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Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. VII Issue 46

Date: Nov 22, 2010

Utilities Enlighten FCC on Pole Attachment Realities

Forty-nine representatives from thirty-two electric utilities gathered en masse at the FCC on November 16th to express their concerns with the Commission's pole attachment proposals. A presentation, entitled "Pole Attachment Realities: Electric Utility Safety and Reliability", was moderated by Keller and Heckman LLP Partner Tom Magee for the Coalition of Concerned Utilities and featured speakers from eleven different utilities. The presentation explained the complex and hazardous nature of electric distribution systems and how the make-ready design and construction process is incompatible with the deadlines and other narrow constraints proposed by the Commission. A copy of our ex parte filing of this presentation is available at http://www.khlaw.com/Files/8940_Ex%20Parte%20Filing.pdf. For more information, please contact Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com; 202-434-4128).

NTIA Issues Spectrum Alert; 115 MHz of Usable Spectrum Identified

On November 15th, the NTIA released results of its spectrum review which found 115 MHz of federally controlled or shared spectrum that could potentially be released for or shared with commercial users. The review was part of President Obama's initiative to find 500 MHz of spectrum that can be reallocated for fixed and mobile wireless broadband services. Most of this spectrum could be made available within the next five years. The NTIA also released a list of more than 2200 MHz of spectrum, both federal and commercial, that will be reviewed for possible re-allocation to meet the 500 MHz goal.

 

Continued FCC Disagreement on Net Neutrality

 

Despite continued opposition in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told the Web 2.0 Summit on November 17th that net neutrality rules "will happen." FCC Commissioner Meredith Baker, speaking the same day at a Federal Communications Bar Association luncheon, signaled her opposition to FCC adoption of net neutrality rules, stating that the Commission "cannot create jurisdiction on its own." She also urged the FCC to stay within its core competencies, such as spectrum reform, in order to promote legal certainty.

 

Election Results Suggest More Intense Scrutiny of FCC Policy-Making by Congress

 

Now that the dust is starting to settle from this month's midterm elections, speculation is rampant on what the changing face of Congress will mean for the telecommunications industry. Pundits are suggesting that the Republican takeover of the House may mean no net neutrality legislation and momentum to auction the 700 MHz D-block, though the disposition of this spectrum is far from certain. The lame duck session is not expected to address telecom issues, but some business groups, including the Technology CEO Council, are pushing hard for an extension to the R&D tax credit.

 

FCC To Accept Public Safety Licensing Applications for Vacated Sprint Nextel Spectrum

 

A November 18th notice from the FCC invited applications from public safety licensees for spectrum vacated by Sprint Nextel in the 800 MHz band in a number of states. The FCC began accepting applications for the vacated Interleaved Band (809-815/854-860 MHz) spectrum in 2009, but is now moving into later stages of 800 MHz rebanding in many regions. The FCC will begin accepting applications for additional spectrum derived from the Interleaved Band on December 16th, 2010. After three years, unassigned frequencies from the Interleaved Band will be made available to critical infrastructure industries for a period of two years before they are made available to general licensees. The full text of the notice can be found at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-10-2201A1.pdf.

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