Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. X Issue 34

Date: Aug 19, 2013

Timetable Set for US/Mexico Border 800 MHz Rebanding

Last week, the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau issued a Public Notice announcing the 30-month transition period for the reconfiguration of 800 MHz licensees in Wave 4 regions along the U.S./Mexico border.  The transition period will begin August 23, 2013 and close February 23, 2016.  Public Safety and B/ILT 800 MHz rebanding negotiations must be conducted during this 30-month period, consistent with the FCC’s Fifth Report and Order.  For those parties interested in securing planning funding, a Request for Planning Funding must be provided to Sprint on or before August 23, 2013.  For additional information on the U.S./Mexican Border 800 MHz rebanding process, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128).

Inside Washington: Major Telecom Policy Issues Await New FCC Chairman

Assuming the Senate confirms George Wheeler as the new FCC Chairman, he will have the opportunity to resolve two major telecom policy questions:  (1) whether and how to reform the USF contribution rules; and (2) how to regulate the rates for interstate special access services provided by incumbent local exchange companies owned by AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink, and other “price cap ILECs.”  USF contributions exceed $9 billion annually.  The current USF contribution factor is 15.1%.  Carriers typically recover their USF contribution obligations from their customers through USF surcharges. The market for special access services (DS-1, DS-3 and Ethernet services) approximates $20 billion annually. Interstate special access services connect customer premises of businesses, schools and libraries, and government agencies to interexchange carrier networks and, in many instances, to Internet access services providers.  Wireless carriers also make extensive use of special access services.

“Both proceedings have far-reaching cost and competitive implications.  Hopefully, the new Chairman will devote the resources to address these issues.”
– Doug Jarrett, Partner

Annual FCC Regulatory Fees

Last week, the FCC released a Report and Order announcing the regulatory fees for the fiscal year 2013.  Licensees of certain facilities, such as Satellite Earth Stations, are required to make annual regulatory fee payments which are due by October 1, 2013.  For many licensed facilities, such as microwave and land mobile systems, the regulatory fees are paid as part of an application fee charged at the time an application for new authority or application for renewal are submitted to the Commission.  The regulatory fees for Land Mobile “Shared Use” licenses remained the same, but Licensees holding 470-512 MHz, 800 MHz or 900 MHz licenses will notice a slight increase in regulatory fees.  

Register Today – Quarterly Webinar on CII Telecom Issues

Keller and Heckman LLP attorneys will host a complimentary webinar on September 25, 2013, to discuss key telecom issues facing the Critical Infrastructure industries. This webinar is the third in a series addressing current events at the FCC of particular interest to CII companies, including wireless spectrum issues, licensing and enforcement trends, network services, pole attachments and cybersecurity.  

Communications Towers: What You Must Know Before You Build

The August edition of MissionCritical Communications magazine includes an informative article on the issues CCI, public safety and commercial licensees face when constructing new communications, "Regulatory Steps for New Tower Builds”, written by Keller and Heckman. The article explains the FCC, FAA, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requirements that must be considered in each new tower build. Tower owners should be aware that the FCC has shown a stronger interest in ensuring compliance with environmental regulations.  

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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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