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Telecom Alert: September 11, 2017 - FirstNet Update; 911 Access NOI; 900 MHz NOI Comment Deadline Extended; Toll Free Number Assignment NPRM; Nick Degani Named Acting FCC General Counsel

FirstNet Update

Representatives of AT&T and Verizon spoke to a Washington, DC meeting of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (“NPSTC”) on issues relating to FirstNet.  AT&T addressed concerns over its prior statements at a Congressional Hearing about the definition of “public safety grade” for facilities to be used in the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (“NPSBN”) and its plans for buildout of Band 14.  AT&T also voiced its concern about core-to-core interoperability based on security reasons. Verizon, which supports core-to-core interoperability, stated that any services it makes available to public safety are intended to be complementary to FirstNet and should not be viewed as competition.  Finally, FirstNet denied a request under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) for disclosure of certain documents, including the contract between AT&T and FirstNet for construction and operation of the NPSBN.  FirstNet contends that it is exempt from FOIA under the law creating FirstNet. 

911 Access NOI to be Considered at Open Meeting

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai set the tentative agenda for the September Open Meeting.  Among the items, the Commission will consider a Notice of Inquiry soliciting comment on the current state of the enterprise communication system (ECS) industry regarding equipment, vendors, and services.  Specifically, the NOI looks to examine the capabilities of multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) and IP-based services to support direct-dial 911 access.

900 MHz NOI Comment Deadline Extended

Last week, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau issued an Order extending the Comment deadlines for the 900 MHz Notice of Inquiry.  The NOI seeks comment on the possible reconfiguration of the 900 MHz band (896-901/935-940 MHz).  Comments are now due October 2, 2017, and Reply Comments are due November 1, 2017.

Toll Free Number Assignment NPRM to be Considered at FCC Open Meeting

At the September Open Meeting, the Commission will also consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which proposes auctioning vanity numbers.  Currently, toll free numbers are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.  This proposed system would auction off 17,000 numbers with the new toll free code “833” using a single round, sealed bid auction.  Certain numbers would be reserved for use by government agencies and non-profit health and safety organizations. 

Chairman Pai Announces General Counsel

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that Nicholas Degani has been named the Acting General Counsel for the Commission following the departure of the former General Counsel Jennifer Tatel.  Tatel had previously agreed to remain at the Commission through the confirmation of Brendan Carr as Commissioner.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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