Telecom Business Alert -- Commercial Drones, NTIA Progress Report, FCC Tower Enforcement -- Vol. XI Issue 24

Date: Jun 16, 2014

FAA Authorizes Commercial Drone Exemption

On June 20, 2014, the FAA announced it had granted the first authorization for commercial unmanned aircraft operations to BP and AeroVironment for aerial surveys on Alaska’s North Slope.  The Certificate of Waiver or Authorization allows BP to utilize the AeroVironment drone to survey pipelines, roads, and equipment at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.  This authorization is a step towards the FAA meeting its Congressional deadline of September 2015 for regulations governing commercial drone operations.  For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202-434-4178).

NTIA Progress Report

On June 5, NTIA released its Fourth Interim Progress report on President Obama’s goal to make 500 megahertz of spectrum available for commercial wireless broadband use by 2020.  These annual reports highlight NTIA’s efforts, in conjunction with other government agencies, to meet the 500 megahertz goal.  The Fourth Report summarizes the CSMAC process with the AWS-3 spectrum band, implementation of the CSEA incentive process, NTIA’s initial assessment on U-NII devices in the 5 GHz spectrum band, and its work in making AWS-4, AWS-3, H Block, 3.5 GHz, and 5 GHz spectrum bands available for commercial wireless broadband.  The Report states that NTIA will continue its work in the transition of the AWS-3 band and will work with the FCC to develop spectrum sharing options in the 3.5 GHz and 5 GHz bands.  

Spectrum Etiquette and M-LMS Proceedings Terminated

Last week the FCC terminated two open proceedings, deciding that neither merited further consideration at this time.  The first proceeding was a rulemaking to evaluate a specific spectrum etiquette request for unlicensed transmitters in the 902-928 MHz, 2.4 GHz, and 5.8 GHz bands.  It was terminated due to the lack of recent requests for such a requirement.  The second proceeding examined new ways to make more effective use of the Multilateration Location and Monitoring Service (“M-LMS”) spectrum in the 902-928 spectrum band.  The FCC terminated this proceeding because recent developments showed wholesale revisions of the rules were not necessary at this time.  For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khkaw.com; 202-434-4178). 

FCC Tower Workshop Agenda

Last week the FCC released the agenda for its upcoming two-day Tower Workshop on June 24-25, 2014.  The first day will focus on regulations governing the construction of new communications facilities and collocation of communications equipment on towers.  The second day will consider compliance with the environmental and historic preservation requirements for positive train control facilities.  For more information, please contact Wes Wright (Wright@khlaw.com; 202-434-4239).   

Tower Enforcement

Last week the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau released two enforcement actions related to communications tower violations.  The first was a proposed fine of $10,000 against Dalrymple Realty Corporation for failing to clean or repaint its antenna structure.  Under the FCC’s rules, a tower owner must paint and clean a structure as often as necessary to maintain good visibility.  The second was a proposed fine of $15,000 against Northeast Passage Corporation for failing to properly monitor or maintain the antenna lighting system and failure to notify the FCC of an increase in the tower’s height.  Under FCC rules, a tower owner must monitor its lighting system and report to the FAA any outage.  A tower owner must also immediately notify the FCC of a change in tower height.  For more information, please contact Wes Wright (Wright@khlaw.com; 202-434-4239).

IP Transition Update

Last week the FCC provided a Technology Transitions Update on AT&T’s service-based experiment to transition two wire centers in Carbon Hill, Alabama, and West Delray Beach, Florida, from circuit-switched networks to Internet Protocol (IP) networks.  The Commission noted that information collected during experiments will be analyzed by a third-party expert to assist the FCC in determining the impact of technology transitions on customers nationwide.  This is one of many steps leading to AT&T, Verizon and Century Link deploying IP technology in lieu of TDM switches and services in their local wireline networks. 

We welcome your feedback on topics of interest that you would like to see covered in our Telecom Business Alert. To make suggestions, please e-mail telecomalert@khlaw.com.

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.