March 30, 2020

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T&T, Region 6, Broadband Work Events Rescheduled for Late Summer, Fall

A Note to our Readers:

We know this is an unprecedented time for our members and our industry; your work now is more important than ever. Because of your critical work, many of you are temporarily unable to travel.
Therefore we are postponing our remaining spring conference dates to later this year to allow more of you to join us and use these events as a time to explore the key issues and challenges facing the utility sector along with networking with your industry peers and colleagues.
First, we are rescheduling our flagship national meeting—Telecom & Technology 2020—from May 18-22 to Aug. 31-Sept. 4. This is our biggest event of the year and we want to see as many of our members and supporters as possible. Coming together during such an unprecedented time will be the biggest cure for all of us.
In addition, the UTC Utility Broadband Workshop is being rescheduled for Aug. 4-6, and the UTC Region 6 Meeting is being rescheduled for Oct. 12-14.
If you have registered for any of these meetings, your registration will automatically be applied to the new dates.
If you have made reservations at any of the conference hotels, they will automatically cancel your room reservations if you booked in the UTC room block. If you booked outside of the UTC room block and/or through a third party or if you have any questions about your reservations, please contact the hotels directly at the numbers listed below.
The hotels are working on providing new reservation links for the new meeting dates. We will provide those links as soon as they are available.

Hotel information and FAQs for each event are listed below:

  • UTC TELECOM & TECHNOLOGY 2020 – Omni Hotels & Resorts 
    • Reservation Questions call 401.598.8000
    • Click here for a FAQ Document regarding the rescheduled event
  • UTC Utility Broadband Workshop – Fairfield Inn & Suites Charlotte Uptown
    • Reservation Questions call 704.372.7550
    • Click here for a FAQ Document regarding the rescheduled event
  • UTC Region 6 Meeting – DoubleTree by Hilton Kansas City – Overland Park
    • Reservation Questions call 913.451.6100
    • Click here for a FAQ Document regarding the rescheduled event

Thank you for all you are doing for our nation during this time. UTC is here to assist you in any way we can.
For questions and concerns, please contact meetings@utc.org.
And thank you for your support of UTC; we look forward to your participation at our events later in the year.

Utilities Rebut Criticisms of 6 GHz-Roberson Study

UTC and fellow trade associations rebutted criticism to a report that analyzed how the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC, the Commission) 6 GHz proposal could result in considerable interference to existing microwave licensees.

The rebuttal is available here: https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/103200443001689/ABC%20Response_Final.pdf.

UTC, the Edison Electric Institute, American Gas Association, American Public Power Association, American Water Works Association, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and the Nuclear Energy Institute initially filed a technical analysis of how the FCC’s proposal to allow unlicensed use in the 6 GHz band would impact nearly all incumbent microwave users in the Houston area (Industry Intelligence, Jan. 21, 2020). The study was performed by Roberson and Associates.

The FCC first proposed opening the band to unlicensed use in an October 2018 rulemaking.

Predictably, proponents of opening the band to unlicensed users have criticized the study. In its rebuttal filing, UTC and the trade associations stated that even using the data submitted by the proponents into the Roberson analysis still results in the significant likelihood of interference.

The rebuttal was filed to “clarify and correct misconceptions concerning the technical parameters used in the CII User Study, submit updated engineering analysis responding to the technical discussion in the dockets, and illustrate that, even after modifying calculations to further tailor the assumptions to mirror real-world application, the CII User Study demonstrates that indoor deployment without Automated Frequency Coordination (“AFC”) will degrade 93% of licensed microwave point-to-point victim receivers in Houston in excess of the -6 dB I/N limit,” the filing said. “That level of interference is unacceptable for purposes of protecting the functionality of our members’ critical infrastructure networks.”

The FCC has not yet stated when it will act on the 6 GHz proposal; many agency observers expect the commission to take some kind of action on the concept during its April open meeting.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

FCC Postpones Priority License Auction in 3.5 MHz Band Until July

The Federal Communications Commission last week delayed an auction for licenses in the 3.5 GHz band until July 23, providing utilities interested in participating more time to prepare.

