June 22, 2000
|Re:||Service Rules for the 746-764 and 776-794 MHz Bands, and Revisions to Part 27 of the Commission's Rules, WT Docket No. 99-168.|
I supported our action in January of this year unleashing this prime spectrum for a variety of new wireless services, including fixed and mobile Internet access. Our decision balanced competing needs for spectrum, while protecting new public safety operations in spectrum allocated for that use. I am pleased that we generally uphold the approach we took in our initial order, providing for even greater flexibility.
In this Order, we provide additional certainty for both incumbents and prospective licensees for transitioning this spectrum from its existing broadcast use to new wireless service. We seek to promote -- through reliance on market forces -- an efficient transition to both a new age of services operating in the 746-806 MHz frequencies and a new era of digital television. In particular, our approach to this transition should foster more expeditious delivery of new wireless services, access of public safety organizations to new spectrum, and a more rapid transition to digital transmission for some television stations operating on channels 60 to 69 that might not otherwise be possible.
I believe that this transition is best left to the marketplace, with regulatory intervention only where essential to remove any barriers. I am skeptical that government-mandated agreements between private parties on transition issues will be appropriate or helpful. For this reason, I support the "voluntary" approach we have taken to agreements between licensees, including our decision not to impose mandatory relocation of broadcast operations, as well as our conclusion not to propose the adoption of cost-sharing rules for new licensees seeking to use this spectrum. We should intervene in these processes only if it is essential to eliminate a regulatory barrier, to fulfill our licensing responsibility, or to respond to failures in the marketplace that are manifest and supported by record evidence.
On this last note, our Order today unavoidably addresses issues related to the overall transition of analog broadcasting to the digital age. While we dabble in some of the crucial aspects of the transition to digital television, we are at the same time, in other contexts, holding back from addressing the critical issues that relate to this transition. This proceeding is certainly not the appropriate venue for formulating a comprehensive approach to digital conversion. I hope that we will soon address holistically the crucial issues surrounding the transition of analog stations to the digital age. If we can successfully address these issues, our actions will lead not only to a robust market for new wireless services and enhanced public safety operation in the 746-806 MHz band, but to a vibrant era of new digital television services for all consumers.