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Telecom Business Alert - FCC Applications, FCC Fine, and FirstNet Vol. XI Issue 37

Date: Sep 15, 2014

September 15, 2014, Volume XI, Issue 37

FCC Applications, FCC Fine, and FirstNet

FCC Denies Electric and Oil and Gas Applications

In a long running hearing proceeding (see, Vol. VIII, Issue 17), the FCC released a Memorandum Opinion and Order last week denying a Petition for Reconsideration filed by eight electric utilities and oil and gas companies to acquire spectrum from a Commission licensee – MCLM –for smart grids and SCADA systems to monitor pipelines. The Petition requested that the FCC remove the applications filed by these entities from the hearing proceeding and grant them.  The FCC denied this request and elected only to remove an application filed by a railroad to deploy Positive Train Control.  The FCC determined that smart grid networks and SCADA systems “were not dedicated to communications to prevent human injury and property damage, but are also used for day-to-day facilities management and other purposes that primarily serve the business needs of the licensee.”  For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239)

FCC Fines Critical Infrastructure Licensee $5.25 Million

The FCC released a Public Notice and Consent Decree last week announcing a settlement with Canadian National Railway (CNR) requiring the company to pay a $5.25 million fine and admit it violated several FCC rules.   As part of more than a dozen transactions, the company failed to secure the FCC’s consent to acquire the radio licenses as part of various corporate acquisitions.  The company also admitted it operated several unauthorized radio systems either by relocating existing systems without modifying the underlying license or operating systems without securing a license.  CNR reported these violations to the Commission.  For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).

Accessing FirstNet’s Broadband System

Electric utilities, oil and gas companies and other critical infrastructure entities interested in accessing FirstNet’s developing 700 MHz broadband network may wish to weigh-in on the scope of its legal authority under its enabling statute.  FirstNet will soon be seeking a definition of “public safety” under the new law. This interpretation will determine the rights of critical infrastructure companies and others to access FirstNet spectrum, as well as usage priorities under various scenarios.  FirstNet also will be seeking to define “rural” areas, which will determine geographic regions that must be covered under the statute.  It is expected that appropriate notice will be issued after FirstNet’s September Board meeting, giving interested parties an opportunity to comment and influence the development of the network. For more information, please contact Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202.434.4207).

State of Washington Proposes Pole Attachment Rules

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission last week proposed new pole attachment rules to govern attachments to electric and telephone utility poles that are modeled after, but go beyond, Federal Communication Commission rules.  For more information, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202-434-4128).

Keller and Heckman Co-Sponsors UTC Conference

On September 15, 2014, Keller and Heckman co-sponsored the “Critical Infrastructure Communications Policy Summit” held by the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) and the U.S. Department of Energy.  Keller and Heckman attorneys Doug Jarrett and Greg Kunkle attended the event. A copy of their short paper distributed during the conference, entitled “The Energy Industry Deserves Adequate Spectrum Resources,” is available HERE.  

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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.  All articles, videos, and quotations are on topics of general interest and do not constitute legal advice for particularized facts.  Keller and Heckman LLP's Telecom Business Alert © 2013.  All rights reserved.  Articles may be copied with attribution.  To sign up for our weekly alert, please send us an email at telecomalert@khlaw.com and provide us with your name and email.  Please follow us on twitter at @KHtelecom.