Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. VII Issue 26

Date: Jul 06, 2010

President Obama Announces Nearly $1 billion for New Broadband Projects

Last week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and USDA's Rural Utilities Service ("RUS") announced nearly $1 billion in funding for 66 new broadband projects nationwide as part of the second round of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and Broadband Initiatives Program funded by the Recovery Act. The majority of the projects are aimed at bringing broadband service to rural communities in 37 states and one territory. Projects include building infrastructure and providing broadband service in Arizona, Alabama and Montana as well as providing broadband internet access for multiple rural communities nationwide. Representing over one-fourth of the total investment, the most popular project is the creation of fiber-to-home systems in Tennessee, Oklahoma, North Dakota, North Carolina, West Virginia, Illinois and many other states nationwide. This fiber network is funded by $780 million by RUS and $200 million from outside investors. For more information, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202.434.4128)

Congress to take action on Administration's New Broadband Plan

Members of the House and Senate have announced plans to introduce comprehensive spectrum legislation consistent with the Administration's June 28 memorandum proposing a four-tiered plan to make 500 MHz of Federal and commercial spectrum available over the next 10 years for licensed mobile broadband. The House recently passed an inventory bill requiring NTIA to conduct an inventory of spectrum use to assist in determining if spectrum can be made available within 5 years. As yet, the Administration has not submitted specific legislation to implement the plan; however, legislation is expected to be introduced in the Senate and House by the end of the month.

FCC's Paging Auction Continues

The FCC's Lower and Upper Bands Paging Auction continues with scheduled bidding this week. The Auction includes 69 qualified bidders competing for 7,752 licenses in the lower paging bands (35 MHz, 43 MHz), 152/158 MHz (paired) and 454/459 MHz (paired), and 1,851 licenses in the upper paging bands (929 MHz and 931 MHz). At the close of three weeks of bidding, total gross bids exceeded $5.4 million. The Auction appears to be winding down, as only 22 bids were received in the final round last week. The auction may conclude as early as the end of this week. For more information about the Auction, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4296).

Commission Modifies Narrowbanding Interim Equipment Deadlines

On June 30, 2010, the FCC issued an order waiving specific interim narrowbanding equipment deadlines in the 150-174 MHz and 421-512 MHz bands for land mobile and public safety licensees. Under the order, 25 kHz-capable equipment will continue to be available for purchase to licensees seeking to replace equipment and continue operating existing wideband systems until January 1, 2013. The extension does not permit the use of 25 kHz-capable equipment for any new or expanded operations. In addition, the FCC extended the deadline for certifying 6.25 kHz-capable equipment to January 1, 2013. These waivers do not alter the FCC's narrowbanding licensing requirements, and the Commission reaffirmed its commitment to timely completing the migration to 12.5 kHz technology by January 1, 2013. A copy of the order is available here. For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4296).

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