Democrats waste no time in addressing public safety wireless

With the U.S. Congress now being in control of the Democratic party, public safety issues like nationwide communications interoperability is already on the radar of the new houses of Congress.

On tap is a way to make all the public safety networks that run across the nation seamlessly interoperable so that there are no issues with communication in times of crisis. One of the first initiatives up for vote includes a bill that suggests recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

That bill would create a specific and detailed program within the Department of Homeland Security dedicated to improving first-responder communications. This is good news -- immediate first responder communications is the key in many cases.

Homeland Security chief vows to increase public safety airwaves

With the U.S. Congress about to be taken control of by the Democratic Party, the head of the Department of Homeland Security -- Michael Chertoff -- has said that he would cooperate with Congress if the new, Democratic-controlled House and Senate pursue legislation to increase the supply of public-safety radio spectrum.

This is no real surprise really, as companies that control much of that spectrum (or the government entities securing it) would like more business-friendly uses obviously. However, combined with the need to ensure federal, state and local first responders talking during emergencies is slightly more important, yes? In addition, these entities must be able to share bandwidth-hogging data and video communications at the time when it is most needed.

Cingular name to be dropped; AT&T name to return

Cingular Wireless, a brand name with billions in it, will no longer be after the recent AT&T-Bellsough merger was approved earlier this week.

All Cingular branding will be re-named to the AT&T brand so that AT&T's apparent confidence in its brand name can be used across its entire company as a single brand. Why not "AT&T Cingular", folks?

I'll say this -- the "AT&T Wireless" brand has nothing but bad vibes across the country. Ask a former customer of the "brand" about this.

Nextwave Wireless gets hands on 154 licenses from recent auctions

After the FCC's advanced wireless services auctions ended months ago, I was wondering when some of the smaller bidders would get their hands on the licenses they ended up winning.

Well, NextWave Wireless has secured 154 Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) licenses it successfully bid on during the FCC spectrum auction, and these licenses cover areas like Albany, Anchorage, El Paso, Fort Myers, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Louisville, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Puerto Rico, Sacramento, Sarasota and Tulsa.

What does this mean? Well, with NextWave looking to WiMAX for the future, the company says the new AWS licenses, combined with its existing 2.3 GHz and 2.5 GHz spectrum assets, will expand its footprint to cover about 247 million people across the United States. That's on par with the big boys.

FCC Commissioner once again excuses himself from AT&T-Bellsouth vote

Who knows if the pending AT&T-Bellsouth merger will ever be approved by the FCC, and FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell -- again -- officially disqualified himself from consideration of the stalled $79 billion merger of AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp..

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was once again denied a tie-breaking Republican vote that would have possibly cleared merger before year's end.

Analysts from Stifel, Nicholas & Company said that "We believe this is a setback for AT&T-BellSouth's merger strategy and adds to uncertainty about the proceeding, but we do not expect the deal to be rejected."

AT&T-BellSouth merger still on sidelines

With the impending AT&T and Bellsouth merger still waiting in the wings with all the crazy political stirrings going on, the FCC has set the agenda for its meeting next Wednesday and a vote on the pending AT&T/BellSouth union is *still* not scheduled.

The merger -- which keeps changing amounts based on stock price levels -- is now worth $86 billion and still must receive the FCC's blessing before it can close.

AT&T-Bellsouth merger again seeing opposition

A key Republican FCC commissioner that excused himself from ruling on the proposed AT&T-Bellsouth merger only re re-instate himself to break a 2-2 voting deadlock is again seeing opposition from Democrats.

In perfect business fashion, an unnamed global telecom equipment supplier warned further delay in approving the deal -- if it is to be approved -- could hurt the manufacturing industry by slowing telecom investment. So what? Unless all angles of this merger are examined, perhaps the interests of consumers and business weigh a little more than "slowing telecom investment". Jeesh -- give me a break.

AT&T-Bellsouth merger needs deadlock fix

FCC member Robert McDowell may be yet again drawn into the debate surrounding the proposed AT&T-BellSouth merger, as McDowell recently excused himself from voting on the merger due to a conflict of interest. Honesty -- I thought that was a forgotten principle in politics these days.

There is currently a 2-2 deadlock on the $79 billion deal, and "barring a last-minute breakthrough, we believe that FCC Chairman (Kevin) Martin is likely to call on his Republican colleague, Commissioner McDowell, who has stayed on the sidelines in the proceeding due to concern about a potential conflict of interest," according to officials.

