Waiver For Electric Utility

The FCC has granted a Waiver Request filed jointly by the State of Ohio and an Ohio public utility company (and Keller and Heckman LLP client), to allow the utility to operate on a non-profit, cost shared basis on 700 and 800 MHz Public Safety frequencies licensed to the Multi-Agency Radio Communications System (MARCS). The Commission recognized the critical role that combined public safety and electric utility systems provide to the public and under the specific facts of this case concluded that the sole or principal purpose of the services will be to protect safety of life, health, or property when operating on the MARCS 700 MHz narrowband channels.

Municipal Broadband Order Overturned

Last week the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the FCC’s Municipal Broadband Order that preempted Tennessee and North Carolina statutes that either forbid or place onerous restrictions on the expansion of municipal broadband networks beyond their existing service territories. The court reasoned that absent a “clear statement” authorizing federal legislation, the FCC cannot preempt a state’s regulation of its political subdivisions. 

FAA To Implement New Rules for Rural Towers

Congress recently passed the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016, which seeks, in part, to modify the FAA’s regulations governing new and existing towers under 200 feet. The bill requires the FAA to develop regulations requiring marking and lighting for certain freestanding structures between 50 and 200 feet (“covered towers”) in rural areas. The FAA must adopt the new rules by July 15, 2017. 

Internet of Things Workshop

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced it will host an Internet of Things (IoT) Open Meeting and workshop on September 1, 2016 on behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force. The workshop will consist of a number of panels discussing responses to NTIA’s Request for Comments on the benefits, challenges, and potential roles of government in fostering the advancement of the IoT.

Spectrum Networks Group Petition Denied

The FCC denied a request by Spectrum Networks Group, LLC (SNG) for revocation of certain 896-901/935-940 MHz band Business/Industrial Land Transportation (B/ILT) licenses on the grounds that the licensees actually use their authority to provide commercial Specialized Mobile Radio (“SMR”) service. The FCC, after apparently contacting several of the licensees to inquire about the use of the licenses, found that SNG failed to provide sufficient facts demonstrating the licensees provided commercial service or were otherwise ineligible to hold the licenses. The Commission also dismissed a request by SNG to decertify EWA from providing frequency coordination services based on its handling of the applications for the licenses at issue. In doing so, the Commission stated that frequency coordinators are not charged with ensuring the verifying an applicant’s eligibility to hold a particular license. In 2015, the Commission denied a request by SNG to license 900 MHz B/ILT channels for commercial purposes.