Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. VII Issue 13

Date: Apr 05, 2010

FCC Public Notice Proposes Revisions to WCS Construction Requirements

On March 29, 2010, the FCC released a Public Notice seeking comment on proposed revisions to the construction requirements for the 2.3 GHz Wireless Communications Service ("WCS") band. WCS band licenses were issued in 1997 and the construction deadline for these licenses was extended from July 2007 to July 2010 due to a lack of equipment and concerns of interference from the adjacent Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (Satellite Radio) licensees. Under the current rules, WCS licensees are required to meet a generic and largely undefined "substantial service" showing by July 21, 2010. The FCC's proposed revisions would require mobile and point-to-multipoint service licensees to provide reliable signal coverage to 40% of a license area's population within 30 months and 75% of a license area's population within 60 months. Licensees of point-to-point services would be required to provide 15 point-to-point links per million persons in a license area within 30 months and 30 links per million persons within 60 months. A copy of the Public Notice is available here. Comments are due 15 days after the Public Notice is published in the Federal Register The proposal puts into question the potential "re-purposing" of this spectrum to meet the broadband requirements of Critical Infrastructure Industry (CII) companies.

Application Period for Broadband Funding Closes

The application deadlines for broadband funding from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration ("NTIA") and USDA's Rural Utilities Service ("RUS") have finally passed. NTIA's deadline for Comprehensive Community Infrastructure ("CCI") projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ("Act") was March 26, 2010. NTIA accepted applications for grants under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program ("BTOP") for all non-CCI projects through March 15, 2010. March 29, 2010, was the deadline for applications seeking broadband grants from RUS under the Broadband Initiatives Program ("BIP"). With the application period closed, the agencies will spend the next several months reviewing applications and awarding grants and loans to support broadband deployment. NTIA has already distributed $1.05 billion in broadband grants, including more than $63 million in grants announced last week to fund broadband deployment projects and infrastructure in more than a dozen states. Congress allocated NTIA $4.8 billion in funding under the Act and RUS was allocated $2.4 billion to fund rural broadband deployment. All funds must be awarded by September 30, 2010. FCC Open Meeting Agenda Released The FCC released a tentative agenda for the agency's April 21, 2010 Open Meeting. This is the first Open Meeting since the National Broadband Plan was released and will focus on several issues, including: (1) a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing reforms to the Universal Service Fund (USF) to reallocate funding to broadband deployment and a Notice of Inquiry ("NOI") on the use of a model to determine efficient and targeted support levels for broadband deployment in high cost areas; (2) an NOI seeking comment on the present state of survivability in broadband networks and potential measures to reduce vulnerability to network failures; and (3) an NOI seeking comment on whether the FCC should establish a voluntary program under which participating communications service providers would be certified by the FCC for adherence to cyber security objectives and practices. The USF NOI is the beginning of the FCC's efforts to implement recommendations on universal service reform set out in the National Broadband Plan. The Tentative Agenda is available here.

FCC To Hold Workshops for new Licensing System and Critical Infrastructure

On April 7, 2010, the FCC will hold a workshop to explore legal and technical challenges associated with the development and deployment of an agency-wide Consolidated Licensing System ("CLS"). CLS is being designed to consolidate several systems and databases, including the Universal Licensing System ("ULS") and Antenna Structure Registration ("ASR) System, into a single database. The CLS Public Notice is available here. On April 13, 2010, the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau ("PSHSB") will hold a workshop to discuss the wireless communications infrastructure of CII companies. Through the workshop, the PSHSB seeks to gain a better understanding of the survivability of existing networks and explore potential measures to reduce network vulnerability to failures in network equipment or severe overload conditions in emergencies. The PSHSB Public Notice is available here

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