[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 169 (Friday, September 1, 2017)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 41580-41583]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-18500]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Parts 1, 22, 24, 27, 30, 74, 80, 90, 95, and 101

[WT Docket No. 10-112; FCC 17-105]


Amendment of the Commission's Rules To Establish Uniform License 
Renewal, Discontinuance of Operation, and Geographic Partitioning and 
Spectrum Disaggregation Rules and Policies for Certain Wireless Radio 
Services

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission seeks 
additional comment on a range of possible actions that may advance the 
Commission's goal of increasing the number of rural Americans with 
access to wireless communications services. In order to encourage 
investment in wireless networks, facilitate access to scarce spectrum 
resources, and promote the rapid deployment of mobile services to rural 
Americans, the Commission seeks comment on additional, reasonable 
construction obligations during renewal terms that are targeted to 
reach rural areas that lack adequate service.

DATES: Interested parties may file comments on or before October 2, 
2017, and reply comments on or before October 31, 2017.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by WT Docket No. 10-112, 
by any of the following methods:

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     Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the Commission's Electronic Comment 
Filing System (ECFS): http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. See Electronic 
Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
     Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must 
file an original and one copy of each filing. Generally if more than 
one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this 
proceeding, filers must submit two additional copies for each 
additional docket or rulemaking number. Commenters are only required to 
file copies in GN Docket No. 13-111.
     Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by 
commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. 
Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
     All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings 
for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 
445 12th St. SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours 
are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together 
with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be 
disposed of before entering the building.
     Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton 
Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
     U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority 
mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.
    People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible 
formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic 
files, audio format), send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the 
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-
418-0432 (TTY).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Anna Gentry, Anna.Gentry@fcc.gov, of 
the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Mobility Division, (202) 418-
2887. For additional information concerning the PRA information 
collection requirements contained in this document, contact Cathy 
Williams at (202) 418-2918 or send an email to PRA@fcc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's 
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) in WT Docket No. 10-112, 
FCC 17-105, released on August 3, 2017. The complete text of the FNPRM 
is available for viewing via the Commission's ECFS Web site by entering 
the docket number, WT Docket No. 10-112. The complete text of the FNPRM 
is also available for public inspection and copying from 8:00 a.m. to 
4:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) Monday through Thursday or from 8:00 a.m. 
to 11:30 a.m. ET on Fridays in the FCC Reference Information Center, 
445 12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, telephone 202-
488-5300, fax 202-488-5563.
    This proceeding shall continue to be treated as a ``permit-but-
disclose'' proceeding in accordance with the Commission's ex parte 
rules (47 CFR 1.1200 et seq.). Persons making ex parte presentations 
must file a copy of any written presentation or a memorandum 
summarizing any oral presentation within two business days after the 
presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the Sunshine 
period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations are 
reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must (1) list all 
persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at which 
the ex parte presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data 
presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the 
presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data 
or arguments already reflected in the presenter's written comments, 
memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide 
citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, 
memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or 
paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of 
summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to 
Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex 
parte presentations and must be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b). 
In proceedings governed by rule 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has 
made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte 
presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, 
and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic 
comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed 
in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). 
Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the 
Commission's ex parte rules.

Synopsis

I. Introduction

    The FNPRM seeks comment on a range of possible actions that may 
advance the Commission's goal of increasing the number of rural 
Americans with access to wireless communications services. A core 
Commission goal is to facilitate access to scarce spectrum resources 
and ensure that wireless communication networks are widely deployed so 
that every American, regardless of location, can benefit from a variety 
of communications offerings made available by Commission licensees. In 
pursuit of that goal, the Commission has, through various service 
rulemakings, created flexible-use geographic licenses and established 
initial term construction obligations tailored to specific bands, many 
of which were adopted with the stated intent of promoting service in 
rural areas.
    Although the Commission's efforts have facilitated the rapid 
development of a wide variety of wireless services over the past 
decade, there remains a real and growing digital divide between rural 
and urban areas in the United States. While the construction 
obligations associated with geographic licenses are intended to 
encourage wide deployment of wireless networks, those obligations 
require licensees to provide service to only portions of the license 
area, not the entire area. Even the Commission's most aggressive 
initial term construction obligation, which requires licensees to cover 
70 percent of the geographic area of the license, likely leaves 
significant portions of rural America, where deployment costs may be 
higher and demand lower, without meaningful mobile coverage. In 
addition, the Commission's current rules do not require any additional 
construction after the initial license term--that is, during subsequent 
renewal terms.
    Therefore, in order to encourage investment in wireless networks, 
facilitate access to scarce spectrum resources, and promote the rapid 
deployment of mobile services to rural Americans, the FNPRM seeks 
comment on whether additional, reasonable construction obligations 
during renewal terms that are targeted to reach rural areas that lack 
adequate service would help achieve the Commission's goals. The FNPRM 
seeks comment on three methods for applying any such obligations: (1) 
Applying any new obligations on a prospective basis only to new 
licenses issued in the future; (2) establishing an ``opt-in'' framework 
to

