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Telecom Business Alert -- Washington, Poles, and Workshops -- Vol. X Issue 47

Date: Nov 18, 2013

Inside Washington: FCC Chairman Wheeler Gets Down To Business

The FCC held its first open meeting since Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner O’Rielly were sworn in last week.  The Commission relaxed its foreign ownership restrictions and heard presentations on the status of Universal Service Reform implementations and the broadband speed test app for Android smartphones.  Additionally Chairman Wheeler called for CTIA – The Wireless Associate to move forward and formalize cell phone unlocking as part of its consumer code.  Chairman Wheeler also wrote a blog on the Commission’s website, laying out his three priorities: (1) promote economic growth; (2) maintain the historic compact between networks and users; and (3) make networks work for everyone.  

Wireless Attachers Overload Utility Poles

The DAS Bulletin reported Friday that the California PUC fined three cellphone companies $4 million each for their involvement in creating “sub-par attachments and pole overloading” that led to the 2007 Malibu Canyon fires.  Two months ago, the CPUC fined SoCal Edison and DAS provider NextG $37 million and $14.4 million, respectively.  California’s fines raise serious concerns with the safety of wireless antenna attachments, as the DAS industry’s own trade publication acknowledges.  For additional information, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202-434-4128).

FCC Reschedules 3.5 GHz Band Workshop

Last Week, the FCC postponed its 3.5 GHz Band workshop scheduled for December 11.  The workshop, now scheduled for January 14, will focus on the technical requirements, architecture, and operational parameters of the proposed Spectrum Access System (SAS) for this band.  This proposal would create a three-tiered system of access, providing a sliding scale of interference protection depending on what tier a user is in.  The first tier, made up of incumbent users of the band, would receive the strongest interference protection.  The second tier, made up of priority access users like hospitals, utilities, and public safety entities, would operate with some interference protections in specific locations.  The third tier allows for general authorized access in specific geographic areas.  Comments on the Commission’s recent Public Notice are due December 5, and reply comments December 20.  Please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202-434-4178) for more information. 

5 GHz Proposals Heat Up

The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing last week to discuss the potential for increased unlicensed use of spectrum in the 5 GHz band.  Proponents argue that unlicensed use in the 5 GHz band could lead to “Gigabit Wi-Fi.”  The FCC has issued an NPRM proposing to modify technical requirements for Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) devices in the 5 GHz band to ensure devices to not cause harmful interference.  The NPRM also looks to make available an additional 195 MHz of spectrum in the 5.35-5.47 GHz and 5.85-5.925 GHz bands for U-NII use.  Commissioner Pai issued a statement lauding the Committee for holding its hearing and urging the FCC to move forward with its 5 GHz proceeding.  

NIST Continues To Develop Its Cybersecurity Framework

To follow up its recently released preliminary cybersecurity framework, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) held a two day workshop last week.  This was the 5th workshop held by NIST, continuing its collaboration with Critical Infrastructure entities and other interested stakeholders. Comments on the preliminary framework are due December 13.  

Corporate Counsel Corner: “In-House Counsel Only” Webinar on CII Telecom Issues

While K&H telecom webinars usually are designed with the entire Critical Infrastructure community in mind, , Keller and Heckman LLP attorneys will host a complimentary “In-House Counsel Only” webinar on Friday, December 13, 2013, Noon-1:00  p.m. Eastern time, focusing on key telecom issues of concern to in-house counsel only. Topics will include the impact of new leadership at the FCC, wireless spectrum problems, potential FCC licensing challenges, developments in privacy and data security, pole attachments and services agreements.  An application to attain CLE credits with the State Bar of Texas is in process for this program and may apply to further states as requested. This is the latest in a series of K&H webinars addressing current events at the FCC of particular interest to oil and gas companies, electric utilities, railroads, and other CII companies.   

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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 © 2013.  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.