Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. VII Issue 23

Date: Jun 14, 2010

Public Safety Alliance Begins Grassroots Campaign for D Block Allocation

On June 7, 2010 the Public Safety Alliance initiated its campaign to persuade Congress to modify the FCC's proposed D Block auction as part of the National Broadband Plan, which the Public Safety community has opposed since February when Chairman Genachowski articulated this approach. The Plan recommends auctioning the D Block for commercial use, increasing data rates for the general public and limiting public safety use to 10 MHz of the 700 MHz band spectrum. The Alliance is pushing Congress to reject the FCC's plan and support the "Broadband for First Responders Act," introduced to the US House of Representatives in April 2010, that allocates directly to public safety the D Block to for the Public Safety broadband network. Separately, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is drafting legislation that would authorize the FCC to share proceeds from a D Block auction with public safety and that legislation may be introduced as early as this week.

FCC Announces Rule Amendment for Upper 6 GHz and 23 GHz Bands

Last week, the FCC announced two revisions to Part 101 of its rules governing the 6525-6875 MHz and 21.8-22.1 and 23.0-23.3 GHz bands. In its Order, the FCC permits wider bandwidths up to 30 megahertz in the upper 6 GHz band. Similarly, the FCC also announced applicants are permitted to operate pursuant to conditional authority on two additional channel pairs in the 23 GHz Band, enabling applicants to activate microwave links more quickly.

Proposed Bill Seeking Voluntary Spectrum Exchange for Broadcasters

Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass) released a bill for review seeking to create a voluntary system for broadcasters to release spectrum, consistent with the National Broadband Plan's goal of making 500 MHz of spectrum available over the next 10 years for wireless broadband operations. The bill would amend the Communications Act to create an incentive program allowing the FCC to split auction proceeds with broadcasters who have volunteered to give up spectrum. Under the Markey bill, participating by broadcasters would be voluntary. In addition, the FCC and NTIA are directed to conduct a study on spectrum efficiency and determine avenues to encourage broadcasters to voluntarily give up spectrum within the 10 years. CTIA and CEA have announced support for the bill as another step toward using spectrum more efficiently.

Technical Group Formation Adds to Reclassification Debate

Leading technology and broadband companies, including Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Cisco, Google, Intel, Dish, EchoStar, Level 3 and Time Warner Cable, announced last week they created the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (TAG). This group will operate as a neutral, expert technical forum outside the auspices of the FCC to review technical practices and alternate approaches for network management. TAG's formation comes a week before the FCC is scheduled to adopt a Notice of Inquiry on broadband regulation. TAG creates a new industry forum major services providers and technology companies to collaborate on net neutrality issues. Proponents of TAG believe it will likely to play a constructive role in the FCC's broadband regulatory review.

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