Telecom Business Alert -- IP Transition, 3.5 GHz Band, and Cell Phones on Planes -- Vol. X Issue 48

Date: Nov 25, 2013

FCC Moving Forward on the IP Transition

New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has announced, via a blog post, that during the December 12 open meeting he expects the Commission to initiate regulatory procedures allowing for the transition to all-IP networks, particularly for local switching and access. In response to AT&T and NTCA petitions filed last year, the FCC previously sought comment on proposals to facilitate the transition from TDM technology to an all-IP wireline infrastructure. At the December meeting, the Technology Transitions Policy Task Force, established by former Chairman Julius Genachowski, will present its recommendations to the Commission. For additional information, please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202-434-4180).

Technical Papers on 3.5 GHz

Last week, the FCC requested technical papers on its proposed access system for the 3550-3650 MHz band.  The four main focus areas are: (1) General Responsibilities and Composition of the Spectrum Access System (SAS); (2) Key SAS Functional Requirements; (3) SAS Monitoring and Management of Spectrum Use; and (4) Issues Related to Initial Launch and Evolution of SAS and Band Planning.  These are the same four focus areas that will be discussed during the FCC’s 3.5 GHz workshop on January 14. The FCC’s proposal for the 3550-3650 GHz band creates a three tiered access system for incumbent access, priority access users, and finally general authorized access users. The FCC hopes to use the submitted technical papers to supplement the workshop discussion. Please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202-434-4178) for more information.

Cell Phones on Planes

Last Thursday, the FCC announced that during its December open meeting it will vote on a proposal to expand use of mobile devices on board airlines. The proposal would allow individual airlines to determine whether mobile devices will be permitted during flight. Airlines could install Airborne Access Systems to connect cell phones and other mobile devices to wireless carriers’ networks. If the proposal is adopted, it will be released for formal comment in the following months.  

Washington Watch: Cybersecurity Remains the Focus

FCC Chairman Wheeler has named Admiral David Simpson as Chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. Admiral Simpson is experienced in cybersecurity issues and most recently was Vice Director of the Defense Information Systems Agency. On Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing last Thursday concerning public safety wireless communications and FirstNet. The oversight hearing focused on what has been done so far, such as the FCC’s adoption of basic technical rules for the spectrum, as well as what needs to be done in the coming months. Additionally, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official announced that the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) has been reviewed by other Federal agencies and is now being edited by DHS before being sent to the White House. The NIPP is a framework designed to protect critical infrastructure and other key resources. This is the first update to the NIPP since 2009. 

Need for Spectrum in the Energy Industry

On behalf of the Telecom Subcommittee of the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Regulatory and Technology Committee of the Energy Telecommunications and Electrical Association (ENTELEC), K&H partner Greg Kunkle prepared and submitted to the FCC a White Paper entitled, "The Pressing Need for Spectrum In The Energy Industry." Radio Resource Magazine recently followed-up with an article in Mission Critical Communications magazine discussing the White Paper and spectrum allocations for the energy industry. To view the article, click here. For a copy of the White Paper, please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202-434-4178).

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.  One hour of CLE credits has been approved by the State Bar of Texas and CLE credits may be obtained for other states. 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.