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Statements: Kennard | Furchtgott-Roth | Powell | Tristani

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Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
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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).


(WT Docket Nos. 98-205 and 96-59, GN Docket No. 93-252)

The Commission today adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to re-evaluate the need for its current spectrum aggregation limits for Commercial Mobile Radio Services (CMRS) as part of its biennial review of the Commission's regulations. The Commission also seeks comment on a petition filed by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) requesting that the Commission forbear from enforcing the CMRS spectrum cap.

The CMRS spectrum cap, set out in section 20.6 of the Commission's rules, restricts the amount of CMRS spectrum that an entity can have in a geographic area. Specifically, under the rule, no entity shall have an attributable interest in more than 45 MHz of licensed Personal Communications Service (PCS), cellular, or Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) spectrum with significant overlap in any geographic area. The CMRS spectrum cap was adopted in 1994 contemporaneously with Commission actions finalizing the service rules for broadband PCS. Since then the Commission has completed the licensing of most broadband PCS licenses and many of those licensees have begun to provide service. As part of its comprehensive review of existing Commission regulations pursuant to section 11 of the Communications Act, the Commission seeks comment on whether the CMRS spectrum cap in its current form continues to make economic and regulatory sense given the changes occurring in wireless telecommunications markets.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking identifies several options for addressing CMRS spectrum aggregation issues and seeks comments on them, as well as other options that commenters may suggest. Specific options raised for comment include:

  • Maintaining the existing CMRS spectrum cap.

  • Modifying the CMRS spectrum cap. Possible options to modify the rules include expanding the allowable amount of geographic overlap between a licensee's various broadband CMRS holdings; increasing the amount of spectrum that a single entity may hold beyond 45 Mhz; and altering the ownership attribution rules associated with the spectrum cap.

  • Forbearing from enforcing the CMRS spectrum cap pursuant to our authority under section 10 of the Act.

  • Establishing a sunset for the CMRS spectrum cap.

  • Eliminating the CMRS spectrum cap and relying on a case-by-case analysis pursuant to section 310(d) of the Communications Act in assessing the potential competitive effects of a proposed spectrum holdings by a particular entity within a geographic area.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking also seeks comment on a petition filed by CTIA on September 30, 1998 requesting that the Commission forbear from enforcing the spectrum cap pursuant to our authority under section 10 of the Act. Under section 10, the Commission must forbear from applying any regulation or provision of the Act to a telecommunications carrier or service, or class of telecommunications carriers or services, in any or some of its geographic markets if certain conditions are met.

Action by the Commission November 19, 1998 by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 98-308). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell and Tristani, with Commissioners Furchtgott-Roth, Powell and Tristani issuing separate statements.


News Media contact: Meribeth McCarrick at 202- 418-0654
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau contacts: David Krech at 202-418-7240 or
Pieter van Leeuwen at 202-418-0620