Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. VII Issue 21

Date: Jun 01, 2010

FCC to Begin "Third Way" Broadband Regulation The FCC recently announced that on June 17, 2010 it will hold an Open Meeting to begin the process of developing a legal framework for broadband Internet service. The initial step will be a Notice of Inquiry seeking information on a variety of topics, including 1) whether the Commission's current "information service" classification of broadband Internet service remains legally sound and adequate to support effective performance of the Commission's responsibilities, 2) the consequences of reclassifying broadband Internet connectivity as a "telecommunications service", and 3) aspects of Commissioner Genachowksi's "Third Way" approach under which the Commission would reclassify Internet connectivity offered as part of wired broadband Internet service as a telecommunications service while forbearing from applying all but select portions of the Communications Act. Last week, 171 House Republicans sent a letter to Chairman Genachowski objecting to his "Third Way" regulatory approach. Previously, 74 House Democrats and 37 Republican Senators had also signed letters expressing their concerns.

FCC to Auction 218-219 and 220-222 MHz Band Licenses Later This Year

Last week the FCC announced that on December 7, 2010 it will hold an auction for 1,868 licenses in the 218-219 and 220-222 MHz bands. The auction, number 89, will include licenses for spectrum not previously offered at auction, licenses that remained unsold from a previous auction, licenses on which a winning bidder in a previous auction defaulted, and licenses for spectrum previously associated with licenses that cancelled or terminated. The auction will include 1,420 licenses in the 218-219 MHz band (500 kHz each) and 448 licenses in the 220-222 MHz band (between 100 – 150 kHz each). The FCC is seeking comment on auction procedures by June 15, 2010. Along with nearby AMTS spectrum, the 218-219 and 220-222 MHz bands have been increasingly used by private licensees, including utilities and oil and gas companies, for wide area operations. FCC Developing Uniform License Renewal, Discontinuance, Construction Rules On May 25, 2010, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking to replace its current patchwork of rules with consistent requirements for license renewal, discontinuance of service and construction obligations. The proposed rules would add a "substantial service" requirement for renewal to most geographic-area wireless radio service licenses analogous to the current requirement for 700 MHz band licensees. Site-based licensees would be required to certify that they continue to operate as licensed in order to be eligible for renewal. The FCC also proposes to incorporate the permanent discontinuance concept, upon which a licensees authorization automatically terminates, into many auctioned services to which it currently does not apply. The Commission also proposes to require each party to a geographic partitioning or spectrum disaggregation arrangement to independently satisfy construction obligations post-transaction. Comment dates have not been set.

Transition Deadline for 700 MHz Band Wireless Microphones Approaching

June 12, 2010 marks the deadline by which users of wireless microphones operating in the 700 MHz Band must retune or replace their equipment. Last week, the FCC issued a Public Notice reminding individuals and groups using these devices, either on a licensed on unlicensed basis, to cease operations by the deadline. The FCC has established a website for users to check if their microphones are affected. The upcoming deadline does not impact wireless microphones and similar devices that operate outside the 700 MHz Band.

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