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Telecom Business Alert -- Vol VI Issue 41

Date: Oct 19, 2009

NTIA/RUS to Open Second Round of Broadband Funding

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the USDA's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) reportedly will issue a second Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) next month soliciting applications for broadband initiatives sponsored by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. NTIA and RUS originally planned to distribute $7.2 billion in broadband funding allocated to the agencies under the Act as part of three NOFAs. However, the first NOFA, issued July 1, 2009, garnered 2,200 applications seeking $28 billion in total funding. The agencies are expected to award approximately $4 billion to these applicants in the coming weeks. Representatives of the agencies indicated last week that the second NOFA will likely be the final NOFA because it will likely deplete the remaining funds allocated to the agencies under the Act.

FCC to Hold Open Meeting on Net Neutrality

On October 22, 2009, the Federal Communications Commission will introduce its proposed network neutrality rules through a formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The Commission's current net neutrality decisions are governed by four basic principles – that consumers must be able to access lawful Internet content, applications and services of their choice and attach non-harmful devices to the network. Last month, Chairman Genachowski proposed two new principles and recommended adopting these six principles as formal FCC rules. The Chairman's two additional principles are: preventing Internet access providers from discriminating against particular content or applications and ensuring Internet access providers are transparent about their network management practices. It is expected that these six principles will form the foundation of the proposed network neutrality rules that will be discussed by the Commission at its Open Meeting on Thursday.

Vermilion Parish, Louisiana Tower Ordinance Amended

Vermilion Parish, Louisiana recently amended its Ordinance for the Minimum Standards for Communications Towers in the Unincorporated Areas of Vermilion Parish ("Ordinance"). Under the Ordinance, owners of existing structures must register their towers with the Parish by filing a registration form and complying with the Ordinance's lighting requirements. In general, the lighting requirements mandate that all towers over 100 feet that are not required to be lit by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) be continuously lit with red beacons and comply with other requirements. FAA policy permits local ordinances impacting the painting and lighting of towers to be more stringent than FAA's rules in certain circumstances. Please contact us for more information.

Keller and Heckman Teams with EUCI to Present FCC Enforcement Webinar for Utilities

On November 2, 2009, Keller and Heckman attorneys Doug Jarrett and Wes Wright will present a webinar discussing the FCC's rules and licensing procedures for spectrum options to deploy and support Smart Grid wireless networks. The webinar will also cover avenues for accessing auctioned spectrum under the Commission's Secondary Markets rules, and the transactional aspects of acquiring auctioned spectrum and securing turn-key wireless broadband networks. Electric Utility Consultants, Inc. is sponsoring the webinar. For more information about the webinar, please contact Mr. Jarrett (202.434.4180; jarrett@khlaw.com) or Mr. Wright (202.434.4296; wright@khlaw.com) or click here.