Smartcomm Files Comments to FCC Regarding Wireless Broadband in Rural Areas

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Smartcomm asserts remote areas will be best served through free enterprise

Smartcomm LLC, a Phoenix-based wireless communications consulting company, has filed comments in response to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the repurposing of a portion of the UHF and VHF frequency bands currently used by broadcast television service.

Smartcomm generally supports the FCC's efforts to open these U/V Bands for mobile and fixed broadband use in remote locations, but believes low power television stations (LPTV) should have the ability to enter into localized agreements with broadband providers and repurpose their spectrum rather than surrendering their licenses for future auction.

In 1982, the FCC created the Low Power Television service to provide opportunities for locally-oriented television service in small communities. Not only is the coverage of LPTV stations smaller, but their coverage areas are rural to a much greater extent than for full-power stations, giving them smaller sources of revenue. Smartcomm contends in its filing that LPTV stations and full-power stations should not be subject to "cookie cutter" rules and procedures as their situations and problems are very different.

Rural broadband providers must contend with low revenues generated in sparsely populated areas, costs of launching networks and the interference of geography itself (i.e. mountainous areas.) The FCC has proposed to add new spectrum allocations for fixed and mobile services in the UV Bands.

The FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposes that LPTV stations be allowed to operate on shared channels, but only through the same process established for full-powered broadcasters. Smartcomm believes localized agreements between LPTV stations and rural broadband providers will promote broadband deployment.

The company proposes the FCC provide LPTV station licensees the choice to:
•continue to transmit over-the-air broadcasts in sharing arrangements with other LPTV stations;
•return all or a portion of their spectrum to the FCC to be included in potential incentive auctions;
•enter into agreements directly with broadband providers;
•forgo their broadcast business in exchange for providing mobile broadband service within a specific time period either by themselves or in partnership with a broadband provider.

These options would allow LPTV stations to negotiate freely with the rural broadband providers and entrepreneurs interested in offering service in these otherwise underserved areas providing a shorter, more cost efficient method of rebanding. In its filing, Smartcomm concludes that the FCC, in order to act in the best interests of the millions of people currently served by LPTV stations and the millions without access to broadband, should take suitable opportunities to lower the costs and increase the probability of broadband providers entering these markets.

About Smartcomm LLC
Phoenix-based Smartcomm LLC provides consulting services and opportunities in the wireless communications industry to both individual and institutional investors. The company specializes in opportunities to acquire 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 1.9 GHz band spectrum through the filing of license applications, participation in FCC public auctions or acquisitions in the secondary market. For more information, go to http://www.smartcommllc.com

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Greg Sexton
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