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Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. VII Issue 10

Date: Mar 15, 2010

FCC to Unveil Broadband Plan This Week The FCC will hold an Open Meeting on March 16, 2010 to present the National Broadband Plan, which must be delivered to Congress by March 17, 2010. Keller and Heckman will issue a Special Broadband Plan Alert later this week outlining the key provisions of the National Broadband Plan. An Executive Summary of the Plan is available here. Following the Commission's Open Meeting, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau will hold a technical panel on March 17, 210, to discuss the 700 MHz nationwide interoperable public safety wireless broadband network. The panel will provide viewpoints on the technical design, operation and evolution of the public safety wireless broadband network. FCC Releases Order Relaxing Land Mobile Frequency Coordination Requirements

On March 11, 2010, the Commission released a Second Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Part 90 Omnibus Proceeding. The Second Report and Order, available here, amended Part 90 of the Commission's rules to eliminate coordination requirements for land mobile applications seeking to lower antenna heights or decrease power. The Second Report and Order also revised the FCC's rules to remove the frequency coordination requirement for applications that add narrowband emission designators on existing center channels. This amendment was made to assist licensees attempting to comply with the Commission's narrowbanding requirements. By January 1, 2013, Industrial/Business and Public Safety Radio licensees operating in the 150-174 MHz and 421-512 MHz bands must employ narrowband voice channels (12.5 kHz) or meet data efficiency standards (4800 bits per second per 6.25 kHz). For more information on narrowbanding, see Vol VII, Issue 5.

Spectrum Inventory Bill Passes House Commerce Committee

Last week, the House Commerce Committee unanimously approved an amended spectrum inventory bill with stronger national security protections (Vol. VII, Issue 4). The bill requires the National Telecommunications and Information Administration ("NTIA") and FCC to identify federal and non-federal licensees of wireless spectrum from 225 MHz to 3.7 GHz and estimate the number of repeaters, transmitters and end users operating in each band. The agencies would be required to issue an inventory report within two years and produce a report recommending which spectrum, if any, should be reallocated or made available for shared use within four years. To address national security concerns, the revised bill permits agencies to weigh in on whether public disclosure of certain spectrum usage (including by non-federal licensees) could harm national security and also requires NTIA and FCC to consult with the National Security Council to review collected information before it is released. The bill is awaiting approval by the House. However, Rep. Henry Waxman has indicated that before passing a final bill, the House will address a handful of additional issues, including "whether the agencies have adequate resources to plan properly for relocation once suitable spectrum has been identified."

NTIA Extends Broadband Grant Deadlines

Last week, NTIA extended the application deadline for Comprehensive Community Infrastructure ("CCI") projects under the second and final round of broadband funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ("Act") to March 26, 2010. CCI projects focus on middle mile broadband infrastructure projects that offer new or substantially upgraded connections to community anchor institutions (e.g. community colleges). All other applications for the second and final round of broadband funding must be filed with NTIA and the USDA's Rural Utilities Service ("RUS") today. The second and final round of funding includes $4.8 billion in grants and loans to support expanded broadband access and adoption throughout the country. NTIA intends to award approximately $2.35 billion to CCI projects. Approximately $7.2 billion in funding was allocated to the agencies to promote broadband deployment under the Act. On July 1, 2009, NTIA and RUS issued a joint Notice of Funds Availability ("NOFA") soliciting applications for funds. (Vol VI, Issue 26). Initial grant recipients were announced in December. (Vol VI, Issue 50). Each agency issued a second NOFA earlier this year for the second round. RUS plans to distribute $2.2 billion to fund last-mile projects in rural areas, including $100 million in funding for satellite broadband projects. The agencies must award funds by September 30, 2010.

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