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Telecom Business Alert Title: FirstNet Environmental Reviews, Rural Broadband Experiments, 911 Location Accuracy, and Rural Call Completion, Vol XI Issue 46

Date: Nov 17, 2014

Title: FirstNet Environmental Reviews, Rural Broadband Experiments, 911 Location Accuracy, and Rural Call Completion

FirstNet Environmental Impact Statements

Last week, FirstNet’s Notice of Intent was published in the Federal Register, announcing the preparation of five regional Programmatic Environmental Impact Statements (PEIS) to comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements regarding environmental analysis.  By preparing the PEIS Statements by region, FirstNet hopes it will expedite the environmental review for deployment of its nationwide network.  As the NEPA rules favor collocation of equipment on existing towers, FirstNet”s  environmental review may present an opportunity for critical infrastructure entities to emphasize their value as FirstNet participants by offering  FirstNet access to their existing infrastructure.  FirstNet will hold public meetings to evaluate the environmental impacts of the proposed nationwide public safety broadband network in the coming weeks.  For more information, please contact Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202.434.4207).

Rural Broadband Experiments

The FCC received nearly 600 project bids from 181 applicants seeking funds to deploy broadband-capable networks in underserved rural communities identified by the FCC.  (See October 20 Telecom Business Alert).  The bids represent approximately $885 million worth of projects and propose to serve over 76,000 census blocks throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.  In the next few weeks, FCC staff will identify potential winning bidders based principally on “cost competitiveness.”  For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

911 Location Accuracy

Last week, APCO, NENA, and the four major wireless carriers entered into an agreement aimed at improving indoor 911 location accuracy.  The agreement provides a timeline by which carriers will provide first responders with (i) the civic address of the calling party, including the floor, suite, or apartment number for emergency calls placed indoors; and (ii) improved location information for outdoor and indoor emergency calls placed from mobile phones.  The agreement was reached prior to a Commission-imposed deadline of November
14th and requires the carriers to provide this information to public safety answering points within two years for 40% of all wireless calls placed to 9-1-1.  Four other major public safety groups refused to sign onto the agreement, arguing it was not strong enough.  For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).                

Rural Call Completion

Last week, the FCC issued an Order on Reconsideration finalizing its rural call completion rules.  In an Order last year, the FCC determined that rural call delivery problems resulted from several factors, including higher-than-average charges for call termination in rural areas and the numerous times a call can be handed off among providers in a call path.  The FCC’s new rules require certain providers to collect and submit quarterly reports to the FCC detailing call completion data for both rural and non-rural areas.  The Commission will use this data to identify, investigate, and eliminate issues with the delivery of long-distance calls to rural areas.  The FCC’s rules also eliminate false ringing (transmitting an audible ring to a caller’s handset when the phone on the other end is not actually ringing).  For more 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 © 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