3.45 GHz Clearinghouse Information

Background

The 3.45 GHz Clearinghouse administers the reimbursement process for the 3.45 GHz band as mandated by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”). On May 2, 2023, Summit Ridge Group, LLC ("Summit Ridge") was unanimously selected by four entities appointed by the FCC. On November 2, 2023, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau released an Order confirming Summit Ridge Group, LLC as the 3.45 GHz Clearinghouse (the "Clearinghouse").  Summit Ridge has extensive experience with FCC reimbursement processes, including supporting incumbents in the AWS transition, the TV Broadcast repack, the C-band repack, and the Supply Chain Reimbursement Program ("SCRP” or "Rip and Replace"). Summit Ridge has contracted with leading partners to facilitate its efforts, including Lerman Senter PLLC, a law firm with extensive experience in telecommunications, and JP Morgan Chase, a major money center bank.

The 3.45 GHz Clearinghouse uses the information it receives solely for the purposes of administering the cost-related aspects of the 3.45 GHz band transition and may disclose such information to the FCC or other authorized parties pursuant to the requirements of the FCC’s November 10, 2022 Order In the Matter of Facilitating Shared Use in the 3100-3550 MHz Band (the "Clearinghouse Order") or other applicable laws.

Notice: This website is for informational purposes only and is subject to change and updating. It does not constitute official Clearinghouse policy. FCC's Clearinghouse Order, Clearinghouse contracts, and other documents supersede this website.

Duties

The 3.45 GHz Clearinghouse role includes collecting and distributing payments for the 3.45 GHz band transition, administering the reimbursement fund, reviewing claims for reimbursement of relocation costs, mitigating financial disputes among stakeholders, and administering the alternative dispute resolution process. The Clearinghouse's roles and responsibilities are detailed in the FCC's Clearinghouse Order. They are also outlined in the 3.45 GHz Search Committee's RFP and summarized below:

Clearinghouse will operate pursuant to Commission rules and oversight to mitigate financial disputes among stakeholders and to collect and distribute payments in a timely manner, and shall:

  • Operate in a fair and transparent manner.
  • Specify timing for the reimbursement process.
  • Specify a procedure for the submission of relocation cost documentation and provide parties an opportunity to supplement any reimbursement claims that the Clearinghouse deems deficient.
  • Adopt a process for protecting confidential information.
  • Collect from each non-federal relocation incumbent a claim for reimbursement, complete with sufficient documentation to justify the amount and demonstrate the reasonableness of those costs.
  • Consider the submission and supporting documentation and any relevant comparable reimbursement submissions, determine in the first instance whether costs submitted for reimbursement are reasonable and process claims consistent with the Second Report and Order and any clarifications issued by the Commission or the Bureau. If the Clearinghouse determines that an amount sought for reimbursement is impermissible or unreasonable, it shall notify the party of any amount that it deems eligible for reimbursement.
  • Apportion costs among 3.45 GHz Service licensees pursuant to the cost allocation structure established in the Second Report and Order and the Commission’s rules. Approved, adjusted, or denied claims shall be simultaneously transmitted to the relevant claimant and invoiced to the 3.45 GHz Service licensees, allowing 30 days for review.
  • Hold deposits to minimize the risk of loss (e.g., all funds collected for reimbursement must be placed in a reputable financial institution and may only be invested in U.S. Treasury bonds).
  • Distribute payments to incumbent radiolocation licensees pursuant to the Second Report and Order and the Commission’s rules.
  • Respond promptly to incumbent requests regarding the tracking of the progress of their reimbursement claims and checking the status of their reimbursement payments.
  • Establish and administer the reimbursement fund into which flexible-use licensees shall pay their share of the initial estimated relocation payments and from which the Clearinghouse shall draw to pay approved, invoiced claims and lump-sum payments, including: (i) calculating the 3.45 GHz Service licensees’ share of relocation costs at least every six months, with the discretion to calculate the share on a more frequent basis as needed; (ii) providing each licensee with the amount it owes no more than 30 days after each period that it calculates the licensees’ share of relocation costs; (iii) drawing from the reimbursement fund to pay approved reimbursement claims; (iv) paying approved claims 30 days after invoice submission to the relevant claimant and 3.45 GHz Service licensees for their review so long as (A) funding is available and (B) there is no dispute regarding the underlying Clearinghouse decision before the Bureau; (v) if the reimbursement fund does not have sufficient funds to pay approved claims before a six-month replenishment, providing 3.45 GHz Service licensees with 30 days’ notice of the additional shares each must contribute; (vi) defraying the costs of the transition for all 3.45 GHz Service licensees on a pro-rata basis using any interest arising from the reimbursement fund; and (v) at the end of the transition, returning any unused amounts to the 3.45 GHz Service licensees according to their pro rata shares.
  • Forty-five days after the Clearinghouse has entered into contracts with incumbents and new licensees, the Clearinghouse shall calculate the share of each 3.45 GHz Service licensee based upon the reimbursement documentation received from the incumbents; the initial share shall incorporate any relocation-related costs incurred prior to the issuance of new flexible-use licenses (May 4, 2022) as well as from the time of issuance until the time of calculation.
  • Serve as administrator in a function similar to a special master in a judicial proceeding in order to resolve disputes.
  • To minimize the need for referral of disputes to the Bureau, and for other purposes, seek advance guidance from the Bureau, as appropriate, when resolving matters where interpretation of the Second Report and Order is required.
  • Each quarter, starting no later than April 1, 2024, the Clearinghouse shall submit progress reports to the Bureau that detail the status of reimbursement funds available, the payments issued, and the amounts collected from licensees. The reports must account for all funds spent, including the Clearinghouse’s own expenses (including salaries and fees paid to law firms, accounting firms, and other consultants). The Clearinghouse shall provide to the Bureau and the Commission’s Office of the Managing Director (“OMD”) additional information upon request.
  • Provide additional information to the Bureau or the OMD upon the Bureau or OMD’s request.
  • No later than May 10, 2024 (18 months after the release of the Order), the Clearinghouse must issue a special, audited report identifying any issues that have not already been referred to the Commission as well as what actions, if any, need to be taken for the Clearinghouse to complete its obligations (including the estimated costs and time frame for completing that work).
  • Meet relevant best practices and standards in its operation to ensure an effective and efficient transition, including: (1) engaging in strategic planning and adopting goals and metrics to evaluate its performance; (2) adopting internal controls for its operations; (3) using enterprise risk management practices; and (4) using best practices to protect against improper payments and to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse in its handling of funds. The Clearinghouse shall report to the Commission all evidence and/or allegations of suspected fraud, waste, or abuse related to the 3.45 GHz relocation program, along with an initial assessment of their credibility and substantiality, and shall establish procedures enabling outside parties to report allegations of fraud, waste, or abuse to the Clearinghouse, and maintain a log of all such allegations that it receives.
  • Create written procedures for governing its operations, using the Government Accountability Office’s Green Book to serve as a guide in satisfying such requirements.
  • Provide OMD and the Bureau with an audited statement of funds expended to date, including salaries and expenses of the Clearinghouse, by April 1 of each year beginning in 2024.
  • Adopt robust privacy and data security best practices in its operations, given that it will receive and process information critical to ensuring a successful and expeditious transition, including: (i) complying with, on an ongoing basis, all applicable laws and Federal government guidance on privacy and information security requirements such as relevant provisions in the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) publications, and (ii) (A) hiring a third-party firm to independently audit and verify, on an annual basis, the Clearinghouse’s compliance with privacy and information security requirements and to provide recommendations based on any audit findings; (B) correcting any negative audit findings and adopting any additional practices suggested by the auditor; and (C) reporting the results to the Bureau annually beginning April 1, 2024.

