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Telecom Alert - FirstNet SPOC Meeting; FAA Rural Tower Update; EWA Suggests Part 90 License Reforms; David Redl NTIA Confirmation Hearing

FirstNet SPOC Meeting

FirstNet and AT&T held a “kick-off” meeting in Dallas last week to discuss the upcoming rollout of state plans with state points of contact (SPOCs).  Rural coverage, pricing, user priorities, infrastructure, deployables and terms of use conditions for states to gain access to initial plans from FirstNet were among the many issues addressed in discussions between the FirstNet/AT&T team and the states.  The FCC is expected to issue final rules on evaluating alternative state plans prior to FirstNet’s release of final state plans, and the NTIA is developing a Notice of Funding Opportunity (“NOFO”) for states seeking to have their alternate plan approved.  No state has committed to an alternative radio access network (“RAN”), but a number of states have released RFPs looking for a partner to develop and implement such a plan to increase public safety coverage within their respective states.  These states are positioning themselves to make a reasoned choice between the FirstNet/AT&T coverage plan and an alternative RAN plan.

FAA Rural Tower Update

Last summer, Congress passed an FAA Reauthorization that contained a provision which requires the agency to issue regulations to require the marking of “covered towers,” by July 2017.  Under the law, “covered towers” are between 50-200 feet in height and located outside the boundaries of an incorporated city or town, on land that is undeveloped or used for agricultural purposes.  This provision unintentionally includes many communications towers. The FAA has not released anything regarding proposed rules, and momentum is building for a legislative fix.  The vehicle for this will be the FAA Reauthorization bill, which must be passed by the end of September. Congressional staff has provided that they are currently working on language to narrow the towers affected by the statute.

EWA Suggests Part 90 License Reforms

The Enterprise Wireless Alliance filed Comments in WT Docket 10-112 suggesting a number of reforms to Part 90 licenses.  In particular, EWA recommended that the Commission adopt five-year license terms and reduce the discontinuance rule from one year to 180 days for SMR providers.  EWA believes this approach will increase the amount of available spectrum, keep the FCC database more accurate, and make Part 90 regulations more efficient.

Senate Holds David Redl’s NTIA Confirmation Hearing

Last week, the Senate Commerce Committee held the confirmation hearing for David Redl, who is the Trump Administration’s nominee to head NTIA.  In his Opening Statement, Redl explained “improving the performance of government spectrum systems, providing incentives for government agencies to make better use of spectrum, and promoting spectrum research and development have been critical to the digital economy… [and he will] work to continue to improve government spectrum efficiency and make additional spectrum available” if confirmed.  Regarding wireless siting policies, Redl committed to working to enable the timely siting of infrastructure on public lands and rural areas.

Advance Tel, Inc. Penalties

The Federal Communications Commission issued a $975,000 Forfeiture Order against Advanced Tel, Inc., last week for “violating its federal regulatory obligations as a telecommunications provider.” In particular, the Commission sited that Advanced Tel consistently failed to file specific data and make contributions to federal programs required by all telecom service providers.  The $975,000 penalty is down from the $1.5 million forfeiture initially proposed by the Commission due to a successful NAL submitted by Tel, Inc. in which they proved their inability to pay the fine but failed to dispute the facts that brought forth the forfeiture.

© 2017 Keller and Heckman LLP

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About this Author

 Albert J. Catalano, Keller and Heckman, Domestic Joint Ventures Attorney, FCC Regulation Lawyer, DC
Counsel

Albert Catalano joined Keller and Heckman in 2014.  Mr. Catalano has 30 years of experience in telecommunications regulatory and legislative matters, domestic and international joint ventures, litigation, and transactions involving communications, properties and investments.  Mr. Catalano represents States and other entities in matters related to the buildout of the 700 MHz nationwide public safety broadband network on spectrum licensed to FirstNet.  He has extensive experience in spectrum relocation proceedings.  Mr. Catalano’s practice focuses on wireless...

202.434.4207
Wesley K. Wright, Keller Heckman, Telecommunications Lawyer, FCC Enforcement Attorney, DC
Partner

Wesley Wright joined Keller and Heckman in 2006 and practices in the areas of telecommunications law.  He assists corporate clients and trade associations with various legal and regulatory matters before the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Aviation Administration, courts and state agencies.

Mr. Wright’s practice includes private wireless licensing, FCC enforcement, and related transactional matters.  He counsels clients on internal operations and governance matters and has drafted and negotiated asset purchase agreements, telecommunications services agreements, interconnection agreements, and other telecommunications agreements.

Prior to rejoining Keller and Heckman in 2014, Mr. Wright worked for a telecommunications company where he advised the company’s subsidiaries on federal and state regulations governing the 9-1-1 industry, VoIP requirements, and other telecommunications matters of interest.

202.434.4239
Gregory E. Kunkle, Keller Heckman, regulatory attorney, FCC lawyer
Partner

Gregory Kunkle joined Keller and Heckman in 2006. Mr. Kunkle practices in the area of telecommunications, with an emphasis on assisting corporate clients and trade associations with various legal and regulatory matters before the Federal Communications Commission.

Mr. Kunkle regularly counsels critical infrastructure companies, such as electric utilities, oil and gas companies, and railroads, public safety agencies, and commercial providers regarding FCC wireless licensing and compliance issues.  He assists clients in identifying and acquiring...

202-434-4178
Kathleen M. Slattery, Keller Heckman, telecommunications, trade associations, critical infrastructure companies
Associate

Kathleen Slattery practices in all areas of telecommunications law assisting corporate clients, trade associations, critical infrastructure companies and commercial providers with licensing, regulatory and transactional matters before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the courts and state agencies. 

Prior to joining Keller and Heckman, Ms. Slattery worked for government agencies, associations, and the United States House of Representatives and Senate, where she gained experience in...

202-434-4244
C. Douglas Jarrett, Keller Heckman, telecommunications lawyer, procurement law
Partner

Douglas Jarrett joined Keller and Heckman in 1979. Mr. Jarrett specializes in telecommunications law, policy and procurement matters.

Mr. Jarrett is a recognized expert in representing enterprises in negotiating telecommunications services agreements with the major wireline and wireless carriers, domestically and globally.  He also advises enterprises on M2M services, cloud computing and IVR technology procurements. 

Mr. Jarrett represents technology companies in securing amendments to the FCC rules to enable the...

202-434-4180