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Telecom Business Alert -- Net Neutrality, Spectrum, and Drones -- Vol. XI Issue 20

Date: May 19, 2014

FCC Releases Updated Open Internet Proposal

On May 15, 2014, the FCC adopted an NPRM to craft new Open Internet rules.  The NPRM, adopted on a 3-2 party line vote, contains a “no-blocking” rule but would allow for an ISP to charge for faster internet access if it followed “commercially reasonable” practices.  The NPRM solicits comment on a number of issues including “paid prioritization” agreements and reclassification of broadband as a Title II telecommunications service.  Comments are due July 15, reply comments are due September 10.  For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202-434-4180).

FCC Takes Other Spectrum Actions

Overshadowed by the Open Internet item, the FCC also adopted rules regarding the Incentive Auction and Spectrum Aggregation at its May 15 Open Meeting. As part of the Incentive Auction rulemaking, the FCC adopted a 600 MHz band plan made up of paired 5 MHz blocks of spectrum and reserved up to 28 MHz of spectrum for unlicensed operations.  In a separate Order, the FCC updated its spectrum aggregation rules. Under the new rules, the FCC will continue to use the current spectrum screen in analyzing proposed spectrum transactions but will now look at the amount of below 1 GHz spectrum involved in a transaction as an enhanced factor to determine whether it should approve the transaction. The Commission also adjusted which spectrum bands were “suitable and available” for mobile broadband and therefore counted as part of the spectrum screen calculation. 

FAA May Allow Limited Use Of Commercial Drones

On May 11, Jim Williams, manager of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office, gave a speech at the sUBS and explained that companies have approached the FAA about filing a request for exemptions of the prohibition of commercial unmanned aircraft operations.  Mr. Williams said that low risk operations in four areas are being considered for the exemptions.  The industry areas for the exemption are: (1) precision agriculture; (2) film making; (3) power line and pipeline inspections; and (4) oil and gas flare stack inspections.  For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202-434-4180) or Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202-434-4178).

DoD Calls For More Engineering in the 3.5 GHz Band

In a recent speech at the 2014 Spectrum Management Conference, Tom Taylor, Senior Analyst in the spectrum policy and programs section of the Department of Defense called for more engineering to be done in order to narrow the exclusion zones in the 3.5 GHz band proposal.  The current proposal created exclusion zones to protect incumbent DoD operations as part of a three-tiered spectrum sharing system.  According to interested industry participants, these zones should be reduced because the zones were formed using assumptions that no longer apply.  Mr. Taylor also said that the DoD is working on finding ways to share classified or sensitive information with industry participants in order to facilitate spectrum sharing in this band.  For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202-434-4178).

Keller and Heckman at ENTELEC and the NRECA Legal Seminar

Greg Kunkle, Doug Jarrett, Wes Wright, and Tim Doughty will be attending the ENTELEC Spring Conference in Houston from May 20-22 and will be presenting the Washington Roundtable from 8:00-9:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 22.  Please stop by to visit at the Keller and Heckman booth (Booth 118).

Tom Magee will be speaking at the NRECA Legal Seminar on Wednesday May 21 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Mr. Magee’s talk, located in Pueblo Room I/II, will focus on pole attachment issues.

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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.