October 26, 2020

Volume X, Number 300


October 26, 2020

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Environmental Violations, FWCC Supports Wider Channels, $10,000 Forfeiture, Unlicensed 5 GHz, Pending FCC Actions: Telecom Business Alert

Environmental Violations

According to the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB), Union Pacific Railroad (UP) constructed a tower in a floodplain without first conducting the required environmental and historic preservation review in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. The FCC’s rules require an applicant to investigate whether a proposed facility may have an adverse effect on the environment and prohibit construction until the Commission’s environmental processing has been completed.  The WTB issued a letter last week admonishing UP for its failure to comply with Commission regulations.

FWCC Supports Wider Channels

Last week, the Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition submitted ex parte comments in support of a proposal from Mimosa Networks’ to increase the permissible bandwidth available in the 21.2-23.6 GHz band.  FWCC urged the Commission to revise its rules to add 80, 160, and 320 MHz channels.  FWCC also requested that 100,150, 200, 300, and 400 MHz channels be permitted in the band. In a separate ex parte comment filing, FWCC urged the Commission to consider adding wider-bandwidth channels to the 4GHz point-to-point band, as well.  FWCC cited consumer demands for higher data speeds and the need to transmit more data at a given time as the root for the proposed changes.

$10,000 Forfeiture Proposed

In a Notice of Apparent Liability For Forfeiture released last week, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau proposed a $10,000 penalty against Trimont Land Company d/b/a Northstar-at-Tahoe for willfully and repeatedly operating radio equipment on a Maritime channel without a license.  The 156.800 MHz frequency is an internationally recognized Maritime distress channel. The Bureau stated that improper use of the channel inhibits the U.S. Coast Guard from monitoring for distress signals.

Unlicensed 5 GHz Equipment

The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) announced in a blog post that it will begin certifying Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) equipment to co-exist with other unlicensed devices in the 5 GHz bandLast March, the international organization 3GPP developed standards that allow unlicensed devices using a version of LTE to operate in the band.  The FCC’s blog noted that LAA includes features such as listen-before-talk to ensure equitable sharing with other unlicensed devices.

Pending FCC Actions

According to the trade press, the rumor mill, and other sources, the FCC is close to taking action on a number of proceedings of importance to the Critical Infrastructure Industries, including oil and gas companies, electric utilities, and railroads.  The 4.9 GHz proceeding, which may or may not provide access to additional CII frequencies, apparently is close to a decision.  The PDV Petition, which proposed to reallocate the 900 MHz band for a private broadband service, is being reviewed by the Chairman’s Office. Finally, the longstanding (five years and counting) MCLM Hearing proceeding may be resolved by a “Second Thursday” application pending before the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.  

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume VI, Number 277



About this Author

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

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,...

Timothy A. Doughty, Keller Heckman, Telecommunications Licensing Specialist, Lawyer, FCC Matters Attorney

Timothy Doughty joined Keller and Heckman in 2009 as a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Licensing Specialist.

Mr. Doughty assists clients with the preparation of FCC applications, modifications, special temporary authorities, requests for rule waiver, renewals and spectrum leases in various radio services including Private Land Mobile, Microwave, Coast and Ground and Aircraft. His capabilities also include the preparation of tower registrations with the FCC and Obstruction Evaluations and Aeronautical Studies with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He maintains a wide-ranging knowledge of the FCC's rules and procedures and regularly interfaces with various certified frequency coordinators.

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

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...