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Telecom Alert— FPL/AT&T Joint Use Rate Decision; Draft T-Band NPRM; FCC to Consider Wireless Infrastructure Rules Clarification; National Emergency Executive Order on Foreign Communications Tech Extended; Draft RDOF Procedures – Vol. XVII, Issue 21

Date: May 26, 2020

FPL/AT&T Joint Use Rate Decision

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau released a Memorandum Opinion and Order on May 20 in the AT&T v. Florida Power and Light proceeding, ruling that AT&T was entitled to the Old Telecom Rate (i.e., pre-2011 Order Telecom Rate) for its attachments to FPL’s poles, rather than the rate specified in the parties’ joint use agreement.  The Order leaves unresolved a number of issues regarding the joint use rates that investor-owned utility and ILEC pole owners may charge each other, but it provides helpful guidance on several very significant issues.  For more information, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128) or Tim Doughty (doughty@khlaw.com; 202.434.4271).

Chairman Pai Circulates Draft T-Band NPRM

Last week, the FCC announced that Chairman Ajit Pai had circulated a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would establish a competitive bidding system in the T-Band (Vol. XVII, Issue 11).  A section of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 mandates that the FCC reallocate and auction public safety spectrum in the T-Band.  Chairman Pai continues to call upon Congress to repeal the mandate, emphasizing that the costs of relocating public safety licensees would far exceed potential revenue (Vol. XVI, Issue 49).  For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

FCC to Consider Wireless Infrastructure Rules Clarification

The FCC issued a draft Declaratory Ruling and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking last week seeking to clarify its rules governing State and local government reviews of requests to modify existing wireless structures.  Section 6409(a) of the Spectrum Act of 2012 mandates State and local governments must approve facility modifications that do not substantially change the physical dimensions of the structure, and the Commission adopted rules in 2014 accordingly (Vol. XVI, Issue 37).  In the draft Declaratory Ruling, the FCC clarifies that the 60-day shot clock to review and approve a modification commences when the applicant takes the first procedural step that the local jurisdiction requires and submits documentation showing the modification qualifies for streamlined review.  It also clarifies the definition of “substantial change” and that environmental assessments are not required under certain circumstances.  For more information, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128), Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202.434.4207), or Mike Fitch (fitch@khlaw.com; 202.434.4264).

Trump Extends National Emergency on Foreign Communications Tech

Last week, President Donald Trump extended an Executive Order declaring a national emergency with respect to information and communications technology or services that are developed, manufactured, or supplied by foreign adversaries (Vol. XVI, Issue 20).  The Executive Order prohibits U.S. companies from using telecom equipment and services supplied by entities that are deemed a threat to national security in their networks.  Accordingly, the FCC issued an Order last November banning service providers from using Universal Service Fund (USF) money to buy communications technology from companies deemed national security risks, specifically naming Huawei and ZTE.  For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

Draft RDOF Procedures Released

The FCC issued a draft Public Notice last week outlining procedures for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction (Auction 904). It is scheduled to be adopted at the FCC’s June 9, 2020 Open Meeting.  In the draft Public Notice, the Commission adopts a multi-round, descending clock auction with census block groups as the minimum bidding areas.  It leaves open the possibility for fixed wireless providers to demonstrate they can provide gigabit tier service.  The draft document also announces that the final list of eligible areas will be released no later than 14 days prior to the start of Auction 904 that is set for October 29, 2020, with the short-form application filing window open from July1 to July 15.  For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

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Keller and Heckman LLP's Telecom Business Alert is a complimentary weekly electronic update created by the Telecommunications Practice Group of Keller and Heckman LLP.  All articles, videos, and quotations are on topics of general interest and do not constitute legal advice for particularized facts.  Keller and Heckman LLP's Telecom Business Alert © 2020.  All rights reserved.  Articles may be copied with attribution.  To sign up for our weekly alert, please send us an email at telecomalert@khlaw.com and provide us with your name and email.  Please follow us on twitter at @KHtelecom.