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Telecom Alert - APTS Promotes Inquiry Into FirstNet Interoperability; Proposed Updates to NEPA; RDOF Could Benefit 6 Million Homes and Businesses; Tower Lighting Violation Settlement; E911 Location Accuracy Requirements - Vol. XVII, Issue 3

APTS Promotes Inquiry into FirstNet Interoperability

Representatives of America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) met with the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau on January 9 to discuss the benefits of digital datacasting and how it can be used to complement public safety networks such as FirstNet.  During the meeting, APTS emphasized how digital datacasting allows broadcast television signals to deliver encrypted and targetable IP directly to first responders, and that public television’s broad coverage can provide access to otherwise underserved rural areas.  APTS encouraged the Commission to open an inquiry into how FirstNet’s current interoperable arrangements are serving public safety, particularly in rural areas.  

Proposed Updates to NEPA

On January 9, the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that aim to modernize and clarify the regulations.  Some of the revisions include establishing a one-year time limit to complete environmental assessments, a two-year time limit to complete environmental impact statements, and a 150-page limit for environmental impact statements.  CEQ also proposes to revise the recommended EIS format by no longer requiring a list of agencies, organizations, and persons to whom copies are sent.  

Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Could Benefit 6 Million Homes, Businesses

The FCC issued a News Release last week announcing that an estimated six million rural homes and businesses could benefit from Phase I of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (Vol. XVII, Issue 2).  Phase I funding would allocate $16 billion to areas that lack access to broadband service that meets the Commission’s minimum speed standard of 25/3 Mbps.  According to the Commission’s estimates, twenty-five states have more than 100,000 locations that would be eligible for Phase I funding. 

FCC Reaches $1.13 Million Settlement for Tower Lighting Violations

Last week, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau entered into a Consent Decree with Scripps Broadcasting Holdings LLC following an investigation into its predecessor-in-interest, Cordillera Communications, LLC, for violating the Commission’s antenna structure rules.  Specifically, the Commission found that subsidiaries of Cordillera failed to conduct required daily inspections of the lighting systems of ten antenna structures, completely log twelve lighting failures at seven antenna structures, and timely notify the Commission of its acquisition of two antenna structures.  As part of the Consent Decree, Scripps will pay a $1,130,000 civil penalty and implement a compliance plan that includes establishing a compliance training program and filing compliance reports with the Commission over the next two years.  

Comments Due for E911 Location Accuracy Requirements            

The FCC’s Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on E911 location accuracy requirements was published in the Federal Register last Thursday (Vol. XVI, Issue 47), meaning comments and reply comments are due by February 18, 2020, and March 16, 2020, respectively.  The FNPRM sought comment on whether the Commission should further tighten the established vertical (z-axis) location accuracy metric of plus or minus three meters over time, and on alternative deployment milestones.  

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 21


About this Author

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...

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 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. 

Thomas B. Magee, Keller Heckman, transactional counsel, litigation attorney, FCC law, safety violation lawyer

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,...

Tracy Marshall, Keller Heckman, regulatory attorney, for-profit company lawyer

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...

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,...