FCC Denies Alaskan Cellular Carrier Extension of Time to Build Cell Site

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The Mobility Division (Division) of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) has denied OTZ Telecommunications, Inc.’s (OTZ) request for an  additional one-year extension of time to construct a cellular site at Ambler, Alaska under its Cellular license, Call Sign KNKR318. In 2007, OTZ applied for ten remote locations in Alaska under the FCC’s Phase II Cellular Unserved licensing rules. A licensee must complete construction within one year. OTZ requested and received a four-year extension to build the new sites due to the unique challenges in constructing cellular facilities in Alaska. OTZ constructed two sites and received several additional extensions to complete construction at the remaining seven locations. In 2016, OTZ requested and was granted a further extension for Ambler because of site location problems due to sensitive Tribal assets. On August 28, 2017, OTZ filed its request arguing that it was unable to complete construction due to unforeseeable delays and challenges that were completely outside of its control in obtaining a site for Ambler. FCC Rule 1.946(e) allows licensees to seek an extension where a failure to complete construction is due to causes beyond its control. However, Rule Section 1.946(e)(2) states that extension requests will not be granted for failure to meet the deadline due to delays caused by a failure to obtain a site. The Division concluded that an additional extension was not warranted because OTZ’s circumstances were neither unforeseeable nor beyond its control. The FCC has consistently found that voluntary business decisions related to site selection are not circumstances beyond the licensee’s control and, as such, do not constitute a valid basis for relief.

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