Telecom Business Alert -- Vol. VII Issue 16

Date: Apr 26, 2010

Public Safety Broadband Bill Calls for Use of D-Block, Commercial Infrastructure

Last week, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would reallocate the 700 MHz D Block (758-763/788-793 MHz) for use by first responders and public safety entities. The bill calls for a "Broadband for First Responder Act" to make more spectrum available for an interoperable wireless public safety broadband network and recommends leveraging existing or planned commercial infrastructure where possible to achieve nationwide interoperability in public safety communications. The bill responds to the public safety community's efforts dating back to mid-2009 that the FCC endorse allocating the D Block for public safety use, and addresses significant concerns within the public safety community regarding the National Broadband Plan. The Plan recommended auctioning the D Block for commercial use, increasing data rates for the general public while limiting public safety to 10 MHz of spectrum with little more than an expectation of meaningful priority access and roaming arrangements with 700 MHz wireless broadband services providers. The bill's sponsors are not leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee or the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, so it will be interesting to see how the legislation progresses on Capitol Hill. The Commission's Agenda for implementing the Plan (Vol. VII, Issue 14) proposed that a rulemaking be initiated later this year to address the D Block. FCC Releases NPRM Proposing Revisions to Part 17 of its Rules Last week, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on proposed revisions to Part 17 of the Commission's rules governing the construction, marking and lighting of antenna structures. The NPRM seeks comments on several proposed revisions to Part 17 that are intended to update and modernize the Commission's rules governing antenna structures. For example, the Commission's proposals would classify FAA's recommended marking and lighting recommendations as "generally mandatory" and would prohibit structure owners from changing the marking or lighting of a structure without prior approval of the FAA and FCC. The Commission also seeks comments on an appropriate time within which structure owners must replace extinguished lights on a tower. The current rules require extinguished lights to be replaced as soon as practicable. The Commission also proposes to specify that any change or correction to the location or height of a structure that is greater than one second in latitude or longitude or one foot in height requires a new aeronautical study and determination by the FAA. A copy of the NPRM is available here. Comments are due 60 days after the NPRM is published in the Federal Register and Reply Comments are due 90 days after Federal Register publication. NTIA Receives 867 Applications Seeking $11 Billion in Broadband Funding

Earlier this month, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced it received 867 applications requesting $11 billion in funding for proposed broadband projects under the second round of its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). NTIA has $2.6 billion available to fund broadband projects and has announced that it will use the bulk of those funds ($2.35 billion) to support Comprehensive Community Infrastructure projects. A total of 355 applications seek $8.4 billion in grants focusing on these middle mile broadband infrastructure projects that connect community anchor institutions such as schools, libraries, hospitals and public safety facilities. Hundreds of applications were filed for sustainable broadband adoption projects (251 applications) and public computer center projects (261) applications, seeking $1.7 billion and $922 million in funding, respectively. NTIA and the USDA's Rural Utilities Service were allocated a total of $7.2 billion to expand access to and adoption of broadband services. All funds must be distributed by September 30, 2010.

Keller and Heckman to Present at UTC Spring Meeting in Indianapolis

Three members of Keller and Heckman's telecommunications team will be speaking at the Utilities Telecom Council's spring meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana May 23-26. Partner Tom Magee will be participate in a workshop entitled "Pole Attachments Regulatory Update Workshop – Avoid a Rude Awakening!" Greg Kunkle, a Senior Associate, will speak on "Smart Grid Wireless Networks: Spectrum Resource Options – Is There Room for You?" An agenda for the spring meeting is available here.

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