Some Work Continues During FCC Shutdown

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Despite the partial government shutdown, the FCC’s auction and repack activities continue. As of round 91, bidders in the 28 GHz auction bid a total of $690,097,800 yesterday for 2,937 licenses; 135 licenses had no bids. However, the FCC hit the pause button on its informal 180-day shot clock to review the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint.

Commission staff continue to process broadcast applications related to the TV spectrum repack such as those for expanded or alternative facilities. FCC personnel are also processing construction permits and waiver requests for stations that want to make a change in their transition phase deadlines. Commission staff will continue to monitor broadcaster and multichannel video programing distributor progress during the transition and identify and resolve repack-related problems that could affect the transition schedule. 

Agency personnel continue to review, approve and (as appropriate) submit for payment, cost estimates and requests for reimbursement from the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund. The FCC said it engaged contractors to handle educating consumers concerning how to rescan TV sets so they can still view stations that have changed channels.

Laura Phillips, an attorney with Drinker Biddle & Reath, said depending on how long the shutdown lasts, the agency freeze could have a far-reaching impact for companies with projects that rely on FCC licensing. “It will have a very immediate effect on their business. If the shutdown is extended, the backlog on licensing is going to really be an issue for some,” she told Inside Towers.

Phillips also points out that the agency’s next public meeting, set for January 30, could be delayed. Before it closed to most business yesterday, the agency released a tentative meeting agenda for January 30. Five items are on the agenda, fewer than normal, under Chairman Ajit Pai. The Commission said if the shutdown ends before January 9, more items may be added to the list.

One item is of interest to the telecom industry. The Commission plans to consider a Report and Order establishing a schedule to end Connect America Fund Phase I support, in areas where winning bidders in the CAF Phase II auction will receive Phase II support. It would also end support in areas that were not eligible for the auction and provide interim support in areas that did not receive any bids. Comments? Email us.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

January 4, 2019

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