Trump Administration Will Affect Telecommunications Regulation

The new President will re-shape the FCC by shifting the Chairmanship from Tom Wheeler to one of the Republican Commissioners quickly after inauguration and ultimately adding a third Republican Commissioner to create a Republican majority on the Commission. We expect a scaling back of net neutrality rules, the possible undoing of broadband consumer privacy regulations, little change in spectrum policy, less aggressive enforcement, and, perhaps, a stronger interest in pole attachments. The recent, outsized influence of technology companies will shift to the major services providers. Hopefully, policy makers will begin to connect the dots on additional licensed spectrum and the cybersecurity needs of critical infrastructure industries. On Capitol Hill, the Republican Congress will make reworking the 1996 Telecommunications Act a high priority.

UTC CII Policy Summit

Last week, the Utilities Technology Council held its 7th Annual Critical Infrastructure Communications Policy Summit in Washington, DC. Among other panels, Martha Duggan, Sr. Principal Regulatory Affairs, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), Sue Kelly, CEO of the America Public Power Association (APPA), Joy Ditto, President and CEO of UTC, David Owens, Executive Vice President of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), and Grace Soderberg, Director, Regulatory Affairs of the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), spoke of their associations’ respective legislative and regulatory priorities. All emphasized the importance of reliable communications for the critical infrastructure industries. For further information, please contact Jack Richards (202.434.4210; richards@khlaw.com).

4.9 GHz Band FNPRM on Circulation

The long-awaited 4.9 GHz band Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was circulated to the FCC Commissioners last week. In late 2015, APCO International submitted a report to the FCC urging frequency coordination procedures be adopted for the band (Vol. XII, Issue 42). APCO argued that coordination would increase the extent to which the band can be used by public safety entities. The FNPRM may propose allowing electric utilities, oil and gas companies, and other critical infrastructure companies to share the band on a co-primary or secondary basis. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

New FirstNet Lab

FirstNet announced on its blog last week that it opened a Test Lab at its technical headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. The lab will serve as the testing grounds for FirstNet’s public safety features, devices, and apps before deploying them on the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). For more information, please contact Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202-434-4207).

FCC Open Meeting Agenda

The FCC announced its agenda for the November 17 Open Meeting. Among other items, the Commissioners will consider a Report and Order that would adopt rules for the second phase of the Mobility Fund, which would provide ongoing universal service support dedicated to expanding mobile broadband, as well as a Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would allow for light-touch regulation of packet-based Business Data Services (BDS). For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).