Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Breaking News: FCC Grants WCS Buildout Extension

The FCC granted the WCS license holders the extension they requested to build out their systems. They now have until July 21, 2010. The ruling is not surprising; however, it is a missed opportunity for satellite radio. It is unclear how it serves the public interest.

Here are the ordering clauses:

IV. ORDERING CLAUSES
17. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to sections 4(i) and 303(r) of the
Communications Act, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i), 303(r), and sections 0.331 and 1.946(e) of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.331, 1.946(e), the construction deadlines for the Wireless Communications Service licenses listed in Attachment A to this Order are extended to July 21, 2010.

18. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to sections 4(i) and 303(r) of the
Communications Act, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i), 303(r), and sections 0.331 and 1.949 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.331, 1.949, the request filed by the WCS Coalition to conditionally grant applications for WCS license renewal IS DENIED.

19. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to sections 4(i) and 303(r) of the
Communications Act, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i), 303(r), and sections 0.331 and 1.949 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.331, 1.949, the request filed by Cellutec, Inc. to extend its license term IS DENIED.


The FCC granted the extension to the WCS license holders because the "WCS licensees have demonstrated that they face factors beyond their control that have limited their options in providing service" and that "new technology solutions may be available in the near future".

It was not a complete victory. The FCC rejected the idea that the timing of the extension should be based on the resolution of the of the pending SDARS repeaters rulemaking, saying that it would be a disincentive. They didn't want to encourage warehousing of spectrum. I don't know what they call the last 10 years or what will change in the next 3 years that would cause them not to grant another extension. The FCC also denied the WCS Coalition's request to conditionally grant renewal of the licenses and Cellutec's request to extend the terms of the licenses to the new buildout date. The licenses holders must still file for renewal of their licenses.

The NAB arguments addressing the issue of local origination were rejected as being irrelevant.

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