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Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. VII Issue 19

Date: May 17, 2010

FCC Grants 700 MHz Broadband Waivers

Last week, the FCC issued an Order granting 21 waivers filed by public safety agencies seeking to deploy statewide or local public safety broadband networks in the 700 MHz public safety broadband spectrum (763-768 MHz and 793-798 MHz). The Order permits these agencies to build wireless broadband networks in advance of the nationwide broadband public safety network. Agencies that received authority from the FCC to use the 700 MHz public safety spectrum will be able to apply to NTIA between June 1 and July 1, 2010 for a broadband grant to fund system deployment. NTIA may award grants to fund critical expenditures related to the deployment of a 700 MHz public safety broadband network, including equipment and installation costs. The FCC views the construction of these initial systems as a major step towards developing a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband wireless network. Each public safety licensee must agree to lease the spectrum from the Public Safety Spectrum Trust ("PSST") under a standard lease developed by the FCC. This lease will include a fee to the PSST for administrative activities associated with the leasing process. Public safety agencies that will file similar waiver requests in the future must provide the Commission with evidence of funding for the proposed network. A copy of the Order is available here. Energy Department Seeks Information on Utility Communications Needs The Department of Energy issued two Requests for Information (RFI) addressing recommendations in the FCC's National Broadband Plan regarding the communications needs of utilities and the customer data access policies of utilities. The RFIs could have major implications for utilities in terms of access to spectrum for smart grid and other communications needs and also in terms of making smart grid data available to customers and their authorized third parties. The first RFI seeks information to help quantify the requirements for smart grid applications and other communications purposes. The second RFI, which focuses on customer data access policies, seeks information related to ownership of customer data, privacy practices, customer opt-out/opt-in, access to energy information by government agencies, types of personal energy information, actions by states and utilities to implement Smart Grid privacy, data collection and third-party use policies. Comments on both RFIs are due July 12, 2010, and reply comments must be filed by July 26, 2010.

FCC Open Meeting Scheduled for May 20th

On May 20, 2010, the FCC will hold an Open Meeting to consider, among other things, a pole attachment Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) implementing the FCC's National Broadband Plan. Keller and Heckman previously met with the FCC Chief of Staff and sent letters to the FCC Chairman and Commissioners on behalf of the "Coalition of Concerned Utilities" (Allegheny Power, Baltimore Gas & Electric, Dayton Power & Light, FirstEnergy, Kansas City Power & Light, National Grid, NSTAR and PPL Electric Utilities) highlighting concerns with the Commission's proposals and criticizing the pole attachment section of the Plan for ignoring electric utility concerns while citing liberally from nearly 20 different communications attachers (See Vol. VII, Issue 8, Issue 9, and Issue 12). The agenda for the Meeting is available here.

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 be 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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