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Telecom Alert: 4.9 GHz Band Framework Adopted; $62M EBB Penalty; Data Breach Reporting Rules Pleading Cycle; Quarterly Tower Inspection Waiver [Vol. XX, Issue 4]

4.9 GHz Band Framework Adopted

Last week, the FCC adopted a Seventh Report and Order and Ninth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking establishing a comprehensive and coordinated nationwide band manager framework for overseeing the 4.9 GHz band (Vol. XIX, Issue 35).  The band manager will be selected based on its expertise and connection to the public safety community and will coordinate operations in the band to ensure that non-public safety use remains fully secondary to public safety operations.  The Order also modifies the Commission’s rules to allow for the collection of granular data on public safety operations in the 4.9 GHz band.

$62 Million EBB Program Forfeiture

Last week, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued a Notice of Apparent Liability against Q Link Wireless LLC (“Q Link”) for violating the FCC’s rules governing the reimbursements it claimed for providing Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (“EBB Program”) customers with internet-connected devices.  According to the Notice, Q Link provided customers with a Scepter 8 tablet, which was not commercially available to retail customers.  Q Link then made reimbursement claims from the EBB Program for the market value plus an additional co-pay charge for each device, obtaining at least $20,792,800 in improper disbursements between December 2021 and March 2022.  Accordingly, the Commission proposes a penalty of $62,000,000 against Q Link for its apparent violations.

Data Breach Reporting Rules Pleading Cycle

The FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking to strengthen its rules for notifying customers and federal law enforcement of breaches of customer proprietary network information (“CPNI”) was published in the Federal Register on January 23 (Vol. XX, Issue 2).  The Commission proposes expanding its definition of “breach” to include inadvertent disclosures of CPNI and requiring carriers to notify the FCC in addition to the Secret Service and FBI as soon as practicable after discovering a breach.  Comments and reply comments are due February 22, 2023, and March 24, 2023, respectively.

Quarterly Tower Inspection Waiver Granted

Last week, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau granted American Electric Power Service Corporation’s (“AEP”) waiver of the Commission’s quarterly tower field inspection requirement.  Under the FCC’s rules, the owner of any antenna structure registered with the FCC that has been assigned lighting specifications must inspect all automatic or mechanical control devices, indicators, and alarm systems every three months.  However, any antenna structure monitored by a system with sufficient self-diagnostic features, as determined by the Bureau, is exempt from the quarterly inspection requirement.  AEP’s monitoring system contained self-diagnostic features sufficient to render quarterly inspections unnecessary.  

Casey Lide, Thomas Magee, Tracy Marshall, Kathleen Slattery Thompson, Sean Stokes, and Wesley Wright also contributed to this article.

© 2023 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume XIII, Number 23

About this Author


Jaimy “Sindy” Alarcon is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Licensing Specialist.

Sindy works in conjunction with the attorneys in the Telecommunications Practice to prepare FCC applications for clients seeking authority for new services, modifications, administrative updates, license cancellations, Requests for Special Temporary Authority (STA), Requests for Rule Waivers, Assignments of Authorization, Transfers of Control, Renewals, and Notifications of Construction for various radio services including microwave, land mobile, marine...

Jim Baller Communications Attorney Keller & Heckman Washington, DC

James (Jim) Baller represents clients across the U.S. in a broad range of communications matters including high-capacity broadband network projects, public-private broadband partnerships, telecommunications, wireless facility siting, right-of-way management, pole and conduit attachments, and barriers to community broadband initiatives.

Jim was the founder and president of the U.S. Broadband Coalition, a diverse group of more than 160 communications service providers, high technology companies, labor unions, public interest and consumer groups, state and local government entities,...

Law Graduate

Jason Chun is a Law Graduate with our Telecommunications practice (not yet licensed to practice law as he awaits admittance under the D.C. Bar's Emergency Examination Waiver).

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...

C. Douglas Jarrett, Keller Heckman, telecommunications lawyer, procurement law

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...