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Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
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Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

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).

Report No. ET 98-1 ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY ACTION January 6, 1998

(ET DOCKET NO. 97-157)

The Commission today reallocated television Channels 60-69 (the 746-806 MHz band) to other services. This action fulfilled one of the Commission's obligations under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. The Commission stated that the reallocation of these channels will help to alleviate a critical shortage of public safety spectrum, make new technologies and services available to the American public, facilitate the ongoing transition to digital television (DTV), and allow more efficient use of spectrum in the 746-806 MHz band.

Specifically, the Commission allocated 24 MHz at 764-776 MHz and 794-806 MHz to the fixed and mobile services for public safety use. This spectrum allocation is the single largest allocation to public safety services in history, and more than doubles the total spectrum available to public safety agencies.

The remaining 36 MHz at 746-764 MHz and 776-794 MHz were allocated to the fixed, mobile, and broadcasting services. Licenses in this spectrum will be assigned by competitive bidding.

These allocations were mandated by Congress in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which required the allocations to be made by January 1, 1998.

On April 21, 1997, the Commission adopted a Table of Allotments to be used for DTV service during the transition from analog to digital television service. The DTV Table also facilitates the early recovery of a portion of the existing broadcast spectrum, specifically, channels 60-69, by minimizing the use of these channels for DTV purposes. All full service television broadcast stations will be protected against interference during the DTV transition period, which is targeted for completion at the end of the year 2006.

In 1995, the Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration created the Public Safety Wireless Advisory Committee (PSWAC) to study public safety telecommunications requirements. On September 11, 1996, the PSWAC issued its Final Report. The PSWAC found that the currently allocated public safety spectrum is insufficient to support current voice and data needs of the public safety community, and fails to provide adequate capacity for interoperability channels or to meet future needs based on projected population growth and demographic changes. The PSWAC found that, in the short term, new public safety spectrum is needed, and concluded that public safety users should be granted access to portions of the unused spectrum in the 746-806 MHz band. This proceeding was initiated to address an additional spectrum allocation to meet expanding needs for public safety wireless communications.

The Commission has issued a proposal in a separate proceeding to develop rules for the public safety services that will operate in the channel 60-69 spectrum. This subsequent proposal includes the criteria for protecting existing analog TV and future DTV stations against interference. Service and licensing rules for the commercial portion of the channel 60-69 spectrum will be addressed in a future proceeding.

Action by the Commission December 31, 1997, by Report and Order (FCC 97-421).

Office of Engineering and Technology contact: Sean White at (202) 418-2453.