Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. IX Issue 33

Date: Aug 13, 2012

Reply Comments Filed in USF Contribution Reform Proceeding

Last week, more than 60 parties filed Reply Comments addressing the FCC's proposals to reform the rules governing contributions to the FCC's Universal Service Fund ("USF"). A substantial majority supported the proposal that revenues attributable to the so-called "telecommunications component" of high speed Internet access services be "assessable" for USF contributions. Many carriers suggested administrative reforms that the FCC and the Universal Service Administrative Company ("USAC") should implement to improve program efficiency A majority of parties, including the American Petroleum Institute, a Keller and Heckman client, supported new approaches to funding USF, such as assigned telephone numbers or service connections. UTC, EEI, NRECA and several utilities argued that smart grid/smart meter systems should remain excluded from USF contribution obligations because utilities operate smart grid networks for internal business purposes, not as "providers of interstate telecommunications," and virtually all smart grid communications networks are operated on an intrastate basis. It remains to be seen whether interested parties can develop a consensus position on short term and long term reforms to the manner in which USF is funded. Please feel free to contact Doug Jarrett (202.434.4180; jarrett@khlaw.com) with any questions. For additional background on this proceeding, please visit BeyondTelecomLawBlog.

Cybersecurity Executive Order Possible

The White House indicated the President may issue an Executive Order to implement cybersecurity standards because Congress failed to pass cybersecurity legislation earlier this month. In a letter to the President, Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) urged the President to take executive action to protect the nation's electric grid from the growing threat of cyber attacks. The Senate failed to vote on the Cybersecurity Act (S-3414) because key lawmakers disagreed over whether a federal Council chaired by the head of the Department of Homeland Security should be tasked with creating voluntary best practices for critical infrastructure entities. Some lawmakers are opposed to any Executive Order believing that a legislative compromise may still be possible before the Senate reconsiders a vote following the August recess. Please contact Tracy Marshall (202.434.4234; marshall@khlaw.com) with any questions.

FCC Denies T-Band Waivers

Last week, the FCC issued two Orders denying T-Band waiver requests filed by public safety entities in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Both waiver requests were submitted well in advance of the FCC's announcement of the T-Band licensing freeze (Vol. IX, Issue 17) which suspended the acceptance and processing of certain applications. The waivers requested authority to operate more than 80 kilometers outside of the city, the maximum permitted under the rules. The FCC denied the waiver requests and dismissed the applications stating that the freeze applies to currently pending applications as well as new submissions. The Commission stated that the applications, if granted, would increase the licensed service area which is inconsistent with the FCC's objective of restricting all further encumbrances in the T-Band. For more information, please contact Wes Wright (202.434.4296; wright@khlaw.com).

FCC Narrowband Deadline Reminder

By January 1, 2013, Industrial/Business and Public Safety Radio Pool licensees in the VHF (150-174 MHz) and UHF (421-512 MHz) bands must operate on 12.5 kHz or narrower channels or employ a technology that achieves the narrowband equivalent of one channel per 12.5 kHz of channel bandwidth (voice) or 4800 bits per second per 6.25 kHz (data). Many public safety and private land mobile licenses in the VHF and UHF bands still require narrowbanding. Licensees that do not meet the January 1, 2013 narrowband requirements likely will be subject to FCC enforcement action, including monetary forfeitures and/or license cancellation. For more information, click here or please contact Wes Wright (202.434.4296; wright@khlaw.com).

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