Telecom Business Alert - FirstNet, Migratory Birds, 911 Reliability, Broadband - Volume XII, Issue 31

Date: Aug 03, 2015

Comments on FirstNet

Last week, FirstNet received more than 175 sets of comments in response to its draft request for proposals (RFP) and special notice released in April (Vol. XII, Issue 17).  The draft RFP sought input on the architecture and other aspects of FirstNet’s planned 700 MHz broadband network.  FirstNet aims to ensure the financial sustainability of the network primarily through the $7 billion Congressional grant and user fees for access to excess capacity on the network.  Keller and Heckman’s client, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, urged FirstNet to engage with rural electric cooperatives before releasing its final RFP later this year.  NRECA suggested FirstNet should expedite rural deployment by utilizing existing utility infrastructure in rural areas.  The next meeting of the FirstNet board will be held on October 1-2.  For additional information, please contact Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202.434.4207).

Migratory Birds

Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published a Notice of Intent seeking comment on whether it should prepare an Environmental Impact Statement related to the impact of proposed facilities and structures on migratory birds. Trade associations representing the tower industry (PCIA) and wireless industry (CTIA) filed comments last week arguing that the FWS should not prepare an EIS or adopt formal rules regulating communications towers. In the alternative, the groups urged FWS to work cooperatively with the FCC to develop a Memorandum of Understanding between the agencies that would allow the FCC to quickly and efficiently address incidental take issues related to communications towers. The FWS proposal is broader than just communications towers and could impact certain oil and gas assets as well as electric transmission and distribution lines.  

FCC Clarifies 911 Reliability Rules 

Last week, the FCC issued an Order on Reconsideration clarifying aspects of the 911 reliability rules adopted in December 2013. The rules require covered 911 service providers to audit, tag, and monitor all critical 911 circuits to mitigate the risk of 911 call failure and to file a certification every October confirming their compliance. The Commission’s Order clarified that covered providers may take reasonable alternative measures in lieu of auditing, tagging, and monitoring 911 circuits. The Commission indicated, however, that it will scrutinize any alternative measures to ensure they will satisfactorily mitigate the risk of a 911 network failure. For additional information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239). 

CAF II Competitive Auctions

An overview of the CAF II Competitive Auction is provided in partner Doug Jarrett’s article in the July Digital Issue of Broadband Communities, “FCC Connect America Fund Advances Broadband Deployment.” A copy of the article is available here. For additional information, please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180). 

AGL Conference

Keller and Heckman attorney, Wes Wright, will be participating on a Spectrum, Technology, and Tower Trends panel at the Above Ground Level (AGL) Conference in Denver, Colorado on August 5th. Mr. Wright will discuss recent FCC tower trends and how FirstNet’s planned deployment will impact the tower industry. For additional information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239). 

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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 © 2015.  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.