Telecom Business Alert - 911 Reliability, Net Neutrality, Drones, Muni Broadband, and FirstNet - Vol. XII, Issue 13

Date: Mar 30, 2015

911 Reliability Comments

More than two dozen parties filed comments in response to the FCC’s proposed rules to enhance the reliability of the nation’s 911 infrastructure.  The proposed rules would expand the scope of entities subject to the FCC’s reliability rules to include all entities that provide 911, E911, or NG911 capabilities (including both wireline and wireless providers).  (See, Vol. XI, Issue 18).  While most parties supported the FCC’s goal of improving the reliability of the 911 system, many opposed the FCC’s proposed rules.  For example, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO) questioned whether the FCC has authority to usurp state jurisdiction over the 911 system.  The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) requested authority to negotiate a consensus agreement with stakeholders to replace the FCC’s proposed rules (similar to the voluntary agreement negotiated in the FCC’s wireless 911 location accuracy proceeding).  The carriers, including Verizon, and AT&T, suggested the proposed rules would be too costly to implement, are overly broad, and should not be applied to entities that solely originate calls to 911.  Reply Comments are due April 21st.  For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).

Open Internet Order Challenged

Last week, the United States Telecommunications Association (USTA) and Alamo Broadband Inc. filed separate petitions in different courts challenging the FCC’s new Open Internet rules.  The rules prohibit broadband Internet access service providers from blocking lawful content, applications, services, or the attachment of non-harmful devices.  These entities also may not “impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of Internet content, application or service,” and may not directly or indirectly favor some traffic over others in exchange for money, to benefit an affiliated entity, or for any other consideration.  Both petitions argued that the FCC’s rules violate the U.S. Constitution, the Administrative Procedures Act, and other federal law.  Please contact Doug Jarrett (202.434.4180; Jarrett@khlaw.com) with questions.

FAA Streamlines Drone Process

Last week, the FAA announced an interim unmanned aircraft system (UAS) policy to streamline authorizations for certain commercial UAS.  Under the interim policy, the FAA will automatically grant a “blanket” Certificate of Waiver Authorization (COA) for flights at or below 200 feet for any UAS operator that has secured an exemption to operate under the agency’s Section 333 exemption process.  The COA will be limited to UAS flights at or below 200 feet for systems weighing less than 55 pounds that meet other operational requirements.  Please contact Greg Kunkle (202.434.4178; kunkle@khlaw.com) with questions.

Municipal Broadband Order Challenged 

Last week, the Tennessee Attorney General filed a petition requesting that a court overturn the FCC’s Municipal Broadband Order adopted last month.  The Order preempted certain provisions of Tennessee law that limit the expansion of municipal broadband networks beyond their existing service territories.  The Commission found that preemption of these laws would promote competition and provide consumers with additional broadband choices at lower prices.   The petition argues that the FCC exceeded its authority by preempting Tennessee law.  For additional information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).

FirstNet Delays RFP Release 

Last week, FirstNet announced that it was delaying the release of a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) by a few weeks.  The RFP was originally expected to be released in the next few weeks.  However, FirstNet elected to delay the release of the draft because the organization’s Finance Committee sought additional financial data in the proposal.  FirstNet’s Board should be meeting in the near future to finalize the RFP for release to the public.  For additional information, please contact Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202.434.4207).

NRECA/FirstNet Webinar

On April 7, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) will host a free 90-minute webinar FOR NRECA MEMBERS ONLYThe webinar will address how electric cooperatives might benefit from the development of the nationwide public safety broadband network.   As part of its Congressional authorization, FirstNet has obtained dedicated spectrum that it is contemplating sharing with critical infrastructure users.  During this webinar, attendees will learn about FirstNet’s plans and progress and how individual cooperatives may work with FirstNet.  The webinar, moderated by NRECA’s, Martha Dugan (Senior Principal, Regulatory Affairs), will feature Al Catalano (Keller and Heckman), Jessica Zufolo (Deputy Administrator, Rural Utilities Service), and Kathy Nelson (Principal Telecommunications Engineer, Great River Energy).  THE WEBINAR IS FOR NRECA MEMBERS ONLY.  Please contact Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202.434.4207) with any questions regarding the webinar.


Several members of the Keller and Heckman LLP telecommunications team will be attending the ENTELEC 2015 Conference & Expo from April 7-9 in Houston, TX.  Attorneys Greg Kunkle and Wes Wright will be presenting the Washington Roundtable Report on Tuesday, April 7 at 10:45 in Room 360 E.  Mr. Wright also will be part of a panel discussion on Offshore Communication Challenges at 1:30 in Room 370 C.  Keller and Heckman is sponsoring the President’s Reception on Thursday, April 9th from 6-8 p.m. at Saint Arnolds Brewing Company.  If you will be attending ENTELEC, please stop by Booth 224 to visit. 

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