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Telecom Business Alert -- Webinar, FCC Recommendations, and Cybersecurity -- Vol. X Issue 50

Date: Dec 09, 2013

LAST CHANCE:

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 for oil and gas companies, electric utilities, railroads and other CI Companies. 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 CII companies.   

Washington Watch: Looking Backwards to Move Forwards

Last week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler gave a speech at his alma mater, the Ohio State University, and explained that regulation of the internet will not happen under his watch -- but regulation of internet access is an important function of the FCC.  Chairman Wheeler referenced his recently released E-book titled “Net Effects: The Past, Present and Future Impact of our Networks.”  “Net Effects” looks back through history at the great network revolutions and describes how the growth of these networks fundamentally altered society.  In his speech, Chairman Wheeler explained that we, as a society, are in the fourth great network revolution, and that the FCC acts as the “public’s representative” to this revolution.  Chairman Wheeler said that the Commission’s work will be guided by two interests: competition policy and the network compact. 

Keller and Heckman Recommends Changes to FCC’s Processes to Improve Efficiency

In response to the FCC’s request for input, Doug Jarrett, on behalf of Keller and Heckman LLP, submitted recommendations to improve the FCC’s internal processes consistent with the interests of critical infrastructure industry (CII) firms.  These recommendations focused on the adoption of a non-punitive, self-disclosure model as an alternative to the FCC’s current enforcement practices, limiting the question on FCC Forms 601 requiring disclosures of felonies to those occurring within 10 years prior to filing an application, establishing criteria with Industry Canada for obtaining concurrences for operations above Line A, and the need for greater clarity on NEPA requirements for new antenna structures.  These recommendations will be taken into consideration by FCC staff in making recommendations to Chairman Tom Wheeler.  Please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202-434-4180) for more information.

Cybersecurity Discussion at Georgetown

Last week, Keller and Heckman LLP associates attended a conference, hosted by the Georgetown University MCDonough School of Business, discussing the National Institute of Science and Technology’s (NIST) preliminary cybersecurity framework released last month. The conference focused on market drivers and incentives for encouraging oil and gas companies, electric utilities, railroads, and other Critical Infrastructure companies to voluntarily adopt the NIST cybersecurity framework. Representatives from DHS, NIST, and the Senate Commerce Committee addressed various incentives under consideration, including federal grants, procurement benefits, streamlining existing regulations, as well as rate recovery for price regulated industries. Representatives from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) argued that many CI companies already are highly incentivized in the area of cybersecurity and emphasized the need for liability protections when implementing the framework. These types of incentives are expected to be in place to drive adoption of NIST’s final cybersecurity framework, scheduled to be released in February 2014.  

ILEC Pole Rates Heating Up

Last week, Western Energy Magazine published its “Government Relations” issue featuring a debate between Tom Magee of Keller and Heckman LLP (on behalf of electric utilities) and an attorney representing the interests of ILECs regarding the FCC’s new joint use rules (“Determining Joint Use Utility Pole Rates: What’s Fair?”).  Please click here to read the article.  If you have any questions or face problems dealing with ILECs aggressively seeking reduced rates, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202-434-4128).

Reform Rumblings on Capitol Hill

Last week, two members of the House of Representatives voiced their desire to re-write the Communications Act.  The Act, written in 1934 and last updated in 1996, provides the FCC its authority and powers.  House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, explained that the law needs to be updated to reflect today’s technology as well as future innovations.  While praising the action, Former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell warned that a re-write could be time consuming and difficult.  Please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202-434-4178) for more information.

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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.