Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. VII Issue 36

Date: Sep 13, 2010

Critical Infrastructure Companies Point Out Need for Private Networks

In response to a Notice of Inquiry from the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau regarding the viability of commercial broadband networks, several critical Infrastructure industry representatives, including oil and gas companies and utilities, filed Comments with the FCC last week calling on the Commission to recognize the need for private wireless networks. Keller and Heckman LLP client, the American Petroleum Institute noted that "while the oil and natural gas industry relies extensively on commercial networks […] private solutions are often required to satisfy mission-critical applications." Other commentors, including the Utilities Telecom Council and Edison Electric Institute raised similar points. Commentors also urged the FCC to create a private broadband spectrum allocation, which is inexplicably lacking from the Commission's spectrum allocations.

AT&T Files Petition for Reconsideration Regarding 2.3 GHz Band

AT&T recently filed a Petition for Partial Reconsideration of the FCC's May 2010 Order adopting requirements for 2.3 GHz band Wireless Communications Service ("WCS") licensees. The WCS is comprised of four blocks of spectrum comprising a total of 30 MHz in the 2.3 GHz band. AT&T takes issue with new performance requirements, which obligate licensees to construct 15 links in three and one-half years and 30 links in five years per million of population for point-to-point services. AT&T claims that the Commission acted with injudicious haste in adopting the new WCS performance rules. AT&T also requests changes to technical requirements, including power spectral density limitations, which it says limits the viability of LTE use in the band. Interestingly, the Commission initially auctioned this spectrum in 1997. Under AT&T's proposal, WCS auction winners could hold these licenses for 20 years without constructing a system. The Commission has yet to seek comment on AT&T's filing.

Keller and Heckman LLP Article on Need for Spectrum for Critical Infrastructure

Keller and Heckman LLP attorney Greg Kunkle recently contributed an article to Submarine Telecoms Forum regarding the need for the FCC to allocate broadband spectrum to the oil and natural gas industry. The article details the potential benefits from a private spectrum allocation as well as the energy industry's growing concerns with existing spectrum allocations. The article recognizes recent Commission actions to address private spectrum needs, including allocation of the non-exclusive 3.65 GHz band and licensing the Broadband Radio Service in the Gulf of Mexico, but states that more must be done if the energy industry is to capitalize on next generation communications technology. The article can be viewed online by clicking here.

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