FCC and USDA Respond to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria

Hurricane Maria has taken down more than 95% of cell sites in Puerto Rico and more than 76% of cell sites in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The FCC was able to collect this data through the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS). The Commission is working closely with service providers and FEMA to resume communications as quickly as possible. This process is complicated by widespread power outages. USDA Rural Development is also focusing on getting utilities back up and running. In addition to providing assistance, USDA announced they are “helping businesses and utilities that are current USDA borrowers by considering requests to defer principal and/or interest payments, and to provide additional temporary loans.” For more information, please contact Kathleen Slattery (slattery@khlaw.com; 202.434.4244).

911 Grant Program NPRM

The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) are seeking comment on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that revises the implementing regulations for the 911 Grant Program. Comments are due by November 6, 2017. The 911 Grant Program will offer $115 million in funds to support states and local responders as they transition to Next Generation 911 (NG911) capabilities. Relatedly, FCC Chairman Pai travelled to various 911 dispatch centers to assess progress being made in bringing NG911 to rural areas. For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).

FirstNet Update

Last week, the First Responder Network Authority issued updated final state plans to all 50 states and most territories based on the responses provided by each state. The initial draft state plans were issued to state representatives via an online portal in June (Vol. XIV, Issue 26). The 90 day window in which Governors must decide whether to opt-in or out of FirstNet will not begin until NTIA determines and presents construction grant funding levels for each state and territory. Also last week, Maryland, Idaho, and Texas Governors all announced their decision to opt-in to FirstNet. The number of opt-in states and territories is now 23. Texas is the largest state to opt-into the FirstNet-AT&T plan thus far. For more information, please contact Al Catalano (catalano@khlaw.com; 202.434.4207).

KH at Industry Events

Western Energy Institute Joint Use Industry Forum on September 26-29 in Tempe, AZ: T he forum is designed for representatives from utility, telecommunication, wireless, and broadband companies, to discuss joint use, pole ownership, and pole attachments. KH Partner Tom Magee will appear on the Legal Panel on September 28. To register, please click here. For more information, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128).

ENTELEC is holding its Fall Seminar Series on October 5 in Midland, TX. The one-day conference will focus on LTE, SCADA systems, IIoT, field communications, and the regulations that frame these operations. KH Attorneys Greg Kunkle and Wes Wright will be in attendance. To register, please click here. For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239) or Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178).