On August 26, 2020, the Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) seeking comment on the proposal for a new streamlined schedule of application fees that aligns with the types of applications the Commission now receives, and correlates the fees charged to the costs of processing the associated applications (MD Docket No. 20-270).  The Commission states that the proposal implements the changes to the Commission’s application fee authority set forth in the RAY BAUM’s Act of 2018.

 

The Commission proposes to reduce the total number of application fee categories to five functional categories: Wireless Licensing Fees, Media Licensing Fees, Equipment Approval Fees, Domestic Service Fees, and International Service Fees.  The proposal also includes new fees for services that were not previously listed in section 8 of the Communications Act, while still reducing the total number of application fees from 450 to 167.

 

For wireless licensing fees specifically, the Commission proposes to consolidate the application fees into four categories: site-based, personal, geographic-based, and experimental.  The Commission proposes cost-based fees for the different types of applications within these categories based on the use of Commission resources necessary to process the particular application.

  • Site-based licensed services include land mobile systems, point-to-point systems, point-to-multipoint systems, radiolocation, and radionavigation systems.  The Commission uses the common carrier microwave application fees as an example to demonstrate its proposed changes.  The most significant changes for common carrier microwave application fees are to reduce the application fee for a new site-based license or major modification of an existing license from $305 to $190, and to set the application fee for a rule waiver to $380.
  • Personal license services include Amatuer Radio Service, Aircraft licenses, Commercial Radio Operator, and General Mobile Radio Service.  The Commission uses the General Mobile Radio Service to show its proposed changes, and significant changes include raising the application fee for special temporary authority (“STA”) to $135 and reducing the rule waiver application fee to $50.
  • Geographic-based license services allow applicants to construct anywhere within a particular geographic area’s boundary, subject to certain technical requirements, and the Commission proposes to collect fees from several previously uncharged services within this category.  The Commission provides the current fees for one type of geographic-based license, Paging and Radiotelephone, and proposes to set the pre-auction new license application fee to $575 and the post-auction new license application fee to $2,600.  The Commission seeks comment on whether to consolidate the short-form and long-form application fees so that only winning bidders would be required to pay the combined application fee of $3,175.
  • Experimental operations include scientific or technical radio research, technical demonstrations of equipment or techniques, and product development and market trials.  The Experimental Radio Service application fee is currently $70 for all applications including new station authorizations, modifications, renewals, transfers of control and assignments, STA requests, program licenses, and confidentiality.  The Commission proposes to increase all application fees to $125, except for confidentiality applications which would have a reduced fee of $50.

 

Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Reply comments are due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.

 

Chairman Pai released a statement on the NPRM; Commissioner Rosenworcel also released a statement.

 

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