Telecom Business Alert – 800 MHz Interstitial; T-Mobile Settles for $17.5 Million; RF Equipment NPRM; FCC Tower Ruling; Competitive Bidding Order; and M&A Transactions, Vol XII, Issue 30

Date: Jul 27, 2015

Proposed 800 MHZ Interference Contours

Last week the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau requested comments on the 800 MHz interstitial channel interference contours that the Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC) proposed in its reply comments in the Commission’s rulemaking proceeding to create full power, 12.5 kHz channels offset between currently allocated 25 kHz channels in the 809-817/854-862 MHz band.  Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, which has not yet occurred.  Please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178) with questions.

$17.5 Million 911-Outage Settlement

The Commission reached a $17.5 million settlement with T-Mobile to resolve an investigation into 911 service outages in August 2014 lasting approximately three (3) hours and preventing T-Mobile’s approximately 50 million subscribers from making 911-calls.  Similar to the settlements that the Commission previously reached with Verizon, Intrado, and CentruryLink for other 911 outages, T-Mobile will pay a $17.5 million fine and implement a compliance plan to mitigate the risks of 911 failures and timely notify all affected Public Safety Answering Points of outages in the future.  For additional information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).

RF Equipment Authorization NPRM

Building on the 2014 Report and Order that modified the RF equipment authorization program, last week the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to update the radiofrequency (RF) equipment evaluation and approval rules.  The Commission proposes to make a number of changes, such as combining the two RF equipment approval programs, codifying and clarifying the modular transmitter certification provisions, codifying the electronic labeling provisions, and eliminating the requirement that device importers file Form 740.  Comments on the Commission’s proposals are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, which has not yet occurred.  Reply Comments are due 45 days after publication. For additional information, please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

FCC Tower Ruling

Last week, the FCC released an Order denying an application for review and affirming a 2007 Order by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau revoking approval to construct a monopole in Tennessee.  In 2007, Wireless Properties requested that the FCC honor a State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) approval of a 150-foot monopole.  The Wireless Bureau determined that the environmental review process was not completed because Wireless Properties failed to identify the national park on its submission to the SHPO.  Wireless Properties filed an Application for Review in 2007 and last week the Commission affirmed the Bureau’s decision.  Please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239) with questions.

Competitive Bidding Report & Order

Also last week, the Commission released a Report and Order (R&O) updating the general Competitive Bidding rules for spectrum licenses under Part 1.  Under the R&O, the Commission made several modifications, such as updating the small business benefit eligibility requirements, establishing a 15% bidding credit for eligible rural service providers, and adopting a rule prohibiting certain joint bidding arrangements.  Please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180) with questions.

Section 310 and M&A Transactions

Wireless licenses are among the prized assets in transactions involving telecommunications carriers, but often are not central to large transactions involving critical infrastructure companies.  As a result, counsel and investment bankers sometimes overlook the FCC’s prior consent requirement that applies when the target company holds FCC licenses.  The topic is discussed in a recent blog entry written by Doug Jarrett, “M&A Counsel: Don’t Overlook Section 310(d) of the Communications Act” available by clicking 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 © 2015.  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.