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Federal Communications Commission
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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 12, 2001

NEWS MEDIA CONTACT:
Meribeth McCarrick at (202) 418-0654



FCC REALLOCATES AND ADOPTS
SERVICE RULES FOR TELEVISION CHANNELS 52-59



Washington, D.C. Ė The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has adopted allocation and service rules for 48 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum in the 698-746 MHz band (Lower 700 MHz band) currently occupied by television channels 52-59 in many markets. This spectrum is being reclaimed for new commercial services as part of the transition of television broadcasting from analog to digital transmission systems. The Commissionís new flexible allocation for this band will allow service providers to select the technology they wish to use to provide new services that the market may demand.

Background

The Communications Act of 1934, as amended, requires the Commission to assign spectrum reclaimed from broadcast television using competitive bidding and to auction this spectrum by September 30, 2002. The reclamation of the 700 MHz band is occurring as a result of the planned migration of broadcasters into the "core" broadcast spectrum (currently Channels 2-51) that will occur when they convert from analog to digital operations. The FCC previously reallocated the upper portion of the 700 MHz band (747-806 MHz, or television Channels 60-69), and adopted service and licensing rules for that spectrum. As part of the conversion process, Congress has provided for a transition period during which broadcasters may continue to operate their existing analog systems while using a second channel to transmit their digital television (DTV) signals. While Congress enacted a statutory requirement to auction this spectrum by September 30, 2002, the transition period is targeted to end in 2006, the Commission is statutorily required to extend that date on a market-by-market basis if one or more of the four largest network stations or affiliates are not broadcasting in digital, digital-to-analog converter technology is not generally available, or 15% or more television households in the market are not receiving a digital signal. At the end of this transition, analog service will cease, and the remaining broadcast operations above Channel 51 will be relocated into the core broadcast spectrum.

Specifics of Todayís Action

The Report and Order adopted by the Commission takes the following actions:

Reallocation: Reallocates the entire 48 megahertz of spectrum in the Lower 700 MHz Band to fixed and mobile services and retains the existing broadcast allocation for both new broadcast services and incumbent broadcast services during their transition to DTV.

Incumbent broadcasters: Establishes technical criteria designed to protect incumbent television operations in the band during the DTV transition period, allows Low Power Television (LPTV) and TV translator stations to retain secondary status and to operate in the band after the transition. The Order dismisses pending petitions for new NTSC allotments in Channels 52-59 and provides a 45-day window for modification of pending applications for new NTSC construction permits to provide analog or digital service in the core television spectrum or digital service in the 698-740 MHz band (Channels 52-58).

New service rules: Determines that all operations on the Lower 700 MHz Band will be regulated under the framework of the Commissionís Part 27 technical, licensing, and operational rules. To permit both wireless services and certain new broadcast operations in the Lower 700 MHz Band, however, the FCC amends Part 27's maximum power limits to permit 50 kW effective radiated power transmissions in the Lower 700 MHz Band, subject to specific requirements for notification and non-interference.

Spectrum blocks and licensing areas: In its service rules, the Commission divides the Lower 700 MHz Band into three 12 -megahertz blocks, with each block consisting of a pair of 6-megahertz segments, and two 6-megahertz blocks of contiguous, unpaired spectrum. The FCC will license two of the three 12-megahertz blocks and the two 6-megahertz unpaired blocks on a regional basis using six Economic Area Groupings (EAGs). The remaining 12-megahertz block of paired spectrum will be licensed using MSAs and RSAs (734 licenses).

Band clearing: Adopts no specific band clearing rules and therefore provides that regulatory requests related to voluntary band clearing in the Lower 700 MHz band will be considered on a case-by-case basis, considering all relevant public interest factors.

Action by the Commission December 12, 2001, by Report and Order (FCC 01-364). Chairman Powell, Commissioners Abernathy, and Copps with Commissioner Martin approving in part, concurring in part and Commissioners Copps and Martin issuing separate statements.

FCC Contacts: (Allocation Issues) Lisa Gaisford at (202) 418-7280 or e-mail at Lgaisfor@fcc.gov; (Service and Licensing Issues): Michael Rowan at (202) 418-1883 or e-mail mrowan@fcc.gov; (Broadcast Issues): Keith Larson at (202) 418-2600 or e-mail at Klarson@fcc.gov.

GEN Docket No. 01-74