FCC Moves on Items Related to Incentive Auction for Spectrum
Today, the FCC voted on and adopted four major items related to the first-of-its-kind voluntary incentive auction of broadcast TV spectrum. The auction, now set to begin on March 29, 2016, will free up valuable spectrum for wireless services by incentivizing broadcasters to sell their spectrum to the FCC, who will then auction it off to wireless service providers.
Among other items, the FCC adopted a Procedures Public Notice for the spectrum auction, which addressed the 600 MHz band plan and the placement of TV stations after the auction. Both of these issues have been divisive in recent weeks, since the Commission will be allowing placement of some re-packed TV stations in the “duplex gap” between uplink and downlink frequencies in some markets. Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly both issued strong dissents to this item.
The Commission also adopted a Part 15 Report and Order establishing rules for unlicensed devices to operate in remaining TV white spaces, the duplex gap, and the post-transition 600 MHz band alongside new, licensed wireless services. TIA and others have raised significant concerns about the FCC’s proposed technical parameters on this item. TIA has submitted that the FCC’s analysis rests upon unfounded technical assumptions about the ability of devices to reject interference, and that the FCC improperly incorporated certain technical factors.
Commissioner Pai’s comments suggest that the Commission may have attempted to address some of these concerns by clarifying that parties must work together to resolve any cases of interference to licensed services, and that compliance with the Part 15 rules is not an absolute grant of immunity to unlicensed operations. Due to those concerns, Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly concurred in this aspect of the Part 15 Report and Order.
Finally, the Commission announced that it had adopted two additional items in advance, which were therefore deleted from the open meeting agenda. In the Mobile Spectrum Holdings Order on Reconsideration, the Commission rejected a request from T-Mobile and others to change the amount of spectrum reserved for carriers other than AT&T and Verizon. In an unusual split, Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Rosenworcel and O’Rielly supported the item, with Commissioner Clyburn dissenting in part and Commissioner Pai concurring. Meanwhile, the Commission also adopted a Wireless Microphones order that is closely related to the Part 15 order, with Commissioner O’Rielly dissenting.
TIA looks forward to reviewing the text of all four items when released, and we urge the Commission to do so promptly. Meanwhile, we thank the Commission and the staff of the Incentive Auction Task Force, the Wireless Bureau, and the Office of Engineering and Technology for their continuing hard work to resolve many complex auction-related issues as efficiently and fairly as possible.