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facilitate additional buildout; or (3) applying any new obligations 
prospectively to all existing and future licensees of flexible 
geographic licenses.
    In the event the Commission adopts construction obligations beyond 
a licensee's initial term requirements--whether on the opt-in or 
mandatory basis described above--the FNPRM seeks comment on the 
obligations that would be most effective to achieve the Commission's 
goals. Specifically, the FNPRM seeks comment on an additional 
construction obligation beyond a licensee's initial term construction 
obligations, under which the licensee would be required to exceed its 
original construction metric by an additional 10 percent in the next 
full renewal term, followed by incremental increases of five or 10 
percent in subsequent renewal terms. The FNPRM also seeks comment on 
other, targeted construction obligations that might achieve the 
Commission's goal of expanded coverage with respect to spectrum bands 
used to provide service to consumers. In light of the wide variety of 
flexible geographic licenses and their potential uses, the FNPRM seeks 
comment on whether to apply any additional renewal term construction 
obligations to all flexible geographic licenses, or whether certain 
types of licenses should be excluded. Similarly, the FNPRM seeks 
comment on whether any additional renewal term obligations should vary 
depending on the type of license, or the specific band, to which they 
would apply, and, if so, why those obligations should vary.
    In the event the Commission adopts additional construction 
obligations for license renewal terms, the FNPRM seeks comment on 
various implementation issues. First, the FNPRM seeks comment on 
requiring licensees to meet the additional construction obligations at 
the end of the next full renewal license term. As an alternative, the 
FNPRM seeks comment on requiring licensees to satisfy at least some 
additional renewal term construction obligations by a certain number of 
years into their renewal term, e.g., five years into a ten-year renewal 
term. The FNPRM seeks comment on these and any other considerations 
concerning the timeframe for implementation that will most effectively 
facilitate rapid deployment of wireless communications services to 
rural areas. The FNPRM also seeks comment on possible renewal reporting 
obligations that could provide insights into the adoption and 
affordability of services being provided by wireless carriers and that 
may help achieve our goal of closing the digital divide, particularly 
in rural areas.
    In order to create incentives for additional license construction, 
including investment in rural areas, the FNPRM seeks comment on 
appropriate penalties should licensees fail to meet those obligations. 
First, the FNPRM seeks comment on the ``keep-what-you-serve'' penalty 
for failure whereby a licensee's authorization would terminate 
automatically for those geographic portions of its license area in 
which the licensee is not providing service as of the construction 
deadline, and those unserved areas would be returned to the 
Commission's inventory for reassignment. Second, the FNPRM seeks 
comment on a ``use or offer'' penalty whereby a licensee that fails to 
meet its construction obligation would retain its entire license area, 
but would be required to negotiate in good faith with any third party 
seeking to acquire or lease spectrum in the unserved areas of the 
license. Third, the FNPRM seeks comment on a penalty resulting in total 
loss of the license or a reduction in license area, including loss of 
areas that the licensee serves. Finally, the FNPRM seeks comment 
generally on other penalties, including forfeitures, that could be used 
as alternatives to, or in combination with, those described above.
    In the event that the Commission ultimately adopts penalties that 
result in the return of whole or partial licenses to the Commission's 
inventory for reassignment, the FNPRM seeks comment on various 
approaches for relicensing unused spectrum. First, the FNPRM seeks 
comment on applying a two-phased on-demand relicensing approach, such 
as the framework established by the Commission in the 700 MHz Second 
Report and Order, under which interested parties would be allowed to 
file applications to serve any amount of available unserved area. Under 
the framework established there, there is a 30-day Phase 1 filing 
window during which only the failing licensee is barred, followed by a 
Phase 2 window, which is open to all interested parties, including the 
failing licensee, and runs until all unserved areas in the market are 
relicensed. In the alternative, the FNPRM seeks comment on relicensing 
spectrum for unserved areas through a re-auction framework that would 
offer all remaining unserved areas in the license together in a single 
auction. the FNPRM seeks comment on the respective costs and benefits 
of both approaches to relicensing and any additional or alternative 
conditions that might serve our rural coverage objectives.
    Finally, the FNPRM seeks comment on other possible changes to the 
Commission's rules that might reduce regulatory burdens to improve the 
renewal process and facilitate the efficient allocation and use of 
spectrum. The FNPRM seeks comment on whether it may be appropriate to 
extend the license term, upon renewal, of subject licenses. For 
example, a 10-year license term could be extended to 15 years, as an 
alternative to or in combination with any other approach to the 
timeframe for implementation. In addition, Verizon proposed that the 
Commission ``adopt a presumption that band-specific service rules or 
conditions will sunset at renewal, absent an affirmative finding that 
they are necessary in the public interest.'' The FNPRM seeks comment on 
what types of rules or conditions should be included under Verizon's 
proposed sunset presumption, including specific examples, and whether 
there are categories of regulations that should be excluded from any 
sunset-at-renewal presumption.

II. Procedural Matters

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

    As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (5 U.S.C. 
603), the Commission has prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small 
entities of the policies and rules proposed in this document. We 
request written public comment on the IRFA. Comments must be filed in 
accordance with the same deadlines as comments filed in response to the 
FNPRM as set forth on the first page of this document, and have a 
separate and distinct heading designating them as responses to the 
IRFA. The Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, 
Reference Information Center, will send a copy of the FNPRM, including 
the IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration.

Initial Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

    The FNPRM contains proposed new information collection 
requirements. The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to 
reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general public and OMB to comment 
on the information collection requirements contained in this document, 
as required by PRA. In addition, pursuant to the Small Business 
Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 
3506(c)(4), the Commission seeks specific comment on how it might 
``further reduce the information collection burden for small business

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concerns with fewer than 25 employees.''

Federal Communications Commission.
Katura Jackson,
Federal Register Liaison Officer, Office of the Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2017-18500 Filed 8-31-17; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P