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Modeo gets OK to increase tower power

Broadcast mobile TV provider Modeo L.L.C. received a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission late last month that allows Modeo to increase the transmission power of its 1670-1675 MHz spectrum, which the company purchased in 2003. The spectrum, which is clear and unencumbered nationwide, can now be increased from its original transmission allowance of 2 kilowatts to 20 kW in urban and suburban markets and up to 40 kW in rural areas.
Modeo President Michael Ramke says the waiver should not be read as an admission of propagation shortcomings on their part, but rather an opportunity to lower the cost of the service, speed up its ability to bring it to market, improve network quality and enable it to operate over a larger footprint.
“It has a host of benefits that go with it,” Ramke said. “We’ll enjoy as much as an 80-percent site count reduction in many markets.”
Ramke called the waiver, which was first requested in 2005, a “milestone” in the company’s business’s development, adding “we think it puts us in a very competitive position with our friends in San Diego,” referring to Qualcomm Inc.’s recently launched MediaFLO service. The MediaFLO offering uses spectrum in the 700 MHz band and is currently being used by Verizon Wireless.
Ramke is quick to point out that Modeo didn’t gamble its business plan on the success of this waiver. “Our entire top 30 market business plan was written on the 2 kW” allowance, he said. “You can only plan on achieving that level of power,” he said. Furthermore, he doesn’t anticipate any material impact on the coverage quality in its 65-site trial currently under way in New York City. “We do think a lower power design is better in a lot of instances,” he said, adding that in many cases their towers transmission power won’t exceed 4 kW even if they have the authority to go higher.
“It just makes more sense that you’ll be able to expand to more geographies much easier,” Ramke said.
Of the waiver’s approval, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell said, “Today’s action exemplifies the strong public interest benefits associated with a flexible spectrum policy that allows entrepreneurs, rather than regulators, to determine how best to maximize our limited spectrum resources.”
The Crown Castle International Corp. affiliate also received more good news last week when it was recognized for its role in the development of mobile multicast television by receiving the 2007 North American Award for Competitive Strategy Leadership from Frost & Sullivan.
“We’re very encouraged by the response we’re getting by our beta participants in New York,” Ramke said. “We feel very encouraged about the future prospects.” Modeo expects the transmission increases to be rolled out by the end of the year.

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