FCC Hears Testimony of LBA Group Chief Executive Lawrence Behr on Role of AM in Broadband Access

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Invited presentation follows a request for FCC to encourage colocation

The Federal Communications Commission called LBA Group Inc. CEO Lawrence Behr to Washington to learn more about his engineered proposal to accelerate public access to broadband. Behr’s persistent idea: Encourage wireless carriers to co-locate their antennas on existing AM radio towers.
The executive and his vice president for sales, Mike Britner, were invited to D.C. to meet with Commission staffers and representatives of radio stations, law and engineering firms, and tower companies. Other industry association executives and engineers participated in the Dec. 12 gathering via teleconferencing facilities.
Behr has long advocated colocation to better utilize radio towers and as a response to community resistance to any more wireless and mobile communications towers. He initially made the case for colocation in a National Association of Broadcasters Conference in 2008. Consequently, the FCC invited Behr to a conference in Washington last February as an expert proponent of colocation as a means of accelerating public access to broadband.
In October, Behr went one step further. Working with his Washington communications counsel Don Evans of Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, Behr formally proposed the FCC identify AM towers as part of the solution to wireless siting shortages. He proposed educational initiatives and FCC incentives to encourage wireless and AM executives to embrace a technology that can help each of them.

Co-locating antennas on existing towers “can dramatically benefit both the AM broadcast community and the wireless community,” Behr declared. “All that is needed are appropriate incentives from the Commission to make this happen.”

In the December presentation, he reiterated the suggested FCC incentives:

  •     Promote colocation as a legal and practical strategy for wireless and AM executives
  •     Require expedited local action on colocation requests
  •     Give a regulatory fee discount for AM stations that host wireless antenna
  •     Streamline the STA process where an AM station needs it.

Behr’s PowerPoint presentation spurred considerable technical and feasibility discussion. Participants generally agreed that colocation is a genuine opportunity for AM to acquire a new revenue stream. Bob Vinikoor, a New England radio station owner who has 15 wireless antennas on three radio station towers, endorsed the Behr proposal.

A recurring theme of the discussion was the need to educate both wireless and AM stockholders about the merits of colocation. “The only real impediment to this is ignorance,” Behr says.

No date was given for an FCC response to the presentation.

Despite all the feasibility talk about colocation, it is a proven technology. Wireless antennas are affixed to dozens of AM towers in the United States. While LBA Group Inc. is not the only telecommunications firm with colocation knowledge, the company’s LBA Technology unit is the only one with patented engineering solutions for isolating connected AM and wireless hardware.

About LBA Group, Inc.
LBA Group, Inc. has more than 45 years experience in providing support for infrastructure assets of the wireless telecommunications industry. It is comprised of LBA Technology, a leading integrator of radio frequency systems, components and test equipment for broadcast, industrial and government users worldwide, and the professional consultancy Lawrence Behr Associates, Inc. The companies are based in Greenville, N.C.

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Giles Lambertson
LBA Group Inc.
(252) 235-7813
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