Bureau Releases Rural Census Tracts and Anticipates Future Action in 3.5 GHz Proceeding

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Tower, Wireless, Cellular

On April 17, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission Adopted a Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (collectively, 3.5 GHz Order) that established a new Citizens Broadband Radio Service in the 3550-3700 MHz band (3.5 GHz Band). The 3.5 GHz Order described several additional actions that the Commission would take during the coming months, and a recently-released Public Notice provides an approximate schedule for these activities.  Publication of the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register has triggered deadlines for filing comments. Comments on issues raised in the Second Further Notice are due on or before July 15, 2015 and reply comments are due on or before August 14, 2015. Also, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (Bureau) released a machine readable list of census tracts meeting the definition of “rural” set forth in section 96.3 of the Commission’s rules.  The Bureau and the Office of Engineering and Technology also plan to release a public notice in the third or fourth quarter of this year that seeks proposals from prospective SAS Administrators and ESC operators, and will establish a process for evaluating such proposals.  In addition, the Bureau will release a public notice in the third quarter seeking comment on an appropriate method for determining the protected contours for grandfathered 3650-3700 MHZ band licensees. Consistent with the 3.5 GHz Order, only sites registered by existing licensees on or before April 17, 2015 and constructed, in service, and in compliance with the rules by April 17, 2016 will be included in the protected contours. The Bureau also plans to release a public notice in early 2016 describing the annual registration process that will apply to in-band fixed-satellite service (FSS) earth stations.

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