Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. X Issue 12

Date: Mar 18, 2013

FCC Approves Rules for Tower Collision Avoidance System

Earlier this month, the FCC released a Report and Order revising Part 87 of its rules to permit the operation of certain audio visual warning systems (or "AVWS"). The new rules permit owners and operators of air navigation obstacles (including towers and wind turbines) to secure authority to operate advanced AVWS stations as an alternative to the typical "always-on" antenna structure lighting systems. AVWS is an FAA-approved option for lighting towers and other air navigation obstacles and includes a continuously operating radar system that activates obstruction lighting as an aircraft approaches. If the aircraft continues toward the obstacle, the AVWS transmits an audible warning on Part 87 ground-to-air frequencies warning the aircraft pilot of the approaching obstacle. The new Part 87 rules establish generally applicable licensing procedures for AVWS. The FCC's Report and Order is largely consistent with the Petition for Rulemaking filed by Keller and Heckman on behalf of its client, OCAS Inc. For additional information regarding the new rules for AVWS, please contact KH attorney Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

FCC Public Notice Provides Narrowbanding Guidance

Last week, the FCC released a Public Notice providing guidance to licensees on continued compliance with the Commission's narrowband requirement for private land mobile VHF (150-174 MHz) and UHF (421-470 MHz) systems. As of January 1, 2013, wideband operation (25 kHz channels) in these bands without a waiver is a violation of the FCC's rules. Licensees operating non-narrowband (or narrowband equivalent) systems must either cease operations or immediately seek a waiver from the FCC to permit the continued wideband operation. Licensees operating narrowband systems (12.5 kHz channels) that did not update their licenses should immediately modify them to add a narrowband emission designator. The Commission also requested that licensees operating narrowband-equivalent technology on 25 kHz channels certify that their operations meet the narrowband spectrum efficiency standard. Finally, licensees with licenses reflecting both wideband and narrowband emission designators are not required to remove the wideband emission designator but are encouraged to do so. Please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4296) with questions.

Lower and Upper Paging Band Auction Set for July 16


Earlier this year, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing an auction of 5,905 paging licenses -- 4,902 licenses in the lower paging bands (unpaired spectrum in the 35, 43, 152, and 158 MHz bands and paired spectrum in the 152/157, 152/158, and 454/459 MHz bands) and 1,003 licenses in the upper paging bands (929 and 931 MHz). The auction is scheduled to take place on July 16, 2013. The lower paging band licenses will be auctioned by 175 geographic areas known as Economic Areas (EAs), while the upper paging band licenses will be auctioned by 51 geographic areas known as Major Economic Areas (MEAs). The lower paging bands are compatible with many Part 90 radios. The Notice sought comment on auction procedures for potential bidders and specific rules to govern the auction. No comments were received by the deadline, and the auction is expected to proceed as scheduled. Please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178) for more information.

ENTELEC: Spectrum Crunch in the Energy Industry

Keller and Heckman has authored an article on behalf of ENTELEC discussing the Spectrum Crunch in the Energy Industry in the February edition of Pipeline & Gas Journal. The article summarizes one mission of the ENTELEC Regulatory Committee (a special committee established by ENTELEC's Board of Directors in 2011), which is to highlight the lack of available radio spectrum resources to support the critical communications requirements of energy companies, including SCADA related to production fields, pipelines and other facilities, as well as smart grid and other critical functions.

Keller and Heckman LLP attorneys Doug Jarrett, Greg Kunkle and Wes Wright will be attending the ENTELEC 2013 Conference and Expo in Houston, TX, April 9-11. Keller and Heckman is sponsoring a Continental Breakfast at 8 AM on Thursday, April 11, immediately followed by the annual Washington Report Roundtable moderated by Keller and Heckman and featuring Mr. Jarrett, Mr. Kunkle and Mr. Wright. As part of the Washington Report, they will discuss in "Q&A" format the latest FCC activities and telecom legislation affecting the energy industry. 

K&H Attorneys at Other Industry Events

On March 20 and 21, Tom Magee will lead a utility attorney roundtable and join the Legal Panel at the Wisconsin Joint Use Conference in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. On April 1, 2013, KH attorneys Greg Kunkle and Wesley Wright will be hosting a session at ShaleComm on Licensing and Regulations: Federal and Local Laws for your Sites. Please contact Tom (202.434.4128; magee@khlaw.com), Greg (202.434.4178; kunkle@khlaw.com) or Wes (202.434.4296; wright@khlaw.com) with questions.

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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.

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