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Telecom Business Alert -- Process Reform, FirstNet, TAC -- Vol XI Issue 11

Date: Mar 18, 2014

Process Reform Bill Passes House

Last Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act. The bill requires the FCC to create a minimum comment period, allows for a bipartisan majority of FCC Commissioners to put items on the FCC open meeting agenda, and allows for more than two Commissioners to meet privately provided that certain safeguards are met.  The bill was sent to the Senate, where it is not expected to pass.  Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller has expressed his desire to allow the FCC to control its own process reform effort.  The effort at the FCC has already started, with a an FCC Working Group providing its process reform recommendations earlier this year.  Last week, Keller and Heckman’s Doug Jarrett met with members of the Working Group to discuss Keller and Heckman’s suggestions to improve application processing and other issues.  For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202-434-4180).

Strategic Roadmap from FirstNet

Last week the FirstNet Authority Board, responsible for building a public safety wireless network, voted to approve a “preliminary strategic roadmap.”  The roadmap contains milestones that, when reached, will assist FirstNet in developing its business plan. The milestones include soliciting comment on program procedures and policies, releasing draft requests regarding the network and equipment, and begining State consultations. The FirstNet Authority Board promised to provide more detail on the milestones in the coming months.  For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202-434-4180). 

TAC Discusses Goals For 2014

On March 10, the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council (“TAC”) met and discussed its 2014 goals that would allow the group to make recommendations to the FCC. The TAC, composed of various interested parties from the communications industry, will separate into working groups to focus on cybersecurity, receiver performance, spectrum sharing, the “Internet of things,” and the IP transition. The cybersecurity working group will focus on how the FCC can participate in the ongoing cybersecurity discussion. The receiver performance working group, which has already released a white paper, will focus on interference issues, including interference as part of the spectrum sharing proposal in the 3.5 GHz band.  The TAC recommendations are expected to be particularly influential at this point, as new Chairman Tom Wheeler formerly served as TAC Chairman.  The next TAC meeting is scheduled for June 10, 2014.  

FCC to Consider Spectrum Items

On March 31, the FCC will hold an open meeting and is scheduled to discuss two items that would bring more spectrum to market.  The first item would revise the rules to allow unlicensed Wi-Fi operations in 5150-5250 MHz of the 5 GHz UNII-1 band.  The second item the FCC will vote on is a proposal adopting technical and service rules for the AWS-3 spectrum so that it could be auctioned by the statutory deadline of February 2015.  For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202-434-4178).    

Upcoming K&H Webinar - “Know Your Tower ABCs”

With the increased focus on communications towers, Keller and Heckman LLP attorneys will hold a complimentary one-hour roundtable on April 17, 2014 (“Know Your Tower ABCs:  FAA, ASR, NEPA, FCC, SHPO, TCNS, OSHA”) to discuss the many regulatory obligations associated with construction, operation, and maintenance of antenna towers.  In addition to a multitude of FCC, FAA, and EPA requirements, the webinar will consider OSHA’s recent focus on employers who build, own, and maintain communications towers.  Webinar participants are encouraged to submit requests for topics to be discussed during the one-hour session.  To sign up or submit topic requests, please click here.

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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.  Please follow us on twitter at @KHtelecom.