[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 147 (Thursday, July 31, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 44352-44363]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-17986]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 54

[WC Docket Nos. 10-90, 14-58; FCC 14-98]


Connect America Fund; ETC Annual Reports and Certifications

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission 
(Commission) seeks comment on how best to maximize the reach of our 
existing Connect America budget and leverage non-Federal funding to 
extend broadband to as many households as possible when the Commission 
implements Phase II. Specifically, the Commission seeks comment 
regarding measures the Commission could take in the Phase II 
competitive bidding process to create incentives for state and other 
governmental entities to contribute funding to support the extension of 
broadband-capable networks.

DATES: Comments are due on or before September 2, 2014 and reply 
comments are due on or before September 15, 2014. If you anticipate 
that you will be submitting comments, but find it difficult to do so 
within the period of time allowed by this document, you should advise 
the contact listed below as soon as possible.

[[Page 44353]]


ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by either WC Docket No. 
10-90 or WC Docket No. 14-58, by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Federal Communications Commission's Web site: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Follow the instructions for submitting 
comments.
     People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone: (202) 418-
0530 or TTY: (202) 418-0432.
    For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Alexander Minard, Wireline Competition 
Bureau, (202) 418-7400 or TTY: (202) 418-0484.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a synopsis of the Commission's 
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) in WC Docket Nos. 10-90, 
14-58; FCC 14-98, adopted on July 11, 2014 and released on July 14, 
2014. The full text of this document is available for public inspection 
during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Room CY-
A257, 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554. Or at the following 
Internet address: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2014/db0714/FCC-14-98A1.pdf. The Report and Order that was 
adopted concurrently with the FNPRM will be published elsewhere in the 
Federal Register.
    Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 
47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply 
comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this 
document. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic 
Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in 
Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121, May 1, 1998.
     Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.
     Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must 
file an original and one copy of each filing. 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.
     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 Street 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).

I. Introduction

    1. Today the Commission takes further steps to implement the 
Connect America Fund to advance the deployment of voice and broadband-
capable networks in rural, high-cost areas, including extremely high-
cost areas, while ensuring that rural Americans benefit from the 
historic technology transitions that are transforming our nation's 
communications services. The Commission finalizes decisions to use on a 
limited scale Connect America funding for rural broadband experiments 
in price cap areas that will deploy new, robust broadband to consumers. 
In the FNPRM, the Commission seeks comment on how best to maximize the 
reach of our existing Connect America budget and leverage non-Federal 
funding to extend broadband to as many households as possible when the 
Commission implements Phase II.

II. Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    2. The Commission recognized in the USF/ICC Transformation Order, 
76 FR 73830, November 29, 2011, that universal service is a shared 
Federal and state responsibility, and that ``it is critical to our 
reforms' success that states remain key partners even as these programs 
evolve and traditional roles shift.'' The Commission sought comment in 
the Tech Transitions FNPRM, 79 FR 11366, February 28, 2014, on how to 
leverage non-Federal governmental sources of funding for the rural 
broadband experiments, but did not receive a sufficient record to 
enable it to resolve the implementation details associated with this 
proposal. The Commission remains committed to working with our state 
and other governmental partners to advance our mutually shared goals of 
preserving voice service and extending broadband-capable infrastructure 
to consumers across the nation. The Commission thus wishes to further 
explore how best to maximize the reach of our existing Connect America 
budget and leverage non-Federal funding to extend broadband to as many 
households as possible.
    3. The Commission now seeks more focused comment on how to create 
inducements for state action to assist in the expansion of broadband. 
The Commission seeks comment on providing bidding credits in the Phase 
II competitive bidding process that will occur after the offer of 
model-based support to price cap carriers in order to create incentives 
for states to share financial responsibility for preserving and 
extending broadband-capable infrastructure. In particular, the 
Commission seeks comment on providing a bidding credit to any bidder 
that is leveraging governmental support from non-Federal sources to 
lower the amount of funding requested from the Connect America Fund. 
For example, the Commission could provide a 10 percent bidding credit 
in situations where an applicant has obtained a commitment from a non-
Federal government entity to match Federal dollars on a four-to-one 
basis, and a 5 percent bidding credit an applicant has obtained a 
commitment to match Federal dollars on an eight-to-one basis. If the 
Commission were to adopt such a bidding credit, what documentation 
would the bidder need to provide when submitting its bid so that the 
Commission could confirm its eligibility for the bidding credit? For 
instance, should the bidder be required to provide a letter indicating 
that non-Federal funding has been authorized, contingent on the entity 
being a winning bidder?
    4. For purposes of awarding such a bidding credit, the Commission 
proposes to consider all forms of non-Federal assistance, including but 
not limited to support from a state universal

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service fund, state broadband authority, other state institutions that 
provide funding for communications infrastructure development, 
appropriated funds, regional and local governmental authorities, or 
Tribal government funding. The Commission seeks comment on this 
proposal.
    5. In order to qualify for the bidding credit, must the matching 
funds be in the form of a grant, or should the Commission also provide 
a credit if the bidder has a commitment for a loan from the relevant 
state or other non-Federal governmental authority?
    6. As an alternative, should the Commission award a bidding credit 
to any bidder in a state that is a net donor to the universal service 
fund? This would be simple to administer and would provide one means of 
creating greater equity between states in terms of their respective net 
draws from the fund. If the Commission were to adopt such an approach, 
it proposes to utilize the most recent Universal Service Monitoring 
Report to determine which states are net donors.

III. Procedural Matters

A. Paperwork Reduction Analysis

    7. 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 proposed information collection requirements contained in this 
document, as required by the PRA. In addition, pursuant to the Small 
Business Paperwork Relief Act, the Commission seeks specific comment on 
how the Commission might further reduce the information collection 
burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

B. Congressional Review Act

    8. The Commission will send a copy of the Further Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking and concurrently adopted Report and Order to 
Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the 
Congressional Review Act.

C. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

    9. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as 
amended (RFA), the Commission has prepared this present Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities by the 
policies and rules proposed in this Further Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking (FNPRM). Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. 
Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed 
by the deadlines for comments on the FNPRM provided on the first page 
of this document. The Commission will send a copy of the FNPRM, 
including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small 
Business Administration (SBA). In addition, the FNPRM and IRFA (or 
summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.
1. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules
    10. The Commission recognized in the USF/ICC Transformation Order 
that universal service is a shared federal and state responsibility, 
and that ``it is critical to our reforms' success that states remain 
key partners even as these programs evolve and traditional roles 
shift.'' The Commission remains committed to working with our state and 
other governmental partners to advance our mutually shared goals of 
preserving voice service and extending broadband-capable infrastructure 
to consumers across the nation. The Commission thus wishes to further 
explore how best to maximize the reach of our existing Connect America 
budget and leverage non-Federal governmental funding to extend 
broadband to as many households as possible. In the FNPRM the 
Commission seeks comment on how to create inducements for non-Federal 
governmental action to assist in the expansion of broadband. 
Specifically, the Commission seeks comment on providing bidding credits 
in the Phase II competitive bidding process to any bidder that is 
leveraging governmental support from non-Federal sources to lower the 
amount of funding requested from the Connect America Fund.
2. Legal Basis
    11. The legal basis for any action that may be taken pursuant to 
the FNPRM is contained in sections 1, 2, 4(i), 214, 218-220, 254, 
303(r), 403 of the Communications Act of 1934 as amended, and section 
706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 
214, 218-220, 254, 303(r), 403, and 1302, and Sec. Sec.  1.1 and 1.421 
of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.1, 1.421.
3. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to which 
the Proposed Rules Will Apply
    12. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where 
feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be 
affected by the rules adopted herein. The RFA generally defines the 
term ``small entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms ``small 
business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small governmental 
jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ``small business'' has the same 
meaning as the term ``small-business concern'' under the Small Business 
Act. A ``small-business concern'' is one which: (1) Is independently 
owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and 
(3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA.
    13. Small Businesses. Nationwide, there are a total of 
approximately 28.2 million small businesses, according to the SBA.
    14. Wired Telecommunications Carriers. The SBA has developed a 
small business size standard for Wired Telecommunications Carriers, 
which consists of all such companies having 1,500 or fewer employees. 
According to Census Bureau data for 2007, there were 3,188 firms in 
this category, total, that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 
3144 firms had employment of 999 or fewer employees, and 44 firms had 
employment of 1000 employees or more. Thus, under this size standard, 
the majority of firms can be considered small.
    15. Local Exchange Carriers (LECs). Neither the Commission nor the 
SBA has developed a size standard for small businesses specifically 
applicable to local exchange services. The closest applicable size 
standard under SBA rules is for Wired Telecommunications Carriers. 
Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or 
fewer employees. According to Commission data, 1,307 carriers reported 
that they were incumbent local exchange service providers. Of these 
1,307 carriers, an estimated 1,006 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 
301 have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission 
estimates that most providers of local exchange service are small 
entities that may be affected by the rules and policies proposed in the 
FNPRM.
    16. Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (incumbent LECs). Neither the 
Commission nor the SBA has developed a size standard for small 
businesses specifically applicable to incumbent local exchange 
services. The closest applicable size standard under SBA rules is for 
Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a 
business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to 
Commission data, 1,307 carriers reported that they were incumbent local 
exchange service providers. Of these 1,307 carriers, an estimated 1,006 
have 1,500 or fewer employees and 301 have

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more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that 
most providers of incumbent local exchange service are small businesses 
that may be affected by rules adopted pursuant to the FNPRM.
    17. The Commission has included small incumbent LECs in this 
present RFA analysis. As noted above, a ``small business'' under the 
RFA is one that, inter alia, meets the pertinent small business size 
standard (e.g., a telephone communications business having 1,500 or 
fewer employees), and ``is not dominant in its field of operation.'' 
The SBA's Office of Advocacy contends that, for RFA purposes, small 
incumbent LECs are not dominant in their field of operation because any 
such dominance is not ``national'' in scope. The Commission has 
therefore included small incumbent LECs in this RFA analysis, although 
it emphasizes that this RFA action has no effect on Commission analyses 
and determinations in other, non-RFA contexts.
    18. Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (competitive LECs), 
Competitive Access Providers (CAPs), Shared-Tenant Service Providers, 
and Other Local Service Providers. Neither the Commission nor the SBA 
has developed a small business size standard specifically for these 
service providers. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for 
the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size 
standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. 
According to Commission data, 1,442 carriers reported that they were 
engaged in the provision of either competitive local exchange services 
or competitive access provider services. Of these 1,442 carriers, an 
estimated 1,256 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 186 have more than 
1,500 employees. In addition, 17 carriers have reported that they are 
Shared-Tenant Service Providers, and all 17 are estimated to have 1,500 
or fewer employees. In addition, 72 carriers have reported that they 
are Other Local Service Providers. Of the 72, seventy have 1,500 or 
fewer employees and two have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, 
the Commission estimates that most providers of competitive local 
exchange service, competitive access providers, Shared-Tenant Service 
Providers, and Other Local Service Providers are small entities that 
may be affected by rules adopted pursuant to the FNPRM.
    19. Interexchange Carriers (IXCs). Neither the Commission nor the 
SBA has developed a size standard for small businesses specifically 
applicable to interexchange services. The closest applicable size 
standard under SBA rules is for Wired Telecommunications Carriers. 
Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or 
fewer employees. According to Commission data, 359 companies reported 
that their primary telecommunications service activity was the 
provision of interexchange services. Of these 359 companies, an 
estimated 317 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 42 have more than 1,500 
employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of 
interexchange service providers are small entities that may be affected 
by rules adopted pursuant to the FNPRM.
    20. Prepaid Calling Card Providers. Neither the Commission nor the 
SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for 
prepaid calling card providers. The appropriate size standard under SBA 
rules is for the category Telecommunications Resellers. Under that size 
standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. 
According to Commission data, 193 carriers have reported that they are 
engaged in the provision of prepaid calling cards. Of these, an 
estimated all 193 have 1,500 or fewer employees and none have more than 
1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the 
majority of prepaid calling card providers are small entities that may 
be affected by rules adopted pursuant to the FNPRM.
    21. Local Resellers. The SBA has developed a small business size 
standard for the category of Telecommunications Resellers. Under that 
size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer 
employees. According to Commission data, 213 carriers have reported 
that they are engaged in the provision of local resale services. Of 
these, an estimated 211 have 1,500 or fewer employees and two have more 
than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the 
majority of local resellers are small entities that may be affected by 
rules adopted pursuant to the FNPRM.
    22. Toll Resellers. The SBA has developed a small business size 
standard for the category of Telecommunications Resellers. Under that 
size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer 
employees. According to Commission data, 881 carriers have reported 
that they are engaged in the provision of toll resale services. Of 
these, an estimated 857 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 24 have more 
than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the 
majority of toll resellers are small entities that may be affected by 
rules adopted pursuant to the FNPRM.
    23. Other Toll Carriers. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has 
developed a size standard for small businesses specifically applicable 
to Other Toll Carriers. This category includes toll carriers that do 
not fall within the categories of interexchange carriers, operator 
service providers, prepaid calling card providers, satellite service 
carriers, or toll resellers. The closest applicable size standard under 
SBA rules is for Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size 
standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. 
According to Commission data, 284 companies reported that their primary 
telecommunications service activity was the provision of other toll 
carriage. Of these, an estimated 279 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 
five have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission 
estimates that most Other Toll Carriers are small entities that may be 
affected by the rules and policies adopted pursuant to the FNPRM.
    24. 800 and 800-Like Service Subscribers. Neither the Commission 
nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically 
for 800 and 800-like service (toll free) subscribers. The appropriate 
size standard under SBA rules is for the category Telecommunications 
Resellers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 
1,500 or fewer employees. The most reliable source of information 
regarding the number of these service subscribers appears to be data 
the Commission collects on the 800, 888, 877, and 866 numbers in use. 
According to the Commission's data, as of September 2009, the number of 
800 numbers assigned was 7,860,000; the number of 888 numbers assigned 
was 5,588,687; the number of 877 numbers assigned was 4,721,866; and 
the number of 866 numbers assigned was 7,867,736. The Commission does 
not have data specifying the number of these subscribers that are not 
independently owned and operated or have more than 1,500 employees, and 
thus are unable at this time to estimate with greater precision the 
number of toll free subscribers that would qualify as small businesses 
under the SBA size standard. Consequently, the Commission estimates 
that there are 7,860,000 or fewer small entity 800 subscribers; 
5,588,687 or fewer small entity 888 subscribers; 4,721,866 or fewer 
small entity 877 subscribers; and 7,867,736 or fewer small entity 866 
subscribers.
    25. Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite). Since 
2007,

