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Telecom Alert - Unlicensed Use of 6 GHz Band; Rural Broadband Support Bills; COVID-19 Telehealth Program; 5G Fund for Rural America; EWA Seeks Waiver of Deadlines - Vol. XVII, Issue 14

FCC Draft Order to Authorize Unlicensed Use Throughout the 6 GHz Band

The FCC issued a draft Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking last week that would make 1,200 MHz available for unlicensed use in the 6 GHz band (Vol. XV, Issue 44).  The Report and Order would authorize two different types of unlicensed operations: standard-power in 850 MHz of the band and indoor low-power operations over the full 1,200 MHz of the band.  The standard-power operations would be under the control of an automated frequency control (AFC) system that identifies available frequencies without causing harmful interference to fixed point-to-point microwave receivers.  The Commission did not set aside a portion of the band for fixed microwave operations, concluding that the AFC system and combination of lower power and indoor operations across the band would protect all 6GHz band services from harmful interference.  The Commission will vote on the Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at its next Open Meeting scheduled for April 23.  

Senate, House Introduce Rural Broadband Support Bills

The U.S. Senate (S.3569) and House (H.R.6394) introduced companion bills last week that would help small broadband providers ensure rural broadband connectivity to low-income students and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Senate bill, known as the Keeping Critical Connections Act, would appropriate $2 billion to compensate broadband providers with less than 250,000 customers for providing free or discounted broadband services to low-income households, or for providing distance-learning capability to students.  The fund would be administered by the FCC.  The House introduced H.R.6394 in response.  

$200 Million COVID-19 Telehealth Program Adopted

The FCC adopted a Report and Order last week that establishes a $200 million telehealth program to support healthcare providers responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  The COVID-19 Telehealth Program, funded by appropriations in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, will help healthcare providers purchase telecommunications, broadband connectivity, and devices necessary for providing telehealth services.  The Report and Order also establishes a separate Connected Care Pilot Program, which will provide up to $100 million in support from the Universal Service Fund to help offset health care providers’ costs of providing connected care services and to help assess how the USF can be used in the long-term to support telehealth.  

FCC Considers 5G Fund for Rural America 

The FCC released a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order last week seeking comment on establishing a rural 5G fund that would use competitive reverse auctions to disburse up to $9 billion to support the deployment of 5G mobile broadband and voice services in rural areas.  The fund would be implemented through a two-phase competitive process, with up to $8 billion available in Phase I and at least $1 billion in Phase II to support networks that will facilitate precision agriculture.  It also seeks comment on the minimum speeds networks supported by the fund should provide, suggesting either 35/3 Mbps or 50/5 Mbps.  

EWA Seeks Waiver of Mobile Site Construction Deadlines

The Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) filed a Petition for Waiver with the FCC on March 27 asking the Commission to waive the buildout deadline requirements for site-based and mobile-only wireless systems with deadlines between March 15 and August 31 until August 31, 2020.  EWA argues that the COVID-19 pandemic has cause significant supply chain delays and limited the available workforce.  Further, EWA claims that granting its petition would relieve the Commission of having to act on a large number of individual waiver requests that would otherwise be filed.  

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 97

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About this Author

C. Douglas Jarrett, Keller Heckman, telecommunications lawyer, procurement law
Partner

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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Gregory E. Kunkle, Keller Heckman, regulatory attorney, FCC lawyer
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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. 

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Thomas B. Magee, Keller Heckman, transactional counsel, litigation attorney, FCC law, safety violation lawyer
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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,...

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Tracy Marshall, Keller Heckman, regulatory attorney, for-profit company lawyer
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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...

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Wesley K. Wright, Keller Heckman, Telecommunications Lawyer, FCC Enforcement Attorney, DC
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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.

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,...

202.434.4239