Telecom Business Alert -- Net Neutrality, Telecom Act Rewrite, and Signal Boosters -- Vol. XI Issue 3

Date: Jan 22, 2014

Welcome back to your regularly scheduled programming! Not even a little snow can slow down a busy January. If you want a daily dose of telecom information, follow us on twitter at @KHtelecom.

D.C. Circuit Strikes Down Net Neutrality

On January 14, the D.C. Circuit struck down key parts of the FCC’s Open Internet Order, also known as the Net Neutrality Order, principally, the “anti-blocking” and “anti-discrimination” rules, concluding these are “common carrier service obligations” that could not be imposed on providers of Internet access service. On the other hand, the court affirmed the FCC’s authority to regulate ISPs under Section 706 of the Act.  Shortly thereafter, Chairman Wheeler reaffirmed his oft-made promise to ensure that the Internet will remain open. Going forward, the FCC will have to decide whether to pursue further appeals, propose new rules under Section 706 or both. For a more detailed look at the decision, please see this blog post by Doug Jarrett. For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (Jarrett@khlaw.com; 202-434-4180).

House Energy and Commerce Committee Begins Rewrite of Communications Act

In early December, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) announced their intention to update the Communications Act, which was last updated by the 1996 Telecommunications Act. As part of this process, the Committee is issuing a series of White Papers with targeted questions to receive feedback from interested parties. The Committee held its first hearing on the Communications Act update with testimony from former FCC Chairmen Richard Wiley, Reed Hundt, Michael Powell, and Michael Copps.  Responses to the first White Paper are due January 31.  

Signal Booster Registration

On January 7, the FCC announced the Part 90 Class B Signal Booster registration tool is now available online. All Part 90 Class B Signal Boosters must be registered by November 1, 2014. To register a signal booster, a user must enter a FRN, contact information, and location of the signal booster. Each registered signal booster will be issued a signal booster ID and the registration information will be available to the public.  

3.5 GHz Workshop

On January 14, the FCC held a 3.5 GHz band Workshop to discuss the creation of a shared access system (“SAS”), which focused on four main areas: Architecture and Responsibilities; Launch, Evolution and Band Plan; Functional Requirements, Usage, and Enforcement; and Spectrum Management and Interference Detection. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who served as a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology before his nomination, helped to develop the 3.5 GHz shared access proposal. In comments, he emphasized the importance of the 3.5 GHz band as it could be one solution to address spectrum scarcity. Panelists who presented include technology companies, equipment manufacturers, and wireless carriers. 

FCC Pole Attachment Rules for Washington State?

PCIA - The Wireless Infrastructure Association and the Hetnet Forum (formerly the DAS Forum) have asked the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission to adopt the FCC’s pole attachment rules, in particular the FCC’s April 2011 Pole Attachment Order. They claim pole attachment regulations are needed to encourage infrastructure deployment but offer no proof to back it up.  For additional information or to oppose the request, please contact Tom Magee (Magee@khlaw.com; 202-434-4128).

ENTELEC Cybersecurity Educational Webinar

On January 30, the Cybersecurity Subcommittee of ENTELEC’s Regulatory and Technology Committee will be holding an educational webinar for Members-only.  This webinar, hosted by Keller and Heckman’s Tracy Marshall, is entitled “Cyber Security Regulations: Year in Review.”  For more information about ENTELEC, 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.