The Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) filed Comments in response to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which proposed to revise the agency’s application fee schedule. EWA noted that the current schedule is incomplete, overly complex, and does not reflect the enormous gains in efficiency that have been made in the application review and processing functions over the last thirty years. EWA supported proposals to modify the fee schedule but also sought explanations on how certain matters were considered so that applicants might be assured that the revised fees are fair and appropriate. Specifically:
Cost Averaging/Fee Consolidation – With cost-averaging, there will be an element of subsidization when large numbers of not entirely identical filings are involved. In its effort to streamline the schedule, EWA asked the FCC if it took into consideration the wide differences of wireless applications and, if not, did the FCC amplify the subsidization rider issue? For example, the proposed fee increase for Part 90 mobile-only systems escalated to $190 where virtually no review is performed. Applicants will ask why filing fees have increased yet the processing times for Part 90 applications now averages 45 to 60 days.
Auction Forms – EWA recommended that the FCC consolidate the proposed fees for the pre-auction short-form and the post-auction long-form and impose a fee only on successful bidders that file long-form applications.
Waivers – The NPRM proposes to increase the per-waiver fee for both site-based and geographic-based applications. EWA urged the FCC to accelerate the finalization of rule-making and other proceedings and lift freezes where the failure to do so leaves applicants no alternative but to request rule waivers.
Construction Notifications – To defray “routine ULS system maintenance” and for system monitoring,” the FCC proposes to impose filing fees on construction notifications. EWA noted that funds devoted to modernizing the FCC’s Universal Licensing System (ULS) would be a prudent investment.
Amendments – EWA opposed the FCC’s proposal to charge a fee for amendments to applications, noting that amendments may be required for a variety of reasons and, in some instances, the FCC returns applications for reasons that subsequently are determined to be incorrect. Correcting even an incorrectly rejected application requires the applicant to file an amendment, thus adding a cost element that will prompt applicants to challenge certain FCC returns.