FCC Seeks “Creative and Common Sense” Pole Attachment Regulations

The FCC last week released its order seeking comment on numerous proposed changes to its pole attachment regulations. Chairman Pai stated he wants “creative and common sense” pole attachment regulations to address what the Commission considers to be “unreasonable costs and delays” in the pole attachment process. This rulemaking creates significant challenges and opportunities for electric utility pole owners and we intend to participate vigorously. For additional information, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202-434-4128) or Tim Doughty (doughty@khlaw.com; 202-434-4271).

FCC Seeks to Accelerate Next-Generation Networks

In the same order, the FCC seeks comment on expediting the process for LECs to retire copper networks and transition to IP networks. The Commission proposes to do this by streamlining or eliminating network change notification rules and by eliminating rules requiring carriers to spend money to maintain outdated equipment. Comments on this and the above pole attachment item will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. For additional information, please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180) or Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202-434-4128).

FCC Works to Remove Barriers to Broadband Deployment

The Commission issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to begin identifying and eliminating unnecessary regulations that hinder wireless broadband deployment. The NPRM opens an examination of several topics including how state procedures affect the speed and cost of infrastructure deployment, and whether the FCC’s rules can better balance timely, effective site deployment with compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In the NPRM, the Commission seeks comment on whether siting applications that are not acted on by state or local governments in a reasonable amount of time should be “deemed granted” by the Commission. The NPRM also requests input on how to limit the inherent costs and delays associated with complying with the NEPA and NHPA, including the tribal review process. A draft of the NPRM was circulated at the end of March as part of the Commission’s transparency pilot program. For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).

FCC Revises USF High-Cost Support Rules.

The Commission adopted an Order on Reconsideration granting the Petition for Reconsideration of the March 2016 Rate-of-Return Reform Order filed by NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association. Under the old rules, high-cost carriers lose all universal service support for capital expenses on a construction project if the average cost per location exceeded a certain threshold. Because of this, carriers would exclude high-cost homes to avoid losing funding, even if this made construction less efficient overall. The Order on Reconsideration will allow carriers to pay the excess portion of the capital expenditure with their own funds, while still receiving universal service support for the non-excess portion. The Commission stated that “the change allows carriers greater flexibility in planning deployment projects that are funded by the high-cost universal service support program.” For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

FCC Rolls-Back Pricing Rules for Business Data Services

The FCC adopted a Report and Order that removes pricing rules for business data services (BDS). Chairman Pai and Commissioner O’Rielly approved the Order, finding that competition in the market is sufficient without the pricing regulation, while Commissioner Clyburn dissented. A Commission statement describes the Order as leveling “the regulatory playing field for ILECs by extending uniform forbearance from certain rules that had previously been granted unevenly”, although many are concerned the result will be price increases for enterprise end users of special access services. For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).

ENTELEC Conference & Expo

The ENTELEC Conference & Expo will be held April 25-27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Conference & Expo is a great opportunity to network and build relationships with a diverse group of professionals from the petroleum, pipeline, natural gas and electric utility sectors. KH Partners Greg Kunkle and Wes Wright will be presenting at the Washington Roundtable on April 25, 2017 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. For more information and to register please click here.

Join Us for The Connected Product Intensive

Keller and Heckman LLP will be holding a new seminar, The Connected Product Intensive: A Framework for Regulatory Compliance and Risk Management, May 2-3, 2017 in San Francisco, CA. The seminar will focus on the regulatory and litigation risks affecting connected products, and offer practical tips for compliance, risk avoidance, and risk management. Topics include drafting privacy policies, responding to data breaches, environmental considerations, FCC issues, handling product recalls and product liability litigation, energy efficiency considerations, advertising and marketing, and end-user license agreements. For more information and to register, click here.