Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. VIII, Issue 50

Date: Dec 12, 2011

FCC Revises Tower Rules to Require Public Notice and Comment Period

Last week, the FCC released an Order on Remand adopting a notification process for new towers to provide members of the public with an opportunity to comment on the environmental impact of proposed antenna structures. The Order stems from a 2008 decision by the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit which found that registered towers may have a significant environmental effect on migratory birds (See, Vol VIII, Issue 39). Applicants seeking to construct a tower taller than 450 feet must prepare and file an Environmental Assessment with the Commission for the proposed structure. In addition, applicants seeking to construct a tower that requires an Antenna Structure Registration ("ASR") number from the FCC must provide local notice of the proposed tower through publication in a local newspaper or other appropriate means and submit a partially-completed FCC Form 854 to the Commission for notification purposes. The Commission will post the partially-completed Form 854 on its website in searchable form for 30 days to permit interested parties to comment on the proposal. If no objections are raised, the FCC will grant an ASR number at the expiration of this 30-day notice period. The new rules will take effect upon publication in the Federal Register, which is expected in the next few weeks. Please contact Wes Wright (202.434.4296; wright@khlaw.com) with questions.

"Applicants should factor the 30-day Public Notice period into construction timelines as the FCC's revised rules will add an additional layer of review to the tower approval process."
–Wes Wright
Attorney, Keller and Heckman LLP

Costly Disability Proposal Would Affect Utility Poles

A federal disability board proposal to widen sidewalks for pedestrians with disabilities could require costly expansions of right-of-way authorizations or the relocation of large numbers of electric utility (and telephone) poles. EEI and USTA (the ILEC trade association) already have weighed in and seek additional input from utility pole owners by February 2, 2012. if you are interested in learning more or filing comments, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128).

FCC Nominees Approved by Senate Committee, Await Full Senate Vote


Last week, the Senate Commerce Committee approved the nominations of Jessica Rosenworcel (a Democrat) and Ajit Pai (a Republican) to serve as FCC Commissioners. The nominees must now be approved by the full Senate. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has said he will prevent the Senate from voting on the nominations until the FCC responds to requests for information about whether the agency treated LightSquared too favorably when it approved the company's conditional waiver to build a terrestrial network in the L-Band. (See, Vol VIII, Issue 49). Ms. Rosenworcel has been nominated to fill the seat currently held by the retiring Commissioner Copps and Mr. Pai will fill the seat vacated when Commissioner Baker left the Commission earlier this year. 

FCC Expands Permitted Operation of Medical Devices on Secondary Basis


Last month, the FCC released a Report and Order approving a secondary spectrum allocation for wideband medical implant devices that employ wireless neuromuscular microstimulation techniques to restore sensation, mobility and other functions to paralyzed limbs and organs. The Report and Order permits these types of devices to access 24 MHz of spectrum in the 413-419 MHz, 426-432 MHz, 438-444 MHz and 451-457 MHz bands on a secondary basis. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (202.434.4178; kunkle@khlaw.com).

Corporate Counsel Corner: Need counsel outside Washington, D.C?

Keller and Heckman LLP is a member of Mackrell International, one of the world's premier referral networks of independent legal firms. Membership in Mackrell International enables us to assist clients with legal services at home and abroad. With almost 80 member firms in more than 50 countries, Mackrell International gives clients access to 4,000 lawyers worldwide ... providing a seamless legal service wherever the client needs it. 

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