitigation and spectrum application policies.

The NRPM would exempt ISAM stations from some licensing procedures because “ISAM space stations seem more capable of spectrum sharing,” according to the draft.

The FCC has previously granted some licenses to this kind of spacecraft on a case-by-case basis.

Robocalls and robotexts

The draft report and order would “codify” past guidance saying consumers can revoke consent under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by any reasonable means and that companies can send one text message confirming a consumer’s opt-out request without violating the TCPA, provided the text does not contain marketing information.

The order would also require robocallers and robotexters to honor such requests within 10 business days of receiving them.

Also included in the draft is a further NPRM seeking comment on whether the TCPA applies to robocalls and robotexts from wireless carriers to their subscribers, and on whether to allow customers to opt out of such messages.

Wireless microphones

The draft report and order would allow the use of wireless multi-channel audio system, or WMAS, technology in several licensed and unlicensed spectrum bands.

The technology uses a wider bandwidth than current FCC rules allow for, according to the draft, but is in use in Europe and allows for more efficient spectrum use.

Licensed bands that would be slated for WMAS microphone use include “frequencies already available for Part 74 licensed wireless microphones in the TV bands (VHF and UHF), the 653-657 MH segment of the 600 MHz duplex gap, and in the 941.5-944 MHz, 944-952 MHz, 952.850-956.250 MHz, 956.45-959.85 MHz, 1435-1525 MHz, 6875-6900 MHz and 7100-7125 MHz bands.”

Unlicensed bands would include “frequencies already available for Part 15 unlicensed wireless microphones in the UHF and VHF TV bands and in the 657-663 MHz segment of the 600 MHz duplex gap.”

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