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Telecom Alert - T-Mobile and Sprint Merger; Verizon Lawsuit Against City of Rochester; Three-Digit Suicide Prevention Hotline; West Virginia PSC Sets Date for Frontier Hearing - Vol. XVI, Issue 33

Chairman Pai Recommends Approval of T-Mobile and Sprint Merger

Last week, FCC Chairman Pai formally recommended approval of the T-Mobile and Sprint Merger (Vol. XV, Issue 18) in a draft Order circulated to the rest of the Commission.  Pai stated that the merger will promote 5G deployment and will “help close the digital divide in rural areas.”  The Commission’s Press Release notes that the Order contains conditions, including the divestiture of Boost Mobile, in order to address potential anti-competitive harms.  The Department of Justice approved the merger in July, but even if the Commission votes to approve the Order, there are still a number of hurdles the merger must overcome. The Attorneys General from fifteen states and the District of Columbia are challenging the merger under the Federal antitrust laws.  Reportedly, T-Mobile has stated that it will not close the transaction until this antitrust suit is resolved.  

Verizon Files Lawsuit against City of Rochester

Verizon has filed a lawsuit against the City of Rochester, alleging that regulations adopted by the Rochester City Council violate Section 253 of the Communications Act.  The regulations adopted earlier this year require fees for each small cell site. Verizon alleges that these fees are excessive and therefore violate the Communications Act.  The City of Rochester issued a statement saying that the City “is dedicated to ensuring its infrastructure is protected and maintained to benefit taxpayers” and that the fees are “comparable” to fees charged by other cities.  

Three-Digit Suicide Prevention Hotline

Pursuant to the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018, Commission staff has analyzed the effectiveness of the current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and has issued a Report.  The Report recommends that the Commission initiate a rulemaking proceeding to consider designating 988 as the three-digit code “solely for the purpose of a national suicide prevention and mental health hotline.”  Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a ten-digit number.  The Report recommends the three-digit number to make it easier to access mental health services.  The Commission issued a Press Release, which states that Chairman Pai has committed to initiating a rulemaking proceeding, as recommended in the Report.

West Virginia PSC Sets Hearing Date for Frontier

The West Virginia Public Service Commission issued a Procedural Order setting an evidentiary hearing regarding a complaint filed by Hampshire County 911 against Frontier.  In May, Hampshire County filed a formal complaint alleging that Frontier failed to stock parts to adequately address outages.  Throughout May and June, both parties submitted additional filings and the PSC referred the case to the Division of Administrative Law Judges.  At the evidentiary hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to present facts regarding the complaint.  

© 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,...