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Telecom Business Alert -- Private Mobile Land Broadband, Towers, and Pole Attachment Action on Capitol Hill -- Vol. XI Issue 9

Date: Mar 04, 2014

UTE, EWA, and API Request Freeze for 900 MHz Private Mobile Land Broadband Network

On February 27, 2014, the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Enterprise Wireless Association (EWA), and the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) sent a letter to the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau requesting a six month freeze to allow interested parties to develop a 900 MHz Private Land Mobile Broadband plan.  This plan would allocate a 3x3 MHz block for an LTE-based network for use by oil and gas companies, electric utilities, railroads and other critical enterprise companies. Morgan O’Brien, founder of Nextel, backs the proposal. The freeze would allow current 900 MHz licensees to expand geographic coverage or channel capacity but new applicants would be prohibited.  

Congress Considers Pole Attachments

The Senate Commerce Committee and Communications Subcommittee last week asked for comments on whether FCC pole attachment jurisdiction should be expanded to include attachments by broadband providers.  This development follows comments solicited by the House Energy and Commerce Committee asking for ways to modify the Communications Act.  Keller and Heckman submitted comments to the House asking Congress to curtail FCC pole attachment jurisdiction.  Comments on the Senate’s pole attachment proposal are due March 17, 2014.  If your utility would like to submit comments, please contact Tom Magee (Magee@khlaw.com; 202-434-4128).

FCC Issues Two Tower Fines

On February 26, 2014, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture to AT&T Services Inc. and Kemp Broadcasting, Inc. proposing fines for failing to comply with the Commission’s antenna regulations.  A $25,000 fine was proposed for AT&T Services Inc. for failure to register a tower and comply with paint and lighting requirements.  A $14,000 fine was proposed for Kemp Broadcasting, Inc. for failure to comply with antenna lighting and outage regulations. The FCC’s rules require that antenna structures located close to airports or that are greater than 200 feet in height comply with painting, lighting, and outage specifications designed to ensure air safety. 

OSHA Increases Focus on Tower Falls

On February 25, 2014, Dr. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, discussed a sharp rise in fatal injuries related to communications towers, including the recent collapse of two towers in West Virginia.  This increase in accidents has spurred OSHA to increase tower enforcement and renew its educational efforts.  OSHA field staff has been directed to pay close attention to communications tower incidents.   For more information, please contact please contact David Sarvadi (Sarvadi@khlaw.com; 202-434-4249).

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.