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Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. X Issue 15

Date: Apr 08, 2013

FCC Releases 800 MHz Relocation Plan for US/Mexico Border Region

Last week, the FCC released its Fifth Report and Order (the "Order") setting out its long-awaited channel relocation plan for 800 MHz licensees (806-824/851-869 MHz) located along the U.S.-Mexico Border. The border-area relocation plan is the last chapter of 800 MHz rebanding, and is now moving forward because of the U.S./Mexico 800 MHz agreement finalized in June 2012 (the "Amended Protocol"). The Order identifies relocation frequency bands and establishes a 30-month transition period for licensees to complete rebanding in the five National Public Safety Planning Advisory Committee ("NPSPAC") Regions bordering Mexico. Additional guidance from the 800 MHz Transition Administrator is expected in the near future, but incumbent licensees are encouraged to commence planning activities at this time. For more information on the rebanding process, please see K&H's analysis of the Order and contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128) or Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

FCC to Review RF Safety Rules

Last week, the FCC voted to review the Commission's radio frequency (RF) safety and exposure rules for the first time in ten years. The review has three components: a First Report and Order, a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and a Notice of Inquiry (full notice available here). The First Report and Order follows up on the rulemaking initiated in 2003 (available here) and concludes several technical and semantic issues. The Further NPRM poses additional questions related to the 2003 proceeding. Neither the Order nor the Further Notice changes the current FCC safety levels for the general public and occupational workers. These issues are raised in the Notice of Inquiry, however, which seeks comment from the industry and other government agencies regarding updated research into the impact of non-ionizing radiation on humans. Comments are due 90 days after publication in Federal Register and Replies 60 days thereafter. Keller and Heckman LLP will be discussing the FCC's recent Order in an RF Exposure Panel Discussion at the ENTELEC 2013 Conference and Expo next week. 

Utility Poles Saved From Environmental Regulation

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals last week dismissed a lawsuit that would have subjected tens of millions of utility poles to federal environmental regulations. The suit against Pacific Gas and Electric and Pacific Bell had alleged that utility poles discharged wood preservative into the environment via storm water in violation of the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Keller and Heckman LLP submitted an Amicus Brief in the proceeding. For additional information, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128).

Filing Deadlines for Paging Band Auction

Last week, the FCC released a Public Notice announcing the filing requirements and procedures for the upcoming paging band Auction 95 scheduled for July 16, 2013. The FCC plans to auction 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). Parties wanting to participate in the Auction will need to submit a Short-Form application to the FCC between April 30-May 9, and an Upfront Payment will be due June 13. The FCC will be conducting a mock Auction on July 12 to simulate the bidding process for all participants. For more information on how to participate in Auction 95, please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

K&H Attorneys at Industry Events

Keller and Heckman LLP attorneys Doug Jarrett, Greg Kunkle and Wes Wright will be attending the ENTELEC 2013 Conference and Expo in Houston, TX, next week, April 9-11. Please stop by to visit at Booth # 298. 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.

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