We have previously reported on the FCC’s monumental Report and Order (R&O), adopted last May, which balanced technical interference considerations between the Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS) and the Wireless Communications Service (WCS). After several errata correcting issues in the FCC’s first release, the FCC has finally published the R&O in the Federal Register, which in turn establishes the effective date for some – but not all – of the revised rules. That effective date is September 1, 2010.
The effective date does not apply to all the changes. The FCC expressly excepted from that effective date several rules which require further review from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) before they can go into effect. Most of the delayed rules relate to newly-revised licensing and notice requirements.
Of particular interest to WCS licensees are the new and very strict substantial service standards applicable to current and future WCS licensees. We described those standards, which are now set forth in Section 27.14(p) of the rules, in a recent article in our publication, FHH Telecom Law. The substantial service standards will become effective on September 1, but the certification requirement contained in Section 27.14(p)(7) – i.e., the obligation of WCS licensees to notify the FCC that they have complied with the standards – is not currently subject to that date. So WCS licensees must start the process of bringing themselves into compliance with the substantial service standards, but need not (at least for the time being) certify their compliance to the Commission. Revised Section 27.14(p) is worded to give licensees until March 4, 2013 – a date certain – to achieve the new substantial service benchmarks. Thus, the clock is already ticking with respect to compliance with those benchmarks.
Parties wishing to challenge the R&O now have until September 1 to file petitions for reconsideration. Petitions seeking reconsideration of at least several elements of the R&O, including the substantial service requirements, are expected.