July 25, 2021

Volume XI, Number 206


July 23, 2021

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Telecom Alert - FCC Creates Fraud Division; ILEC Portion of Pole Attachment Order; Oral Arguments Scheduled in Tribes' Challenge of Infrastructure Order; National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier; February Open Meeting; KH Broadband - Vol. XVI, Issue 6

FCC Votes to Form New Fraud Division of the Enforcement Bureau  

In light of the history of abuse, the FCC voted to create a Fraud Division within its Enforcement Bureau to investigate and prosecute fraud in the Universal Service Fund (USF) programs.  Recently, the FCC proposed a $63 million fine against American Broadband for alleged Lifeline Program violations and an $18.7 million fine against DataConnex for allegedly defrauding the Rural Health Care Program.  While establishing a Fraud Division is a step in the right direction, simplifying the accounting rules for High-Cost providers could promote greater accountability.  

Effective Date of ILEC Portion of Pole Attachment Order

For those of you who are investor-owned utilities in the 30 “FCC States,” the ILEC portion of the FCC’s August 3, 2018, Pole Attachment Order will be effective March 11, 2019, leaving the large remaining provisions of the Order to be effective at a later date.  The portion to become effective is Section 1.1413 (Complaints by ILECs), which the Order amended to presume that ILEC joint use partners are entitled to the “new” FCC Telecom Rate. 

Oral Arguments Scheduled in Tribes’ Challenge of Infrastructure Order

Oral arguments in United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma et al. v. FCC are scheduled for March 15, 2019.  This DC Circuit case consolidates the challenges by Native American tribes and environmentalists of the FCC’s March 2018 Infrastructure Order, which made changes to the tribal review process (Vol. XV, Issue 13). CTIA and Sprint have intervened in the case on behalf of the FCC.  

National Verifier Launches in Eight States and D.C.

The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) announced a soft launch of the National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier) in Alaska, American Samoa, Delaware, D.C., Maine, the Northern Mariana Islands, Rhode Island, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The soft launch period will allow Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETCs) to familiarize themselves with the National Verifier by adjusting and testing their systems and business processes before use of the National Verifier becomes mandatory.  Additionally, a full launch of the National Verifier in Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee will take place on March 5.  

February Open Meeting

A tentative agenda has been released for the FCC’s February Open Meeting scheduled for February 14.  This meeting was initially scheduled for February 21 but was rescheduled because the Commission is only guaranteed funding until February 15.  Among other items, the Commission will consider a Report and Order affecting Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase I and II support (Vol. XV, Issue 42).  Rather than focus on CAF II policy issues, final Commission action on the long-form applications for the CAF II auction winners would provide more tangible benefits sooner to many unserved communities.  

© 2021 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 42

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...

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,...