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Telecom Alert: August 14, 2017 - Wireless License Renewal NPRM; 911 Reliability Certifications Due; Section 706 Report NOI; FCC Enforcement Advisory; CVAA Rule Change

NPRM on Wireless License Renewal

The FCC released a Second Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking establishing harmonized rules across several wireless radio services for license renewal standards and revised construction requirements for partitioned geographic licenses, among other rule changes.  The Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comments on how the Commission should encourage and increase investment in wireless networks, heighten access to spectrum resources, and promote continuous deployment of mobile services in rural America.  Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and Reply Comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. 

911 Reliability Certifications Due

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau announced in a Public Notice last week that the 911 Reliability Certification System is open for filing of annual reliability certifications, which are due on October 15, 2017.  Covered 911 Service Providers are required to annually certify compliance with three substantive requirements: 1) 911 circuit diversity; 2) central office backup power, and 3) diverse network monitoring. 

FCC Inquires Whether Mobile Broadband is Sufficient for Unserved Rural Communities

Last week, the FCC released its Thirteenth Section 706 Report Notice of Inquiry looking to assess the extent to which “advanced telecommunications capability”—high speed Internet access service (broadband)—is being made available to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion. Prior Section 706 Reports set benchmark transmission speeds for fixed broadband services, presently 25 Mbps downstream/3 Mbps upstream with no benchmark for mobile broadband, but viewing mobile and fixed broadband as distinct services.  The striking aspect of this NOI is that it requests comment “on whether some form of advanced telecommunications capability, be it fixed or mobile, is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonably and timely fashion.”  This raises the possibility the FCC may conclude mobile broadband, by itself, is sufficient to meet the broadband requirements in unserved rural communities.  Comments are due on September 7; Reply Comments on September 22. 

FCC Enforcement Advisory

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued an Enforcement Advisory last week reminding the civil aviation community that the aviation frequency 121.500 MHz is reserved for emergency use only.  The FCC has been coordinating with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to investigate repeated “misuse of, and harmful interference to,” the frequency 121.500 MHz.  The FCC stated that failure to comply its rules regarding use of the frequency could result in substantial fines, the seizure of equipment, and criminal sanctions for ongoing violations. 

CVAA Rule Change

The FCC’s recent Report and Order expanding the availability of video described programming on  “included networks” carried by covered broadcast stations or multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD) was published in the Federal Register last week.  Video description makes video programming accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.  Under the FCC’s current video description rules, commercial broadcast television stations affiliated with ABC, CBS, Fox, or NBC and located in the top 60 television markets must provide 50 hours per calendar quarter of video described prime time or children’s programming.  Under the new rules, covered broadcast stations and MVPD’s must increase the amount of described programming to 87.5 hours per quarter beginning on July 1, 2018.

© 2018 Keller and Heckman LLP


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 joined Keller and Heckman in 2002. She 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.


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,...