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Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. IX Issue 15

Date: Apr 09, 2012

FCC Modifies TV White Space Rules

Last week, the FCC released a Third Memorandum Opinion and Order (Third MO&O) addressing five Petitions for Reconsideration submitted in its TV White Spaces proceeding. (See, Vol. VII, Issue 38). The TV White Spaces proceeding is the FCC's innovative attempt to allow low power wireless devices to operate on unused broadcast TV spectrum. Responding to claims that the current TV White Space rules would require unrealistic operating costs to provide wireless coverage, the FCC increased the maximum height above average terrain for fixed devices from 30 meters to up to 250 meters. The Commission also made changes to simplify its adjacent channel emission limits by specifying fixed (as opposed to relative) limits and slightly increased the permissible power spectral density for TV White Space devices. Please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178) with questions.

Upcoming Renewal Filing for Many Paging Licenses

The expiration date for VHF and UHF area-wide paging licenses acquired at Auction 40 is June 21, 2012. Renewal applications must be filed with the FCC prior to the expiration date. Please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4296) with questions.

USF Contribution Level Set for 17.3% for the 2nd Quarter 2012

The FCC's ambitious USF Reform decision adopted in 2011, in which the FCC initiated the payment of USF funds to support broadband services, did not implement long-needed reforms to the manner in which USF contributions are assessed. This is problematic because the revenues for the fastest growing service---high speed Internet access service—are exempt from USF contribution obligations. The USF Contribution Factor for the 2nd Quarter of 2012 remains above 17%, falling slightly from the 1st Quarter's 17.9% record Corporate customers and state governments —the principal consumers of interstate and international telecommunications services--bear the brunt of elevated USF contribution factors as the carriers pass their USF costs onto these customers. These record high contribution factors underscore the calls tor the Commission to initiate a proceeding to reform its policies governing USF contributions.

Corporate Counsel Corner: FCC Enforcement Update

Last week, the FCC issued two Notices of Apparent Liability ("NAL") to owners of antenna structures. The first NAL was issued in the amount of $15,000 because the structure owner failed to exhibit all red obstruction lighting on the tower from sunset to sunrise. The second NAL, in the amount of $17,000, found the tower owner liable for failing to observe the structure's lights at least once every 24 hours and failing to repair malfunctioning lights as soon as practicable. These cases serve as the most recent reminder that the FCC aggressively punishes companies found in violation of its rules. 

Fraud Investigation Shakes Renewable Fuels Market

In the Telecom Alert issued last week, Keller and Heckman attorneys JC Walker and Adrienne Timmel predicted that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will focus inspection and enforcement resources on Renewable Fuels Program renewable identification numbers. This increased inspection and enforcement is the result of fraud allegations leveled against Clean Green Fuels, LLC and Absolute Fuels, LLC and subsequent Congressional inquiries into the Renewable Fuels Programs. Please contact Mr. Walker (202.434.4181; walker@khlaw.com) or Ms. Timmel (202.434.4164; timmel@khlaw.com) with questions.

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