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Telecom Business Alert – NORS, Wireless Antenna Collocation, ULS Modernization, Drones, Enforcement Advisory

New Version of NORS

Starting May 10 the Federal Communications Commission will introduce a new version of the Network Outage Reporting System (NORS) for testing and, ultimately, operational use.  Under Part 4 of the FCC’s rules, providers of voice and paging communications (e.g., wireless, wireline, cable, satellite communications and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol) must report significant disruptions or outages to their communications systems.  The two-month test will feature a web-based interface and an Application Programming Interface (API) for companies that want to file outage reports automatically.  If successful, the FCC will migrate all filings to the new NORS system on July 20, 2016.

FCC Seeks Comment on Wireless Antenna Collocation

The FCC released a Public Notice seeking comment on its proposed Amended Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas for review of small wireless antenna deployment and associated equipment under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The amendments are intended to enable deployment of wireless broadband services, including support of next generation “5G” wireless service offerings.  Comments are due June 13, 2016.

ULS Modernization

Last week the FCC announced its plans to modernize the Universal Licensing System (ULS) system used to license wireless radio services for commercial, private, public safety, and personal use.  ULS was developed in the 1990’s and currently holds at least two million active licenses and handles approximately 250,000 monthly actions such as application filing.  The goal of the modernization is to transition ULS to a new, integrated cloud platform that will enable licensing activities with more consistent performance and enhanced functionality.

Utilities Eye Use of Drones

Last month the Senate voted unanimously to adopt drone-related amendments to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016.  The Act eases restrictions on the use of drones and directs the FAA to provide guidelines for the safe operation of drones used to protect and maintain critical infrastructure.  Speaking at a Legislative Conference forum on drones held by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Keith Dennis discussed how drones could benefit electric co-ops.  Dennis stated that NRECA’s top priority is safety while finding a streamlined process for utility operation of drones in a cost-effective way. 

Enforcement Advisory

Last week the FCC released an Enforcement Advisory reminding vessel owners of the FCC’s ship radio rules.  Certain ship radios are capable of sending automated messages to the U.S. Coast Guard including a unique nine-digit Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) Number.  Search and rescue authorities use MMSI numbers to determine background information about vessels in distress like the owners’ name, intended route, and other radio equipment on board.  The Coast Guard estimates that approximately 10,000 vessels’ MMSIs are inaccurate on a given day.  Use of inaccurate MMSIs is a violation of the Commission’s rules and can result in penalties as high as $16,000 for each violation and forfeiture of radio equipment.

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume VI, Number 137



About this Author

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,...

Michael T. N. Fitch, Keller Heckman, Wireless Communications Attorney
Senior Counsel

Michael Fitch has over 40 years of experience in wireless, international, infrastructure and other telecommunications regulatory areas.  Mr. Fitch advises clients on a wide range of issues in these areas.

Mr. Fitch began his career at the Federal Communications Commission, where he advanced from staff attorney to Bureau Chief and Senior Legal and International Advisor to the Chairman. He also served as a Presidential Exchange Executive from the FCC to the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in Pittsburgh for one year. 


Timothy A. Doughty, Keller Heckman, Telecommunications Licensing Specialist, Lawyer, FCC Matters Attorney

Timothy Doughty joined Keller and Heckman in 2009 as a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Licensing Specialist.

Mr. Doughty assists clients with the preparation of FCC applications, modifications, special temporary authorities, requests for rule waiver, renewals and spectrum leases in various radio services including Private Land Mobile, Microwave, Coast and Ground and Aircraft. His capabilities also include the preparation of tower registrations with the FCC and Obstruction Evaluations and Aeronautical Studies with the Federal Aviation...

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...