So, I guess the previous conflict of interest is being swept under the rug in order to solve the stalemate. Hmm.

Qualcomm's legal bills mounting

Seems like the transition to 3G networks all across the nation is causing such a legal ruckus that Qualcomm is continually under legal siege -- something that I've said before in posts. What is going on here? Basically, the rampant transition is causing dollar bill signs to pop up up legal offices everywhere.

Qualcomm probably has the largest bullseye on its back yet, as the company that owns so much of the intellectual property to much of the 3G technology about to be in use is being sued left and right -- but it's fighting off the storm pretty well. I'm sure Qualcomm did see the day that its IP would be needed worldwide, but didn't know it would cost hundreds of millions in legal bills either.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin gets a 5-year sentence

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin will spend another five years behind the bars of the Federal Communications Commission, which is controlled by Republicans at this time and which is also deadlocked on the current AT&T-Bellsouth $67 billion merger under Martin's guidance.

Will Martin, who was appointed by President Bush, help shape the future of American telecommunications in the next five years? Sure he will -- as the FCC is seeing a radical transformation of television, telephone, entertainment and broadband Internet services combine in an electronic alphabet soup that the FCC must keep on top of. Interesting times ahead!

Democratic shift in Congress may mean delays in wireless issues

With Tuesday's elections giving the U.S. Congress a Democratic bent from its previous slant to the Republican side, that means the shift will probably end the prospects for passage of a telecom reform bill.

The bill would give broader wireless federal pre-emption and would shift more regulative issues to the FCC and states. With the AT&T and Bellsouth merger approval being deadlocked in a 2-2 vote at this time, I'm not sure how the recent election results will affect the vote in the FCC if at all, but we'll all see soon.

Election results to affect muni WiFi?

Geez, the corpse isn't even cold yet on yesterday's election, and the sniping has already begun.

In this case, a note from the investment banking firm Stifel Nicolaus & Co. Inc. indicates that the big gains for the Democrats in both the House and the Senate will mean that the passage of a bill that calls for deregulation of the telecom/broadband sector may not happen by the end of this year or even next year. The firm says this could affect the ability of municipalities to chart their own course in developing and deploying a WiFi network, either by managing it themselves or with a partner.

Whether you are a blue- or red-stater, this seems remarkably shortsighted. The muni WiFi network momentum keeps growing with each passing day, and it doesn't seem that a bill that will take some time to work its way through Congress is going to make that much of a difference.

Muni Wifi is truly a local issue, and there's no reason to think that these individual cities can't do a better job of determining their own wireless needs than the federal government.

AT&T -Bellsouth merger approval waits until after elections

The $67 billion merger between AT&T and Bellsouth will not have final approval (or anything else) until after the mid-term elections this week, as FCC Chairman Kevin Martin still have not responded to the concerns voiced by some Democratic FCC commissioners.

When the merger was approved by the Department of Justice without any conditions at all, red flags went up all over the place within consumer groups and trade watchdogs, and huge differences remain between Martin and two Democratic commissioners that even may spell the delay of the vote past next week as these are ironed out.

Sirius gets more heat for operating improper land-based repeaters

Sirius satellite radio is receiving a mouthful from many parties about its methods of operating land-based repeater systems in improper fashion. Additionally, satellite radio company and rival XM Radio has also been under scrutiny for operating land-based repeaters above established power levels.

Why are the satellite companies doing this? Possibly to reach as many areas as possible in larger metro areas where a clear view of the sky is not possible but where millions if potential customers also lurk.

While the FCC crafts specific rules on land-based repeater systems for both companies, they will be under the microscope for a while as they probably will have to tone down their land repeaters in terms of power level outputs.

Comcast ratchets up wireless to distribute video services

Comcast will reportedly be unveiling a service this week that will allow for distribution of its video content (from all channels or select ones I'm not sure) through television sets (naturally), the Internet and even mobile phone screens.

With Comcast being a spectrum partner with Sprint Nextel -- who won large chunks of radio spectrum at the latest FCC auctions -- the company is ready to get rolling when it comes to advanced services rollouts apparently. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said that when looking at the "big picture" of Comcast, "if you want and need to -- and when the timing is right -- to be able to have your own frequencies and your own network, integrated perhaps with others or with your own cable engineering, we're in a position to do that and we're in control of our own destiny."

Those are pretty strong words but are very true. Cable companies have started and continued to build their own networks to bypass the infrastructure of the competition as much as possible, and we're just now seeing those results.

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