FCC attempts to “Cram-Through” Lightsquared ATC/ASC Request over Thanksgiving Holiday, CTIA says… “Not so fast”
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Well, the stench over at the FCC International Bureau is really starting to get ripe, like raw sewage boiling under a summer sun. Here, the FCC appears prepared to attempt to “Fast Track” the permanent modification of ATC Gating Requirements which effectively converts LIghtsquared’s ATC authority into “Ancillary Satellite Component” (ASC), as requested and noted here on ORBITRAX earlier this week.
The timing of the entire transaction and associated timelines approved by the FCC seem “suspect”, or as the CTIA stated in their Extension Request, “a variety of factors have CONSPIRED to make it difficult for parties to develop informed responses to the LightSquared Request.”
Now typically, when such a modification application is submitted to the FCC for processing, it takes the FCC a period of time to “officially approve the application for filing and provide a Public Notice”. For example we provide the Globalstar Application for ATC Gating milestone extensions that were originally filed on December 14th, 2009. Here it is clear that the Application was not “Accepted for Filing” until March 5th, 2010. Once the Application was “officially accepted for filing”, the FCC rules “§ 25.154 Opposition to applications and other pleadings.” provide a 30 day period so that interested parties can opine or file “Petitions to deny”. So in the case of the Globalstar filing shown above, parties had a timeline from December 14th, 2009 until 30 days post-filing acceptance by the FCC on March 5th, 2010, or roughly 4 months to prepare the various petitions and replies.
Now here is where the stench begins to really stink up the place and the FCC true intentions begin to become “self-evident”. Lightsquared filed the Application on Thursday, November, 18th, and by the end of business on Friday November 19th, the FCC had “Accepted the Filing and issued a Public Notice”. The Lightsquared request was Accepted for filing in ONE BUSINESS DAY, while it took the same FCC International Bureau 3 MONTHS to “accept” the Globalstar application for filing.
So you say to yourself, no big deal, right? After all the FCC rules shown above state that commenters have 30 days from the Public Notice to file comments. Not so in the case of this application. The FCC has waived their “regulatory magic-wand” and now reduced the reply period to 10 days even though the rules require a 30 day reply period. Now the stench is really piling up. The fact that this comes just before the Thanksgiving Holiday which is the busiest travel Holiday of the year where many people leave on Wednesday and business as usual doesn’t really get back on line until the following Tuesday. Thus the usable reply period actually is reduced to about 4 days.
The CTIA noted in its “Extension Request” (Footnote 5 and 6 on Page 3)
5 Indeed, Section 25.154 contemplates that the FCC may
“otherwise extend the deadline,” but does not, in a similar manner, reference truncating the deadline. And, a review of satellite modification Public Notices suggests that, as a practical matter, it is very rare for the Bureau to provide only a 10 day filing period.
6 In other cases, interested parties may have been alerted to filings by the press or through courtesy copies provided prior to an application being placed on Public Notice, but here the extremely short time between filing and the Notice did not permit that to occur
The CTIA also made notice of the “timing” of the Lightsquared Application and record-setting time, regarding issuance of the “Public Notice” just before the Thanksgiving Holiday.
In addition, a variety of factors have conspired to make it difficult for parties to develop
informed responses to the LightSquared Request. As an initial matter, the deadlines provided in the Notice are extremely short—unlike most satellite modification filings, where a 30 day comment period is typical, the agency has provided only a 10 day period for the filing of comments.5 While in other circumstances, such a short period might not be prejudicial, in this case, the application was placed on Public Notice the day after it was filed.6 And, while a 10 day filing period may even be sufficient in many cases notwithstanding those factors, in this case the Public Notice was not available until late in the day on Friday, November 19, and many parties did not actually see the Notice until Monday, November 22. Considering that the Thanksgiving Holiday is Thursday, November 25th, and that many people travel and take off the following Friday, the practical impact is that many interested parties will have had only three business days to consider the request prior to the Monday filing deadline.
Here the FCC clearly articulates that there is no intention to regulate its licensees equally and fairly with what appears to be a “Regulatory Cram Through”. ORBITRAX wishes a Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers and hopefully the stench rolling off the FCC International Bureau won’t ruin your Thanksgiving Dinner.
| CTIA Extension Request