TCPA Amicus Brief

A diverse group of utility trade associations, including the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the National Association of Water Companies, the American Gas Association, and the Edison Electric Institute, filed an Amicus Brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit supporting a challenge to the FCC’s Declaratory Ruling and Order on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) released in July (Vol. XII, Issue 28).  The associations argued that the FCC’s interpretations subject utilities to unavoidable liability and stifle their ability to provide customers with timely information about billing shortages, power outages, and the like. 

Pole Attachment Legislation

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology voted unanimously last week to send a “Discussion Draft” of an as-yet untitled bill to the full Committee which includes, among other things, a number of pole attachment provisions unfavorable to electric utility pole owners.  A copy of the Discussion Draft is available on the Committee’s website.  

FCC Enforcement

Last week, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau released a Forfeiture Order imposing a $25,000 penalty against Mobile Relay Associates (MRA) for causing harmful interference to another licensee in the Los Angeles area.  The FCC’s Order found that one of MRA’s Private Land Mobile VHF stations failed to restrict its transmissions to the minimum practical transmission time and was not monitoring the frequencies or taking reasonable precautions to avoid causing harmful interference to other licensees. .  MRA’s license authorizes use of a trunked system.  In its response, MRA stated it was simply engaged in “heavy usage” of shared frequencies, but the FCC’s Los Angeles Field Office found MRA failed to operate using trunked technology due to its operation of the frequencies in a nearly continuous mode.

FirstNet Meeting

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) announced it will hold open meetings of its Governance and Personnel, Finance, Technology, and Consultation and Outreach Committees on December 8 in Houston, Texas.  The following day, the full Board will meet and hold a public session from 1:00-3:00 p.m., including a presentation by the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC).  It is expected that the PSAC will address issues related to priority access and preemption.

New FAA Marking/Lighting Standards

The FAA released Circular Advisory 70/7460-1L last week, updating several marking and lighting requirements for tower owners.  The new Advisory Circular includes a change in structure height for towers deemed “obstructions,” new standards for meteorological evaluation towers, and new lighting standards aimed at reducing the impact on migratory birds.

Public Safety and Telecom Cybersecurity Summit

The FCC announced the agenda for a Public Safety and Cybersecurity summit co-hosted by the FCC and the Regents of the University of Colorado.  The day-long summit consists of various panels of stakeholders from Critical Industry, academic, and government entities.  The forum is free of charge and open to the public and will take place today at UC Boulder.  A recording of the event will be made available at a later date.