Telecom Business Alert -- Potential Government Shutdown, CTA Waiver Granted, PTC Public Notice -- Vol X, Issue 40

Date: Sep 30, 2013

Potential Government Shutdown Will Impact FCC

At the time of this publication, it appears likely Congress will not pass funding legislation for the federal government by the end of the day. If so, all non-essential government services will be shut down until the issue is resolved.  The FCC released a
Plan for Orderly Shutdown last week, which outlines the Commission’s operations during the shutdown.  All FCC activities other than those immediately necessary for the protection of life or property will cease until the government is funded.  

Last week, the Commission granted a waiver request filed by the Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) to allow a temporary extension of Conditional Temporary Authority (CTA) to new and modified private land mobile stations in the 470-512 MHz, 806-824/851-866 MHz, and 896-901/935-940 MHz bands. Under the Commission’s rules, most applicants proposing to operate a new private land mobile station or modify an existing station below 470 MHz may operate for up to 180 days pursuant to CTA ten days after the application is filed with the FCC. CTA has not been available for applicants in private land mobile bands above 470 MHz.  The waiver extends CTA to applications for frequency assignments in all private land mobile bands, with the exception of Public Safety frequency assignments, filed on or before December 31, 2013, including applications previously filed and currently pending with the FCC.  EWA intends to file a petition requesting the Commission’s rules be amended to permit CTA for these frequency bands on a permanent basis.  

FCC Issues Public Notice on Environmental Review for PTC Towers

Last week, the FCC released a Public Notice seeking comment on the agency’s environmental review of positive train control (PTC) wayside facilities.  All major freight and passenger railroads are statutorily required to deploy PTC systems by December 31, 2015.  To meet this mandate, the freight railroads plan to install more than 20,000 wayside poles, ranging in height from 25 and 65 feet, every mile or two along their tracks.  These poles are subject to the FCC’s environmental review process that can prove time-consuming.  The Commission recognizes that the mandated completion date for PTC, noting the potential number of way presents a special challenge.  Thus, the FCC is requesting input on ways to expedite this process.  Comments must be filed by November 6th and there are no Reply Comments.  For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

KH Complimentary Webinar Available Online

Last Wednesday, Keller and Heckman LLP attorneys hosted a complimentary webinar for clients and friends of the firm to discuss key telecom issues facing oil and gas companies, electric utilities, and others in the Critical Infrastructure industries. The webinar was the third in a series addressing current events at the FCC of particular interest to CII companies, including FCC developments, wireless spectrum issues, licensing and enforcement trends, network services, pole attachments, and cybersecurity.  To listen to the webinar, click here

Corporate Counsel Corner: FCC Enforcement Update

Last week, the FCC released an Order adopting a Consent Decree accepting a voluntary contribution of $425,000 by Lightyear Network Solutions for violating the Commission’s Universal Service Fund (USF) rules. Lightyear is based in Kentucky and provides local and long distance telephone services, interconnected VoIP service, DSL, wireless phone service, and prepaid calling card services. The Commission initiated its investigation into Lightyear in 2008 and alleged the company failed to comply with the agency’s USF contribution and reporting rules. The parties entered into a settlement agreement whereby Lightyear did not admit any wrongdoing but agreed to a “voluntarily contribute” $425,000 to the United States Treasury and implement a corporate compliance plan. For additional information, please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

NTIA Awards FirstNet Grants to States

NTIA announced earlier this month that it awarded more than $12 million in grants last week to Florida ($4.9 million), Hawaii ($870,000), Indiana ($2.3 million), Mississippi ($1.5 million), New Mexico ($1.8 million), and West Virginia ($1.1 million).  The grants were distributed from the $100 million State and Local Implementation Grant Program, which was established to assist the states in planning the national public safety broadband network. Recipients must match at least 20 percent of the funds received.  Additional grants will be awarded to other states on a rolling basis.  

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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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