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Telecom Business Alert -- FCC Leadership, FirstNet Rules, FAA Electronic Devices, KH Webinar

Date: Nov 04, 2013

New Leadership at the FCC

Late last Tuesday, the Senate voted to confirm Tom Wheeler as the new FCC Chairman and Michael O’Rielly as Commissioner. The vote came shortly after Mr. Wheeler met with Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Senator Cruz lifted his hold on the nomination. Mr. Wheeler was sworn in today as Chairman and immediately issued a press release identifying his key staff selections. Among the selections, Ruth Milkman, previously the Chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, will serve as Chief of Staff, and Philip Verveer, who has worked at the FCC as Chief of the Cable Television Bureau, the Broadcast Bureau, and the Common Carrier Bureau, will serve as Senior Counselor to the Chairman. Mr. O’Rielly is also expected to be sworn in to the FCC in today.  

New Rules Approved for FirstNet Spectrum

Last week, the FCC issued a Second Report and Order adopting technical service rules for the 758-769/788-799 MHz band licensed to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) for deployment of the nationwide public safety broadband network.  The new rules establish the power limits and other technical parameters for the band and provide an avenue for the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology to certify new equipment available to FirstNet. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

FAA Approves Electronic Devices for Takeoff and Landing

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a press release last week approving the use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) by passengers during all phases of flight, including takeoff and landing.  In connection with the announcement, the FAA issued implementation guidance for airlines.  The announcement was met with concern from Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, who urged airlines to conduct thorough assessments of their fleets before allowing the expanded operations. The FAA did not consider changing the regulations regarding the use of cell phones for voice communications during flight because the issue is under the FCC’s jurisdiction.  

Corporate Counsel Corner: “In-House Counsel Only” Webinar on CII Telecom Issues

Keller and Heckman LLP attorneys will host a complimentary “In-House Counsel Only” webinar on Friday, December 13, 2013, 2:00-3:00 pm  eastern time.  While K&H telecom webinars usually are designed for the entire Critical Infrastructure community, in this particular webinar K&H attorneys will highlight key telecom issues for in-house counsel. This webinar is the fourth in a series addressing current events at the FCC of particular interest to oil and gas companies, electric utilities, railroads and other CII companies.  Topics will include the impact of new leadership at the FCC, wireless spectrum issues, potential FCC licensing issues, developments in privacy and data security, pole attachments and services agreements.  An application to attain CLE credits with the State Bar of Texas has been submitted and is in process for this program. 

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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.