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Telecom Business Alert - PDV Petition, Municipal Broadband Petitions, Cell Tower Siting, CII/FirstNet Webinar - Volume XII, Issue 3

Date: Jan 20, 2015

Title: PDV Petition, Municipal Broadband Petitions, Cell Tower Siting, CII/FirstNet Webinar

CII Entities Raise Concerns over PDV Petition

Last week, a number of critical infrastructure entities filed responses to an FCC Public Notice seeking comment on a joint Petition for Rulemaking submitted by the Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) and Pacific DataVision, Inc. (PDV). The Petition seeks to re-purpose the 896-901/935-940MHz Private Land Mobile band, creating a paired 3 MHz broadband segment. Existing licensees currently licensed on frequencies in the 3 MHz broadband segment would be relocated to narrowband assignments in the paired 2 MHz segment. Critical Infrastructure entities and their trade associations acknowledged the need for additional spectrum to meet broadband requirements, but argued the Petition lacks key technical, cost, and other details. Others objected to the petition, expressing the concern that the reallocation would cause interference to narrowband operations and adjacent channels while not clearing enough spectrum for broadband operations. Reply Comments are due January 27. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).                            

Municipal Broadband Petitions

Last week, President Obama announced support for local governments wishing to deploy their own broadband networks. The White House also released a Fact Sheet and Report specifically identifying the locally-owned broadband networks in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina as examples of increased access and competition. Currently, 19 states have barriers in place limiting community broadband and protecting incumbent providers from competition. Next month the FCC plans to vote on petitions filed by the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga and the City of Wilson asking the FCC to preempt portions of Tennessee and North Carolina state law restricting their ability to expand their broadband service offerings. For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4296).

Supreme Court Settles Tower Siting Dispute

On January 14, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in T-Mobile South, LLC v. City of Roswell Georgia holding that under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Act), localities must provide the reasons that they deny applications to build cell phone towers with “sufficient clarity and essentially contemporaneously” with the denial. In 2010, the Atlanta-suburb City Council held a meeting and subsequently denied T-Mobile’s cell tower permit application. However, the City Council waited 26 days to provide T-Mobile with the reasons for the denial (i.e., aesthetic incompatibility and unnecessary technology). The trial court concluded that the City Council violated the Act, but the Eleventh Circuit reversed stating that the City Council’s actions were sufficient. The circuit court did not evaluate the amount of time that passed before the City Council provided T-Mobile with its reasons for the denial.  In the opinion delivered by Justice Sotomayor, the Court found that the City Council provided the reasons for the denial with sufficient clarity, but failed to provide those reasons in a timely manner, which violated the Act. The Supreme Court reversed the Eleventh Circuit’s judgment and remanded the case. 

CII/FirstNet Webinar Audio Available

On January 13, 2015, Keller and Heckman LLP partner, Al Catalano, hosted a webinar featuring Secretary Darryl Ackley from the State of New Mexico and highlighting opportunities presented to electric utilities, oil and gas companies and others interested in participating in First Net. The Webinar was the first in a series of webinars Keller and Heckman plans to hold regarding First Net and is available upon request.  For additional information or to request a recording of the webinar, please contact Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202.434.4207).

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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 © 2014.  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.