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the SBA has recognized wireless firms within this new, broad, economic 
census category. Prior to that time, such firms were within the now-
superseded categories of Paging and Cellular and Other Wireless 
Telecommunications. Under the present and prior categories, the SBA has 
deemed a wireless business to be small if it has 1,500 or fewer 
employees. For this category, census data for 2007 show that there were 
1,383 firms that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 1,368 
firms had employment of 999 or fewer employees and 15 had employment of 
1000 employees or more. Similarly, according to Commission data, 413 
carriers reported that they were engaged in the provision of wireless 
telephony, including cellular service, Personal Communications Service 
(PCS), and Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) Telephony services. Of these, 
an estimated 261 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 152 have more than 
1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that 
approximately half or more of these firms can be considered small. 
Thus, using available data, the Commission estimates that the majority 
of wireless firms can be considered small.
    26. Broadband Personal Communications Service. The broadband 
personal communications service (PCS) spectrum is divided into six 
frequency blocks designated A through F, and the Commission has held 
auctions for each block. The Commission defined ``small entity'' for 
Blocks C and F as an entity that has average gross revenues of $40 
million or less in the three previous calendar years. For Block F, an 
additional classification for ``very small business'' was added and is 
defined as an entity that, together with its affiliates, has average 
gross revenues of not more than $15 million for the preceding three 
calendar years. These standards defining ``small entity'' in the 
context of broadband PCS auctions have been approved by the SBA. No 
small businesses, within the SBA-approved small business size standards 
bid successfully for licenses in Blocks A and B. There were 90 winning 
bidders that qualified as small entities in the Block C auctions. A 
total of 93 small and very small business bidders won approximately 40 
percent of the 1,479 licenses for Blocks D, E, and F. In 1999, the 
Commission re-auctioned 347 C, E, and F Block licenses. There were 48 
small business winning bidders. In 2001, the Commission completed the 
auction of 422 C and F Broadband PCS licenses in Auction 35. Of the 35 
winning bidders in this auction, 29 qualified as ``small'' or ``very 
small'' businesses. Subsequent events, concerning Auction 35, including 
judicial and agency determinations, resulted in a total of 163 C and F 
Block licenses being available for grant. In 2005, the Commission 
completed an auction of 188 C block licenses and 21 F block licenses in 
Auction 58. There were 24 winning bidders for 217 licenses. Of the 24 
winning bidders, 16 claimed small business status and won 156 licenses. 
In 2007, the Commission completed an auction of 33 licenses in the A, 
C, and F Blocks in Auction 71. Of the 14 winning bidders, six were 
designated entities. In 2008, the Commission completed an auction of 20 
Broadband PCS licenses in the C, D, E and F block licenses in Auction 
78.
    27. Advanced Wireless Services. In 2008, the Commission conducted 
the auction of Advanced Wireless Services (``AWS'') licenses. This 
auction, which as designated as Auction 78, offered 35 licenses in the 
AWS 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz bands (AWS-1). The AWS-1 licenses 
were licenses for which there were no winning bids in Auction 66. That 
same year, the Commission completed Auction 78. A bidder with 
attributed average annual gross revenues that exceeded $15 million and 
did not exceed $40 million for the preceding three years (``small 
business'') received a 15 percent discount on its winning bid. A bidder 
with attributed average annual gross revenues that did not exceed $15 
million for the preceding three years (``very small business'') 
received a 25 percent discount on its winning bid. A bidder that had 
combined total assets of less than $500 million and combined gross 
revenues of less than $125 million in each of the last two years 
qualified for entrepreneur status. Four winning bidders that identified 
themselves as very small businesses won 17 licenses. Three of the 
winning bidders that identified themselves as a small business won five 
licenses. Additionally, one other winning bidder that qualified for 
entrepreneur status won 2 licenses.
    28. Narrowband Personal Communications Services. In 1994, the 
Commission conducted an auction for Narrowband PCS licenses. A second 
auction was also conducted later in 1994. For purposes of the first two 
Narrowband PCS auctions, ``small businesses'' were entities with 
average gross revenues for the prior three calendar years of $40 
million or less. Through these auctions, the Commission awarded a total 
of 41 licenses, 11 of which were obtained by four small businesses. To 
ensure meaningful participation by small business entities in future 
auctions, the Commission adopted a two-tiered small business size 
standard in the Narrowband PCS Second Report and Order, 65 FR 35843, 
June 6, 2000. A ``small business'' is an entity that, together with 
affiliates and controlling interests, has average gross revenues for 
the three preceding years of not more than $40 million. A ``very small 
business'' is an entity that, together with affiliates and controlling 
interests, has average gross revenues for the three preceding years of 
not more than $15 million. The SBA has approved these small business 
size standards. A third auction was conducted in 2001. Here, five 
bidders won 317 (Metropolitan Trading Areas and nationwide) licenses. 
Three of these claimed status as a small or very small entity and won 
311 licenses.
    29. Paging (Private and Common Carrier). In the Paging Third Report 
and Order, 64 FR 33762, June 24, 1999, the Commission developed a small 
business size standard for ``small businesses'' and ``very small 
businesses'' for purposes of determining their eligibility for special 
provisions such as bidding credits and installment payments. A ``small 
business'' is an entity that, together with its affiliates and 
controlling principals, has average gross revenues not exceeding $15 
million for the preceding three years. Additionally, a ``very small 
business'' is an entity that, together with its affiliates and 
controlling principals, has average gross revenues that are not more 
than $3 million for the preceding three years. The SBA has approved 
these small business size standards. According to Commission data, 291 
carriers have reported that they are engaged in Paging or Messaging 
Service. Of these, an estimated 289 have 1,500 or fewer employees, and 
two have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission 
estimates that the majority of paging providers are small entities that 
may be affected by our action. An auction of Metropolitan Economic Area 
licenses commenced on February 24, 2000, and closed on March 2, 2000. 
Of the 2,499 licenses auctioned, 985 were sold. Fifty-seven companies 
claiming small business status won 440 licenses. A subsequent auction 
of MEA and Economic Area (``EA'') licenses was held in the year 2001. 
Of the 15,514 licenses auctioned, 5,323 were sold. One hundred thirty-
two companies claiming small business status purchased 3,724 licenses. 
A third auction, consisting of 8,874 licenses in each of 175 EAs and 
1,328 licenses in

[[Page 44357]]

