Patton Boggs TechComm Industry Update - Week of July 13, 2009

    13 July 2009

    NTIA and RUS Release Notice of Funds Availability for Recovery Act Broadband Funding

    NTIA and RUS recently released a joint Notice of Funds Availability for the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) under the Recovery Act. At the same time, NITA released a Notice of Funds Availability for the State Broadband Data and Development program (Broadband Mapping). A joint BIP and BTOP funding application and user guide have also been released. NTIA and RUS are conducting a series of workshops to help applicants understand the NOFA and the joint funding application requirements. The workshop presentations are available here.

    Important dates included below

    • July 14, 2009 - 8 a.m. ET Application window opens.

    • July 31, 2009 - Electronic applications are available for filing.

    • Aug. 14, 2009 - 5 p.m. ET Application Submission deadline. Step One of the application process begins. Information is evaluated and scored by reviewers in each agency.

    • Sept. 14, 2009 - Step Two of the application review process for both agencies should be announced on or about Sept. 14, 2009. RUS/NTIA will post a Public Notice of proposed funding service areas of each Broadband Infrastructure application at www.broadbandusa.gov for a 30-day period.

    • Oct. 15, 2009 - Step Two “due diligence” information must be submitted to agencies online at www.broadbandusa.gov by Oct. 15, 2009, or alternatively, 30 days after the applicant has received a request from RUS or NTIA to provide such information, whichever is later. States will receive a list of the applications under consideration. States can provide NTIA with a list and prioritization of recommended projects. States will have 20 calendar days from date of notification to submit recommendations to NTIA.

    • Oct.-Dec. 2009 - Second funding window for BIP and BTOP is expected.

    • Nov. 7, 2009 - NTIA and RUS intend to announce awards starting on or about Nov. 7, 2009. Awards made on rolling basis subject to availability of funds. Two other funding rounds expected. Funds not awarded under BIP or BTOP in a window can be rolled forward to the next window.

    Separately, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board will host a series of webinars on OMB's recent guidance on reporting Recovery Act spending and job creation data (see What's New In Acquisition, June 23, 2009). OMB will offer webinars during July 20-23, each focusing on a different section of the guidance and highlighting technology solutions that can help agencies comply with the reporting requirements. Prime recipients such as state and local government officials, and government contractors, are invited to register. 

    Senate Agriculture Committee Approves Adelstein as RUS Administrator

    During his confirmation hearing last Tuesday, former FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein called rural broadband deployment key to his new post as administrator of the Agriculture Department's Rural Utilities Service (RUS). “I believe one of our key national priorities should be to aggressively promote the expansion of broadband deployment and adoption," Adelstein told the committee. "Some have argued that the reason we've fallen so far in the international rankings is that we are more rural than those ahead of us. If that is correct, we must cite it not as a despairing excuse but as a clarion call to re-double our efforts to promote rural broadband." Adelstein will keep in close contact with the FCC and the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications & Information Administration as they combine to deliver broadband to unserved and underserved areas according to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

    Senate Agriculture Chairman Tom Harkin, D-IA, praised the President’s nomination of Adelstein. “The Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service plays a vital role in helping farmers, ranchers, and all citizens of rural communities across our nation enjoy modern electric, telecommunications, including broadband, water, and wastewater systems. These services are vital elements of economic progress and quality of life for rural communities.” The Committee confirmed Adelstein’s nomination and his confirmation is expected to be fast-tracked for a unanimous consent vote by the full Senate this week.

    On the FCC front, the Senate Commerce Committee is poised to hold a hearing on July 15th to confirm Meredith Atwell Baker and Mignon Clyburn as FCC commissioners.

     

    FCC Revises Upfront Payments in the BRS BTA Auction

    The FCC released its BRS BTA Auction Public Notice (Auction No. 86) outlining auction procedures for Auction No. 86 that is set to begin on October 27, 2009. There are pre-existing BRS site-based incumbent licenses in most of the spectrum offered in Auction No. 86. Spectrum won in this auction will not include the geographic service areas of any co-channel incumbent site-based licenses. As a result of the incumbency issue, the FCC revised certain upfront payments of the licenses available at auction. In some cases, the FCC lowered the upfront payment. For example, the FCC lowered the upfront payment of the Harrisonburg, VA BTA from $116,000 to $29,000. But in many cases, the FCC raised the upfront payment. The FCC raised the Harrison, AR BTA upfront payment from $71,000 to $88,000 and the Beckley, WV BTA upfront payment from $128,000 to $160,000. A complete list of the revised upfront payments is attached to the FCC’s Public Notice.

