THE FOLLOWING IS A RE-POST OF AN E-MAIL SHARED WITH MEMBERS OF WISPA, THE WIRELESS INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS ASSOCIATION
Dear WISPA Member:
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) April 17, 2020 deadline to transition Part 90 legacy equipment to Part 96 CBRS is rapidly approaching. And it is becoming clear that the FCC is NOT intending to grant the WISPA and Utilities Technology Council (UTC) request to allow a “blanket waiver” for all members. As intimated in January 2020 emails among WISPA members, the WISPA/UTC request to allow a “blanket waiver” seeking an extension of the transition deadline until January 8, 2023 for all members has been met with silence at the FCC. The FCC’s non-responsiveness, combined with other new information, leads us to conclude that a “blanket waiver” covering all WISPA members will NOT be granted, thus increasing pressure on individual member companies impacted by the equipment transition deadline to take steps to protect themselves and avoid violating FCC rules.
As a consequence of these developments, we believe the best approach is for individual members (who are unable to transition their 3650-3700 MHz (“3.5 GHz”) band equipment by April 17, 2020) to file their own, individualized “Requests for Waiver” with the FCC. Those requests will seek waiver of FCC rule 90.1307, which forbids the FCC from granting new Part 90 3.5 GHz licenses or renewals after April 17, 2020, and the FCC’s Part 96 transition requirements. The waivers will describe “technical obstacles” and other unforeseeable events beyond the licensees’ control that prevent it from completing the steps necessary to ensure that its equipment complies with Part 96 requirements. We anticipate that the arguments for waiver will include one or more of the following technical obstacles:
- Required Part 96 equipment is not yet available.
- Existing equipment must be replaced. Only some Part 90 equipment is convertible by a software or firmware upgrade by the current manufacturers to Part 96 specifications.
- Testing of upgraded/transitioned equipment requires FCC certification and CPI Install, which will take an inordinate amount of time.
- Not enough time is left for transition, even if suitable equipment were available. Such equipment must be tested and converted, and installation across an entire network will much longer than the short period of time before the April 17 deadline.
- There will be rural network downtime if waiver is not granted. Since equipment or availability of change/upgrade is not possible before April 17, 2020, your broadband network will be forced to have downtime for rural American customers, which will deprive them of valuable broadband services, as many areas lack reasonable alternatives.
- Even if the equipment were available and the conditions were correct to transition, rapid transition is difficult, costly, and may not be possible within the short timeline. In the case of utilities and energy systems where entire electric subsystems are tied to the network, errors or problems with the network could be catastrophic.
Marashlian & Donahue, PLLC, The CommLaw Group, has been closely following the CBRS proceeding since its inception several years ago, and is uniquely qualified to prepare and file waiver requests on your behalf. Our in-depth experience with CBRS and FCC procedure enables us to provide economical, yet very high-quality waiver requests.
Exclusively to WISPA members, our firm is offering to prepare and file Requests for Waiver with the FCC for a one-time, flat rate of $500.*
*Flat rate service will apply to the vast majority of WISPA Member companies. However, if a complex legal or technical issue is presented during the course of the fact-gathering process, additional fees may apply, subject to the following terms: All hourly service provided at member discount rate of $250 per hour, subject to Client pre-authorization and approval of any fees above $500 flat rate. Furthermore, this offer is only available to engagements through April 1, 2020, as the firm reserves the right to increase fees as the FCC deadline approaches due to complications arising from last-minute waiver requests.
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