all but three of the 51 MEAs, was held in 2003. Seventy-seven bidders 
claiming small or very small business status won 2,093 licenses. A 
fourth auction, consisting of 9,603 lower and upper paging band 
licenses was held in the year 2010. Twenty-nine bidders claiming small 
or very small business status won 3,016 licenses.
    30. 220 MHz Radio Service--Phase I Licensees. The 220 MHz service 
has both Phase I and Phase II licenses. Phase I licensing was conducted 
by lotteries in 1992 and 1993. There are approximately 1,515 such non-
nationwide licensees and four nationwide licensees currently authorized 
to operate in the 220 MHz band. The Commission has not developed a 
small business size standard for small entities specifically applicable 
to such incumbent 220 MHz Phase I licensees. To estimate the number of 
such licensees that are small businesses, the Commission applies the 
small business size standard under the SBA rules applicable to Wireless 
Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite). Under this category, 
the SBA deems a wireless business to be small if it has 1,500 or fewer 
employees. The Commission estimates that nearly all such licensees are 
small businesses under the SBA's small business size standard that may 
be affected by rules adopted pursuant to the FNPRM.
    31. 220 MHz Radio Service--Phase II Licensees. The 220 MHz service 
has both Phase I and Phase II licenses. The Phase II 220 MHz service is 
subject to spectrum auctions. In the 220 MHz Third Report and Order, 62 
FR 15978, April 3, 1997, the Commission adopted a small business size 
standard for ``small'' and ``very small'' businesses for purposes of 
determining their eligibility for special provisions such as bidding 
credits and installment payments. This small business size standard 
indicates that a ``small business'' is an entity that, together with 
its affiliates and controlling principals, has average gross revenues 
not exceeding $15 million for the preceding three years. A ``very small 
business'' is an entity that, together with its affiliates and 
controlling principals, has average gross revenues that do not exceed 
$3 million for the preceding three years. The SBA has approved these 
small business size standards. Auctions of Phase II licenses commenced 
on September 15, 1998, and closed on October 22, 1998. In the first 
auction, 908 licenses were auctioned in three different-sized 
geographic areas: three nationwide licenses, 30 Regional Economic Area 
Group (EAG) Licenses, and 875 Economic Area (EA) Licenses. Of the 908 
licenses auctioned, 693 were sold. Thirty-nine small businesses won 
licenses in the first 220 MHz auction. The second auction included 225 
licenses: 216 EA licenses and 9 EAG licenses. Fourteen companies 
claiming small business status won 158 licenses.
    32. Specialized Mobile Radio. The Commission awards small business 
bidding credits in auctions for Specialized Mobile Radio (``SMR'') 
geographic area licenses in the 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands to entities 
that had revenues of no more than $15 million in each of the three 
previous calendar years. The Commission awards very small business 
bidding credits to entities that had revenues of no more than $3 
million in each of the three previous calendar years. The SBA has 
approved these small business size standards for the 800 MHz and 900 
MHz SMR Services. The Commission has held auctions for geographic area 
licenses in the 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands. The 900 MHz SMR auction was 
completed in 1996. Sixty bidders claiming that they qualified as small 
businesses under the $15 million size standard won 263 geographic area 
licenses in the 900 MHz SMR band. The 800 MHz SMR auction for the upper 
200 channels was conducted in 1997. Ten bidders claiming that they 
qualified as small businesses under the $15 million size standard won 
38 geographic area licenses for the upper 200 channels in the 800 MHz 
SMR band. A second auction for the 800 MHz band was conducted in 2002 
and included 23 BEA licenses. One bidder claiming small business status 
won five licenses.
    33. The auction of the 1,053 800 MHz SMR geographic area licenses 
for the General Category channels was conducted in 2000. Eleven bidders 
won 108 geographic area licenses for the General Category channels in 
the 800 MHz SMR band qualified as small businesses under the $15 
million size standard. In an auction completed in 2000, a total of 
2,800 Economic Area licenses in the lower 80 channels of the 800 MHz 
SMR service were awarded. Of the 22 winning bidders, 19 claimed small 
business status and won 129 licenses. Thus, combining all three 
auctions, 40 winning bidders for geographic licenses in the 800 MHz SMR 
band claimed status as small business.
    34. In addition, there are numerous incumbent site-by-site SMR 
licensees and licensees with extended implementation authorizations in 
the 800 and 900 MHz bands. The Commission does not know how many firms 
provide 800 MHz or 900 MHz geographic area SMR pursuant to extended 
implementation authorizations, nor how many of these providers have 
annual revenues of no more than $15 million. One firm has over $15 
million in revenues. In addition, the Commission does not know how many 
of these firms have 1,500 or fewer employees. The Commission assumes, 
for purposes of this analysis, that all of the remaining existing 
extended implementation authorizations are held by small entities, as 
that small business size standard is approved by the SBA.
    35. Broadband Radio Service and Educational Broadband Service. 
Broadband Radio Service systems, previously referred to as Multipoint 
Distribution Service (``MDS'') and Multichannel Multipoint Distribution 
Service (``MMDS'') systems, and ``wireless cable,'' transmit video 
programming to subscribers and provide two-way high speed data 
operations using the microwave frequencies of the Broadband Radio 
Service (``BRS'') and Educational Broadband Service (``EBS'') 
(previously referred to as the Instructional Television Fixed Service 
(``ITFS'')). In connection with the 1996 BRS auction, the Commission 
established a small business size standard as an entity that had annual 
average gross revenues of no more than $40 million in the previous 
three calendar years. The BRS auctions resulted in 67 successful 
bidders obtaining licensing opportunities for 493 Basic Trading Areas 
(``BTAs''). Of the 67 auction winners, 61 met the definition of a small 
business. BRS also includes licensees of stations authorized prior to 
the auction. At this time, the Commission estimates that of the 61 
small business BRS auction winners, 48 remain small business licensees. 
In addition to the 48 small businesses that hold BTA authorizations, 
there are approximately 392 incumbent BRS licensees that are considered 
small entities. After adding the number of small business auction 
licensees to the number of incumbent licensees not already counted, the 
Commission finds that there are currently approximately 440 BRS 
licensees that are defined as small businesses under either the SBA or 
the Commission's rules. The Commission has adopted three levels of 
bidding credits for BRS: (i) a bidder with attributed average annual 
gross revenues that exceed $15 million and do not exceed $40 million 
for the preceding three years (small business) is eligible to receive a 
15 percent discount on its winning bid; (ii) a bidder with attributed 
average annual gross revenues that exceed $3 million and do not exceed 
$15 million for the preceding three years (very small business) is

[[Page 44358]]

