Thursday, August 16, 2007

FCC Schedules 700 MHz Auction for 16-Jan-2008

The FCC will commence its auction of the 700 MHz band licenses on 16-January-2008. Specifically, the auction (designated as Auction 73) will include 1,099 licenses in the 698-806 MHz bands, including 176 licenses over Economic Areas (EAs) in the A Block, 734 licenses over Cellular Market Areas (CMAs) in the B Block, 176 licenses over EAs in the E Block, 12 licenses over Regional Economic Area Groupings (REAGs) in the C Block, and one nationwide license, to be used as part of the 700 MHz Public/Private Partnership, in the D Block.

The FCC is currently seeking public comment on a number of procedural issues including, among other things, procedures for anonymous bidding, to enhance competition by safeguarding against potential anti-competitive auction strategies; applicants trying to combine multiple C Block licenses to place bids on packages of those licenses; block-specific aggregate reserve prices, to help assure that the public recovers a portion of the licenses' value; and offering licenses for the relevant block (s) in a prompt subsequent auction in the event auction results do not satisfy applicable reserve prices.
  • In July 2007, the FCC approved new rules for the 700 MHz band, which will become available for new services in 2009 as television broadcasters complete their DTV migration. In what is seen as a partial victory for Google and other Internet players, the FCC voted to require "open access" for devices and applications using services delivered in these bands, while not requiring carriers to sell wholesale capacity in the licensed spectrum. The FCC expects to commence an auction for this spectrum no later than January 2008.

    The "open access" requirement would allow consumers to use the handset of their choice and download and use applications of their choice, subject to "reasonable network management requirements that allows the licensee to protect the network from harm."

    The FCC also approved a framework for a 700 MHz Public Safety / Private Partnership between the licensee for one of the commercial spectrum blocks and the licensee for the public spectrum block. Under this arrangement, the Public Safety licensee will have priority access to the commercial spectrum in times of emergency, and the commercial licensee will have preemptible, secondary access to the public safety broadband spectrum.

Nortel Teams with Universities on 4G R&D

Nortel is conducting collaborative research on 4G technologies with several leading universities, including the University of Waterloo in Canada, The University of Texas at Austin, and National Taiwan University (NTU) in Taiwan. The R&D is aimed at improving spectral efficiency, and decreasing time to market for Nortel's 4G mobile broadband solutions, which include Mobile WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e), and the Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Ultra Mobile Broadband (UMB) cellular standards.

Nortel has also formed new partnerships with Mera Networks in Russia and Technische Universitaet Ilmenau in Germany.

National Grid Wireless Changes Name to Lightower

National Grid Wireless, a start-up based in Boxborough, MA, has changed its corporate name to Lightower. The name change comes after the completion of the purchase of the wireless assets, fiber optic infrastructure and wireless services organization by M/C Venture Partners and Wachovia Capital Partners, announced in May 2007.

Lightower's network infrastructure portfolio consisting of approximately 350 communications towers, access to over two million distribution poles, and an extensive dark fiber network in New England, with over 1,100 available route miles.

Lightower is also developing an outdoor distributed antenna systems (DAS). Its first, multi-carrier DAS in the US on Nantucket three years ago.
  • In May 2007, M/C Venture Partners and Wachovia Capital Partners agreed to purchase the US operations of National Grid plc. for approximately $290 million. National Grid Wireless US operates an extensive communications infrastructure portfolio consisting of approximately 350 communications towers and over 1,100 route miles of dark fiber.

Nokia Requests ITC Investigation Into QUALCOMM

Nokia filed a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that Qualcomm has engaged in unfair trade practices through infringing 5 Nokia patents in its CDMA and WCDMA/GSM chipsets.

Nokia is requesting that the ITC initiate an investigation and issue an exclusion order to bar importation to the United States of infringing Qualcomm chipsets, and products such as handsets, containing the infringing chipsets.

AT&T Outlines $100 Million Upgrades in Nevada

AT&T announced plans to invest approximately $100 million in Nevada throughout the next several years in fiber network upgrades, further broadband deployment and Internet-based technologies. The investments will be aimed at bringing new services, such as IPTV, to Nevada consumers. AT&T said the investment commitment is the result of the enactment of Nevada Assembly Bill 526, which reforms video-franchising regulations.

Level 3 Adds to Board

Level 3 Communications appointed Douglas C. Eby and Michael J. Mahoney to its Board of Directors. Eby, 48, is chairman and CEO of TimePartners LLC, an investment advisory firm. He also serves as president of Torray LLC, an independent money management firm. Mahoney, 57, was most recently the president and CEO of Commonwealth Telephone Enterprises. He was also president and COO of RCN Corporation, president and COO of C-TEC Corporation, and executive vice president and general manager of C-TEC Cable Systems.