Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. IX Issue 11

Date: Mar 12, 2012

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Congress Seeks Information on 11, 18 and 23 GHz Bands for Fixed Microwave

The Payroll Tax Cut Extension (the "Act") passed by Congress earlier this year included several spectrum provisions, including the allocation of the 700 MHz D Block to Public Safety. (Vol. IX Issue 8). The most important provision for many private wireless licensees may be Section 6412 of the Act, which requires the Commission and the General Accounting Office ("GAO") to determine whether the 11 GHz, 18 GHZ and 23 GHz bands ("Microwave Bands") are being used efficiently. The FCC is tasked with determining the number of applications submitted by common carriers for assignments in the Microwave Bands that are not successfully coordinated and filed with the Commission. The Act also requires the GAO to assess whether the current rules governing the Microwave Bands provide adequate incentive to use the bands and whether the rules ensure the Federal Government receives maximum revenue for the bands. The underlying premise of this provision appears to be establishing a rationale for Congress to authorize the Commission to auction spectrum in the Microwave Bands, despite the substantial deployment of point-to-point microwave systems in these frequency bands by critical infrastructure entities. Please contact Doug Jarrett (jarrett@khlaw.com; 202.434.4180) with questions.

"Spectrum auctions for fixed assignments have never been conducted, raise novel issues and may lead to spectrum hoarding, while area-wide licenses for point-to-point communications are counter intuitive."

-Doug Jarrett

Partner, Keller and Heckman LLP

EWA Tells FCC 900 MHz Freeze No Longer Necessary

Last week, the Enterprise Wireless Alliance met with FCC staff and told the Commission that the freeze which prevents the licensing of new 900 MHz systems is unnecessary because Sprint Nextel no longer needs additional 900 MHz spectrum to meet its rebanding obligations. EWA urged the FCC lift the freeze by acting on a Petition for Clarification it filed in 2008. The parties also discussed the use of signal boosters and how licensees that have not satisfied their narrowband requirements as of January 1, 2013, should be considered for purposes of coordinating applications for properly licensed systems. Please contact Greg Kunkle (kunkle@khlaw.com; 202.434.4178) with questions.

Corporate Counsel Corner: FCC Enforcement Update

Last week, the Commission's Enforcement Bureau issued a Consumer Alert reminding individuals that it is illegal to use a cell or GPS jammer or any other type of device that blocks, jams or interferes with authorized communications. Jammers are typically used to block cell phone coverage or disable unwanted GPS tracking. The Commission prohibits jammers because they can prevent 911 and other emergency calls from being placed and may interfere with police or public safety communications. Violations of the jamming prohibition can lead to substantial monetary penalties (up to $112,500 for a single act), seizure of the illegal jammer and criminal sanctions, including imprisonment. Please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4296) with questions.

Keller and Heckman at Industry Events

Tom Magee will be speaking on wireless pole attachment issues at the "Utilities Joint Use and Wireless Collocation Summit 2012" in New Orleans this Wednesday, March 14. Tom will be presenting as part of a Panel that on Pole Top Access and Pole Owner Rights – What do Utilities Have to and Not Have to Do? Please contact Tom (202.434.4128; magee@khlaw.com) with questions. 

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