eligible to receive a 25 percent discount on its winning bid; and (iii) 
a bidder with attributed average annual gross revenues that do not 
exceed $3 million for the preceding three years (entrepreneur) is 
eligible to receive a 35 percent discount on its winning bid. In 2009, 
the Commission conducted Auction 86, which offered 78 BRS licenses. 
Auction 86 concluded with ten bidders winning 61 licenses. Of the ten, 
two bidders claimed small business status and won 4 licenses; one 
bidder claimed very small business status and won three licenses; and 
two bidders claimed entrepreneur status and won six licenses.
    36. In addition, the SBA's Cable Television Distribution Services 
small business size standard is applicable to EBS. There are presently 
2,032 EBS licensees. All but 100 of these licenses are held by 
educational institutions. Educational institutions are included in this 
analysis as small entities. Thus, the Commission estimates that at 
least 1,932 licensees are small businesses. Since 2007, Cable 
Television Distribution Services have been defined within the broad 
economic census category of Wired Telecommunications Carriers; that 
category is defined as follows: ``This industry comprises 
establishments primarily engaged in operating and/or providing access 
to transmission facilities and infrastructure that they own and/or 
lease for the transmission of voice, data, text, sound, and video using 
wired telecommunications networks. Transmission facilities may be based 
on a single technology or a combination of technologies.'' The SBA 
defines a small business size standard for this category as any such 
firms having 1,500 or fewer employees. The SBA has developed a small 
business size standard for this category, which is: all such firms 
having 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Census Bureau data for 
2007, there were a total of 955 firms in this previous category that 
operated for the entire year. Of this total, 939 firms had employment 
of 999 or fewer employees, and 16 firms had employment of 1000 
employees or more. Thus, under this size standard, the majority of 
firms can be considered small and may be affected by rules adopted 
pursuant to the FNPRM.
    37. Lower 700 MHz Band Licenses. The Commission previously adopted 
criteria for defining three groups of small businesses for purposes of 
determining their eligibility for special provisions such as bidding 
credits. The Commission defined a ``small business'' as an entity that, 
together with its affiliates and controlling principals, has average 
gross revenues not exceeding $40 million for the preceding three years. 
A ``very small business'' is defined as an entity that, together with 
its affiliates and controlling principals, has average gross revenues 
that are not more than $15 million for the preceding three years. 
Additionally, the Lower 700 MHz Band had a third category of small 
business status for Metropolitan/Rural Service Area (``MSA/RSA'') 
licenses, identified as ``entrepreneur'' and defined as an entity that, 
together with its affiliates and controlling principals, has average 
gross revenues that are not more than $3 million for the preceding 
three years. The SBA approved these small size standards. The 
Commission conducted an auction in 2002 of 740 Lower 700 MHz Band 
licenses (one license in each of the 734 MSAs/RSAs and one license in 
each of the six Economic Area Groupings (EAGs)). Of the 740 licenses 
available for auction, 484 licenses were sold to 102 winning bidders. 
Seventy-two of the winning bidders claimed small business, very small 
business or entrepreneur status and won a total of 329 licenses. The 
Commission conducted a second Lower 700 MHz Band auction in 2003 that 
included 256 licenses: 5 EAG licenses and 476 Cellular Market Area 
licenses. Seventeen winning bidders claimed small or very small 
business status and won 60 licenses, and nine winning bidders claimed 
entrepreneur status and won 154 licenses. In 2005, the Commission 
completed an auction of 5 licenses in the Lower 700 MHz Band, 
designated Auction 60. There were three winning bidders for five 
licenses. All three winning bidders claimed small business status.
    38. In 2007, the Commission reexamined its rules governing the 700 
MHz band in the 700 MHz Second Report and Order, 72 FR 48814, August 
24, 2007. The 700 MHz Second Report and Order revised the band plan for 
the commercial (including Guard Band) and public safety spectrum, 
adopted services rules, including stringent build-out requirements, an 
open platform requirement on the C Block, and a requirement on the D 
Block licensee to construct and operate a nationwide, interoperable 
wireless broadband network for public safety users. An auction of A, B 
and E block licenses in the Lower 700 MHz band was held in 2008. Twenty 
winning bidders claimed small business status (those with attributable 
average annual gross revenues that exceed $15 million and do not exceed 
$40 million for the preceding three years). Thirty three winning 
bidders claimed very small business status (those with attributable 
average annual gross revenues that do not exceed $15 million for the 
preceding three years). In 2011, the Commission conducted Auction 92, 
which offered 16 Lower 700 MHz band licenses that had been made 
available in Auction 73 but either remained unsold or were licenses on 
which a winning bidder defaulted. Two of the seven winning bidders in 
Auction 92 claimed very small business status, winning a total of four 
licenses.
    39. Upper 700 MHz Band Licenses. In the 700 MHz Second Report and 
Order, the Commission revised its rules regarding Upper 700 MHz band 
licenses. In 2008, the Commission conducted Auction 73 in which C and D 
block licenses in the Upper 700 MHz band were available. Three winning 
bidders claimed very small business status (those with attributable 
average annual gross revenues that do not exceed $15 million for the 
preceding three years).
    40. 700 MHz Guard Band Licensees. In the 700 MHz Guard Band Order, 
65 FR 17594, April 4, 2000, the Commission adopted a small business 
size standard for ``small businesses'' and ``very small businesses'' 
for purposes of determining their eligibility for special provisions 
such as bidding credits and installment payments. A ``small business'' 
is an entity that, together with its affiliates and controlling 
principals, has average gross revenues not exceeding $40 million for 
the preceding three years. Additionally, a ``very small business'' is 
an entity that, together with its affiliates and controlling 
principals, has average gross revenues that are not more than $15 
million for the preceding three years. An auction of 52 Major Economic 
Area (MEA) licenses commenced on September 6, 2000, and closed on 
September 21, 2000. Of the 104 licenses auctioned, 96 licenses were 
sold to nine bidders. Five of these bidders were small businesses that 
won a total of 26 licenses. A second auction of 700 MHz Guard Band 
licenses commenced on February 13, 2001 and closed on February 21, 
2001. All eight of the licenses auctioned were sold to three bidders. 
One of these bidders was a small business that won a total of two 
licenses.
    41. Cellular Radiotelephone Service. Auction 77 was held to resolve 
one group of mutually exclusive applications for Cellular 
Radiotelephone Service licenses for unserved areas in New Mexico. 
Bidding credits for designated entities were not available in Auction 
77. In 2008, the Commission completed the closed auction of one 
unserved service area in the Cellular Radiotelephone Service, 
designated as

[[Page 44359]]

Auction 77. Auction 77 concluded with one provisionally winning bid for 
the unserved area totaling $25,002.
    42. Private Land Mobile Radio (``PLMR''). PLMR systems serve an 
essential role in a range of industrial, business, land transportation, 
and public safety activities. These radios are used by companies of all 
sizes operating in all U.S. business categories, and are often used in 
support of the licensee's primary (non-telecommunications) business 
operations. For the purpose of determining whether a licensee of a PLMR 
system is a small business as defined by the SBA, the Commission uses 
the broad census category, Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except 
Satellite). This definition provides that a small entity is any such 
entity employing no more than 1,500 persons. The Commission does not 
require PLMR licensees to disclose information about number of 
employees, so the Commission does not have information that could be 
used to determine how many PLMR licensees constitute small entities 
under this definition. The Commission notes that PLMR licensees 
generally use the licensed facilities in support of other business 
activities, and therefore, it would also be helpful to assess PLMR 
licensees under the standards applied to the particular industry 
subsector to which the licensee belongs.
    43. As of March 2010, there were 424,162 PLMR licensees operating 
921,909 transmitters in the PLMR bands below 512 MHz. The Commission 
notes that any entity engaged in a commercial activity is eligible to 
hold a PLMR license, and that any revised rules in this context could 
therefore potentially impact small entities covering a great variety of 
industries.
    44. Rural Radiotelephone Service. The Commission has not adopted a 
size standard for small businesses specific to the Rural Radiotelephone 
Service. A significant subset of the Rural Radiotelephone Service is 
the Basic Exchange Telephone Radio System (BETRS). In the present 
context, the Commission will use the SBA's small business size standard 
applicable to Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite), 
i.e., an entity employing no more than 1,500 persons. There are 
approximately 1,000 licensees in the Rural Radiotelephone Service, and 
the Commission estimates that there are 1,000 or fewer small entity 
licensees in the Rural Radiotelephone Service that may be affected by 
the rules and policies proposed herein.
    45. Air-Ground Radiotelephone Service. The Commission has not 
adopted a small business size standard specific to the Air-Ground 
Radiotelephone Service. The Commission will use SBA's small business 
size standard applicable to Wireless Telecommunications Carriers 
(except Satellite), i.e., an entity employing no more than 1,500 
persons. There are approximately 100 licensees in the Air-Ground 
Radiotelephone Service, and the Commission estimates that almost all of 
them qualify as small under the SBA small business size standard and 
may be affected by rules adopted pursuant to the FNPRM.
    46. Aviation and Marine Radio Services. Small businesses in the 
aviation and marine radio services use a very high frequency (VHF) 
marine or aircraft radio and, as appropriate, an emergency position-
indicating radio beacon (and/or radar) or an emergency locator 
transmitter. The Commission has not developed a small business size 
standard specifically applicable to these small businesses. For 
purposes of this analysis, the Commission uses the SBA small business 
size standard for the category Wireless Telecommunications Carriers 
(except Satellite), which is 1,500 or fewer employees. Census data for 
2007, which supersede data contained in the 2002 Census, show that 
there were 1,383 firms that operated that year. Of those 1,383, 1,368 
had fewer than 100 employees, and 15 firms had more than 100 employees. 
Most applicants for recreational licenses are individuals. 
Approximately 581,000 ship station licensees and 131,000 aircraft 
station licensees operate domestically and are not subject to the radio 
carriage requirements of any statute or treaty. For purposes of our 
evaluations in this analysis, the Commission estimates that there are 
up to approximately 712,000 licensees that are small businesses (or 
individuals) under the SBA standard. In addition, between December 3, 
1998 and December 14, 1998, the Commission held an auction of 42 VHF 
Public Coast licenses in the 157.1875-157.4500 MHz (ship transmit) and 
161.775-162.0125 MHz (coast transmit) bands. For purposes of the 
auction, the Commission defined a ``small'' business as an entity that, 
together with controlling interests and affiliates, has average gross 
revenues for the preceding three years not to exceed $15 million 
dollars. In addition, a ``very small'' business is one that, together 
with controlling interests and affiliates, has average gross revenues 
for the preceding three years not to exceed $3 million dollars. There 
are approximately 10,672 licensees in the Marine Coast Service, and the 
Commission estimates that almost all of them qualify as ``small'' 
businesses under the above special small business size standards and 
may be affected by rules adopted pursuant to the FNPRM.
    47. Fixed Microwave Services. Fixed microwave services include 
common carrier, private operational-fixed, and broadcast auxiliary 
radio services. At present, there are approximately 22,015 common 
carrier fixed licensees and 61,670 private operational-fixed licensees 
and broadcast auxiliary radio licensees in the microwave services. The 
Commission has not created a size standard for a small business 
specifically with respect to fixed microwave services. For purposes of 
this analysis, the Commission uses the SBA small business size standard 
for Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite), which is 
1,500 or fewer employees. The Commission does not have data specifying 
the number of these licensees that have more than 1,500 employees, and 
thus is unable at this time to estimate with greater precision the 
number of fixed microwave service licensees that would qualify as small 
business concerns under the SBA's small business size standard. 
Consequently, the Commission estimates that there are up to 22,015 
common carrier fixed licensees and up to 61,670 private operational-
fixed licensees and broadcast auxiliary radio licensees in the 
microwave services that may be small and may be affected by the rules 
and policies adopted herein. The Commission notes, however, that the 
common carrier microwave fixed licensee category includes some large 
entities.
    48. Offshore Radiotelephone Service. This service operates on 
several UHF television broadcast channels that are not used for 
television broadcasting in the coastal areas of states bordering the 
Gulf of Mexico. There are presently approximately 55 licensees in this 
service. The Commission is unable to estimate at this time the number 
of licensees that would qualify as small under the SBA's small business 
size standard for the category of Wireless Telecommunications Carriers 
(except Satellite). Under that SBA small business size standard, a 
business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. Census data for 
2007, which supersede data contained in the 2002 Census, show that 
there were 1,383 firms that operated that year. Of those 1,383, 1,368 
had fewer than 100 employees, and 15 firms had more than 100 employees. 
Thus, under this category and the associated small business size 
standard,

