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Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. X Issue 10

Date: Mar 04, 2013

Court to Electric Utilities: Drop Dead

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last week rejected the Utility Petitioners' appeal of the FCC's April 7, 2011 Pole Attachment Order. In this proceeding, Keller and Heckman LLP represented the Coalition of Concerned Utilities, a group of ten investor-owned utilities participating as Intervenors. By rejecting the appeal, the court affirmed the FCC's decisions: (1) to assert jurisdiction over ILEC attachments to electric utility poles; (2) to reduce the Telecom Rate to the level of the Cable Rate; and (3) to extend the refund period to the applicable statute of limitations. If you have any questions or would like our more comprehensive written report Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128). 

NPRM Proposes Amateur Use of PLC Frequencies

The FCC received nearly 70 comments in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing amateur radio use of 135.7-137.8 kHz on a secondary basis. Electric utilities use these VHF frequencies for power line carrier (PLC) operations to monitor and control the power grid. Many individual electric utilities as well as the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) argued that amateur radio use of the band could cause harmful interference to existing PLC operations and force utilities to incur costs and disruption in re-tuning from those frequencies. Reply comments for the NPRM are due March 27, 2013. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

Google to Open TV White Space Database for Public Testing

Today marks Day One of the 45-day public trial of Google's TV Band white space database system. Last week, the FCC released a Public Notice announcing the limited trial will allow the public to access and test the database to ensure that it correctly identifies available TV Band channels for unlicensed radio transmitting devices, properly registers protected radio transmitting facilities, and provides protection to authorized services and registered facilities. Parties may participate in the trial by accessing Google's TV band database test facility available here. The public trial will end on April 17, 2013, unless the FCC determines additional testing is necessary. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

DOE Hosts Meeting to Develop Voluntary Code of Conduct for Smart Grid Privacy Concerns

Last week, the Department of Energy along with the Federal Smart Grid Task Force hosted the first in what will be a series of multi-stakeholder meetings to develop a Voluntary Code of Conduct (VCC) to address privacy procedures for utilities and third parties. The VCC will establish a set of best practices for the industry to provide privacy protections for consumers with regard to access, use, and sharing of electricity usage data and framework for evaluating potential privacy regulations and practices. The multi-stakeholder process responds to the White House's February 2012 report on consumer data privacy which brought several new developments to privacy policies (See our report in Vol. IX Issue 9; and the KH summary of the report here). For more information, please contact Tracy Marshall (marshall@khlaw.com; 202.434.4234).

Corporate Counsel Corner: FCC Enforcement Advisory

Last week, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability to a 3.65 GHz licensee for operating two sites prior to registering them with the FCC. The 3.65 GHz band is licensed under a hybrid scheme whereby licensees secure a nationwide license then register individual sites under that call sign. Based on a complaint of interference, FCC Enforcement Bureau personnel located the two interfering transmitters and determined they were not properly registered. The FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability fining the operator $12,000 for operating without proper registration. Please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4296) with questions.

K&H Attorneys at Industry Events

On March 6-8, 2013, Keller and Heckman attorneys Tom Magee and Greg Kunkle will be attending the UTC Joint Use and Wireless Collocation Summit in San Antonio, Texas. Tom will be participating in a legal panel discussing the impact of FCC rulemaking proceedings on the industry and Greg will participating in a panel discussing industry challenges and opportunities in FirstNet's deployment of the nationwide public safety network in the 700 MHz band. For more information, please contact Tom (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128) or Greg (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

Also, on March 11-15, 2013, KH attorneys Doug Jarrett, Greg Kunkle and Wesley Wright will be attending the International Wireless Communications Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. Doug, Greg and Wes will be hosting a session on Spectrum Auctions and Negotiations. Greg will also be presenting on Narrowbanding and Cybersecurity concerns for VHF/UHF SCADA communications. Please attend these speaking sessions and stop by Keller and Heckman's booth (#2320) at IWCE.

Inside Washington

Last Friday, the much publicized government sequestration took effect which automatically cut budgets for defense and domestic spending. In conversations with FCC staff, they suggested the agency is considering possible employee furloughs of one day a week starting in April through September. To our knowledge, no formal decisions have been reached. These furloughs likely will add to the current delays in processing time for wireless applications as well as rulemaking proceedings and other agency actions. Debate continues on Capitol Hill as the White House and Congress try to agree on a new budget to end the sequester.

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In an attempt to address in our weekly Telecom Business Alert the issues of most importance to the clients and friends of Keller and Heckman LLP, we invite you to submit suggestions on topics of interest to you. To make suggestions, please send an e-mail to TelecomAlert@khlaw.com.

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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