    To ensure the auction is competitive, auction applicants for licenses in any of the same geographic license areas are prohibited from communicating with each other about bids, bidding strategies, or settlements unless such applicants have identified each other on their short-form applications as parties with whom they have entered into bidding agreements.

    The FCC plans to hold a seminar on auction procedures on August 5, 2009. Short-form applications are due August 18, 2009 by 5:59 PM ET. Upfront payments are due September 24, 2009.

    House Subcommittee Examines Rural Broadband Programs

    On July 9th, members of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development, Biotechnology, Specialty Crops, and Foreign Agriculture criticized broadband stimulus programs for being too complex and onerous to attract applicants. Subcommittee Chairman Mike McIntyre, D-NC, expressed concerned that unserved rural communities will not be eligible for the grants, which are designated for remote areas with populations under 20,000 at least 50 miles from non-rural areas. "I've found zero of all 100 counties in North Carolina are eligible for grants" under the definition, he said.

    Cheryl Cook, deputy Agriculture undersecretary for rural development, responded that ineligible communities could still qualify for loan-grant combinations, adding that her department will clarify its "remote" definition in the next two weeks.

    Subcommittee ranking member Mike Conaway, R-TX, complained about open access conditions requiring recipients of broadband grants to refrain from favoring proprietary content on their Internet systems and permit the interconnection of competing carriers. "I'm concerned that these new requirements would prevent new applicants from applying," Conaway warned. Senior NTIA adviser Mark Seifert testified that a "rudimentary" nationwide map of broadband availability won't be available until January or February -- well after the first wave of grants and loans are awarded. The map, to be compiled by states with federal assistance, is considered integral to ensuring that the money reaches communities requiring it the most.

    Stay tuned for possible changes to the definitions or gating requirements included in the recently released NoFA.

    FCC, DOJ Investigate Wireless Handset Exclusivity Contracts

    The Justice Department and the FCC have announced investigations into wireless handset exclusivity contracts. The Justice Department concern stems from the anticompetitive nature of handset contracts. Many contracts last six months, but AT&T’s contract with Apple to be the exclusive U.S. seller of the iPhone continues two years after the initial launch of the first iPhone model. The Justice Department also may review whether carriers are unduly limiting the applications that a user may run on a phone and on a carrier’s wireless network. The FCC has announced it will open an inquiry into such contracts but a formal notice has not yet been released. Although investigations may be imminent, sources close to the Justice Department said no investigation has yet been launched.

    Four Telehealth Networks in California, Iowa, Missouri and New York Seek Bidders for Rural Health Care Pilot Project

    Four participants in the FCC’s $417 million Rural Health Care Pilot Program recently announced their intent to consider bidders to help deploy broadband telehealth networks. The California Telehealth Network Consortium and the University of California (UC) issued a request for proposals (RFP) on July 1st to obtain a comprehensive set of outsourced telecommunications and network services to serve 300 healthcare providers in the state. The consortium is seeking interoperable, secure, reliable and cost effective IP-routed WAN to interconnect healthcare providers. The WAN would be dedicated to supporting peer-to-peer healthcare-related communications. This network, in turn, would connect to or directly peer with several regional, statewide and national networks, thereby participating in a “network of networks” that supports enhanced telehealth services, including telemedicine. The first allowable contract date is July 29, 2009.

    In another Rural Health Care Pilot Project, the Iowa Rural Health Telecommunications Program and the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) issued an RFP on July 8th seeking to connect various Iowa hospitals to the Iowa Communications Network using newly constructed or existing fiber optic cable facilities to serve Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. The first allowable contract date is August 5, 2009.