[[Page 44360]]

the majority of firms can be considered small.
    49. 39 GHz Service. The Commission created a special small business 
size standard for 39 GHz licenses--an entity that has average gross 
revenues of $40 million or less in the three previous calendar years. 
An additional size standard for ``very small business'' is: an entity 
that, together with affiliates, has average gross revenues of not more 
than $15 million for the preceding three calendar years. The SBA has 
approved these small business size standards. The auction of the 2,173 
39 GHz licenses began on April 12, 2000 and closed on May 8, 2000. The 
18 bidders who claimed small business status won 849 licenses. 
Consequently, the Commission estimates that 18 or fewer 39 GHz 
licensees are small entities that may be affected by rules adopted 
pursuant to the FNPRM.
    50. Local Multipoint Distribution Service. Local Multipoint 
Distribution Service (LMDS) is a fixed broadband point-to-multipoint 
microwave service that provides for two-way video telecommunications. 
The auction of the 986 LMDS licenses began and closed in 1998. The 
Commission established a small business size standard for LMDS licenses 
as an entity that has average gross revenues of less than $40 million 
in the three previous calendar years. An additional small business size 
standard for ``very small business'' was added as an entity that, 
together with its affiliates, has average gross revenues of not more 
than $15 million for the preceding three calendar years. The SBA has 
approved these small business size standards in the context of LMDS 
auctions. There were 93 winning bidders that qualified as small 
entities in the LMDS auctions. A total of 93 small and very small 
business bidders won approximately 277 A Block licenses and 387 B Block 
licenses. In 1999, the Commission re-auctioned 161 licenses; there were 
32 small and very small businesses winning that won 119 licenses.
    51. 218-219 MHz Service. The first auction of 218-219 MHz spectrum 
resulted in 170 entities winning licenses for 594 Metropolitan 
Statistical Area (MSA) licenses. Of the 594 licenses, 557 were won by 
entities qualifying as a small business. For that auction, the small 
business size standard was an entity that, together with its 
affiliates, has no more than a $6 million net worth and, after federal 
income taxes (excluding any carry over losses), has no more than $2 
million in annual profits each year for the previous two years. In the 
218-219 MHz Report and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order, 64 FR 
59656, November 3, 1999, the Commission established a small business 
size standard for a ``small business'' as an entity that, together with 
its affiliates and persons or entities that hold interests in such an 
entity and their affiliates, has average annual gross revenues not to 
exceed $15 million for the preceding three years. A ``very small 
business'' is defined as an entity that, together with its affiliates 
and persons or entities that hold interests in such an entity and its 
affiliates, has average annual gross revenues not to exceed $3 million 
for the preceding three years. These size standards will be used in 
future auctions of 218-219 MHz spectrum.
    52. 2.3 GHz Wireless Communications Services. This service can be 
used for fixed, mobile, radiolocation, and digital audio broadcasting 
satellite uses. The Commission defined ``small business'' for the 
wireless communications services (``WCS'') auction as an entity with 
average gross revenues of $40 million for each of the three preceding 
years, and a ``very small business'' as an entity with average gross 
revenues of $15 million for each of the three preceding years. The SBA 
has approved these definitions. The Commission auctioned geographic 
area licenses in the WCS service. In the auction, which was conducted 
in 1997, there were seven bidders that won 31 licenses that qualified 
as very small business entities, and one bidder that won one license 
that qualified as a small business entity.
    53. 1670-1675 MHz Band. An auction for one license in the 1670-1675 
MHz band was conducted in 2003. The Commission defined a ``small 
business'' as an entity with attributable average annual gross revenues 
of not more than $40 million for the preceding three years and thus 
would be eligible for a 15 percent discount on its winning bid for the 
1670-1675 MHz band license. Further, the Commission defined a ``very 
small business'' as an entity with attributable average annual gross 
revenues of not more than $15 million for the preceding three years and 
thus would be eligible to receive a 25 percent discount on its winning 
bid for the 1670-1675 MHz band license. One license was awarded. The 
winning bidder was not a small entity.
    54. 3650-3700 MHz band. In March 2005, the Commission released a 
Report and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order that provides for 
nationwide, non-exclusive licensing of terrestrial operations, 
utilizing contention-based technologies, in the 3650 MHz band (i.e., 
3650-3700 MHz). As of April 2010, more than 1,270 licenses have been 
granted and more than 7,433 sites have been registered. The Commission 
has not developed a definition of small entities applicable to 3650-
3700 MHz band nationwide, non-exclusive licensees. However, the 
Commission estimates that the majority of these licensees are Internet 
Access Service Providers (ISPs) and that most of those licensees are 
small businesses.
    55. 24 GHz--Incumbent Licensees. This analysis may affect incumbent 
licensees who were relocated to the 24 GHz band from the 18 GHz band, 
and applicants who wish to provide services in the 24 GHz band. For 
this service, the Commission uses the SBA small business size standard 
for the category ``Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except 
satellite),'' which is 1,500 or fewer employees. To gauge small 
business prevalence for these cable services the Commission must, 
however, use the most current census data. Census data for 2007, which 
supersede data contained in the 2002 Census, show that there were 1,383 
firms that operated that year. Of those 1,383, 1,368 had fewer than 100 
employees, and 15 firms had more than 100 employees. Thus under this 
category and the associated small business size standard, the majority 
of firms can be considered small. The Commission notes that the Census' 
use of the classifications ``firms'' does not track the number of 
``licenses''. The Commission believes that there are only two licensees 
in the 24 GHz band that were relocated from the 18 GHz band, Teligent 
and TRW, Inc. It is our understanding that Teligent and its related 
companies have less than 1,500 employees, though this may change in the 
future. TRW is not a small entity. Thus, only one incumbent licensee in 
the 24 GHz band is a small business entity.
    56. 24 GHz--Future Licensees. With respect to new applicants in the 
24 GHz band, the size standard for ``small business'' is an entity 
that, together with controlling interests and affiliates, has average 
annual gross revenues for the three preceding years not in excess of 
$15 million. ``Very small business'' in the 24 GHz band is an entity 
that, together with controlling interests and affiliates, has average 
gross revenues not exceeding $3 million for the preceding three years. 
The SBA has approved these small business size standards. These size 
standards will apply to a future 24 GHz license auction, if held.
    57. Satellite Telecommunications. Since 2007, the SBA has 
recognized satellite firms within this revised category, with a small 
business size standard of $15 million. The most current Census Bureau 
data are from the economic census of 2007, and the

