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Telecom Alert – Democrats Introduce Net Neutrality Bill; CAF II Update; 800 MHz Band Reconsideration Petitions; S. Carolina Next Generation 9-1-1 Bill – Vol. XVI, Issue 10

Democrats Introduce Net Neutrality Bill

On March 6, Democrats in the House and Senate introduced the Save the Internet Act of 2019.  The bill advances net neutrality principles and is supported by countless public interest groups and major edge providers but faces challenges in the Republican-controlled Senate.  If enacted, the bill would: (i) repeal the FCC’s 2018 Restoring Internet Freedom Order (RIF Order); (ii) prohibit the FCC from reissuing the RIF Order or adopting rules similar to those adopted in the RIF Order; and (iii) restore the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order (Vol. XVI, Issue 3).  The Open Internet Order, adopted by the Democratic-led FCC under Chairman Wheeler, prohibited blocking access to lawful content, throttling Internet speeds, subject to reasonable network management practices, and paid prioritization (Vol. XII, Issue 47).  The bill also would reclassify Broadband Internet Access Service (BIAS) as a “telecommunications service,” potentially subject to all provisions of Title II of the Communications Act.  In response, FCC Chairman Pai issued a statement defending the RIF Order.  

CAF II Update

Late last month, the FCC released a Public Notice announcing that it had accepted an initial group of long-form applications for certain winning bids in the Connect America Fund Phase II Auction (CAF II) (Vol. XVI, Issue 9).  Consistent with prior Commission statements, the Public Notice confirmed FCC staff is reviewing CAF II long-form applications on a rolling basis.  More public notices accepting long-form applications are expected in the coming weeks.  

800 MHz Band Reconsideration Petitions

In October 2018, the FCC adopted a Report and Order updating its policies regarding the 800 MHz band and other private land mobile radio (PLMR) spectrum, which became effective following publication in the Federal Register on December 27, 2018 (Vol. XVI, Issue 3).  In response, the Land Mobile Communications Council and the Monitoring Association filed petitions for reconsideration.  The LMCC Petition asks for changes to the coordination procedures to make more intensive use of the 800 MHz interstitial channels, while the Monitoring Association seeks to preserve certain channels for central stations alarm use.  The FCC released a Public Notice last week setting deadlines for responsive pleadings.  Oppositions to the petitions must be filed within 15 days of the Public Notice’s publication in the Federal Register.  Replies must be filed within 10 days after the time for filing oppositions has expired. 

South Carolina Next Generation 9-1-1 Bill

South Carolina’s House of Representatives voted unanimously on March 6 to advance a bill, H. 3586, that would update the State’s Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) technology.  By transitioning from an E9-1-1 system to an NG9-1-1 system, the state would expand means of communication with 9-1-1 centers, improve interoperability to allow 9-1-1 centers to provide each other with backup support in emergencies, and standardize 9-1-1 communications infrastructure across the State.  If enacted, the bill would establish a statewide N9-1-1 system to include an internet-based system and enhanced GIS features managed by the State, allow statewide contracts for local public safety answering points (PSAPs) to purchase equipment, and strengthen audit requirements of local 9-1-1 funds. 

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLP


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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,...