WASHINGTON-The Personal Communications Industry Association last week announced it is creating a new membership council to represent local multipoint distribution services operators.

PCIA said it plans to represent fixed, broadband wireless interests on Capitol Hill, at the Federal Communications Commission and before other federal, state and local government agencies. “We think there is a real natural synergy between the LMDS carriers and [PCIA’s] other membership sections,” said PCIA President Jay Kitchen.

LMDS is a fixed wireless telecommunications service capable of offering subscribers a range of offerings, including wireless local loop, high-speed data transmission, video conferencing and video programming distribution. LMDS will receive the same regulatory treatment as other commercial mobile radio service providers, Kitchen said.

PCIA is a federation of councils that often work independently on issues facing the wireless industry. “We have found that [this] works extremely well because any section has the focus to deal with their segment of the industry, has the autonomy to [work] for their industry, but then they gain from the overall umbrella of the parent corporation-PCIA,” Kitchen said.

An ad hoc committee of LMDS carriers-informally chaired by Tom Jones, president of WNP Communications Inc. and Carri Bennet of Bennet and Bennet-has been meeting since July 1 to review options for association representation. Bennet currently represents some rural cellular carriers. The deal was completed Aug. 17.

PCIA won a “beauty contest” to represent the LMDS carriers, said Paul Sinderbrand, outside counsel for the Wireless Communications Association International. “A small group with ties to the [personal communications service] and cellular industries” chose PCIA to represent them, Sinderbrand added.

Mark Golden, PCIA’s senior vice president for industry affairs, disagreed, saying the group that decided to align with PCIA is “really a cross section of LMDS carriers.”

WCA traditionally has represented the interests of wireless cable TV providers, but Sinderbrand said WCA’s focus is changing to include other broadband services. Indeed, WCA President Andrew Kreig, traveling in South America when PCIA made its announcement, said in a statement, “WCA will continue to advocate the interests of its LMDS and other fixed wireless broadband members vigorously … WCA is confident that its sole focus on fixed broadband issues will prove more effective in the long run.”

Kreig also implied in his statement that PCIA’s failure to get its forbearance petition accepted by the FCC was a plus for WCA. Golden again disagreed, saying the forbearance petition has opened the door so PCIA can represent LMDS before the FCC. “What we got accomplished was more than anybody else. We have raised the regulatory treatment of LMDS carriers” at the FCC, Golden said.


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