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Telecom Alert - 2020 Predictions- Vol. XVII, Issue 1

Both within and outside of the FCC, there is broad consensus that USF support for sustainable rural broadband development is in the public interest. The FCC will move quickly in 2020 to establish the rules for and initiate the $16.0 billion RDOF Phase I reverse auction.   - Doug Jarrett, Partner 

Pole attachment disputes will continue as wireless attachment applications increase and as attaching entities and utility pole owners interpret new FCC rulings differently.  - Tom Magee, Partner

Many Part 90 3.65 GHz licenses permanently expire in April 2020.  The FCC will realize it needs to waive its rules to extend this deadline to allow operators more time to transition to CBRS (which is not yet fully available) or other services.   -Greg Kunkle, Partner

The FCC’s role in supporting the 9-1-1 system’s rapid transition to IP architecture will continue on multiple fronts, as the agency begins to enforce Kari’s Law and promote access to 911 in a technology agnostic way.  There will likely be additional 9-1-1 system outages in 2020 and I expect the FCC to issue updated rules to promote 9-1-1 system reliability and also investigate these outages and levy fines as the agency deems appropriate.  I hope Congress understands the importance of funding this next generation 9-1-1 transition and allocates sufficient resources to make it happen, though that will be challenging in an election year.   -Wes Wright, Partner

The FCC has been broadly asserting federal authority and making major changes in its regulations regarding wireless communications and facilities. The federal courts reviewing appeals of FCC actions appear increasingly skeptical regarding the legal basis for the FCC decisions in some recent cases. Expect additional court reversals of FCC actions in 2020.  - Mike Fitch, Counsel

T-Mobile will join FirstNet/AT&T and Verizon in the competition to serve public safety users – but service to first responders in rural America will still lag behind urban and suburban areas.  - Al Catalano, Counsel

Congress will advance important 911 legislation, including the 911 SAVES Act, which would reclassify Public Safety Telecommunicators as Protective Service Occupations in the Standard Occupational Classification.  - Kathleen Slattery Thompson, Associate

In 2019, the FCC re-allocated dedicated spectrum in the 6 GHz and 900 MHz bands away from the critical infrastructure industry.  One opportunity for CII companies in 2020 is to negotiate with new broadband companies like Anterix to secure much needed spectrum, since the Commission will likely continue re-allocating spectrum for consumer-focused broadband.  - Tim Doughty, Associate

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 6

TRENDING LEGAL ANALYSIS


About this Author

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
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 wireless spectrum through a variety of means, including spectrum leasing, purchase and sale of licenses, and the FCC's auction process. His spectrum acquisition practice spans all of the FCC’s wireless frequency allocations, including the 220 MHz band, AMTS (217/219 MHz), VHF/UHF Part 22 Paging, the 1.4 GHz band, Part 90 800/900 MHz bands, MAS, the 2.5 GHz EBS/BRS band, and the 700 MHz band.

Mr. Kunkle counsels clients that become involved in the FCC's enforcement process including by responding to and vigorously defending against complaints and investigations and, where appropriate, negotiating settlements with the Commission. 

202-434-4178
Thomas B. Magee, Keller Heckman, transactional counsel, litigation attorney, FCC law, safety violation lawyer
Partner

Thomas Magee joined Keller and Heckman in 2000. Mr. Magee provides regulatory, transactional and litigation counsel to investor-owned electric utilities, electric cooperatives and municipalities regarding pole attachments and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensing of private wireless telecommunications services.

Mr. Magee has helped to resolve dozens of pole attachment disputes affecting make-ready costs, safety violations, unauthorized attachments, annual rental rates and other terms and conditions of access. He negotiates,...

202-434-4128
Tracy Marshall, Keller Heckman, regulatory attorney, for-profit company lawyer
Partner

Tracy Marshall assists clients with a range of business and regulatory matters.

In the business and transactional area, Ms. Marshall advises for-profit and non-profit clients on corporate organization, operations, and governance matters, and assists clients with structuring and negotiating a variety of transactions, including purchase and sale, marketing, outsourcing, and e-commerce agreements.

In the privacy, data security, and advertising areas, she helps clients comply with privacy, data security, and consumer protection laws, including laws governing telemarketing and...

202-434-4234
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,...

202.434.4239