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Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. VI Issue 35

Date: Sep 08, 2009

Volume VI, Issue 35

NTIA/RUS Announce $28 Billion in Funding Requests for Broadband Grants

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the USDA's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announced last month that they received almost 2,200 applications requesting nearly $28 billion in funding for proposed broadband projects contemplated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). More than 800 applications were filed for $12.8 billion in infrastructure funding alone. State, local and tribal governments, nonprofits, anchor institutions (libraries, universities, hospitals) and public safety institutions committed $10.5 billion in matching funds, nearly seven times the combined $4 billion slated for disbursement during the first of three rounds of broadband funding. While applications are no longer being accepted for the first round of funding, NTIA and RUS will announce the recipients of funds in the coming months and will likely accept applications for the second round of funding before the end of the calendar year. The final round of applications will be accepted next summer, and the entire $7.2 billion allocated to the agencies under the ARRA must be awarded by September 30, 2010.

FCC Seeks Comments on Implementation of Smart Grid Technology

As part of the development of the National Broadband Plan, the Commission issued a Public Notice on September 4, 2009, seeking comments on how broadband coupled with advanced infrastructure and services could help utilities implement Smart Grid technology. The Public Notice seeks comments on: the suitability of current communications networks and technologies; the availability of existing communications networks; how wireless spectrum is and may be used for Smart Grid applications; the Smart Grid's ability to provide real-time energy consumption and pricing data; and, the broadband requirements for Smart Meters and Home Area Networks. Comments must be filed with the Commission by October 2, 2009.

FTC Bans Prerecorded Telemarketing Calls

A new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule took effect on September 1, 2009, that prohibits prerecorded telemarketing calls, or "robocalls," to consumers not providing signed, written consent in advance. The FTC adopted the rule last year as part of several amendments to the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), including an opt-out requirement for prerecorded messages. Notably, while certain types of entities and calls are not subject to the TSR, the new rule eliminates an "established business relationship" exception, so prerecorded messages to customers are covered. Telemarketers who violate the rule could be subject to penalties of up to $16,000 per call. Additional information is available on the Keller and Heckman website at http://www.khlaw.com/showpublication.aspx?Show=3163.

OSHA National Emphasis Program Focuses on Refineries

A recent presentation by Richard Fairfax, Director of Compliance Programs for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), describes the results of the first year of OSHA's continuing National Emphasis Program for the enforcement of OSHA's Chemical Process Safety Management Standard at oil refineries. OSHA inspected 65 refineries and issued nearly $3 million in penalties for various violations. Among other things, refineries were fined for failing to comply with OSHA's requirement to employ methodologies to detect and communicate abnormal conditions to appropriate personnel. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact K&H OSHA partners Lawrence P. Halprin (halprin@khlaw.com, 202-434-4177) or David G. Sarvadi (sarvadi@khlaw.com, 202-434-4249).