FCC Decision on ILEC Attachment Rates

The FCC Enforcement Bureau issued an “interim” decision ruling that Dominion overcharged Verizon for attachments and Verizon is entitled to refunds. The Commission declined to specify what the rate should be, asking the parties to negotiate the rate with the Commission specifying the rate only if the parties can’t agree. The Commission addressed issues regarding bargaining leverage, alleged Verizon benefits, reciprocal rates, and the applicable refund period. For additional information, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128) or Tim Doughty (doughty@khlaw.com; 202.434.4271).

PTC-220 Issues Progress Report

Last week, PTC-220 filed its semi-annual progress report with the FCC, describing the status of PTC-220’s efforts to deploy positive train control (PTC) throughout the country per a 2008 statutory mandate. In previous progress reports, PTC-220 presented interference problems in the Northeast Corridor, specifically, in the Philadelphia area and New England. Regarding the Philadelphia area, PTC-220 explained that spectrum exchange transactions with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (“SEPTA”) and New Jersey Transit (“NJT”) will be completed later this month and should solve the interference problems. In the New England area, however, the situation, which impacts a significant portion of Boston, remains “largely unresolved.” PTC-220 has requested FCC help to resolve this situation to allow the deployment of PTC, as required by law. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

FirstNet Update

On May 1, FirstNet CEO Mike Poth issued a statement describing the progress made in the first 30 days of FirstNet’s partnership with AT&T. FirstNet is currently on track to deliver draft State plans in June, which is three months ahead of FirstNet’s original target date. Before releasing the plans, FirstNet and AT&T will meet with the State Single Points of Contact (SPOCs) to discuss the process for State plans, and to preview information in the State plans. Poth also noted that AT&T recently announced that they will roll out an additional 40 MHz of commercial spectrum for use with the network. In other FirstNet news, Wisconsin is the most recent state to issue a Request for Proposal to establish an alternative plan to the FirstNet-AT&T national plan. The state seeks input on the draft RFP until May 11 and plans to release a final RFP by May 19. In releasing an RFP, these states are better positioning themselves for negotiations on the FirstNet /AT&T draft plan by establishing an avenue to an alternative coverage plan to the one being developed by FirstNet and AT&T. For more information, please contact Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202.434.4207).

Lawmakers Call for USF Updates

Kevin Cramer (R-ND), the founding co-chair of the House Rural Broadband Caucus, delivered a bipartisan letter to the FCC Chairman and Commissioners requesting the Commission continue to work on updating the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) in high-cost areas. Similar to letters from previous Congresses, this letter focuses on the need to make standalone broadband affordable in rural areas. While the letter commends the Commission’s reform efforts to improve USF programs, it also urges the Commissioners to ensure that “sufficient resources are available to enable the USF mechanisms to work as designed.” 101 Members of the House signed the letter. For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

TeleStrategies Communications Taxation Conference

TeleStrategies' 18th annual Communications Taxation Conference brings together the nation's top tax professionals to address the challenging and complex domain of telecommunications taxation and compliance. The Conference will be held in Miami, Florida on May 15-17, 2017. KH Law Partner Doug Jarrett will present a Round-Table, “USF Contribution Reform: An Almost Irresistible Force Confronts an Immovable Object,” on May 17. For more information and to register, click here.