Virginia Tech LMDS BTAs

VT LMDS Licenses and Basic Trading Areas

Virginia Tech is the only university to hold LMDS licenses - the four A-block LMDS licenses cover most of Southwest Virginia as well as parts of North Carolina and Tennessee. The Virginia Tech Foundation acquired these licenses by bidding unopposed in the 17th FCC electronic auction held in the spring of 1998. The license term is ten years with an opportunity for renewal provided that minimum build-out requirements are met. Each area actually has two LMDS licenses, A and B blocks, which differ by the amount and location of spectrum. The A block spectrum is 1150 MHz as compared to the B block at 150 MHz. See the LMDS bandplan (pdf) to compare the two licenses.

VT's LMDS License areas

Roanoke BTA
Bath County, Rockbridge County, Alleghany County, Botetourt County, Craig County, Bedford County, Roanoke County, Roanoke City, Giles County, Montgomery County, Franklin County, Pulaski County, Floyd County, Wythe County, Carroll County, and Grayson County.

Martinsville BTA
Patrick County, Henry County, and Martinsville City.

Danville BTA
Danville City, Pittsylvania County, Halifax County, South Boston and Caswell County, N.C.

Bristol BTA
Smyth County, Grayson County, Washington County, Bristol City, Russell County, Dickenson County, Wise County, Scott County, and Lee County. The following Tennessee counties are also included in the Bristol BTA: Hawkins County, Kingsport City, Sullivan County, Carter County, Johnson County, Johnson City, Washington County, Greene County, and Cocke Count

License Terms and Buildout Requirements

All information in italics from the Second Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Fifth Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from the FCC. Available online at:

Renewal Expectancy

261. Our renewal expectancy for LMDS is based on renewal expectancy rules we have adopted for cellular service. Under the rules we adopt today, an LMDS license renewal applicant involved in a comparative renewal proceeding is entitled to a renewal expectancy if the record of the renewal applicant for the relevant license period provides sufficient evidence that the applicant has furnished substantial service during its license term, and that the applicant has substantially complied with the Communications Act, and with applicable Commission rules and policies. We define ``substantial service,'' for purposes of our proposed renewal expectancy rule, as service that is sound, favorable, and substantially above a level of mediocre service that just might minimally warrant renewal.

262. We also require that, in order to qualify for a renewal expectancy, an LMDS license renewal applicant must submit a showing that explains the basis upon which the applicant should receive the expectancy. We require that this showing shall, at a minimum, include the following:

  • A description of the current service provided by the applicant, in terms of geographic coverage and population served.
  • An explanation of the applicant's record of expansion, including a timetable of the construction of new facilities to meet changes in demand for services provided by the applicant.
  • A description of investments made by the applicant in its system.
  • A copy of any Order adopted by the Commission finding that the renewal applicant has violated the Communications Act or any Commission rule or policy, and a list of any pending proceedings in which allegations have been made that the applicant has violated the Communications Act or any Commission rule or policy.

Construction Requirements

266. We have concluded that we will adopt very flexible build-out requirements for LMDS. Specifically, we will require licensees to provide ``substantial service'' to their service area within 10 years. Although LMDS licensees will have incentives to construct facilities to meet the service demands in their licensed service area, we believe that minimum construction requirements can promote efficient use of the spectrum, encourage the provision of service to rural, remote, and insular areas, and prevent the warehousing of spectrum.

267. The build-out requirement that we adopt today is based upon the requirement we recently adopted for Wireless Communications Services, which is the most liberal construction requirement the Commission has adopted. We believe that this liberal build-out requirement is appropriate in the case of LMDS for a number of reasons. First, we are providing LMDS licensees with the flexibility to offer a range of services using the LMDS spectrum. Given the broad range of new and innovative services that the comments lead us to believe might be provided over LMDS spectrum, imposing strict construction requirements that would apply over the license term would be neither practical nor desirable as a means of meeting the objectives established in Section 309(j) of the Act regarding warehousing and rapid deployment. Without knowing the specific type of service or services to be provided, it would be difficult to devise specific construction benchmarks.

268. Further, given the undeveloped nature of equipment for use in this band, we are concerned that strict construction requirements might have the effect of discouraging participation in the provision of services over the LMDS spectrum. It may be that a potential licensee could efficiently conduct certain operations on LMDS spectrum, but must await further technological developments to do so affordably. Adopting strict construction requirements here could effectively preclude efficient uses of the spectrum.

269. At the 10-year period, we will require all LMDS licensees to submit an acceptable showing to the Commission demonstrating that they are providing substantial service. Licensees failing to demonstrate that they are providing substantial service will be subject to forfeiture of their licenses. We note that in the past we have defined substantial service as ``service which is sound, favorable, and substantially above a level of mediocre service which just might minimally warrant renewal.'' For LMDS, however, we believe that further elaboration on this standard in the form of examples of what might constitute substantial service is useful.

270. Thus, for an LMDS licensee that chooses to offer point-to-multipoint services, a demonstration of coverage to 20 percent of the population of its licensed service area at the 10- year mark would constitute substantial service. In the alternative, an LMDS licensee that chooses to offer fixed, point-to-point services, the construction of four permanent links per one million people in its licensed service area at the 10-year renewal mark would constitute substantial service. In addition, the Commission may consider such factors as whether the licensee is offering a specialized or technologically sophisticated service that does not require a high level of coverage to be of benefit to customers, and whether the licensee's operations serve niche markets or focus on serving populations outside of areas served by other licensees. These safe-harbor examples are intended to provide LMDS licensees a degree of certainty as to how to comply with the substantial service requirement by the end of the initial license term. This requirement can be met in other ways, and we will review licensees' showing on a case-by- case basis.

Safe harbor service levels for VT Foundation licenses

BTA: Population Point-to-Multipoint Service Coverage Requirement (pop) Point-to-Point Service Coverage Requirement (links)
Bristol 698,000 139,600 3
Danville 171,000 34,200 1
Martinsville 92,000 18,400 1
Roanoke 644,000 128,200 3

271. We believe that these build-out provisions fulfill our obligations under Section 309(j)(4)(B). We also believe that the auction and service rules which we are adopting for LMDS, together with our overall competition and universal service policies, constitute effective safeguards and performance requirements for LMDS licensing. Because a license will be assigned in the first instance through competitive bidding, it will be assigned efficiently to a firm that has shown by its willingness to pay market value its willingness to put the license to its best use. We also believe that service to rural areas will be promoted by our proposal to allow partitioning and disaggregation of LMDS spectrum.

272. Finally, we note that we reserve the right to review our liberal construction requirements in the future if we receive complaints related to Section 309(j)(4)(B), or if our own monitoring initiatives or investigations indicate that a reassessment is warranted. We also reserve the right to impose additional, more stringent construction requirements on LMDS licenses in the future in the event of actual anticompetitive or rural service problems and if more stringent construction requirements can effectively ameliorate those problems.