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Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. VIII Issue 33

Date: Aug 15, 2011

FCC Moves to Expand Wireless Microwave Backhaul in Rural Areas

On August 9th, the Commission adopted a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("Order") making up to 650 MHz of spectrum in the 7 GHz (6875-7125 MHz) and 13 GHz (12,700-13,100 MHz) bands available for fixed service wireless microwave backhaul in certain largely rural areas. These bands are currently used by cable TV relay (CARS) and broadcast auxiliary services (BAS) licensees for TV pickup stations primarily in urban areas. The Order protects these TV licensees and makes the 7 GHz and 13 GHz bands available to private licensees in areas covering approximately half the land mass of the United States but only 10 percent of the population. The Order also eliminated the "final link" rule, which prohibited broadcasters from using fixed service stations as the final radiofrequency link in the chain of distribution of program material to broadcast stations providing broadcasters with greater access to microwave spectrum nationwide. Finally, the Order allows microwave licensees to operate on wider channels, use smaller antennas and use adaptive modulation to enhance the reliability of microwave links. Please contact Jack Richards (202.434.4210; richards@khlaw.com) with questions.

Communications Companies Oppose Electric Coalition

Last week communications attachers opposed efforts by a K&H client, the Coalition of Concerned Utilities (Consumers Energy, Detroit Edison, FirstEnergy, Hawaiian Electric, NSTAR, Pepco and Xcel), to make deadlines and other requirements in the FCC's April 7 Pole Attachment Order more compatible with real world operations of electric utilities across the country. For additional information about this proceeding, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202-434-4128) or Jack Richards (richards@khlaw.com; 202-434-4210).

Reply Comments Due in Wireless Signal Booster Proceeding

In April, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("Notice") seeking comment on rules authorizing the use of fixed and mobile signal boosters in conjunction with commercial cellular systems. Signal boosters extend wireless coverage, for example, inside large buildings and in rural areas. In addition, the Notice includes proposals for persons other than licensees to install and operate signal boosters to extend coverage of commercial wireless services and private land mobile systems under certain conditions. In Comments filed last month, Wilson Electronics and Verizon Wireless submitted a Joint Proposal recommending that signal boosters be available for use in three classes, Consumer Boosters, Certified Engineered and Operated Boosters and Carrier-Installed Boosters. Several other parties filed comments in this proceeding. Reply Comments must be filed with the Commission by August 25th. Please contact Mike Morrone (202.434.4124; morrone@khlaw.com) with questions.

FCC Narrowband Migration Deadlines Reminder

As part of its mandatory transition to "narrowband, the Commission no longer accepts applications for new wideband operations (i.e., operating only one voice path per 25 kHz of spectrum) or modifications to existing wideband stations that expand the authorized interference contour. By January 1, 2013, Industrial/Business and Public Safety Radio Pool licensees in the VHF (150-174 MHz) and UHF (421-512 MHz) bands must operate on 12.5 kHz or narrower channels or employ a technology that achieves the narrowband equivalent of one channel per 12.5 kHz of channel bandwidth (voice) or 4800 bits per second per 6.25 kHz (data). The FCC recently announced that 58% of public safety licenses in the VHF and UHF bands still require narrowbanding. Similar statistics were not made available for private land mobile licensees. Licensees that do not meet the January 1, 2013 narrowband requirements will likely be subject to enforcement action, including monetary forfeitures and/or license cancellation. For assistance in filing the required narrowband applications, please contact Wes Wright (202.434.4296; wright@khlaw.com).

FCC Licensing Tip of the Week

The Commission's rules require private land mobile licensees to construct new systems within 12 months of the date the license is granted. The construction window for microwave licenses is 18 months. To minimize the risk of having an active license terminated by the FCC for failing to notify the Commission of construction, licensees should routinely file a notification of construction as soon as the new system is operational. Please contact Tim Doughty (202.434.4271; doughty@khlaw.com) for assistance with construction filings.

K&H Video Minute: Wes Wright and Tim Doughty on the Life Cycle of an FCC License

In this week's Video Minute, Keller and Heckman Attorney Wes Wright and Licensing Specialist Tim Doughty discuss the life cycle of an FCC license. For this week's Video Minute, click here.

Don't forget to visit the Beyond Telecom Law Blog! http://www.beyondtelecomlawblog.com

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