In a notice, the FCC said it delayed the auction because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this month, the FCC said the 3.5 GHz auction for priority access licenses (PALs) would start on June 25.

The new timeline established by the FCC for the 3.5 GHz auction process is as follows:

  • Short-Form Application (FCC Form 175) Filing Window Opens: April 23, 2020, 12:00 p.m. (ET)
  • Short-Form Application (FCC Form 175) Filing Window Deadline: May 7, 2020, 6:00 p.m. ET
  • Upfront Payments (via wire transfer): June 19, 2020, 6:00 p.m. ET
  • Bidding Tutorial Available (via Internet): No later than July 9, 2020
  • Auction Registration Materials: By July 15, 2020, 12:00 p.m.
  • ET3 Mock Auction: July 20, 2020
  • Bidding Begins in Auction 105: July 23, 2020

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

State, Federal Leaders Join Efforts to Help Ensure Essential Services During Pandemic 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) last week said they are joining forces in their COVID-19 pandemic response efforts to help ensure the reliability of the nation’s energy transmission and distribution systems. As the first step in this partnership, FERC and NARUC are urging all state authorities to designate utility workers as essential to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

“We greatly appreciate the leadership from our federal and state regulators on this issue,” said UTC Senior Vice President of Government and External Affairs Sharla Artz. “Utility workers are on the front lines of providing our nation with essential services each and every day. In this pandemic, we must do all we can to protect our crews in the field so they can continue doing their critical work. Thank you to our state and federal colleagues for their support.”

The U.S. Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a memorandum March 19 designating a full list of essential workers: healthcare and public health, law enforcement, public safety and first responders, food and agriculture, energy, water and wastewater, transportation and logistics, public works, communications and information technology, other community-based government operations and essential functions, critical manufacturing, hazardous materials, financial services, chemical and industrial and the defense industrial base.

“Every aspect of responding to the pandemic — be it hospitals, public safety or workforce continuity of operations — all depend on reliable utility systems. Millions of homes are relying on these services,” said NARUC President Brandon Presley. “The need is present 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the utility personnel responsible for ensuring the safety and functionality of our critical infrastructure should be included in any discussion or designation of essential workers.”

“It is vital for the safety and security of our nation that there is no disruption in the services that Homeland Security identified, including those involving energy, during this unprecedented emergency,” FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said. “I am pleased to join with President Presley to encourage state and local authorities to consider the employees who maintain critical infrastructure, including line workers on the power grid and the operators on the pipelines, as essential so they can continue to keep these services available. I greatly appreciate Homeland Security’s leadership in producing this critical guidance, and I am pleased to link arms with President Presley and all of our colleagues at NARUC in encouraging the states to adopt it.”

The federal government grants authority for such designations to state governments. FERC and NARUC back these designations in support of the energy, water and telecommunications industries, finding it in the best interests of the nation for state and local authorities to assign essential worker status to employees serving in these areas of critical infrastructure.

FERC and NARUC have been in close communication and consultation on their COVID-19 actions and responses. Representatives will continue to meet periodically and welcome the input of members of the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Energy Officials. These meetings will allow groups to provide briefings and updates, discuss matters of mutual interest and keep the public informed of any new developments.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

UTC CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Calendar of UTC committee/division conference calls

  • RESCHEDULED! Aug. 31-Sept. 4, 2020: Telecom & Technology Annual Meeting, Providence, RI
  • RESCHEDULED! Oct. 12-14: Region 6 Meeting, Double Tree by Hilton Kansas City-Overland Park
  • RESCHEDULED! Aug. 4-6: Broadband Workshop, Fairfield Inn and Suites, Charlotte

Webinars

  • April 9: Broadband Backhaul, Sponsored by Aviat
  • April 21: Small Cell Pole Attachment Best Practices
  • April 28: How Utilities Empower Broadband Deployment

Committee/Division calls

  • April 14: UtiliSite Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • April 15: IT/OT Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • April 16: Telecom Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • April 16: Public Policy Division Call—For more information, contact Rob Thormeyer
  • April 17: Security, Risk, and Compliance Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • April 21: Utilities Broadband Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne