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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).
FCC INITIATES PROCEEDING TO ADOPT RULES
Today the Commission began a proceeding to adopt service rules to permit new services on spectrum bands formerly designated exclusively for UHF television service. By previous Commission action, these spectrum bands could potentially be used for a variety of wireless or broadcasting services, and today's proceeding will ultimately establish rules by which the Commission will license permitted services.
The availability of this spectrum is the result of the Commission's efforts to free up channels 60-69 for new users as part of the transition to digital television (DTV). The 746-764 MHz and 776-794 MHz bands have been used by television stations on channels 60-62 and 65-67. Congress directed, in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, that this 36 megahertz of spectrum be reallocated and auctioned for commercial purposes, and specified that the auction take place after January 1, 2001. (Congress also directed in the Balanced Budget Act that 24 megahertz of spectrum be reallocated for public safety services, and the Commission has separate proceedings underway to implement those services.) After the auction and licensing of successful bidders for these commercial bands, existing full power UHF licensees will be permitted to continue operations protected from interference until the deadline for conversion to DTV.
Specifics of today's action:
The Commission previously allocated bands for fixed and mobile commercial wireless services, in addition to broadcasting, but did not address whether the full range of allocated services would be provided in these bands. Today's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) thus seeks comment on a wide range of technical and regulatory issues, including the issues raised by the possible use of these bands for both commercial wireless and broadcasting services. The Notice states that the Communications Act includes various licensing and other provisions specific to broadcast services, as well as provisions directed to non-broadcast services. The Commission's Rules also treat these service groups differently, depending on statutory requirements. The Notice seeks comment on how new technologies may blur the traditional distinctions between commercial wireless and broadcast services, and how new approaches to spectrum management and service rules might make more efficient and effective use of this spectrum.
The Commission seeks comment on how different statutory requirements, as well as existing regulatory requirements, should be implemented if the service rules ultimately allow use of these spectrum bands to provide both broadcast and non-broadcast services. The Commission also seeks comment on the regulatory treatment of new and innovative services such as point-to-multipoint datacasting, that may in part resemble both broadcast and non-broadcast services.
The licensing of these spectrum bands is to be accomplished by auction, and the Notice seeks comment on auction procedures, possibly including procedures that would enable bidders to submit alternative bids for different service configurations in the same bidding round. The Commission also seeks comment on the consistency of the proposed flexible use approach with the statutory requirement that such allocations not deter investment in communications services and systems, and not result in harmful interference among users. In addition, the Notice requests comment to implement the Balanced Budget Act requirement that the Commission protect both existing full power television broadcasting services, and the public safety services to be provided on the newly reallocated 24 megahertz of spectrum, from harmful interference.
Action by the Commission, May 13, 1999, by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 99-97). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell and Tristani.
News Media contact: Meribeth McCarrick at 202-418-0654 (email@example.com) or
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau contacts: Stan Wiggins (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ed Jacobs (email@example.com) at (202) 418-1310 or TTY at (202) 418-7233.
Report No. WT 99-14