    A third consortium in Missouri, Pathways Community Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., issued a July 10th RFP seeking to establish an enhanced IT network for the delivery of mental health services via telemedicine in rural areas and to connect 19 Pathways sites to the corporate data center in Clinton, Missouri. The first allowable contract date is August 7, 2009.

    Finally, in New York, the Western New York Rural Health Education Center issued an RFP on July 2nd to provide an interconnected broadband wide area network to link a consortium of hospitals in rural, medically underserved and urban areas of Western New York to increase utilization healthcare information services and technologies among public and non-profit healthcare providers. The first allowable contract date is July 30, 2009.

    Comcast Launches WiMAX Broadband Service in Portland, Oregon

    Comcast is the first cable operator in the United States to offer WiMAX broadband service. Comcast now offers its Comcast High-Speed 2go WiMAX broadband service in Portland, Oregon with other, unannounced cities to be added in the upcoming months based on the launch schedule of its partner, Clearwire. Last year Comcast invested at least $1 billion in Clearwire. Comcast’s High-Speed 2go mobile broadband service offers speeds up to 4 Mbps to laptops, netbooks and other mobile wireless devices. Comparable 3G wireless services only offer download speeds between 1 and 1.5 Mbps. Comcast’s Metro data card service plan for laptops is $50/month when bundled with home Internet service but only permits mobile access in areas where Comcast’s WiMAX service is available. A second nationwide mobile data plan is $70/month and will allow mobile access using Sprint Nextel’s 3G network in areas where Comcast has not yet launched its WiMAX service.

    FCC Adopts New Forbearance Procedures

    The FCC adopted new procedures governing forbearance petitions filed pursuant to the Communications Act’s telecommunications competition section. Under the new procedures, forbearance petitions must be “completed as filed” and must demonstrate how the petition meets each of the statutory forbearance criteria. The Commission noted that its ability to make the determinations within the statutory time frame required is significantly compromised when a petition does not clearly state the relief sought. Accordingly, a forbearance petitions must now state with specificity: (1) each statutory provision, rule, or requirement from which forbearance is sought; (2) each carrier, or group of carriers, for which forbearance is sought; (3) each service for which forbearance is sought; (4) the geographic location, zone, or area in which forbearance is sought; and (5) any other factor, condition, or limitation relevant to determining the scope of the requested relief. Under the new procedures, the Petitioner still bears the burden of proof, including the burden of production of evidence and the burden of persuasion. The FCC will post on its web site a timeline which outlines the stages of forbearance petition review. This site will include all the relevant docketing information for each forbearance petition. Except for the “completed as filed rule,” the FCC’s new procedures will apply to all petitions including pending petitions once the new procedures become effective.

    FCC Seeks Comment on Possible Spectrum Bands for Medical Body Area Networks

    The FCC is seeking comment on allocating spectrum and establishing service and technical rules for the operation of Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs). MBANs will be used to monitor an array of physiological data including temperature, pulse, blood glucose level, blood pressure, respiratory function and a variety of other physiological metrics. MBAN systems would be used in health care facilities, and potentially in other patient care/monitoring circumstances. MBAN systems could wirelessly monitor all of the data of a single patient, which could then be aggregated and wirelessly transmitted to a remote location for evaluation. The FCC seeks comment on options for accommodating MBAN operations in the following frequency bands: (1) 2360-2400 MHz; (2) 2300-2305 MHz, 2395-2400 MHz; (3) 2400-2483.5 MHz; or (4) 5150-5250 MHz. The FCC also seeks comment on licensing schemes appropriate in the suggested bands and tentative service and eligibility rules that are similar to those for other wireless body-worn and implanted medical devices operating in the MedRadio Service in the 401-406 MHz bands. The comment deadline has not yet been established.

    Senate Committee Moves Spectrum Inventory Bill, House Introduces Own Version

    The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on July 8th unanimously approved a bill requiring the inventory of radio spectrum, a measure intended to free up frequencies for broadband wireless communication. The bill, S. 649, was introduced by Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee chairman John Kerry, D-MA, with bi-partisan cosponsors. The bill would require the FCC and NTIA to initiate within 180 days of enactment a comprehensive survey of the utilization of the radio spectrum, including television and radio bands from 300 MHz to 3.5 GHz and submit the results to the committee. NTIA and the FCC would also be required to create an online, "near real-time" database so the public could monitor any auction, transfer or change in allocation or assignment of frequencies.