[[Page 44361]]

Commission will use those figures to gauge the prevalence of small 
businesses in this category. Those size standards are for the two 
census categories of ``Satellite Telecommunications'' and ``Other 
Telecommunications.'' Under the ``Satellite Telecommunications'' 
category, a business is considered small if it had $15 million or less 
in average annual receipts. Under the ``Other Telecommunications'' 
category, a business is considered small if it had $25 million or less 
in average annual receipts.
    58. The first category of Satellite Telecommunications ``comprises 
establishments primarily engaged in providing point-to-point 
telecommunications services to other establishments in the 
telecommunications and broadcasting industries by forwarding and 
receiving communications signals via a system of satellites or 
reselling satellite telecommunications.'' For this category, Census 
Bureau data for 2007 show that there were a total of 512 firms that 
operated for the entire year. Of this total, 464 firms had annual 
receipts of under $10 million, and 18 firms had receipts of $10 million 
to $24,999,999. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the 
majority of Satellite Telecommunications firms are small entities that 
might be affected by rules adopted pursuant to the FNPRM.
    59. The second category of Other Telecommunications ``primarily 
engaged in providing specialized telecommunications services, such as 
satellite tracking, communications telemetry, and radar station 
operation. This industry also includes establishments primarily engaged 
in providing satellite terminal stations and associated facilities 
connected with one or more terrestrial systems and capable of 
transmitting telecommunications to, and receiving telecommunications 
from, satellite systems. Establishments providing Internet services or 
voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) services via client-supplied 
telecommunications connections are also included in this industry.'' 
For this category, Census Bureau data for 2007 show that there were a 
total of 2,383 firms that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 
2,346 firms had annual receipts of under $25 million. Consequently, the 
Commission estimates that the majority of Other Telecommunications 
firms are small entities that might be affected by our action.
    60. Cable and Other Program Distribution. Since 2007, these 
services have been defined within the broad economic census category of 
Wired Telecommunications Carriers; that category is defined as follows: 
``This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in operating 
and/or providing access to transmission facilities and infrastructure 
that they own and/or lease for the transmission of voice, data, text, 
sound, and video using wired telecommunications networks. Transmission 
facilities may be based on a single technology or a combination of 
technologies.'' The SBA has developed a small business size standard 
for this category, which is: all such firms having 1,500 or fewer 
employees. According to Census Bureau data for 2007, there were a total 
of 955 firms in this previous category that operated for the entire 
year. Of this total, 939 firms had employment of 999 or fewer 
employees, and 16 firms had employment of 1,000 employees or more. 
Thus, under this size standard, the majority of firms can be considered 
small and may be affected by rules adopted pursuant to the FNPRM.
    61. Cable Companies and Systems. The Commission has developed its 
own small business size standards, for the purpose of cable rate 
regulation. Under the Commission's rules, a ``small cable company'' is 
one serving 400,000 or fewer subscribers, nationwide. Industry data 
indicate that, of 1,076 cable operators nationwide, all but eleven are 
small under this size standard. In addition, under the Commission's 
rules, a ``small system'' is a cable system serving 15,000 or fewer 
subscribers. Industry data indicate that, of 7,208 systems nationwide, 
6,139 systems have under 10,000 subscribers, and an additional 379 
systems have 10,000-19,999 subscribers. Thus, under this second size 
standard, most cable systems are small and may be affected by rules 
adopted pursuant to the FNPRM.
    62. Cable System Operators. The Act also contains a size standard 
for small cable system operators, which is ``a cable operator that, 
directly or through an affiliate, serves in the aggregate fewer than 1 
percent of all subscribers in the United States and is not affiliated 
with any entity or entities whose gross annual revenues in the 
aggregate exceed $250,000,000.'' The Commission has determined that an 
operator serving fewer than 677,000 subscribers shall be deemed a small 
operator, if its annual revenues, when combined with the total annual 
revenues of all its affiliates, do not exceed $250 million in the 
aggregate. Industry data indicate that, of 1,076 cable operators 
nationwide, all but ten are small under this size standard. The 
Commission notes that it neither requests nor collects information on 
whether cable system operators are affiliated with entities whose gross 
annual revenues exceed $250 million, and therefore it is unable to 
estimate more accurately the number of cable system operators that 
would qualify as small under this size standard.
    63. Open Video Services. The open video system (``OVS'') framework 
was established in 1996, and is one of four statutorily recognized 
options for the provision of video programming services by local 
exchange carriers. The OVS framework provides opportunities for the 
distribution of video programming other than through cable systems. 
Because OVS operators provide subscription services, OVS falls within 
the SBA small business size standard covering cable services, which is 
``Wired Telecommunications Carriers.'' The SBA has developed a small 
business size standard for this category, which is: all such firms 
having 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Census Bureau data for 
2007, there were a total of 955 firms in this previous category that 
operated for the entire year. Of this total, 939 firms had employment 
of 999 or fewer employees, and 16 firms had employment of 1000 
employees or more. Thus, under this second size standard, most cable 
systems are small and may be affected by rules adopted pursuant to the 
FNPRM. In addition, the Commission notes that it has certified some OVS 
operators, with some now providing service. Broadband service providers 
(``BSPs'') are currently the only significant holders of OVS 
certifications or local OVS franchises. The Commission does not have 
financial or employment information regarding the entities authorized 
to provide OVS, some of which may not yet be operational. Thus, again, 
at least some of the OVS operators may qualify as small entities.
    64. Internet Service Providers. Since 2007, these services have 
been defined within the broad economic census category of Wired 
Telecommunications Carriers; that category is defined as follows: 
``This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in operating 
and/or providing access to transmission facilities and infrastructure 
that they own and/or lease for the transmission of voice, data, text, 
sound, and video using wired telecommunications networks. Transmission 
facilities may be based on a single technology or a combination of 
technologies.'' The SBA has developed a small business size standard 
for this category, which is: all such firms having 1,500 or fewer 
employees. According to Census Bureau data for 2007, there were 3,188 
firms in this category, total, that

