Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. VIII Issue 2

Date: Jan 10, 2011

CES Speeches from Genachowski, Blackburn Highlight Differing FCC, Congressional Priorities


At last week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a pair of speeches illustrated the sharp divide in where government officials believe their priorities lie in 2011. In one speech, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski delivered remarks on the future of spectrum availability, tying into the show's heavy focus on mobile broadband. Chairman Genachowski reiterated a strong preference for acquiring spectrum through voluntary "incentive auctions" for television and mobile satellite licensees, noting that obtaining legislation to support these auctions is a major priority of the Commission. At another CES panel, Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), a member of the House Communications Subcommittee, discussed the reintroduction of her bill from 2010 that would reserve to Congress sole authority to regulate the Internet. Representative Blackburn's reintroduction of legislation responds directly to the FCC's recent Order asserting jurisdiction over Net Neutrality.

Forfeiture Adjustments Illustrate Close Scrutiny on Licensing Issues

An FCC decision last week proposed a $15,000 fine against Call Mobile Inc. for failure to file a timely renewal application with the Commission, as well as operating without Commission authority following license expiration. The proposed penalty is notable in that the Commission adjusted the base amount for the offenses upwards by $2,000. Although Call Mobile appears to have mistakenly believed that it was operating with authority and quickly attempted to rectify the situation as soon as it found out it had made an error, the Commission did not reduce the proposed fine in response to those factors. Rather, the Commission noted that "reduced forfeiture amounts applied in past cases do not appear to be creating sufficient incentives for all PLMRS licensees to monitor their license expiration dates and timely seek renewal." The decision is a warning call that licensees need to be vigilant about the status of their licenses.

January FCC Meeting

The FCC has set two items on the Agenda for its January 25th Open Meeting. The first is an Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which, according to the Commission, will focus on ensuring nationwide interoperability for public safety providers. It is anticipated that the rulemaking will focus on the 700 MHz band, though it is not expected to address the future of the 700 MHz D-Block. The other item on the Commission's Agenda is a presentation on reform of the FCC's decision-making processes. The tentative agenda is available here.

K&H Video Minute: Telecommunications Transactions

In this week's Video Minute, K&H addresses a frequently asked question: what do we mean when we are discussing "telecommunications transactions"? As a reminder, links to all of our past Video Minutes, in addition to past issues of the Telecom Business Alert, can be found at KHLaw.com.

Congratulations to Tracy Marshall and Greg Kunkle

Keller and Heckman LLP is proud to announce that Greg Kunkle and Tracy Marshall, both members of the firm's Telecommunications Practice Group in Washington, D.C., have become Partners at the Firm, effective January 1, 2011. Tracy and Greg have a combined 14 years of service at Keller and Heckman. Please join us in congratulating Greg (kunkle@khlaw.com, 202.434.4178) and Tracy (marshall@khlaw.com, 202.434.4234) on their promotions!

Holiday Note

In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, next week's Telecom Business Alert will publish on Tuesday, January 18th.

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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.

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