Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. VII Issue 18

Date: May 10, 2010

FCC Announces Intentions Regarding Broadband Regulation

Last week, the FCC announced the future framework by which it will seek to regulate broadband communications. The approach, dubbed the "Third Way" by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowki, is intended as a middle ground between the Commission's current piecemeal regulatory approach and full reclassification of broadband as telecommunications. The new approach would reclassify broadband services as telecommunications in specific areas, but forbear from applying all but a handful of available regulations. Provisions that would be applied to broadband would be limited to those that forbid unreasonable denials of service and other unjust or unreasonable practices, promote universal service, protect the confidentiality of Customer Proprietary Network Information, and require disability access. The Commission would not seek to impose rate regulation or new unbundling requirements for broadband. The announcement comes on the heels of a recent court decision which called into question the jurisdictional foundation of the Commission's current regulatory regime. The announcement was met with deep concern by Commissioners McDowell and Baker, who stated that the new approach was a serious departure from past Commission regulation and not the light-touch approach that Chairman Genachowski tried to claim. Groups Reach Agreement on Migratory Birds Last week, several industry associations representing tower owners, including NAB, CTIA, PCIA, and various environmental groups advocating on behalf of wildlife, filed a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") with the FCC proposing interim tower registration requirements while the FCC considers the effect of towers on Migratory Birds. The parties to the MOU proposed that the FCC place applications seeking to register towers taller than 350 feet above ground level on Public Notice. According to the parties, applications to register towers taller than 450 feet should include an environmental assessment accounting for migratory bird impacts. The FCC has not acted on the joint proposal.

FCC Proposes Changes for Unlicensed Personal Communications Service Devices

On May 6, 2010, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on rule changes intended to allow Unlicensed Personal Communications Service Devices ("UPCS") operating in the 1920-1930 MHz band to make more efficient use of the spectrum. The Commission proposes to reduce from 40 to 20 the number of channels that a UPCS device must monitor and use and, at the same time, relax the threshold for determining whether a channel is available on which to transmit. Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, which has not yet occurred.

Join Keller and Heckman at UTC Telecom 2010 in Indianapolis

Please stop by booth #330 to meet members of Keller and Heckman's telecommunications team at the Utilities Telecom Council's Spring Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana May 23-26. Partner Tom Magee will participate in a workshop entitled "Pole Attachments Regulatory Update Workshop – Avoid a Rude Awakening!" and Greg Kunkle, a Senior Associate, will speak on "Smart Grid Wireless Networks: Spectrum Resource Options – Is There Room for You?" An agenda for the conference is available here.

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