 

Governance

As part of its Enterprise Risk Management framework, the 3.45 GHz Clearinghouse will design and implement internal controls adequate to ensure its operations maintain best practices to protect against improper payments and to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse in its handling of funds. The 3.45 GHz Clearinghouse’s internal controls processes will ensure that the written procedures, prepared using the Government Accountability Office’s Green Book as guidance, are followed as prescribed. The 3.45 GHz Clearinghouse will undergo an annual external audit of 3.45 GHz collections and disbursements, including its own fees and expenses. The 3.45 GHz Clearinghouse will also engage an external auditor to conduct annual assessments of systems and controls to ensure comprehensive privacy and information security measures are utilized.

Updates

April 1, 2024 - CLEARINGHOUSE UPDATE:

We are pleased to report the below status and recent activity of the Clearinghouse:

 

1. CLEARINGHOUSE ACTIVITY    

  1. The Clearinghouse earned dividends, which were received on January 2, 2024, February 1, 2024, and March 1, 2024, in the aggregate amount of $24,504.38.  
  2. On March 28, 2024, the Clearinghouse reimbursed Nexstar Media, Inc. for all hard relocation costs and soft relocation costs (legal expenses) approved by the Clearinghouse. 
  3. On April 1, 2024, the Clearinghouse reimbursed NBCUniversal Media, LLC (“NBCU”) for all relocation invoices received and approved by the Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse has yet to receive invoices or other cost detail regarding interference issues NBCU is in the process of resolving at one site; NBCU anticipates that this issue will be resolved prior to the end of April 2024. Cost detail regarding the interference issues in addition to other NBCU relocation invoices are outstanding, and accordingly, the Clearinghouse has an additional reimbursement to make to NBCU after all relocation detail has been received and approved by the Clearinghouse.  
  4. Also on April 1, 2024, the Clearinghouse submitted: 
    1. Its quarterly Clearinghouse progress report with the FCC. 
    2. The Clearinghouse data security audit report with the FCC. 
    3. The Clearinghouse audit of the Schedule of Funds Expended to Date with the FCC. 

 

2. BUDGETING AND TIMELINE                                                     

Based on our current analysis, the Clearinghouse and the incumbent operators’ clearing costs remain close to the budget anticipated by the initial invoices sent to Auction 110 license winners by the Clearinghouse on December 15, 2023. Summit Ridge Group cannot guarantee costs will remain on budget. However, if costs continue to remain within budget, there will be no additional Clearinghouse invoices for Auction 110 winners. 

Based on communications with the incumbent licensees and other parties, the Clearinghouse’s current estimate for aggregate, net, Clearinghouse and relocation costs is $3,616,901.47, which is $5,427.05 less than the amount initially billed to new licensees of $3,622,328.52. If aggregate, net, Clearinghouse and relocation costs were to come out to exactly $3,616,901.47, a refund of $1.34 per license would be due, pro rata, to all license winners. At this time, however, the Clearinghouse cannot predict if license holders will receive a small refund or an invoice for additional funds to cover unexpected costs.

 

3. 3.45 GHZ CLEARINGHOUSE LIFE TIMELINE                               

The wind-down of the Clearinghouse relies upon the timely resolution of the below: 

  1. NBCU interference issues. 
  2. Approval of all NBCU relocation costs by the Clearinghouse, including the receipt of proper supporting documentation by the Clearinghouse. 
  3. Permission granted from the FCC to the Clearinghouse to wind down and close all operations (when requested by the Clearinghouse). 

 

In addition to the above factors, disputes of any kind will prolong the operations of the Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse wishes to wind down all operations and close prior to June 30, 2024.

 

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