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Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. IX Issue 8

Date: Feb 21, 2012

SPECIAL ALERT: IWCE 2012

700 MHz D Block to Public Safety, Network Buildout to be Funded by Incentive Auctions

Last week, the House and Senate agreed to a bill extending the payroll tax cut. The bill also will allocate the 700 MHz D Block to public safety entities and provide $7 billion to fund the buildout of the new public safety wireless network. The D Block allocation will be governed through an independent board under the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The $7 billion in funding will be raised from incentive auctions, which will allow TV broadcasters to voluntarily relinquish their spectrum for auctioning by the FCC. The broadcasters would share in the auction proceeds. Incentive auctions are not expected to take place for several years and are estimated to raise $16 billion for the U.S. Treasury and an additional $1.75 billion for TV broadcasters. The bill also will require public safety licensees to relinquish spectrum in the T-Band (470-512 MHz) on a reported 11-year timetable, but relocation costs will be reimbursed. The bill also will permit the continued unlicensed use of the TV White Spaces. Both Houses of Congress passed bill on February 17, 2012.. Please contact Doug Jarrett (202.434.4180; jarrett@klhaw.com) with questions.

FCC Pulls the Plug on LightSquared

 

Last week, the FCC issued a Statement confirming it will revoke LightSquared's Conditional Authority that was granted in January 2011 and permitted the company to test its proposed wireless broadband network in the L-Band. This revocation by the FCC follows an NTIA report which concluded there is no practical way to mitigate potential interference LightSquared's proposed operations will cause GPS systems operating in the adjacent band. The Commission issued a Public Notice seeking comment on its intent to vacate LightSquared's conditional authority and whether it should suspend indefinitely LightSquared's Ancillary Terrestrial Component authority. Comments are due March 1, 2012. Please contact Greg Kunkle (202.434.4178; kunkle@khlaw.com) with questions.

FCC Seeks Comment on Narrowband Waiver Requests

The FCC started the year off by issuing a Public Notice reminding private land mobile licensees of the upcoming narrowbanding deadline. Last month, the Commission issued a Public Notice seeking comment on 21 requests for waiver of the Commission's January 1, 2013, VHF and UHF narrowbanding deadline. All of these waiver requests were filed by public safety entities and most sought an additional 12 to 18 months to comply with the narrowbanding deadline. Ocean County, New Jersey sought the longest extension, until December 31, 2017. For more information regarding the upcoming narrowbanding deadline, please see our Special Narrowbanding Alert. Please contact Wes Wright (202.434.4296; wright@khlaw.com) with questions about narrowbanding.

FCC Order Clarifies AMTS DTV Protection Obligations

On January 13, 2012, the FCC issued an Order conditionally granting applications by the gas and electric utility Avista Corporation (a Keller and Heckman LLP client) to operate a private land mobile radio system in the Automated Maritime Telecommunications Service ("AMTS") band (217/219 MHz). The Order is the first ruling by the FCC clarifying the interference protection obligations of AMTS licensees to Digital TV broadcasts. The Order reflects that the AMTS band is still a viable option for private licensees, although attention to DTV reception remains important when AMTS operations overlap DTV Channels 13 and 10 service contours. Please contact Greg Kunkle (202.434.4178; kunkle@khlaw.com) with questions.

Coalition of Concerned Utilities Challenges Pole Attachment Order in Court

While its Petition for Reconsideration of the FCC's make-ready rulings remains pending at the Commission, last month the Coalition of Concerned Utilities (Consumers Energy, Detroit Edison, FirstEnergy, Hawaiian Electric, NSTAR, Pepco and Xcel, represented by Keller and Heckman LLP) attacked the FCC Pole Attachment Order before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. In support of the Utility Petitioners (AEP et al), the Coalition's Intervenors' Brief seeks to overturn two key aspects of the FCC's decision: the assertion of jurisdiction for the first time over ILEC attachments and the dramatic reduction of the Telecom Rate down to the Cable Rate. Please contact Tom Magee (202.434.4128; magee@khlaw.com) with questions.

 

Keller and Heckman at Industry Events

On February 22-23, 2012, Keller and Heckman LLP Partners Doug Jarrett and Greg Kunkle and FCC Licensing Specialist Tim Doughty will be attending the International Wireless Communications Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. The topics in this week's Alert focus on issues of interest to IWCE attendees. Doug will be moderating a panel on Broadband Spectrum Options for Critical Infrastructure Industries and Greg will be presenting on spectrum available for Positive Train Control Technology. Please attend these speaking sessions and stop by Keller and Heckman's booth (#3100) at IWCE.

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In an attempt to address in our weekly Telecom Business Alert the issues of most importance to the clients and friends of Keller and Heckman LLP, we invite you to submit suggestions on topics of interest to you. To make suggestions, please send an e-mail to TelecomAlert@khlaw.com.

Keller and Heckman LLP's Telecom Business Alert is a complimentary weekly electronic update created by the Telecommunications and the Business Counseling and Transactional practice groups of Keller and Heckman LLP.

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