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Telecom Alert - October 10, 2017: 3.5 GHz NPRM; Redl and Pai Confirmation Updates; FirstNet Update; USF High Cost Support Advances for Puerto Rico; Mid-Band Spectrum NOI Responses

3.5 GHz NPRM on Tentative Agenda

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced last week that the Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order Terminating Petitions that will seek comment on and make changes to the Priority Access License rules in the 3.5 GHz band.  The Fact Sheet for the Draft NPRM stated that the rules must increase incentives for investment, promote more efficient use of spectrum, and foster faster and increased broadband network deployment.  The Commission terminated the dockets opened to address Petitions filed by the CTIA and T-Mobile in June 2017 and the 3.5 GHz rulemaking initiated in 2012. 

Redl and Pai Confirmation

Last week, the Senate Commerce Committee approved by voice vote the nomination of David Redl to direct NTIA. Senator Ted Cruz (R- TX), who is responsible for delaying confirmation of Redl, stated he would block a full Senate vote unless his concerns regarding Internet governance are resolved.  FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was confirmed for a second term as Chairman last week in a 52-41 Senate vote.

FirstNet Update

Last week, Minnesota became the 23rd state to opt-into the FirstNet AT&T plan.  Earlier in the week, NTIA released the construction-grant funding levels for states looking to build their own radio access network.  This action started the clock on the time period in which Governors have to decide whether to opt-in or -out of FirstNet.  Governors must make a decision by December 28. 

FCC Advances USF High Cost Support Payments to Carriers in Puerto Rico

The FCC released an Order last week making $76.9 million immediately available to eligible telecommunication carriers (ETCs) in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to aid the rebuilding efforts in each territory.  The Order will allow ETCs to “use high-cost universal service support that they are currently receiving to repair and maintain telecommunications infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Maria” and waive certain requirements associated with providing service to consumers in these regions.  Carriers may also adopt a single advance payment of “up to seven months of high-cost support” to assist with more pressing needs and repairs to restore communications on these islands.

Mid-Band Spectrum NOI Responses

The FCC received diverse responses to their mid-band spectrum Notice of Inquiry adopted in August.  Wireless companies are requesting the FCC to make spectrum in the C-band (4-8 GHz) available for terrestrial broadband services immediately, while satellite stakeholders are urging the Commission to proceed with caution.  Current C-band licensees called upon the Commission to guard their operations from interference. 

© 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,...