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funding for broadband facilities in unserved areas. In contrast, Barton has expressed concern about the administration of the fund. The Barton- sponsored telecom bill, the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act (H.R. 5252), which the full House passed June 8, 2006, requires facilities-based voice-over-Internet-protocol service providers to contribute to the fund.

WIRELESS COMPANIES WIN THE FOURTH TIME AROUND By Joy Ragsdale

While the debate continues about net neutrality and universal service fund reform, wireless carriers unaffiliated with a Bell company scored a win via an amendment in the fourth of four managers’ packages to S. 2686. The omnibus bill sponsored by Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska cleared the Commerce panel by July 4, 2006, as reported by the National Journal.

Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H. supported an amendment that could curb rates they pay for wholesale access. The amendment was added by ranking member Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii. The Sununu-Inouye amendment supported by cellular carriers Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile and other Bell competitors and cable trade associations, instructs the Federal Communications Commission to take action in revisiting the issue of “special access” to wholesale telecommunications wires within nine months of the bills enactment.

Wireless companies are particularly dependent upon this form of communications to get their traffic from cellular towers to central switches. State regulators issued a press release on July 3, 2006, opposing the proposed amendment.

UPDATE: A LEGAL CLOUD ON THE FCC S SPECTRUM AUCTION FOR ADVANCED WIRELESS SERVICES By Ray Kowalski

The Federal Communications Commission’s auction of radio spectrum to support the third generation of wireless services is now less than one month away – August 9, 2006. The FCC received 252 applications to participate in the auction, 81 of which it accepted. The other 171 applications are incomplete in one respect or another and must be amended by July 18 in order to be accepted by the FCC. (For more details on this auction, see Socket To Me Bulletin #103, June 1, 2006.)

As expected, the bidders will include the biggest companies in the wireless

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