Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. IX Issue 45

Date: Nov 05, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Raises Questions about Wireless Carriers' Backup Plans

Last week, the FCC reported that an estimated 20-25 percent of cell tower sites in 158 counties across 10 states and the District of Columbia were out of service as a result of damage from Hurricane Sandy. Looking back to the widespread outage following Hurricane Katrina, the FCC sought to require installation of backup batteries at all cell sites. Wireless carriers resisted, arguing that carriers already had sufficient private market incentive to improve their networks, and ultimately were successful in blocking the new rules. The FCC's reports from Hurricane Sandy may renew the regulatory debate of how to harden wireless networks to make them more reliable in disasters. Additionally, to assist affected licensees operating facilities in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, the FCC released a Public Notice last week extending until November 28, 2012, deadlines for applications, notifications and reports that had been due October 27-November 27. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

API and ENTELEC Discuss Spectrum Needs with FCC Commissioner

On October 31, 2012, representatives from the American Petroleum Institute's Telecommunications Subcommittee ("API") and ENTELEC's Regulatory Committee (both Keller and Heckman LLP clients) met with new FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai to discuss the oil and natural gas industry's pressing need for spectrum. Over the years, federal policy decisions have steadily decreased the amount of spectrum available for critical infrastructure companies in favor of allocating spectrum for wireless carriers -- the latest example being Congress's decision to auction the 470-512 MHz band. API and ENTELEC pointed out that the oil and natural gas industry is seeking to transition to next generation IP-enabled services and urged the Commissioner to consider critical infrastructure spectrum needs when deciding future spectrum allocation issues. API and ENTELEC left a position paper (available here) with the Commissioner further detailing the energy industry's need for spectrum. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

NTIA Extends Comment Deadline on FirstNet Network

Last week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced it has extended until November 9, 2012 the comment deadline to respond to a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) regarding the conceptual network architecture for FirstNet's 700 MHz Nationwide Broadband Network. The NOI invites comment on the network design, network security requirements and business plans as well as alternative network design proposals for a single nationwide architecture capable of evolving along with technical advancements. The comment date was extended to provide additional time for states and First Responders impacted by Hurricane Sandy to focus their attention and resources on helping citizens recover from the storm. Please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4296) for more information.

FCC Seeks Comment on Petitions for Clarification of Telephone Consumer Protection Act

The FCC is seeking comment on four petitions that request clarification of aspects of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and FCC's telemarketing rules. The petitions request guidance on the application of the TCPA and FCC's rules to (1) Internet-to-phone text messaging technology and other technologies that involve the storage and automatic dialing of wireless phone numbers, (2) unsolicited fax advertisements that are converted to e-mail, (3) third parties that fax individuals' resumes in response to employment ads, and (4) prerecorded messages by operator service providers to connect collect callers to telephone numbers assigned to wireless telephones. Comments on the four petitions are due November 23, and reply comments are due December 10. Please contact Tracy Marshall (marshall@khlaw.com; 202.434.4234) with questions.

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