Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. VII Issue 7

Date: Feb 22, 2010

National Broadband Plan to Address Spectrum for Smart Grid

On February 18, 2010, the Commission's broadband staff presented a progress report on the development of the National Broadband Plan titled "National Broadband Plan: National Purposes Update." The presentation outlined the major national purposes to be addressed in the Plan, including promoting smart grid deployment. Recognizing that there is currently insufficient broadband spectrum to promote widespread smart grid deployment, the presentation provided three alternatives for meeting the broadband spectrum needs of electric utilities: commercial data networks, public safety networks and private, internal networks. The broadband staff recognized that each alternative has unique benefits and drawbacks. For example, commercial data networks are constructed and may permit quick deployment of smart grid systems, but these networks are not ubiquitous or universally reliable during emergencies. Providing electric utilities secondary access to the proposed broadband public safety network would create economic efficiencies in constructing the network but will not allow for the prompt deployment of smart grid systems because these broadband networks are largely unconstructed. A private wireless broadband allocation for utilities would provide utilities with a dedicated broadband network for smart grid deployment, but would be the most expensive as utilities would required to shoulder the construction costs. The Plan must be submitted to Congress by March 17, 2010. The presentation is available here. FCC Extends Deadline For Signal Booster Reply Comments Through March 8th On February 18, 2010, the Commission released a Public Notice extending the deadline for filing Reply Comments in response to a January 6, 2010, FCC Public Notice seeking comment on the proper use of signal boosters on frequencies licensed under Parts 22, 24, 27 and 90 of the FCC's Rules. In response to two motions for an extension of time, the Commission extended the deadline for filing Reply Comments from February 22, 2010 to March 8, 2010. This proceeding stems from three Petitions for Rulemaking and two Petitions for Declaratory Ruling that seek clarification of or changes to the Commission's rules to address the proper use and regulation of signal boosters. The Commission's rules currently provide that private, land mobile licensees operating radio systems in the frequency bands above 150 MHz may employ signal boosters, so long as the boosters: (i) retransmit only the licensee's authorized frequencies; (ii) do not expand the normal coverage area of the system; and (iii) the licensee corrects any harmful interference such equipment may cause other systems. To view the Public Notice, click here. Round Two of Broadband Grant Program Begins Before Round One Completed Last week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration ("NTIA") and USDA's Rural Utilities Service ("RUS") began accepting applications for the final round of broadband grants. The agencies have not announced all of the recipients of funds for the first application round, which closed on August 20, 2009 (Vol. VI, Issue 35). Agency officials indicate that all awards from the first round will be announced by the end of the week. In the meantime, the agencies recommend that first round applicants seeking broadband funds begin preparing applications for the final round of funding, which are due by March 15, 2010. Agency officials indicate that NTIA and RUS are not considering extending the deadline at this time. Keller and Heckman at UTC Region 3 Spring Meeting in Orange Beach, Alabama

On March 4, 2010, Keller and Heckman LLP Partner Doug Jarrett will present "Meeting Smart Grid Spectrum Requirements: An Overview of Auctioned Spectrum Alternatives," at the UTC Region 3 Spring Meeting in Orange Beach, Alabama. The presentation will highlight potential sources of and challenges associated with securing auctioned spectrum to support smart grid operations. Please contact Mr. Jarrett (202.434.4180; Jarrett@khlaw.com) with any questions or for additional information.

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