    A House version of the bill introduced July 8th by Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman, D-CA, and Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher, D-VA. would require the FCC to identify the least-utilized blocks of spectrum in every market in the country, and then recommend which, if any, should be reallocated. It would also require annual reports to that effect, though it would also place responsibility on the FCC and NTIA rather than the spectrum users to gather the information where possible.

    Unlike the Senate bill, the House measure seeks more detailed information on who is using the spectrum, which includes radio and television broadcasters, and how efficiently they are doing it. Wireless and computer companies have long argued that there is space between broadcast channels for a lot more users, while broadcasters are concerned about the interference that could result. The FCC last year agreed to allow unlicensed wireless devices to share the broadcast band.

    Google Introduces New Operating System

    Google has announced that it is working on a new operating system for inexpensive computers that will directly compete with Microsoft’s Windows platform. The new Google operating system will be based on Google’s web browser, Chrome. The new operating system will be based on the Linux kernel and rely on assistance from open-source programmers that also helped Google develop Chrome. Google has been hiring former Microsoft employees and is developing an alternative, online suite of word processing and spreadsheet programs in direct competition with Microsoft’s popular Word and Excel programs. Based on the success of Google’s mobile platform, Android, inexpensive netbook computer manufacturers are already announcing plans to build a netbook that will run Google’s new operating system.

    INDUSTRY CALENDAR

    Meetings and Events

    July 15, 2009

    • Pursuant to OMB Guidelines, recipients of federal funding to begin reporting on use of their stimulus funds

    • WRC-11 Advisory Committee - Informal Working Group 2: Terrestrial Services

    • WRC-11 Advisory Committee - Informal Working Group 3: Space Services

    July 16, 2009

    • North American Numbering Council Meeting

    July 19-22, 2009

    • NARUC Summer Committee Meetings, Seattle, WA

    July 21, 2009

    • WRC-11 Advisory Committee - Informal Working Group 1: Maritime, Aeronautical and Radar Services

    July 27, 2009

    • WRC-11 Advisory Committee - Informal Working Group 4: Regulatory Issues

    • Eighth Indian Telecommunications Initiatives Workshop

    July 28, 2009

    • Eighth Indian Telecommunications Initiatives Workshop

    August 5, 2009

    • Pre-Auction Seminar for Auction of 78 Broadband Radio Service (BRS) Licenses (No. 86)

    August 5-8, 2009

    • Radio & Records: Triple A 2009 Summit, Boulder, CO

    August 9-11, 2009

    • 15th Annual Progress and Freedom Foundation “Aspen” Sundance, Utah, Summit: A New Deal for the Digital Age?

    August 11, 2009

    • FCC Monthly Public Meeting

    August 28, 2009

    • Mock Action for 122 FM Broadcast Construction Permits (No. 79)

    September 2-3, 2009

    • Interop Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo

    September 8-11, 2009

    • Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) TBD, PCC.1 Meeting

    September 15, 2009

    • WCAI International Symposium at 4G World, Chicago, IL

    September 15-17, 2009

    • WiMAX World 2009, Chicago, IL

    September 22, 2009

    • Oral Argument: US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit - CableVision Systems Corporation v. FCC, et al., No. 07-1425,

    September 22-24, 2009

    • North American Strategic Infrastructure Leadership Forum, Washington

    September 23-25, 2009

    • The NAB Radio Show, Philadelphia, PA

    October 5-9, 2009

    • ITU Telecom World 2009, Geneva

    October 7-9, 2009

    • International CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment, San Diego, CA

