Date: May 13, 2013
Critical Infrastructure Companies File Comments in AMTS Proceeding
Last week, four Keller and Heckman clients (three oil and gas companies and a rural electric cooperative) joined with another rural electric in filing Joint Comments at the FCC supporting the assignment of AMTS licenses held by Maritime Communications/Land Mobile, LLC, Debtor-in-Possession, to Choctaw Holdings, LLC. The request is related to an ongoing FCC hearing proceeding initiated in April 2011 to revoke Maritime's licenses and determine whether associated assignment applications should be granted or denied. In August 2011, Maritime filed for bankruptcy. Last November, the Bankruptcy Court approved Maritime's Chapter 11 Reorganization Plan that contemplated assigning its FCC licenses to Choctaw subject to FCC approval. In March, the FCC released a Public Notice seeking comment on whether it should grant the Maritime/Choctaw application. If the application is approved, the Commission also is expected to approve the pending applications to assign portions of the AMTS licenses to the five critical infrastructure companies that filed comments. Reply Comments are due by May 30, 2013.
More Broadband Aboard Aircrafts
Last week, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("NPRM") to promote broadband service onboard airplanes by establishing an air-ground mobile broadband service in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band. The band currently is allocated on a primary basis to the fixed satellite service (FSS) as an uplink (Earth-to-space) band for geostationary orbit FSS operations. The Commission seeks comment on how the band should be licensed, either as a single 500 MHz block, as part of two 250 MHz licenses, or as smaller blocks. In 2008, the Utilities Telecom Council ("UTC") filed a Petition for Rulemaking requesting that the Commission allocate the band on a secondary basis for use by critical infrastructure entities (e.g., electric utilities, oil and gas companies, railroads). The Commission has not acted on UTC's request but notes in the NPRM that it will consider it separately. Comments are due 45 days after the NPRM is published in the Federal Register, and Reply Comments are due 75 days after Federal Register publication. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (email@example.com; 202.434.4178).
FCC Pole Attachment Order Affecting Non-FCC States
Pole attachment legislation was introduced in Michigan last week that would require the Michigan PSC to analyze attachment rates and compare them to the FCC's April 7, 2011 Pole Attachment Order. Efforts by ILECs are underway elsewhere that would allow the FCC's Order to come home to roost in other "non-FCC States." Meanwhile, there is growing talk of an electric utility Petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the D.C. Circuit's recent pole attachment decision. For additional information, please contact Tom Magee (firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-434-4128).
Corporate Counsel Corner: FCC Enforcement Update
The FCC's Enforcement Bureau continues to aggressively enforce the Commission's rules and to issue substantial fines for apparent rule violations. Last week, the Bureau issued fines in excess of $11 million to four companies for allegedly delivering unsolicited advertisements via fax machines and violating the Commission's "cramming and slamming" rules. Cramming is the illegal practice of adding charges to a telephone bill that were not ordered by the customer, and slamming is changing a customer's local or long distance telephone company without permission. These fines highlight the importance of complying with the Commission's rules and demonstrate that significant fines may result when a company violates those rules. Please contact Wes Wright (email@example.com; 202.434.4296) with questions.
Complimentary K&H Webinar on Telecom Issues in the Critical Infrastructure Industries
On Wednesday, June 5, at noon Eastern Time, Keller and Heckman attorneys will host a complimentary webinar to discuss key telecom issues facing the Critical Infrastructure industries. This webinar is the second in a series addressing current events at the FCC, including wireless spectrum issues, licensing and enforcement trends, network services, and cybersecurity.
Keller and Heckman at Upcoming Industry Events
Doug Jarrett along with Rick Sigel of Silver Lining Telecom will present on "Proven Approaches for Acquiring Carrier-Provided Services" on Tuesday May 14, 2013, at UTC Telecom 2013 in Houston, Texas. Please visit Doug at the Keller and Heckman booth during Exhibit Hours on Wednesday (May 15) and Thursday (May 16).
Doug Jarrett and Greg Kunkle will be making a joint presentation, "USF Contribution Rules: Reform, Revolt or Implosion" on Wednesday May 22, 2013, at the TeleStrategies' Communications Taxation ‘13 Conference at the Peabody Orlando Hotel, Florida.
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