FCC to Vote on 800 MHz Rebanding Requirements at October Meeting
Thursday, October 03, 2019 | Comments

The FCC plans to vote on rules that would accelerate the conclusion of the 800 MHz band reconfiguration program at its Oct. 25 meeting. This 14-year initiative — originally scheduled for three years — has aimed to eliminate interference to public-safety agencies operating in the band.

“With this rebanding effort nearing the finish line, I am proposing that we eliminate requirements that are no longer necessary and will only serve the purpose of delaying the end of this already lengthy process,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a blog.

The FCC also proposed making changes to 800 MHz rebanding rules to streamline the closing process. The rebanding process is now nearly complete with more than 2,000 licensees relocated to new channels in the band, and only 19 licensees in the Mexican border region yet to be relocated.

In 2017, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau determined that Sprint’s rebanding expenses up to that point exceeded the value of the 1.9 GHz spectrum it received and therefore no anti-windfall payment would be required. As a result of these developments, the FCC determined it is appropriate to streamline certain rebanding rules and procedures to reduce administrative costs and accelerate the programs successful conclusion.

The proposed rulemaking would in light of the elimination of Sprint’s anti-windfall obligation, seek comment on eliminating the requirement that the Transition Administrator conduct an annual audit of rebanding expenditures and seek comment on eliminating the Transition Administrator’s responsibility for reviewing certain amendments to contracts between Sprint and rebanding licensees.

Find the full proposed 800 MHz rebanding order here.

The FCC will also take up 9-1-1- fees on VoIP services at this October meeting. More than a decade ago, Congress passed a law prohibiting state, local and tribal governments from imposing higher 9-1-1 fees on VoIP services than traditional telecommunications services. Nevertheless, there is litigation in Alabama and other states over whether VoIP business service subscribers can be charged higher 9-1-1 fees than subscribers to traditional telecommunications services.

At the meeting, the FCC will vote on a declaratory ruling clarifying that placing discriminatory fees on VoIP subscribers is prohibited and providing examples of fees that would be discriminatory and thus legally prohibited.

“This ruling would not only assure regulatory parity between VoIP and traditional telecommunications services, it would also encourage consumers and businesses to migrate to more advanced, IP-based services,” Pai said.

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