    October 18-21, 2009

    • 2009 Technology and Standards Fall Forum, Phoenix, AZ

    • CEA Industry Forum, Phoenix, AZ

    October 21-22, 2009

    • ISPCS 2009, Las Cruces, New Mexico

    October 21-23, 2009

    • SUPERCOMM 2009, Chicago

    October 24-25, 2009

    • International Regulators’ Forum, Montreal

    October 25-30, 2009

    • Cable Connection, Denver, CO

    October 26-27, 2009

    • International Institute of Communications’ 40th Annual, Montreal

    November 3-5, 2009

    • WiMAX World Emerging Markets, Prague, Czech Republic

    November 9-11, 2009

    • InfoComm China 2009, Beijing

    November 13-17, 2009

    • Internet Governance Forum, Sharm el-sheikh, Egypt

    November 15-18, 2009

    • NARUC Annual Convention, Chicago, UL

    December 2, 2009

    • Radio Ink: Forecast, New York, NY

     

    Broadband Stimulus Deadlines & Other Federal Funding

    July 14, 2009

    • Application window opens

    • NTIA and RUS workshop Birmingham, AL

    July 15, 2009

    • Pursuant to OMB Guidelines, recipients of federal funding to begin reporting on use of their stimulus funds

    • NTIA and RUS workshop Memphis, TN

    July 16, 2009

    • NTIA and RUS workshop Lonoke, AR

    July 17, 2009

    • NTIA and RUS workshop Billings, MT

    July 21, 2009

    • NTIA and RUS workshop St. Paul, MN

    July 23, 2009

    • NTIA and RUS workshop Albuquerque, NM

    July 24, 2009

    • NTIA and RUS workshop Los Angeles, CA

    July 31, 2009

    • Electronic BIP and BTOP applications are available for filing

    August 14, 2009

    • Application Submission deadline

    September 14, 2009

    • Step Two of the application review process for both agencies should be announced on or about Sept. 14, 2009

    October 15, 2009

    • Step/Phase two “due diligence” information must be submitted to agencies online at www.broadbandusa.gov

    October - December 2009

    • Second funding window for BIP and BTOP is expected

    November 7, 2009

    • NTIA and RUS intend to announce awards

    December 7, 2009

    • NTIA intends to make award documents available to successful applicants within 30 days of award announcement

    January 10, 2010

    • Recovery Act reports shall be submitted no later than the 10th day after the end of each calendar quarter

    April - June 2010

    • Third Funding Window for BIP and BTOP is anticipated

    April 10, 2010

    • Quarterly report due and continuing thereafter quarterly

    September 30, 2010

    • All awards under BIP, BTOP must be made no later than Sept. 30, 2010

    November – December 2011

    • BIP and BTOP broadband projects must be substantially complete no later than 2 years following the date of award. For applications funded after the first window, the deadline will be the end of 2011



    Congressional Schedule

    July 15, 2009

    • Senate Nominations Hearing: Mignon L. Clyburn and Meredith Attwell Baker for FCC Commissioners

    • Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Contraband Cell Phones in Correctional Facilities, Public Safety Impact and Potential Implications of Jamming Technologies

    July 23, 2009

    • Tentative House Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee hearing on FCC oversight

    FCC Rulemakings / Deadlines

    July 13, 2009

    • Comment Deadline: Procedures to Encourage Radio Service to Rural and Tribal Communities

    • Reply Comment Deadline: Steps to Improve Collection of Data on Minority and Female Broadcast Ownership

    • Reply Comment Deadline: Fourteenth Inquiry Competition in the Mobile Wireless Marketplace

    July 14, 2009

    • Reply Comment Deadline: Third Annual Satellite Competition Report

    • Comment Deadline: FCC Extends BAS Relocation Deadline to February 2010, Seeks Comments on Cost Sharing

    July 15, 2009

    • Deadline: Wireless Manufacturers: Hearing Aid Compliance Reports Due

    July 17, 2009

    • Reply Comment Deadline: Request for Increased Operating Power for FM Digital Audio Broadcasting

    July 20, 2009

    • Comment Deadline: Adjustments to 4.9 GHz Band Rules for Public Safety Broadband Use, Further Proposals

    • Reply Comment Deadline: TRS Reimbursement Rates and Contribution Factor for 2009-2010, Proposed Modifications to VRS Rates

    • Comment Deadline: Verizon Wireless Seeks Consent to Transfer Licenses in 79 Markets to Meet Alltel Merger Conditions

    July 21, 2009

    • Comment Deadline: Sought on Impact of Competitive Provision of 911 Service in Virginia

