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Telecom Alert - PLMR Spectrum Update; Net Neutrality Litigation; 2019 E-Rate Filing Window Open; Real-Time Text Waiver; Congress Reintroduces Robocall Bill; Spectrum Frontiers Auction Update - Vol. XVI, Issue 3

PLMR Spectrum Update

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.  Following publication in the Federal Register, the new rules became effective on December 27, 2018 (Vol XV, Issue 49).  However, the new interstitial 800 MHz channels will not be available until an announcement by the FCC and the PLMR Central Station Alarm channels will not be available for licensing until the rules have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  Approval by OMB is currently pending. 

Net Neutrality Litigation to Continue During Shutdown

On January 17, the D.C. Circuit denied the FCC’s request to delay oral arguments in the case seeking review of the FCC’s 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom Order (Vol. XV, Issue 14).  Despite the fact that several federal government agencies have been shut down for the last month, the federal judiciary has continued to operate.  Accordingly, oral arguments will proceed as planned on February 1.

2019 E-Rate Filing Window Open

Under the E-rate Program, schools and libraries (“Applicants”) must request funding for Funding Year (FY) 2019 during the Filing Window that extends from January 16 until March 27.  Applicants implement a formal bidding process by posting an FCC Form 470 in the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) for at least 28 days.  Applicants must choose the most cost-effective bids.  Applicants must then file an FCC Form 471 in the EPC providing USAC essential information on the winning bid and the basis for the applicant’s “discount” (the percentage that USAC will contribute toward the service costs).  For FY 2019, applicants have until February 27 to post their FCC Forms 470 in order to submit a certified FCC Form 471 within the FY 2019 Filing Window that closes on March 27 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.  

FCC Seeks Comment on General Motors Petition to Waive Real-Time Text Requirements

The FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau is seeking comment on a petition filed by General Motors Holding LLC (GM) for a partial waiver of certain minimum functionality requirements for real-time text (RTT) to be used in GM’s autonomous-vehicle ride-hailing service.  Specifically, GM plans to provide an RTT customer-support application for its services.  Because the non-interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service can be used only to contact customer support, GM argued that such application need not support RTT-RTT interoperability; RTT-TTY interoperability; transmission and receipt of RTT communications to and from any 911 public safety answering point; and simultaneous voice and text communications. 

Congress Reintroduces Bill Targeting Robocalls

Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced an updated version of their Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, initially introduced in November 2018, to give regulators more time to find scammers, increase civil forfeiture penalties, and promote call authentication and blocking.  In November 2018, the FCC called upon network voice providers to trace illegal robocalls originating on or passing through their networks (Vol. XV, Issue 46).  

Spectrum Frontiers Auction Update

As of Friday evening, the FCC had completed 152 rounds in Auction 101 (licenses in the 27.5-28.35 GHz band).  2,961 county-sized licenses with provisionally winning bids (PWBs) have generated over $700 million.  111 licenses remain to be auctioned.  

© 2020 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 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,...