FCC Nomination Hearing

The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing last week to consider the nominations of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Commissioner Jessica Rosenwercel, and Brendan Carr, who currently serves as General Counsel to the Commission. The Committee’s questions for the nominees touched on a variety of topics including universal service, public safety, and cyber security. The nominees expressed support for the E-rate program, and Commissioner Rosenwercel even committed to not lowering the overall E-rate funding cap. Aside from Senator Nelson questioning Carr’s independence from Chairman Pai, the hearing was uneventful. The Committee is expected to vote on August 2 to advance the nominations to the full Senate. For more information, please contact Kathleen Slattery (slattery@khlaw.com; 202.434.4244).

Reply Comments in FCC Pole Attachment Proceeding

Reply Comments were filed last week in the FCC’s Pole Attachment Rulemaking proceeding. The Coalition of Concerned Utilities, represented by K&H, addressed more than a dozen communications attacher proposals that would adversely affect utility pole owners. For additional information, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128) or Tim Doughty (doughty@khlaw.com; 202.434.4271).

FirstNet Update

Iowa became the latest state to commit to allowing AT&T and FirstNet to build and maintain their radio access network (RAN) last week but officials from some states are requesting more information before they decide on whether to “opt-in” or out of the FirstNet plan. Public safety communication officials from California and Colorado stated publicly they need clarity and more granular information about the FirstNet state plan before they are able to recommend a decision. Members of the Senate Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Technology, Innovation, and the Internet pressed FirstNet and AT&T to provide details into how they plan to deploy the public safety broadband network in rural areas of various states. During the Senate hearing, FirstNet and AT&T declined to provide a definition of "public-safety grade" for facilities to be used in the network. AT&T also told the Committee that the percentage of geography to be covered by Band 14 across the country was "proprietary" and could not even be revealed to Congress. For more information, please contact Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202.434.4207).

3.65 GHz Protection Filing Deadline Approaching

As we reported (Vol. XIV, Issue 15), in April, the Commission’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau issued a Public Notice announcing the start of a four-month window for incumbent 3.65 GHz (3650-3700 MHz) license holders to file supplemental information necessary to define their Grandfathered Wireless Protection Zones within the parameters of the deployment of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (Vol. XII, Issue 31). The Public Notice outlines the process and procedures incumbent licensees must follow to establish a protection zone for incumbent operations. The deadline for filing is August 7, 2017. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).

Senate Bill Introduced to Limit Regulatory Agencies’ Authority

Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee introduced a bill that would overturn the current practice of appellate courts deferring to regulatory agencies’ interpretations of the scope of their statutory authority. This deference is based on the 1984 Supreme Court decision Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. Supporters of the Separation of Powers Restoration Act argue that the bill is intended to empower the courts, rather than federal agencies, “to interpret all questions of law,” particularly when an agency adopts a regulation or takes action that is not explicitly authorized in the applicable statute. For more information contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180).