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Telecom Business Alert–Jammer Advisory, Rural Broadband Speed and E-Rate Funding Increase Announced, FirstNet Board Meets, 911 Location Accuracy Agreement, NOTAM Procedures Streamlined, FCC Prior Consent Reminder

Date: Dec 15, 2014

Title: Jammer Advisory, Rural Broadband Speed and E-Rate Funding Increase Announced, FirstNet Board Meets, 911 Location Accuracy Agreement, NOTAM Procedures Streamlined, FCC Prior Consent Reminder, and Richards Named Super Lawyer

Jammer Enforcement Advisory

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau released an Advisory last week reminding the public that it is illegal to use cell phone jammers and other devices that block, jam, or interfere with authorized communications. According to the Commission, jammers can prevent emergency phone calls from reaching first responders as well as prevent the public from engaging in daily activities such as making or receiving calls, connecting to the internet through a Wi-Fi-enable device and using GPS and social media applications. It is illegal to operate, import, sell, or advertise jammers in the United States. This prohibition extends to all public, state, and local government agencies, including law enforcement; jammer operation is restricted solely to authorized federal agencies. A violation of this prohibition could lead to a monetary penalty and criminal sanctions. Please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178) with questions.

Rural Broadband Speeds Increased and E-Rate Funding Increased

On December 11, 2014, the FCC adopted two decisions to encourage rural broadband development.  First,  the FCC adopted an Order requiring those  local exchange carriers receiving Connect America funding for fixed broadband to serve consumers with speeds of at least10Mbps and 1Mbps for downloads and uploads, respectively, which reportedly 99% of urban households already enjoy.  Second, the FCC adopted a widely-anticipated Order expanding the cap on the E-Rate funding by $1.5 Billion annually, an amount exceeding 15% of the current USF revenue pool.  K&H will provide additional information as the Orders become publicly available.  For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).         

FirstNet Board Meeting

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Board met on December 10, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Board addressed the comments received in response to the Request for Information and Public Notice issued by National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on September 24, 2014. The Comment period closed in late October. The FirstNet Board also approved a resolution to modify its bylaws and proposed topics for its Annual Report to Congress in 2015. FirstNet has a number of public safety events and meetings scheduled throughout the end of 2014.  For more information, please contact Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202.434.4207).

911 Location Accuracy

Last month, APCO, NENA, and the four major wireless carriers entered into an agreement aimed at improving indoor 911 location accuracy. The agreement provides a timeline by which carriers will provide first responders with (i) the civic address of the calling party, including the floor, suite, or apartment number for emergency calls placed indoors; and (ii) improved location information for outdoor and indoor emergency calls placed from mobile phones. Under the agreement, carriers must provide this information to public safety answering points within two years for 40% of all wireless calls placed to 9-1-1. The Commission sought comment on the Agreement and originally requested comments and reply comments by December 10th and December 17th, respectively. At the request the of Rural Wireless Association, the  FCC extended these deadlines last week. Comments are now due December 15th and Replies must be filed by December 24th. For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).     

NOTAM Procedures Streamlined

Last week, the FCC’s Wireless Bureau released an Advisory announcing the FAA’s plan to streamline the Notice to Airmen (“NOTAM”) process. Under current rules, a tower owner must request a NOTAM when a top-mounted light is not functioning properly and must repair the outage as soon as practicable. The NOTAM is valid for 15 days and may be extended if the lighting outage is not corrected within that 15-day period. Under the new procedures, tower owners will be able to select the amount of time they will need to repair the outage. This improvement should become effective in mid-January.  

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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 © 2014.  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.