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Telecom Alert — Pleading Cycle Set for Outage Sharing; FCC Seeks Comment on Accessibility; Homework Gap Trust Fund Act; $200 Million in Fines Proposed Against Big Four Carriers — Vol. XVII, Issue 10

Pleading Cycle Set for Outage Sharing

The FCC released a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking last week that proposes an information sharing framework that would provide state and federal agencies with access to Network Outage Reporting System (NORS) and Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) information.  Certain services providers are required to submit outage reports through NORS and DIRS, and the Commission limits the disclosure of such filings because they are presumed confidential.  Under the proposed framework, eligible state, federal, and Tribal nation government agencies will be granted direct access to this information for public safety purposes.

FCC Seeks Comment on Communications Technologies’ Accessibility

The FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau issued a Public Notice last Monday seeking comment on the accessibility of communications technology in connection with its mandatory biennial report to Congress under the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA).  The Bureau invites comment on compliance with statutory mandates for telecommunications and advanced communications services, equipment used with those services, and Internet browsers built into mobile phones, to be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.  Additionally, the Bureau wants input on the extent to which accessibility barriers still exist with respect to new communications technologies.  Comments are due by March 30, 2020. 

Proposed Legislation Allocates C-Band Auction Revenue to Students

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the Homework Gap Trust Fund Act on February 27, which would utilize revenue from the FCC’s upcoming C-Band auction (Vol. XVII, Issue 9) to fund priorities that will help close the digital divide.  Specifically, the Act would allocate $2 to $4 billion dollars to create a Homework Gap Trust that could be used by jurisdictions to purchase hotspot devices and support other initiatives to ensure students have access to the internet.  The FCC would be in charge of administering the fund and required to annually report to Congress on the number of recipients, number of students who obtained access to broadband internet services as a result of the fund, and the number of students who still lack broadband internet access.

FCC Proposes Over $200 Million in Fines Against Big Four Wireless Carriers

The FCC issued Notices of Apparent Liability against T-MobileAT&TVerizon, and Sprint on February 28 for allegedly selling customers’ location information without taking reasonable measures to protect against unauthorized access.  The carriers also allegedly disclosed this information to a third party without their customers’ consent.  T-Mobile faces a proposed fine of $91,630,000, AT&T faces a proposed fine of $57,265,625, Verizon faces a proposed fine of $48,318,750, and Sprint faces a proposed fine of $12,240,000.

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 69


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,...