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Telecom Alert - 2019 Predictions- Vol. XVI, Issue 1

Date: Jan 07, 2019

The FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order likely will be affirmed on appeal as broadband Internet access service meets the statutory definition of "information services.”  A major question is whether the FCC will focus on fixed broadband deployment in rural and other underserved areas in a manner comparable to 5G and other commercial mobile broadband services.  Doug Jarrett, Partner

The FCC’s August 2018 Pole Attachment Order will become effective, and communications attachers will disagree with utility pole owners about what the new rules require, what they allow, and how they should be implementedTom Magee, Partner

Expect the General Access (unlicensed) tier of the 3550-3700 GHz CBRS band to become available in early 2019.  The Priority Access tier may not be auctioned until 2020, but the proceeding to set auction procedures should commence by mid-2019.  Greg Kunkle, Partner

There will be a lot of 9-1-1 developments at the federal and state levels in 2019!  I expect the FCC to continue promoting consumer access to 9-1-1 through text, routing, MLTS, and reliability proceedings; I hope Capitol Hill will build on momentum for federal NG 9-1-1 funding; and, finally, I believe individual state PUCs will continue clarifying their role in regulating the 9-1-1 network in an IP world.  Wes Wright, Partner

The FCC will be back to a full complement of five Commissioners but there will not be significant changes in its policies. Commercial wireless interests will retain their very high priority in FCC decision making. Policy and jurisdictional battles between the FCC and some states over net neutrality and other telecommunications issues will continue unabated.  Mike Fitch, Counsel

The year will bring continued confrontation between many local jurisdictions and wireless carriers in response to the FCC’s September 2018 “small cell” order which opened the door for deployment of hundreds of thousands of RF transmitters in communities across the country in order to speed the implementation of 5G.  In its order, the FCC adopted federal guidelines that seek to limit traditional local control over rights-of-way housing these facilities.  Al Catalano, Counsel

There were seismic shifts in data privacy in 2018 with the entry into force of the EU General Data Protection Regulation and enactment of the California Consumer Protection Act.  Privacy issues loom large on the Congressional agenda for 2019, with many expecting the introduction of comprehensive national legislation.  It will be important to keep an eye on the evolving landscape in 2019.  Tracy Marshall, Partner

The Commission will continue its efforts to encourage 5G deployment by creating opportunities for commercial users.  The question remains whether similar attention will be given to critical infrastructure spectrum requirements.  Critical infrastructure companies will need to advocate for spectrum resources while at the same time working to preserve current allocations like the 6 GHz microwave band.  Tim Doughty, Associate

With Democrats taking over the House, we expect FCC Commissioners to be scrutinized more aggressively than in recent years.  Congress likely will focus its FCC oversight attention on broadband funding, the FCC’s process for merger reviews, net neutrality, and consumer privacy.  Kathleen Slattery, Associate

In this upcoming year, it is likely that all new and/or modification Multiple Address Systems (MAS) applications will take as long as 5 months to be processed and granted by the FCC, with additional delays stemming from the Federal government shutdown.  Devin Peelman, FCC/FAA Licensing Specialist

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Keller and Heckman LLP's Telecom Business Alert is a complimentary weekly electronic update created by the Telecommunications Practice Group 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 © 2018.  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.