Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. IX, Issue 35

Date: Aug 27, 2012

FCC Suspends Special Access Pricing Flexibility for AT&T, Verizon, and CenturyLink

Last week, the FCC adopted a Report and Order suspending its 1999 interstate special access Pricing Flexibility Order. Special access service is a dedicated transmission link—principally a DS-1 or DS-3 circuit—typically extending between a business customer's premise to its interexchange carrier or Internet services provider's local point of presence. Business customers may have hundreds or even several thousand special access circuits connecting their locations to carriers and ISPs. Special access services also function as backhaul links between wireless carrier cell sites and switching centers.

The FCC concluded that each competitive showing—MSA-wide competition and the presence of collocation arrangements—were not indicative of competition. Consistent with arguments raised by interexchange carriers (including AT&T prior to being acquired by SBC) and business customer groups, such as Keller and Heckman client, the American Petroleum Institute, the FCC ruled that the MSA-wide criterion was flawed because competition in limited areas of an MSA was not indicative of competition throughout the MSA. Among the arguments raised against the Pricing Flexibility Order over the last decade was that as the carriers secured pricing flexibility, they increased the rates for these services. The FCC announced that it will undertake a market analysis in the next several months to identify reliable proxies for competition in the special access market. Please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180) with questions.

NTIA Issues Notice on 700 MHz Grant Program

Last week, NTIA released a Notice regarding the timing and requirements for the$135 million State and Local Implementation Grant Program established to assist state, regional, tribal and local jurisdictions with identifying, planning and efficiently implementing infrastructure, equipment and architecture in the deployment of a 700 MHz nationwide public safety broadband system. NTIA is not yet accepting applications but expects to issue a Federal Funding Opportunity and open the application window during the first quarter of 2013. States may begin preparing applications based on likely requirements, which include the appointment of a state officer to serve as coordinator and a description of how the state will collect input from local and tribal jurisdictions to ensure their public safety needs are adequately addressed. Please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4296) with questions.

FCC Urged to Protect TV White Space as Part of Incentive Auction

Last week, the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition met with Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and urged the Commission to protect unlicensed spectrum in the TV White Spaces as part of incentive auction of broadcast spectrum. The Coalition argued that portion of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 authorizing the FCC to conduct incentive auctions of broadcast spectrum "reflected a conscious compromise that included an expectation that the Commission would mitigate the loss of unlicensed spectrum access due to a reallocation for auction by designating any duplex gap and/or guard bands for unlicensed access under rules that would be complementary to the current TV White Space rules." In a separate meeting with Commissioner Ajit Pai, the Telecommunications Industry Association urged the Commission to conduct incentive auctions no later than June 2014. Please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178) with questions.

Annual FCC Regulatory Fees due September 4th

Last month, the FCC announced that regulatory fees for the fiscal year 2012 are due by September 4, 2012. Licensees of certain facilities, such as Satellite Earth Stations, are required to make annual regulatory fee payments. For many licensed facilities, like microwave and land mobile systems, the regulatory fees are paid as part of an application fee charged at the time an application for new authority or application for renewal are submitted to the Commission. 

Send Us Your Feedback

In an attempt to address in our weekly Telecom Business Alert the issues of most importance to the clients and friends of Keller and Heckman LLP, we invite you to submit suggestions on topics of interest to you. To make suggestions, please send an e-mail to TelecomAlert@khlaw.com.

Keller and Heckman LLP's Telecom Business Alert is a complimentary weekly electronic update created by the Telecommunications and the Business Counseling and Transactional practice groups of Keller and Heckman LLP.

To sign up for our weekly alert, please send us an email at <a title="blocked::mailto:TelecomAlert@khlaw.com mailto:TelecomAlert@khlaw.com" href="mailto:TelecomAlert@khlaw.com">TelecomAlert@khlaw.com and provide us with your name and email.