    • Reply Comment Deadline: FCC Begins Work on 'National Broadband Plan' Mandated by Congress

    July 23, 2009

    • Deadline: FCC Report to Congress Due on 911 and E911 Fees Collected by States under the NET 911 Act

    • Reply Comment Deadline: FCC Suspends US Carrier Termination Payments to Tonga's TCC, Seeks Comments on Suspending Payments to Digicel

    July 24, 2009

    • Reply Comment Deadline: FCC Extends BAS Relocation Deadline to February 2010, Seeks Comments on Cost Sharing

    • Comment Deadline: Petition for Rulemaking Allow the Use of Portable Maritime VHF Radios On Shore

    July 27, 2009

    • Comment Deadline: Refreshing the Record: Mandating Captioned TRS

    July 29, 2009

    • Reply Comment Deadline: Verizon Wireless Seeks Consent to Transfer Licenses in 79 Markets to Meet Alltel Merger Conditions

    July 31, 2009

    • Reply Comment Deadline: FCC Inquiry on Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) Audience Measurement System

    • Payment Deadline: Upfront Payments Due for Auction of 122 FM Broadcast Construction Permits (No. 79)

    August 3, 2009

    • Comment Deadline: FCC Reduces Telephone Number Porting Interval from Four Days to One, Seeks Additional Views

    August 6, 2009

    • Third Round Deadline: Verizon Wireless Seeks Consent to Transfer Licenses in 79 Markets to Meet Alltel Merger Conditions

    August 10, 2009

    • Reply Comment Deadline: Refreshing the Record: Mandating Captioned TRS

    August 11, 2009

    • Comments Deadline: Proposed Medical Micro-power Network (MMN) Service in the 413-457 MHz Band

    • Reply Comment Deadline: Procedures to Encourage Radio Service to Rural and Tribal Communities

    August 18, 2009

    • Application Deadline: Auction of 78 Broadband Radio Service (BRS) Licenses (No. 86)

    August 19, 2009

    • Reply Comment Deadline: Adjustments to 4.9 GHz Band Rules for Public Safety Broadband Use, Further Proposals

    August 19, 2009

    • Comment Deadline: NTIA - Implementation of 2004 Act Financing the Transfer of 1710-1755 MHz Spectrum from Government to Commercial Use (NTIA)

    August 28, 2009

    • Reply Comment Deadline: 2008 and 2009 Data Sought for Fourteenth Annual Report on Competition for the Delivery of Video Programming

    • Mock Action for 122 FM Broadcast Construction Permits (No. 79)

    August 31, 2009

    • Reply Comment Deadline: FCC Reduces Telephone Number Porting Interval from Four Days to One, Seeks Additional Views

    September 1, 2009

    • Auction No. 79: 122 FM Broadcast Construction Permits

    September 8, 2009

    • Comment Deadline: FCC Launches Review of Rules Adopted in 1998 Affecting Small Entities

    September 10, 2009

    • Reply Comment Deadline: Proposed Medical Micro-power Network (MMN) Service in the 413-457 MHz Band

    September 24, 2009

    • Upfront Payment Deadline: Auction of 78 Broadband Radio Service (BRS) Licenses (No. 86)

    October 23, 2009

    • Mock Action: 78 Broadband Radio Service (BRS) Licenses (No. 86)

    October 27, 2009

    • Auction: 78 Broadband Radio Service (BRS) Licenses (Auction No. 86)

    Public Safety

     

    July 14, 2009

    • Regional Public Safety Planning Committee Meeting for Region 34 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma regarding 700 MHz

    July 22, 2009

    • Regional Public Safety Planning Committee Meeting for Region 7 in Centennial, Colorado regarding 700 MHz

    September 8, 2009

    • Regional Public Safety Planning Committee Meeting for Region 19 in Windsor Locks, Connecticut regarding 700 MHz and 4.9 GHz

    September 9, 2009

    • Regional Public Safety Planning Committee Meeting for Region 7 in Centennial Colorado Island regarding 700 MHz

    November 18, 2009

    • Regional Public Safety Planning Committee Meeting for Region 7 in Centennial Colorado Island regarding 700 MHz