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Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. X Issue 19

Date: May 06, 2013

Tom Wheeler Nominated for FCC Chairman

Last week, President Obama nominated Tom Wheeler (D) to be the next Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Mr. Wheeler has extensive background in the telecom industry, having previously led both the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) and CTIA-The Wireless Association. Wheeler also chaired the FCC's Technical Advisory Council, and the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy. He currently serves as Managing Director of Core Capital Partners, a Washington D.C.-based investment firm. The President has not yet announced his nomination for the Republican Commissioner to replace the vacancy left by Robert McDowell (R). The two nominations are expected to be presented together to ease the confirmation process on Capitol Hill. 

FCC Issues Fines for Tower Violations

After repeated warnings, the FCC recently issued a Notice of Apparent Liability in the amount of $25,000 to a tower owner for failure to display the Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) number in a conspicuous place, failure to regularly repaint the structure, and failure to change the ownership information. The FCC's rules require the ASR number be posted so it is readily visible near the base of the structure. Structures requiring painting must be repainted as necessary to maintain sufficient visibility. Tower owners also are required to immediately notify the FCC when there is a change in ownership. Please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4296) with questions or for more information.

Tom Magee on Pole Attachments

For an electric utility perspective on the FCC's handling of pole attachment issues, please see the recent article in Electric Magazine by K&H Partner Tom Magee, entitled "The FCC's Pole Attachment Order is Promoting Broadband at the Expense of Electric Utilities," reprinted with permission (available here). Please feel free to contact Tom (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128) with questions or comments.

Corporate Counsel Corner: Electrical Power Generation Backup Sites Face Continued EPA Enforcement Scrutiny

Licensees and owner/operators of communications towers (and other facilities) that maintain back-up energy supply systems are potentially subject to multiple environmental compliance obligations by virtue of the lead-acid batteries and diesel fuel generators that constitute back-up energy systems. The U.S. EPA has taken enforcement action against the major wireless carriers and various smaller companies for non-compliance with obligations that arise under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), Clean Water Act (CWA), and Clean Air Act (CAA). Penalty amounts have ranged from several thousand dollars to over one million dollars. EPCRA reporting requirements are triggered by the presence of threshold quantities of hazardous chemicals, such as sulfuric acid (found in batteries) or diesel fuel, at sites. Facilities with fuel storage tanks may be required to prepare and implement spill prevention, control, and countermeasures (SPCC) plans under the CWA and those with generators may also be subject to air permitting obligations and other emission control rules. For more information on compliance obligations or EPA's Audit Policy, please contact Keller and Heckman LLP Partner Trent Doyle (doyle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4161).

Keller and Heckman at Upcoming Industry Events

Doug Jarrett along with Rick Sigel of Silver Lining Telecom will present on "Proven Approaches for Acquiring Carrier-Provided Services" on Tuesday May 14, 2013, at UTC Telecom 2013 in Houston, Texas. Please visit Dougat the Keller and Heckman booth during Exhibit Hours on Wednesday (May 15) and Thursday (May 16).

Doug Jarrett and Greg Kunkle will be making a joint presentation, "USF Contribution Rules: Reform, Revolt or Implosion" on Wednesday May 22, 2013 at the TeleStrategies' Communications Taxation ‘13 Conference at the Peabody Orlando Hotel, Florida.

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.

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