July 20, 2020

Annual T&T Event, Fall Regional Meetings to Go All Virtual! Register Now!

UTC is extremely excited to announce that we will hold UTC Telecom & Technology 2020 as a virtual conference and expo. We will hold the virtual annual conference starting on Aug. 18-Sept. 4, 2020. We are taking this step as a way to ensure that as many of our members and attendees as possible can participate in our conference.

We are working with its education program sponsors and presenters to deliver live and pre-recorded content to our attendees. Offering a dual presentation delivery option allows you to enjoy the original education program subject matter and schedule, while providing flexible viewing patterns.

Conference delegates will be able to engage with presenters, ask questions through virtual chats, and set up private meetings. Attendees will have access to the annual conference session gallery that includes virtual training, summits, pre-recorded sessions, and tracks. Attendees can view the pre-recorded sessions at their convenience or at a scheduled time, after which the panelists in those sessions will be available for a live Q&A.

UTC thanks all of our members, technology partners, and stakeholders who make our work possible. We are also especially grateful for the sacrifices many of you are making to keep powering our lives.

We look forward to virtually seeing everyone in August during the conference and expo.

More information is available at UTC Telecom & Technology!

In related news, all of UTC’s fall regional events will be held virtually as well. UTC and our regional leaders have decided that conducting virtual regional events is the best path for everyone. Though we’d prefer to see everyone in person, you have our commitment that each regional event will provide attendees with relevant education topics that you expect from UTC’s regional events.

We want to thank everyone who helps make UTC possible and recognize that our events do not happen without your support.

FCC Adopts New Mapping, Broadband Data Collection Rules

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) last week adopted new rules for collecting and mapping of broadband availability data through the Digital Opportunity Data Collection that the agency claims will better identify connectivity gaps across the country.

According to the Commission, the order implements key provisions of the 2019 Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act. In particular, the order requires fixed and mobile providers to submit standardized broadband availability maps and takes steps to develop a common dataset of homes and businesses where fixed broadband networks could be deployed, over which service providers’ broadband availability maps will be overlaid.

UTC had urged the Commission revise its order regarding “buffers,” a specific distance around network facilities such as the location of distribution or coaxial plant, should be established to define coverage for specific fixed technologies. The FCC in its draft set a maximum of 6,600 route feet (or 2,000 route meters) from the aggregation point and a maximum drop distance of 240 feet.

In a July 9 ex-parte filing, UTC told the agency that these buffers are not appropriate for fiber-to-the-premises networks in rural areas. Rather, UTC said it should increase these distances to 20-60 kilometers from the aggregation point, which is consistent with international standards (Industry Intelligence, July 13, 2020).

At press time (July 16) the Commission had not released the text of the final rule, so it is unclear whether they addressed these concerns.

In a separate proposal, the Commission seeks comment on plans for processes for consumers, governmental entities, and other parties to challenge the availability data represented in the broadband maps and additional processes for verifying broadband availability data submitted by providers.  The separate order also invites comment on targeted reforms to the FCC Form 477 subscribership data that broadband and voice providers are required to file biannually, and implementing other requirements of the Broadband DATA Act.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

FCC’s 900 MHz Rule Published in Federal Register; Effective on Aug. 17

The Federal Register last week published the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC, the Commission) order approving the realignment of the 900 MHz band for broadband use.

With the rule now published, it will be effective on Aug. 17.

The FCC approved the rule during its May 2020 open meeting. In its decision, it made six megahertz available for broadband licenses in the 900 MHz band on a county-by-county basis while reserving the remaining four megahertz of spectrum for continued narrowband operations.

According to the Commission, its action realigned the band and establish a transition mechanism based primarily on negotiations between prospective broadband licensees and existing narrowband incumbent licensees.

The item also establishes rules to prevent broadband applicants from receiving windfalls and includes application requirements and operating and technical rules applicable to the new 900 MHz broadband licenses (Industry Intelligence, May 18, 2020).

UTC is hosting a webinar on the 900 rebanding proceeding on July 29.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

FCC Seeks Comments on Proposal to Reallocate T-Band Spectrum

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) issued a proposed rulemaking that implements provisions of the 2012 Spectrum Act that require the Commission reallocate spectrum in the “T-Band.”

The proposed rule would implement a system of competitive bidding under section 309(j) of the Communications Act of 1934 to grant new initial licenses for the use of the spectrum. The T-band spectrum refers to former TV channels in the 470-512 MHz band, and is available in eleven markets around the country.

Licensees include both public safety and non-public safety entities, and while the Spectrum Act requires public-safety licensees to relinquish their spectrum, the Spectrum Act is silent regarding non-public safety licensees in the band.

Nonetheless, the FCC is proposing to auction all of the spectrum in the band through overlay licensing, and it is inviting comment on providing reimbursement for the relocation costs for both public safety and non-public safety entities, albeit in very different ways.

Utilities–including public power and other types such as investor-owned and cooperatively organized utilities with licenses in the T-band spectrum – may be impacted by the NPRM. UTC has worked together with public safety organizations to oppose the reallocation of the T-band since the 2012 Spectrum Act was passed.

Even the Commission itself is expressing reluctance to auction the spectrum, and it cites to opposition from members of Congress as well.  Yet, the Spectrum Act compels the Commission to conduct this rulemaking and the Commission is inviting the public to provide comments within 30 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register, and reply comments within 60 days after the NPRM is published in the Federal Register.

UTC requests member input on the NPRM. Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

UTC Calendar of Events

Webinars

Committee/Division calls

*NOTE—Due to scheduling conflicts with the Annual Telecom & Technology Meeting, no committees will meet in August

  • July 21: Utilities Broadband Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Sept. 8: UtiliSite Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Sept. 8: Knowledge & Learning Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Sept. 16: IT/OT Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Sept. 17: Telecom Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Sept. 17: Public Policy Division Call—For more information, contact Rob Thormeyer
  • Sept. 18: Security, Risk, and Compliance Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart