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Telecom Business Alert – FirstNet, USA Freedom Act, 911 Reliability, and More, Vol XII , Issue 23

Date: Jun 08, 2015

FirstNet Comments

FirstNet received over 50 comments in response to its Third Notice on the issue of whether a utility as a “whole” -- or only certain members -- may be designated a “public safety entity” entitled to priority access to the FirstNet network. Utilities and their representatives as well as many states support a broad definition of public safety to include the entire utility, while APCO and those representing commercial carrier interests argue for a more restrictive definition. States and others argued that issues of priority access should be left to the state consultation process and should not be resolved as a matter of definitions. FirstNet also received hundreds of questions asking for clarification of its draft Request for Proposal (RFP). A date for answers to the questions has not been set. Substantive comments on the draft RFP are due July 27, 2015. Please contact Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239) with questions.

Parties “Refresh” Telecom Attachment Rate Record

In comments filed last week, communications attachers asked the FCC to close the so-called "loophole" that allows the telecom rate to exceed the cable rate when certain regulatory presumptions are rebutted. Crown Castle also claimed excessive, “unregulated” rates for pole top attachments.  UTC appropriately noted lower attachment rates were not promoting broadband, and a group of utilities called for a new rulemaking proceeding to establish a better rate. For additional information please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202-434-4128).

USA Freedom Act of 2015—Restricts NSA

On June 2, 2015, Congress passed and President Obama signed the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015, stripping the National Security Agency of authority to engage in the bulk collection of telephone metadata (a broad range of wireless and wireline call information) that NSA could retain indefinitely and access and review at its discretion to assess potential terrorist threats. The new law tracks the May 7, 2015 decision by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in ACLU v. Clapper in which the court rejected the government’s argument that NSA’s bulk collection of telephone metadata was consistent with Section 215 of the Patriot Act. For additional information, contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

911 Reliability Certification

Last week, the FCC made available for public testing the initial version of its online system for filing 911 reliability certifications.  The 911 reliability rules, adopted in December 2013, apply to all entities providing 911, E911, or NG911 to a public safety answering point, statewide default answering point, or appropriate local emergency authority. Covered providers must audit and monitor all critical 911 circuits to mitigate the risk of 911 call failure and file an annual certification of compliance. The initial certification is due October 15th. Please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239) with questions.

EAS Order

The Commission has released its Sixth Report & Order (“Order”) pertaining to the Emergency Alert System. In the Order, the Commission amended several EAS operational rules for EAS participants. EAS participants must transmit EAS alerts initiated by the President and may transmit EAS alerts issued by other government agencies. The amended rules include a requirement that EAS participants file test data in an Electronic Test Report System and comply with accessibility rules. EAS participants must comply with the new rules within 12 months of the effective date.  The effective date will be 30 days after the Order is published in the Federal Register, which has not yet occurred. For additional information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).

KH Attorneys Quoted in CII Spectrum Article

Keller and Heckman attorneys, Greg Kunkle and Wes Wright, were quoted in lead Mission Critical article, 8 Spectrum Opportunities for Critical Infrastructure last week. The article explored the various spectrum issues that face Critical Infrastructure Industries (“CII”) such as spectrum constraints and shortages as well as the spectrum options available for CII. Additionally, the article highlighted Keller and Heckman’s outline of the several items that CII should consider in exploring spectrum options.  For additional information or questions, please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178) or 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.