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Local Multipoint Distribution Service

August 13, 2006

Local Multipoint Distribution Service (LMDS) is represented by frequency bands in the 28-31 GHz area of the electromagnetic spectrum that may be used for high-bandwidth wireless communications. This licensed wireless spectrum offers an exciting opportunity to provide a range of telecommunications type services, especially to rural populations that may have insufficient access to fiber, copper, or coax.

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.

BTAs, or Basic Trading Areas, define the geographic boundaries of LMDS licenses. There are 493 BTAs in the United States. Virginia Tech's licenses include the Roanoke, Martinsville, Danville, and Bristol BTAs which cover an area of 16,000 square miles and are home to 1.6 million citizens. These areas are serving as research testbeds for advanced wireless communications applied to rural, mountainous areas.

The impetus to acquire LMDS spectrum came about from the University's Center for Wireless Telecommunications (CWT), led by Director Dr. Charles Bostian. The group has over 25 years experience in radio frequency (RF) systems and components, antennas, satellite communication, wireless networks, and business and regulatory issues affecting wireless telecommunications. CWT is heading up projects to plan and deploy additional LMDS systems in a number of communities.

Virginia Tech is working to bring together communities, service providers, and equipment manufacturers to ensure that LMDS is utilized for the benefit of the citizens and communities in the license area and for the good of the Commonwealth. Virginia Tech will act as a catalyst and not in the role of service provider. As part of Virginia Tech's land-grant mission, the university has a commitment to instruction, research, and outreach and the LMDS spectrum provides unique opportunities to each.

For more information on LMDS and related projects, visit the LMDS web site.