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Telecom Business Alert - Positive Train Control, E-Rate, Open Internet Enforcement Advisory, EAS Fine, FCC's 2015 Proposed Fees - Vol. XII, Issue 21

Date: May 26, 2015

Positive Train Control

In light of the recent fatal Amtrak accident in Philadelphia, the Commission released a blog post concerning rail safety and Positive Train Control (“PTC”).  PTC systems monitor and control movements on railroads to enhance railroad safety.  In 2008 Congress passed legislation requiring railroads to install and operate PTC systems by December 31, 2015.  However, spectrum was never allocated for this purpose.  Although the Commission stated that the Department of Transportation has primary authority over PTC systems to ensure proper activation and operation, the FCC affirmed that it will work closely with all railroads to assist with PTC deployment.  For additional information please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

E-Rate Fiber Build Program

Last week the Commission held a public workshop on the E-Rate funded fiber build projects.  The Commission discussed the recent changes to the E-rate Rules under the Second E-Rate Modernization Order (“Order”) such as payment terms for applicants, similar treatment of Lit and Dark fiber, and self-provisioning.  The Commission emphasized that the rules did not change the “Spirit of E-Rate” which is the competitive bidding process.   Several school and library representatives from across the nation also provided practical commentary on their experience with the E-Rate program, all of which emphasized the importance of starting the application process early.  Additionally, the Commission released a proposed Eligible Services List (“ESL”), which adds dark fiber to the list of eligible services.  Comments are due on or before June 22, 2015 and reply comments are due on or before July 6, 2015.  For additional information, please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

Open Internet Enforcement Advisory

The Commission issued an Enforcement Advisory (“Advisory”) last week directed to broadband Internet access service providers pertaining to the Commission’s planned enforcement of Section 222 of the Communications Act, which requires telecommunications carriers to protect the confidentiality of customer proprietary network information (“CPNI”).  Between the effective date of the Open Internet Order (on or about June 12, 2015) and adoption of CPNI rules applicable to Broadband Internet Access Service, the Advisory states that the Enforcement Bureau intends to focus on whether broadband providers are taking reasonable good-faith efforts to protect CPNI.  The Advisory is consistent with the Enforcement Bureau’s new approach of relying on broad statutory principles, as opposed to specific FCC rules, in initiating enforcement actions.  For additional information, please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

Emergency Alert System $1 Million Fine

Last week the Commission issued a $1 million fine to iHeartCommunications for transmitting fake emergency alerts in late 2014.  Entities are prohibited from broadcasting Emergency Alert System (EAS) tones in non-emergency or unauthorized testing situations.  IHeartCommunications broadcast the emergency tones during the Bobby Bones Show using a recording from an earlier authorized test.  The emergency tones were transmitted to 70 affiliated stations and subsequently retransmitted.  This fine follows on the heels of a recent $1.4 million fine assessed to Viacom and ESPN for misusing EAS tones in January.  For additional information, please contact Wes Wright (Wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).

Proposed Regulatory Fees for 2015

On May 21, 2015, the Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) pertaining to proposed regulatory fees for fiscal year 2015.  The Commission is mandated by Congress to assess its regulatory fees each year.  The NPRM proposes to collect nearly $340 million in regulatory fees for FY 2015.  While credit cards may be used to pay fees, the U.S. Treasury reduced the amount that can be charged on a credit card from $49,999.99 to $24,999.99, effective June 1, 2015.  Comments to the NPRM are due June 22, 2015 and Reply Comments by July 6, 2015.  For additional information please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

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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.