Washington, DC – The Federal Communications Commission has generally affirmed its service rules for the 747-762 MHz and 777-792 MHz spectrum auction scheduled for September 6, 2000. The FCC also provided guidance on various voluntary measures to help facilitate the transition of this spectrum from broadcast to wireless use and the DTV transition of stations operating in this spectrum. Finally, the FCC sought comment on additional measures including possible three-way voluntary arrangements; and spectrum sharing. By taking these steps, the Commission seeks to promote the broadest possible use of this spectrum, consistent with sound spectrum management and the Congressional mandate to auction this spectrum quickly. Auctioned spectrum can be used for a variety of wireless services, including fixed and mobile Internet access.
On January 6, 2000, the FCC adopted the 700 MHz First Report and Order (First Report), establishing service rules for the commercial use of the 747-762 MHz and 777-792 MHz spectrum bands. In developing these rules, the Commission was guided by conclusions in its November 18, 1999, Spectrum Reallocation Policy Statement that a flexible, market-based approach is the most appropriate method for establishing service rules for this band.
Specifics of Today’s Action:
In the adopted Memorandum Opinion and Order (Memorandum) and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Further Notice), the FCC generally affirms the service rules adopted in the First Report. The Memorandum addresses thirteen petitions for reconsideration seeking changes in service rules and auction procedures adopted in the First Report. Consistent with the spectrum management policies described in the Commission’s Spectrum Reallocation Policy Statement, and applied in the First Report, the FCC affirms the paired spectrum band plan and out-of-band emission limits, but revises certain of its technical rules to establish a more flexible regulatory scheme which will better allow a broader range of wireless technologies in the bands. The FCC anticipates that these revisions will expand participation in the auction, and increase the potential for new technologies and new service providers to use this spectrum intensively and efficiently to offer innovative wireless services.
Specifically, the FCC takes the following actions:
- Permits base and mobile transmissions in both the lower and upper 700 MHz bands, thereby enabling Time Division Duplex (TDD) technologies to be employed in these bands.
- Affirms its decision in the First Report that this band’s service rules should be oriented to further intensive and efficient commercial wireless use, including certain types of broadcast-type services that can satisfy the technical rules necessary for efficient overall use of spectrum.
- Affirms its original finding that voluntary band clearing agreements between 700 MHz licensees and TV incumbents would generally advance the public interest. More specifically, the FCC provides guidance regarding its treatment of regulatory requests needed to implement such voluntary arrangement, in an effort to provide greater certainty to potential bidders and incumbent broadcasters. These agreements should facilitate both the provision of advanced wireless services, such as broadband Internet access, and the transition to DTV by incumbent broadcast stations operating on channels 59-69. This guidance includes a rebuttable presumption that, under specified circumstances, these voluntary arrangements are in the public interest. The guidance also clarifies that cable systems are ultimately obligated to accord “must carry” rights to local broadcasters’ digital signals.
- Tentatively concludes that cost-sharing arrangements should be left to negotiations between successful auction bidders, but seeks comment on such issues as: Would cost-sharing rules be useful or necessary to assist in clearing the 700 MHz band? If cost-sharing rules are adopted, how should the FCC calculate the costs that benefiting 700 MHz licensees would be required to pay?
- Seeks comment on additional mechanisms to promote voluntary clearing of the 700 MHz band and accelerate the transition to DTV. Specifically the item seeks comment on possible three-way voluntary relocation agreements involving new 700 MHz licensees, incumbent broadcasters in channels 59-69, and broadcasters with operations on lower channels.
- Seeks comment on whether “secondary auctions” would help incumbent broadcasters and 700 MHz licensees reach mutually beneficial arrangements to help clear the spectrum and facilitate the transition to DTV. In these auctions, broadcasters operating on channels 59-69 would agree to clear the band in return for an amount of compensation that would be determined by the auction.
- Seeks comment on whether additional proposals should be considered to accelerate the DTV transition. The FCC seeks comment on whether it should allow incumbent broadcasters on channels 59-69 and new 700 MHz service providers to share spectrum in time and/or in bits. Similarly, should broadcasters be allowed to share DTV facilities and spectrum during the DTV transition?
Action by the Commission on June 22, 2000 by Memorandum Opinion and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 00-224). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners and Ness and Powell with Commissioners Furchtgott-Roth and Tristani approving in part and dissenting in part and Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth and Tristani issuing a separate statements.
Wireless Bureau Contacts: (MO&O) Stan Wiggins at (202) 418-1308, e-mail: email@example.com; or Marty Liebman at (202) 418-0663, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; (FNPRM) Joel Rabinovitz at (202) 418-0689, e-mail: email@example.com; TTY at (202) 418-7233.
Mass Media Bureau Contact: Barbara Kreisman at (202) 418-1600, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cable Services Bureau Contact: Eloise Gore at (202) 418- 7200, e-mail: email@example.com;
TTY at (202) 418-7172
WT Docket No. 99-168
CS Docket No. 98-120
MM Docket No. 00-39