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Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. X Issue 27

Date: Jul 01, 2013

FCC Chairman Nominee Tom Wheeler Appears Before Senate Confirmation Hearing

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee on June 18, Tom Wheeler, the nominee to replace FCC Chairmen Julius Genachowski, testified about a wide range of FCC-related issues.  Among other things, he said he did “not take lightly” the importance of unlicensed operations, which might bode well for a review of the Commission’s recent decision authorized Progeny to begin commercial operations in the 900 MHz unlicensed band. Commerce Committee Chair Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) said one of the main issues for the FCC is bringing in enough revenue from the broadcast  incentive auctions and told Wheeler he was “certain” he would get the job. Wheeler’s nomination now awaits a vote by the Senate.

FCC Order Allows Greater Flexibility for New 900 MHz B/ILT Licensing

On June 21, the FCC adopted an Order on Reconsideration partially lifting the licensing freeze for Business and Industrial Land Transportation (B/ILT) frequencies in the  900 MHz band (896-901 MHz/935-940 MHz) .  In the Order, the Commission recognized that Sprint does not need additional 900 MHz spectrum in some NPSPAC regions in order to meet its 800 MHz rebanding obligations.  As a result, the Commission will now accept applications for new authority in the 900 MHz band, if accompanied by a letter of concurrence from Sprint. For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4296).

Update: Cybersecurity Policies to Safeguard CII

On June 19, the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) co-hosted the annual Critical Infrastructure Policy Summit with the Department of Energy in Washington, DC. The Summit featured a panel on cybersecurity policies to safeguard critical infrastructure industries. The discussion highlighted the importance of utilities’ continuing need to rely on private, internal communications networks to ensure reliability.

At a Policy Briefing hosted by The Hill on June 27, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46) argued that Congress should incentivize the CII community to participate in information sharing to allow for faster response to potential threats and greater access to information from the Federal Government. Walter McCormick, President and CEO of the United States Telecom Association, stated that small and mid-size private sector utilities should be incentivized to improve network security with liability protection and the use of grants from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). For more information, please contact Tim Doughty (doughty@khlaw.com; 202.434.4271).

Acting FCC Chairwoman Clyburn Says 4.9 GHz GHz Band Could be Available to CII

Last June, the FCC released a proposed rulemaking outlining its plan to establish appropriate frequency coordination procedures for 4.9 GHz operations and to encourage improved spectrum efficiency and use of the 4.9 GHz band. K&H clients, the American Petroleum Institute (API), the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), and the Energy Telecommunications and Electrical Association (ENTELEC), filed joint comments supporting the Commission’s proposal.  At UTC’s Critical Infrastructure Communications Policy Summit on June 20, acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn recognized that since the 4.9 GHz band was allocated in 2002 for exclusive mobile uses by public safety entities, it has been underutilized.  As a result, Chairwoman Clyburn noted that the FCC is examining whether and to what extent critical infrastructure industries (CII) should be able to hold 4.9 GHz band licenses. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

Keller and Heckman Files Amicus Brief with Supreme Court in Pole Attachment Case

K&H clients DTE Electric, Minnesota Power, National Grid, and South Carolina Electric & Gas, filed an Amicus Brief (“friend of the Court”), available here, with the United States Supreme Court on Friday, June 28, 2013, supporting the Petition for Certiorari filed by several electric utilities asking the Court to review the FCC’s April 2011 decision to regulate ILEC (e.g. Verizon, AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier) attachments to electric utility poles. For more information, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128).

Question from a Telecom Alert Reader

I was unable to attend the last webinar you guys put on last month. Will KH be hosting another one soon and if so, on what topics?”

The answer is yes! Keller and Heckman attorneys are planning to host the next complimentary webinar in September. The specific date and list of topics has not yet been finalized. 

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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.

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