Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Cell Site Fight

When multiple companies apply to the FCC for cell sites in the same location, the FCC resolves the conflict with an Auction. Two competing applications for cell sites in the same place have created just that scenario, one on the mountains northwest of Denver, and another in Angel Fire, New Mexico, a town with a sizable ski area. Fortunately, the two competing parties in the Colorado conflict, Verizon Wireless and Keystone Wireless, have come to an agreement, avoiding the auction process.

The other conflict is for a cell site at the top of the Angel Fire ski area. The competing parties are Excomm LLC (Commnet Wireless) and ENMR Telephone Cooperative (Plateau Wireless). Excomm is trying to establish a site to serve CDMA and other roamers, and ENMR, who already has a cellular site on the air at Angel Fire on a different cellular channel, is trying to block any new service to the area claiming they "need" the spectrum. It appears ENMR just wants to keep their monopoly in the area.

Instead of weighing the merits of each argument, the FCC scheduled an auction to award the license to the highest bidder. The sad part about this is that the original application was made almost 3 years ago and during that time, many of us have been denied coverage. The FCC has scheduled the auction, Number 77, to resolve these conflicting applications, which will be held next month. In the meantime, Excomm has found Angel Fire spectrum from another source, and even Sprint has turned on a cell site in the area. But ENMR continues to hope they can block new service from competitors, while the world sneaks up and bites them in their other extremities.

Plateau Wireless has been one of our examples of a small cellular company that feels the heat from the FCC and large wireless companies toward unwanted changes, when, instead, they are the ones applying the heavy-handed tactics usually associated with corporate bad guys. Shame!

No comments: