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Telecom Alert—Vertical Location Accuracy Requirements; Accelerating RDOF Buildouts; Broadband Mapping; Unauthorized Assignment and Transfer Enforcement; $100B Broadband Bill Vol. XVII, Issue 26

Vertical Location Accuracy Requirements Report and Order

At the FCC’s July 16 Open Meeting, the Commission will consider a Sixth Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration, which seeks to affirm the April 3, 2021 and April 3, 2023 z-axis (vertical) location accuracy requirements for nationwide wireless providers (Vol. XVII, Issue 25).  The R&O and Order on Reconsideration will also allow wireless providers to deploy technology that focuses on multi-story buildings and handset-based solutions that meet the z-axis metric, and require nationwide providers to deploy  z-axis technology nationwide by April 3, 2025.  Wireless providers will be required to provide dispatchable locations with wireless 911 calls beginning January 6, 2022, when it is technically feasible to do so.

Senate Bill Aims to Accelerate RDOF Buildouts

Last week U.S. Sens. Wicker (R-Miss.), Capito (R-W.V.), and Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced the Accelerating Broadband Connectivity (ABC) Act of 2020, which would authorize a $6 billion fund to be used by the FCC following the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction to incentivize winning bidders to complete their buildout obligations on an accelerated timeline.  The bill would also require service providers to meet a series of accelerated milestones for their RDOF deployments.  A House bill introduced by Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) earlier this month seeks a similar goal of expediting allocation of RDOF funds to bidders with “shovel-ready” broadband projects (Vol. XVII, Issue 22). 

Broadband Mapping

The Commission will consider a Second Report and Order and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at its next Open Meeting scheduled for July 16 to develop new broadband maps and implement provisions of the Broadband DATA Act.  The Second Report and Order seeks to adopt reporting and disclosure requirements for fixed and mobile broadband availability and quality of service; require providers to submit standardized propagation maps; and establish a common dataset of broadband-serviceable locations, among other provisions.  The Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on additional processes for verifying broadband availability and proposes to allow consumers and other parties to challenge the accuracy of the maps. 

$240K Fine for Unauthorized Assignment and Transfer of Control

Last week the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau released an Order announcing that it had entered into a Consent Decree to resolve the investigation of an unauthorized transfer of control and assignment of FCC licenses.  The licensee, a large industrial company, agreed to pay a $240,000 civil penalty and implement a compliance plan for failure to report a felony on 200 separate applications filed since 2001, and its participation in unauthorized transfers of control and assignments in connection with the transfer of business entities holding various FCC licenses. 

$100B Broadband Infrastructure Bill

On June 22, House Democrats released the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), which includes $100 billion to “promote competition for broadband internet infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities, prioritizing those with persistent poverty.”  The bill seeks to establish a broadband benefit program that entitles households with qualifying members to a subsidy toward the price of Internet service, and appropriates $24 million to the FCC to collect data and generate broadband availability maps.  In addition, the bill appropriates $80 billion to fund competitive bidding systems to build broadband infrastructure in unserved areas with low-tier or mid-tier service, and prohibits state governments from enforcing laws or regulations that inhibit local governments, public-private partnerships, and cooperatives from delivering broadband service.  

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 181

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About this Author

C. Douglas Jarrett, Keller Heckman, telecommunications lawyer, procurement law
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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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Thomas B. Magee, Keller Heckman, transactional counsel, litigation attorney, FCC law, safety violation lawyer
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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.

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