[[Page 44362]]

operated for the entire year. Of this total, 3144 firms had employment 
of 999 or fewer employees, and 44 firms had employment of 1000 
employees or more. Thus, under this size standard, the majority of 
firms can be considered small. In addition, according to Census Bureau 
data for 2007, there were a total of 396 firms in the category Internet 
Service Providers (broadband) that operated for the entire year. Of 
this total, 394 firms had employment of 999 or fewer employees, and two 
firms had employment of 1000 employees or more. Consequently, the 
Commission estimates that the majority of these firms are small 
entities that may be affected by rules adopted pursuant to the FNPRM.
    65. Internet Publishing and Broadcasting and Web Search Portals. 
Our action may pertain to interconnected VoIP services, which could be 
provided by entities that provide other services such as email, online 
gaming, web browsing, video conferencing, instant messaging, and other, 
similar IP-enabled services. The Commission has not adopted a size 
standard for entities that create or provide these types of services or 
applications. However, the Census Bureau has identified firms that 
``primarily engaged in (1) publishing and/or broadcasting content on 
the Internet exclusively or (2) operating Web sites that use a search 
engine to generate and maintain extensive databases of Internet 
addresses and content in an easily searchable format (and known as Web 
search portals).'' The SBA has developed a small business size standard 
for this category, which is: all such firms having 500 or fewer 
employees. According to Census Bureau data for 2007, there were 2,705 
firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this 
total, 2,682 firms had employment of 499 or fewer employees, and 23 
firms had employment of 500 employees or more. Consequently, the 
Commission estimates that the majority of these firms are small 
entities that may be affected by rules adopted pursuant to the FNPRM.
    66. Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services. Entities in 
this category ``primarily . . . provid[e] infrastructure for hosting or 
data processing services.'' The SBA has developed a small business size 
standard for this category; that size standard is $25 million or less 
in average annual receipts. According to Census Bureau data for 2007, 
there were 8,060 firms in this category that operated for the entire 
year. Of these, 7,744 had annual receipts of under $24,999,999. 
Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of these firms 
are small entities that may be affected by rules adopted pursuant to 
the FNPRM.
    67. All Other Information Services. The Census Bureau defines this 
industry as including ``establishments primarily engaged in providing 
other information services (except news syndicates, libraries, 
archives, Internet publishing and broadcasting, and Web search 
portals).'' Our action pertains to interconnected VoIP services, which 
could be provided by entities that provide other services such as 
email, online gaming, web browsing, video conferencing, instant 
messaging, and other, similar IP-enabled services. The SBA has 
developed a small business size standard for this category; that size 
standard is $7.0 million or less in average annual receipts. According 
to Census Bureau data for 2007, there were 367 firms in this category 
that operated for the entire year. Of these, 334 had annual receipts of 
under $5.0 million, and an additional 11 firms had receipts of between 
$5 million and $9,999,999. Consequently, the Commission estimates that 
the majority of these firms are small entities that may be affected by 
our action.
4. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements for Small Entities
    68. In the FNPRM, the Commission seeks comment on what 
documentation a bidder would need to provide when submitting a bid for 
the Phase II competitive bidding process so that the Commission can 
confirm its eligibility for the bidding credit. The Commission seeks 
comment on possibly requiring applicants to provide a letter indicating 
that non-Federal funding has been authorized, contingent on the entity 
being a winner.
5. Steps Taken To Minimize the Significant Economic Impact on Small 
Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered
    69. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant, 
specifically small business, alternatives that it has considered in 
reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four 
alternatives (among others): ``(1) the establishment of differing 
compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into 
account the resources available to small entities; (2) the 
clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and 
reporting requirements under the rules for such small entities; (3) the 
use of performance rather than design standards; and (4) an exemption 
from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for such small 
entities.''
    70. The FNPRM seeks comment from all interested parties. The 
Commission is aware that some of the proposals under consideration may 
affect small entities. Small entities are encouraged to bring to the 
Commission's attention any specific concerns they may have with the 
proposals outlined in the FNPRM.
    71. In the FNPRM, the Commission seeks comment on how to create 
inducements for non-Federal governmental action to assist in the 
expansion of broadband, specifically by providing a bidding credit in 
the Phase II competitive bidding process to any bidder that is 
leveraging non-Federal governmental sources of funding to lower the 
amount of funding requested from the Connect America Fund. Such an 
approach may benefit small entities. Small entities may choose to seek 
out sources of non-Federal governmental funding to help support their 
projects and gain a competitive advantage for the Phase II competitive 
bidding process. Recognizing that some small entities lack the ability 
that many larger companies have to take advantage of economies of 
scale, the extra funding and the bidding credit may make it possible 
for small entities to bid for projects that are more cost-effective 
than those proposed by larger entities.
    72. The Commission anticipates that it will take into account the 
unique challenges faced by small entities when deciding whether to 
adopt a bidding credit, and if so, how it will work and what 
documentation entities would need to submit to confirm their 
eligibility for the bidding credit. The Commission encourages small 
entities to submit comments in response to the FNPRM describing 
concrete proposals for how the bidding credit can be designed to 
accommodate small entities.
6. Federal Rules that May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the 
Proposed Rules
    73. None.

D. Filing Requirements

    74. Comments and Replies. Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.415 and 1.419 of 
the Commission's rules, interested parties may file comments and reply 
comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this 
document. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic 
Comment Filing System (ECFS).
     Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.

[[Page 44363]]

     Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must 
file an original and one copy of each filing. Because more than one 
docket number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers must 
submit two additional copies for each additional docket number.
     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 Street 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.
    75. 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).
    76. Availability of Documents. Comments, reply comments, and ex 
parte submissions will be publically available online via ECFS. These 
documents will also be available for public inspection during regular 
business hours in the FCC Reference Information Center, which is 
located in Room CY-A257 at FCC Headquarters, 445 12th Street SW., 
Washington, DC 20554. The Reference Information Center is open to the 
public Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday 
from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
    77. Additional Information. For additional information on this 
proceeding, contact Alexander Minard of the Wireline Competition 
Bureau, Telecommunications Access Policy Division, 
Alexander.Minard@fcc.gov, (202) 418-7400.

IV. Ordering Clauses

    78. Accordingly, it is ordered that, pursuant to sections 1, 2, 
4(i), 4(j), 214, 218-220, 251, 254 and 303(r) of the Communications Act 
of 1934, as amended, and section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 
1996, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 154(j), 214, 218-220, 251, 254, 
303(r), 1302 the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in WC Docket No. 
10-90 and WC Docket No. 14-58 is adopted, effective thirty (30) days 
after publication of the text or summary thereof in the Federal 
Register, except for those rules and requirements involving Paperwork 
Reduction Act burdens, which shall become effective immediately upon 
announcement in the Federal Register of OMB approval.
    79. It is further ordered, that, pursuant to the authority 
contained in sections 1, 2, 4(i), 218-220, 214, 254, 303(r), 403 of the 
Communications Act of 1934 as amended, and section 706 of the 
Telecommunications Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 214, 218-
220, 254, 303(r), 403, and 1302, and Sec. Sec.  1.1 and 1.421 of the 
Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.1, 1.42, notice is hereby given of the 
proposals and tentative conclusions described in the Further Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking.
    80. It is further ordered, that the Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a 
copy of the FNPRM in WC Docket No.10-90 and WC Docket No. 14-58, 
including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief 
Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2014-17986 Filed 7-30-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P