FirstNet SPOC Meeting

FirstNet and AT&T held a “kick-off” meeting in Dallas last week to discuss the upcoming rollout of state plans with state points of contact (SPOCs). Rural coverage, pricing, user priorities, infrastructure, deployables and terms of use conditions for states to gain access to initial plans from FirstNet were among the many issues addressed in discussions between the FirstNet/AT&T team and the states. The FCC is expected to issue final rules on evaluating alternative state plans prior to FirstNet’s release of final state plans, and the NTIA is developing a Notice of Funding Opportunity (“NOFO”) for states seeking to have their alternate plan approved. No state has committed to an alternative radio access network (“RAN”), but a number of states have released RFPs looking for a partner to develop and implement such a plan to increase public safety coverage within their respective states. These states are positioning themselves to make a reasoned choice between the FirstNet/AT&T coverage plan and an alternative RAN plan. For more information, please contact Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202.434.4207).

FAA Rural Tower Update

Last summer, Congress passed an FAA Reauthorization that contained a provision which requires the agency to issue regulations to require the marking of “covered towers,” by July 2017 (Vol XIII, Issue 33). Under the law, “covered towers” are between 50-200 feet in height and located outside the boundaries of an incorporated city or town, on land that is undeveloped or used for agricultural purposes. This provision unintentionally includes many communications towers. The FAA has not released anything regarding proposed rules, and momentum is building for a legislative fix. The vehicle for this will be the FAA Reauthorization bill, which must be passed by the end of September. Congressional staff has provided that they are currently working on language to narrow the towers affected by the statute. For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).

EWA Suggests Part 90 License Reforms

The Enterprise Wireless Alliance filed Comments in WT Docket 10-112 suggesting a number of reforms to Part 90 licenses. In particular, EWA recommended that the Commission adopt five-year license terms and reduce the discontinuance rule from one year to 180 days for SMR providers. EWA believes this approach will increase the amount of available spectrum, keep the FCC database more accurate, and make Part 90 regulations more efficient. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

Senate Holds David Redl’s NTIA Confirmation Hearing

Last week, the Senate Commerce Committee held the confirmation hearing for David Redl, who is the Trump Administration’s nominee to head NTIA. In his Opening Statement, Redl explained “improving the performance of government spectrum systems, providing incentives for government agencies to make better use of spectrum, and promoting spectrum research and development have been critical to the digital economy… [and he will] work to continue to improve government spectrum efficiency and make additional spectrum available” if confirmed. Regarding wireless siting policies, Redl committed to working to enable the timely siting of infrastructure on public lands and rural areas. For more information, please contact Kathleen Slattery (slattery@khlaw.com; 202.434.4244).

Advance Tel, Inc. Penalties

The Federal Communications Commission issued a $975,000 Forfeiture Order against Advanced Tel, Inc., last week for “violating its federal regulatory obligations as a telecommunications provider.” In particular, the Commission sited that Advanced Tel consistently failed to file specific data and make contributions to federal programs required by all telecom service providers. The $975,000 penalty is down from the $1.5 million forfeiture initially proposed by the Commission due to a successful NAL submitted by Tel, Inc. in which they proved their inability to pay the fine but failed to dispute the facts that brought forth the forfeiture. For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).