Telecom Business Alert — FCC Commissioner Nominations, Net Neutrality, BYOD, Pole Attachment, Vol X, Issue 38

Date: Sep 16, 2013

Inside Washington – Senate Hearing Set for FCC Nominee O’Rielly

The Senate Commerce Committee set the hearing on FCC Commissioner nominee Michael O’Rielly for this Wednesday, September 18.  Mr. O’Rielly, a top staffer with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), was recommended by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for the open Republican Commissioner seat, replacing Robert McDowell who left the FCC in May. Once O’Rielly’s nomination clears Committee, his confirmation will likely be paired with FCC Chairman Nominee Tom Wheeler to ease the confirmation of both nominees by the Senate. The Senate Commerce Committee has already approved Wheeler’s nomination.  A Senate vote on the FCC leadership could happen as early as before the Columbus Day recess on October 14. 

DC Circuit Court Hears Arguments on Net Neutrality

Last week, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit heard oral arguments for Verizon Communications Inc.’s appeal of the FCC’s 2010 Net Neutrality Order prohibiting broadband providers from blocking or discriminating against Internet content. The primary issue is defining the scope of the FCC’s authority over the Internet and Verizon’s ability to control and benefit from the content traveling in its network.  In oral arguments, Verizon argued the FCC overstepped its authority by essentially imposing common carrier regulations on broadband providers and the entire law should be struck. The FCC responded that although it’s Order prevents Internet service providers from blocking users from accessing web-content, Verizon and other providers could still favor some traffic by entering into “pay for priority” agreements. The Judges, however, appeared to believe this argument actually undermined the FCC’s Net Neutrality position. Please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180) for more information.

Supreme Court Pole Attachment Decision October 7                     

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to rule October 7 on whether to consider the electric utility industry’s appeal of the FCC’s decision in its April 2011 Pole Attachment Order to regulate the joint use relationship between electric utility and ILEC pole owners. The Court’s decision will help utilities decide how to handle ongoing disputes with ILECs over attachment rates. For information about how this may affect your utility, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128).

Corporate Counsel Corner:
What You Need to Know about BYOD Programs

Last week, Keller and Heckman LLP Partner Tracy Marshall published an article in the Global Legal Post discussing the benefits and risks of “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) programs. The article reviews the current U.S. legal landscape and identifies some of the factors that employers should consider when developing and implementing BYOD policies. Please contact Tracy Marshall (marshall@khlaw.com; 202.434.4234) for more information.


Register Today – Quarterly K&H Webinar on CII Telecom Issues

Keller and Heckman LLP attorneys will host a complimentary webinar for clients and friends of the firm next week on September 25, 2013 at noon Eastern, to discuss key telecom issues facing the Critical Infrastructure industries. This webinar is the third in a series addressing current events at the FCC of particular interest to CII companies, including wireless spectrum issues, licensing and enforcement trends, network services, pole attachments, and cybersecurity.  

Deadline Approaching for Annual FCC Regulatory Fees

Earlier this month, the FCC released a Report and Order announcing regulatory fees for fiscal year 2013. Licensees of certain facilities, such as Satellite Earth Stations, are required to make annual regulatory fee payments which are due by September 20, 2013. For many licensed facilities, such as private microwave and land mobile systems, the FCC regulatory fees are paid as part of the application fee at the time an application for new or renewed authority is submitted to the Commission.  The regulatory fees for Land Mobile licenses will remain the same, but licensees holding 470-512 MHz, 800 MHz or 900 MHz licenses will notice a slight increase.  

K&H Attorneys at Industry Events

Keller and Heckman LLP attorneyWes Wright will be attending the ENTELEC 2013 Fall Seminar Series in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 17-18. On Tuesday, September 17, Mr. Wright will be participating in a Vendor “Shoot-Out” panel discussion on the Wireless Communications trends and challenges in the Marcellus and Utica Shale.

Keller and Heckman LLP partner Tom Magee will be attending the Western Energy Institute Joint Use Conference in Seattle, Washington, September 19. Mr. Magee will be speaking on Lessons from the Pole Attachment Battlegrounds. For more information, please contact Tom (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128).

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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.

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