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Telecom Business Alert - Signal Boosters, More Cybersecurity News, Civil Fines, and USF Contribution Factor, Volume XI, Issue 27

Date: Jul 07, 2014

Enforcement Bureau Introduces “Civil Fines”

Last week, under the auspices of the new Enforcement Bureau Chief, the Bureau entered into a Consent Decree with IPS Group, Inc. (IPS), following an investigation into whether the company complied with rules governing the marketing of “smart” parking meters containing wireless technology.  IPS admitted some of the devices were marketed in violation of FCC requirements and without proper authorization.  As a result, the Consent Decree requires IPS to pay a $14,000 civil fine to the United States Treasury in addition to instituting a three-year Compliance Plan.  In the past, licensees that entered into Compliance Plans for violations typically made a “voluntary contribution” to the Treasury and were not required to admit the violations for purposes of the settlement. 

Signal Booster Waiver 

The FCC released a Public Notice seeking comment on a rule waiver request filed by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).  The waiver is directed at Sections of Part 90 which limit signal booster power to five watts Effective Radiated Power (ERP) and prohibit secondary fixed operations on channels designated for specialized uses.  AAR argued that current frequency options under the Commission’s rules do not provide sufficient coverage in areas of challenging terrain, and that trackside signal boosters are needed to maintain the link for safe monitoring of front and rear-end brakes and engines.   For these reasons, AAR is seeking to use two UHF channels with an ERP of 30 Watts.  Comments are due July 28 and Reply Comments by August 12.  For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (Kunkle@khlaw.com; 202-434-4178).

More Cybersecurity Legislation and DHS Security Review

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will resume its scheduled markup session on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 (CISA), after receiving two letters signed by a total of 58 groups including the ACLU and Center for Democracy & Technology.  The first letter recommended several additions to the bill to protect privacy and prevent DHS from sharing information with the intelligence and military communities without protections and restrictions.  The second expressed concerns about the potential of information being shared with the NSA.  We originally reported on the introduction of CISA in our June 23 Telecom Alert.  In other news, DHS released the second Quadrennial Homeland Security Review.  The report set priorities for homeland security over the next four years, including continuing its coordination with federal agencies and the private sector to share information on cyber threats.  For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202-434-4180).

Increased FCC Filing Fees

The Commission’s Fiscal Year 2014 Application Fees became effective on July 3, per an Order adopted on March 24 of this year.  A revised schedule of the FCC’s application fees can be viewed by clicking here.  Among other changes, filing fees for new licenses under Part 90 and Part 101 increased between five and twenty dollars.  For more information, please contact Tim Doughty (Doughty@khlaw.com; 202-434-4178). 

USF Contribution Factor Remains Exorbitant at 15.7%                   

The USF Contribution Factor declined slightly to 15.7% for the 3rd Quarter of 2014.  In light of three failed attempts to reform the USF contribution rules since 2000, the contribution factor remains approximately 3 times the rate of most state sales taxes.  Despite the steadily growing revenues of the major services providers (wireless, wireline and cable), the  FCC declines to assess the revenues the major services providers generate from the rapidly growing  high speed Internet access  and other information services.   For additional information, contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202-434-4180).

Next KH Webinar On Signal Boosters

On July 29 from Noon– 12:45 p.m. (EST), Keller and Heckman partners Doug Jarrett and Greg Kunkle will present a webinar titled, FCC Signal Booster Rules and Challenges.  This webinar will review the major decisions, implementation challenges, and outstanding issues in the FCC's signal booster rules adopted in 2013, as well as the business and legal realities facing enterprises and property owners seeking property-wide wireless reception.  Please click here for registration 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.  Please follow us on twitter at @KHtelecom.