Washington, DC -- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted licensing
and service rules governing the operation of 6 MHz of "Guard Band" spectrum in the 700 MHz
band to be auctioned this year. The service rules for this Guard Band spectrum will minimize the
potential for harmful interference to public safety operations in the immediately adjacent 700 MHz
spectrum. The adopted rules also create a new class of commercial FCC license called the Guard
Band Manager license. Guard Band Managers will be engaged in the business of subdividing the
spectrum they acquire at auction and leasing it for value to third parties, including both commercial
service providers and private wireless users.
As directed by Congress, the FCC adopted rules to ensure that public safety service licensees
in the 700 MHz band "continue to operate free of interference from any new commercial licensees."
The measures adopted, which are largely consistent with the recommendations of public safety
organizations that participated in this proceeding, will provide a strong degree of interference
protection to public safety services from adjacent Guard Band users.
In the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Congress directed the FCC to reallocate spectrum in
the 700 MHz band to commercial and public safety uses from its previous exclusive use for
television broadcasting service on channels 60-69. A total of 36 MHz was allocated for commercial
uses. In a January 6, 2000 Report and Order, the FCC adopted service rules for 30 MHz of this
spectrum. At that time, the FCC designated the remaining 6 megahertz as Guard Band spectrum
consisting of two paired bands, one of 4 megahertz and one of 2 megahertz. Today's item adopts
licensing, technical, and operational rules for the Guard Bands.
Specifically, the adopted item made the following determinations:
- The FCC adopted rules that will give the fullest effect to the Congressional mandate to
ensure that public safety licensees in the 700 MHz band operate free of interference from
any new commercial users in that band. Under these rules, public safety licensees should
experience no greater interference risk from Guard Band users than from other public safety
licensees. To minimize the potential for harmful interference to public safety operations in
the immediately adjacent 700 MHz spectrum, the FCC required entities operating in the
Guard Bands to comply with specified "out-of-band emission" criteria, and with prescribed
frequency coordination procedures that include advance notification to the Commission-recognized public safety frequency coordinators and adjacent area Guard Band users. The
FCC also found that entities operating in the Guard Bands should not be permitted to
employ a cellular system architecture. The public safety community has expressed great
concerns that the frequency coordination procedures required of entities operating in the
Guard Bands could not be accomplished when users employ a cellular system architecture.
The FCC concluded that the use of such architectures would create undue risks of harmful
interference to public safety users.
- Licenses in the Guard Bands will be assigned to Guard Band Managers using competitive
bidding (auctions). The Guard Band Manager will be a new class of commercial licensee
who will be engaged in the business of leasing spectrum for value to third parties which
could include both commercial service providers and private parties. Guard Band Managers
will be required to adhere to strict frequency coordination and interference rules, and control
use of the spectrum so as to facilitate protection for public safety. The Guard Band Manager
may subdivide its spectrum in any manner it chooses and make it available to system
operators or directly to end users for fixed or mobile communications, consistent with the
frequency coordination and interference rules specified for these bands. This licensing
represents an innovative spectrum management approach that should enable parties to more
readily acquire spectrum for varied uses, while streamlining the Commission's spectrum
- Licenses will be auctioned for both the 2 megahertz and the 4 megahertz Guard Bands on the
basis of 52 Major Economic Areas (MEAs). MEAs will provide an opportunity for both
aggregation and partitioning of geographic areas to suit a wide variety of possible business
plans, as long as it can be shown such aggregation or partitioning will not adversely affect
public safety. MEAs will facilitate greater participation in the auction and allow a larger
number and more diverse pool of Guard Band Managers than nationwide or larger regional
licensing areas, resulting in increased competition and broader flexibility in spectrum
offerings by Guard Band Managers.
- Guard Band Manager licensees have many potential benefits, including: (1) Guard Band
Managers will provide for market-based transactions in wireless capacity at a time when
access to spectrum is a critical need for a wide variety of wireless operations; (2) spectrum
users will have more flexibility in obtaining access to the amount of spectrum, in terms of
quantity, length of time, and geographic area, that best suits their needs; (3) development of
a "free market "in spectrum could result in more efficient use of this limited resource; (4)
this licensing approach will streamline the day-to-day management of this spectrum and
many spectrum-related functions now carried out by the FCC in other bands will be handled
by Guard Band Managers in this band.
Action by the Commission on March 8, 2000 by Second Report and Order (FCC 00- 90). Chairman
Kennard, Commissioners Ness and Tristani with Commissioners Furchtgott-Roth and Powell
approving in part, dissenting in part and Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell and Tristani
issuing separate statements.
Wireless Bureau Contacts: Gary Michaels at (202) 418-0660, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Marty
Liebman at (202) 418-1310, e-mail at: email@example.com, TTY at (202) 418-7233.
WT Docket No. 99 -168