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WISPA Tackles Key Issues at Summer Meeting in St. Louis

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By St. Louis Broadband President Victoria Proffer and Alex Goldman of WISPA

ST. LOUIS, July 30, 2010 – The Wireless Internet Service Providers’ Association took the opportunity to address key issues of concern to its members at its summer meeting in St. Louis this month.

The three-day event included several instructional tracks including regulatory, business and technical agendas.

Priorities included the television white spaces proceeding and order, which was issued in 2008. Each WISPA member has a list of potential customers who have tried to get service but whose homes could not be reached with existing spectrum.

WISPA members are eagerly awaiting the release of sub-900 megahertz spectrum that would allow them to reach those who do not yet have broadband. This valuable spectrum travels through obstacles such as trees that higher bands cannot penetrate.

WISPA’s FCC committee provided an update on the current status of the proceeding, and the FCC’s Julius Knapp and WISPA friend Michael Calabrese of the New America Foundation offered further insight.

Calabrese cautioned that the cellular companies are trying to get some of the white spaces spectrum offered for license or for the exclusive use of the cellular companies, known as the FiberTower proposal.

Knapp noted that the FCC needs to get the white spaces proceeding complete in order to deliver a comprehensive spectrum plan. The National Broadband Plan requires that this spectrum plan be complete by Oct. 1.

He praised the cooperative relationship between the FCC and WISPA – especially work on the 3.65 gigahertz and 5 gigahertz frequencies for unlicensed and licensed-lite usage. He offered his expectation that WISPA and the FCC would have “the same productive participation on future challenges as we have had in the past.”

Knapp provided a big-picture view of other activities such as the FCC’s spectrum dashboard, incentive auctions, more spectrum for mobile broadband and for licensed backhaul.

He noted that the backhaul issue, which is important for cellular carriers who need to supply increased bandwidth, is expected to be discussed at the Aug. 5 FCC commissioners meeting.

Knapp’s presentation left the impression that no matter how the spectrum pie is cut, WISPs will receive a sufficient share to allow them to bring broadband service to America’s unserved or underserved citizens as called for in the National Broadband Plan.

Knapp urged WISPA to continue to “have a presence at our meetings; keep us apprised of your needs and continue to participate and to have a voice in FCC proceedings.”

Other key speakers at the regional meeting included Dewayne Hendricks, the original broadband cowboy and Doug Karl of Karlnet, whose products brought polling to wireless in the 1990s and fundamentally improved the industry when it was in its infancy.

WISPA also presented the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar database, a collaboration between WISPA, equipment makers, database provider Spectrum Bridge, the Federal Aviation Administration and FCC.

The TDW radars operate at major U.S. airports to detect hazardous conditions such as downdrafts and warn aircraft of those conditions when they are most vulnerable: taking off and landing. The voluntary database promises to fix a lingering issue regarding interference and shows that the fixed wireless broadband industry can proactively deliver solutions to problems without requiring the heavy hand of regulation.

WISPA members are primarily from rural areas, and rural broadband is a keystone of the National Broadband Plan. Many already provide service in areas that some maps show as lacking broadband.

Members will meet next at The Broadband Expo at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Dallas, Texas, from Nov. 1-3.

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