Posts Tagged ‘Licensing’
One week after the U.S. Department of Justice gave its blessing, the FCC has approved the transfer of AWS spectrum from SpectrumCo (a joint venture between Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House Networks) and Cox Communications to Verizon Wireless, as well as a smaller spectrum deal between Verizon Wireless and Leap Wireless. However, the spectrum deals and related “commercial agreements” have been conditioned by the Commission and the final order granting approval incorporates some degree of long-term FCC monitoring. In order to overlook obvious spectrum aggregation concerns, the Commission granted the assignment of spectrum from SpectrumCo, Cox, and Leap Wireless to Verizon Wireless under the assumption that Verizon Wireless must close within 45 days its spectrum sale-and-swap with T-Mobile. That separate deal between Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile announced in June would result in the country’s smallest nationwide carrier receiving considerable amounts of AWS spectrum for LTE deployment across the country while at the same time allowing both companies to optimize their individual AWS holdings for future operational efficiencies. The Commission also conditioned its approval by adopting voluntary commitments made recently by Verizon Wireless, including: (1) a commitment to build-out 30% of its newly acquired AWS spectrum, on a POPs basis, in 3 years; (2) a commitment to build-out 70% of its newly acquired AWS spectrum, on a POPs basis, in 7 years; (3) a five year commitment to oblige by the current data roaming rules in the newly acquired AWS markets, regardless of the legal status of the Commission’s data roaming rules; and (4) a commitment to report, on a semi-annual basis, DSL subscribership trends in relevant markets following the implementation of the commercial agreements. The Commission did not act upon requests by petitioners to impose further conditions related to device interoperability. In an effort to put “teeth” into the imposed conditions, the Commission announced that it was creating a special docket within the Wireline Bureau explicitly designed to allow “the public to file complaints or petitions alleging that the parties are acting in violation of the conditions imposed by this order or engaging in anticompetitive conduct relating to [the] transaction that implicates the public interest or otherwise violates” either the Communications Act or FCC rules.
FCC staff has relased a white paper outlining a theoretical framework for employing market forces to determine interference rights among adjacent spectrum licensees. The paper, entitled “Using a Market to Obtain the Efficient Allocation of Signal Interference Rights” posits that by assigning secure and tradable interference rights to either the parties benefiting from a particular service rule or the parties harmed by such a rule, market forces can more efficiently determine efficient spectral and technical service parameters (e.g., power limits, out of band emission limits, etc.) and service rules for yet to be auctioned spectrum.
On its own motion, the FCC has waived the January 1, 2013 deadline for private land mobile radio (PLMR) licensees operating in the 470-512 MHz band to migrate to narrowband technology (migrate to 12.5 kHz channel bandwidth or utilize a technology that achieves equivalent efficiency). Licensees that are also operating on frequencies in the 150-174 MHz and 421-470 MHz bands will still be required to meet the narrowbanding deadline with respect to those frequencies. Additionally, the FCC has waived the January 1, 2013 deadline prohibiting the manufacture or importation of equipment capable of operating with only one voice path per 25 kHz of spectrum in the 470-512 MHz band. The FCC is adopting the limited waiver because of the recently enacted Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 which directs the FCC to reallocate spectrum in the 470-512 MHz band.
The FCC has issued a Third Memorandum Opinion and Order making some technical revisions to its rules allowing for unlicensed TV Band Devices (TVBDs) to operate on television broadcast spectrum in areas where that spectrum is not being used for TV operations (White Spaces). Specifically, the FCC: (1) increased the maximum height above average terrain (HAAT) for sites where fixed devices may operate; (2) modified the adjacent channel emission limits to specify fixed rather than relative levels; and (3) slightly increased the maximum permissible power spectral density (PSD) for each category of TV bands device. The Commission believes that these changes will result in decreased operating costs for fixed TVBDs and allow them to provide greater coverage, thereby increasing the availability of wireless broadband services in rural and underserved areas.
The FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order requesting comments on its proposal to revise the licensing model for the cellular service from a site-based to a geographically-based approach has been published in the Federal Register. Comments on all aspects of the proposal are due on or before May 15, 2012, and reply comments are due on or before June 14, 2012.
The FCC has released a Public Notice that places an immediate freeze on all new applications for channel 51 broadcasting as well as the processing of all existing applications by channel 51 television broadcasters. Specifically, the FCC’s Media Bureau has announced the freeze, effectively immediately, on the filing of: (1) applications for low power television, TV translator, replacement translators, and Class A television facilities on channel 51, including flash-cut, digital companion channels, and displacement applications on this channel; and (2) applications for minor change for low power and full power television stations on channel 51. Additionally, the Public Notice lifts the existing freeze on petitions for rulemaking filed by full power television stations seeking to relocate from channel 51 pursuant to a voluntary relocation agreement and opens up a sixty day window for parties with pending low power television station applications on channel 51 to amend their applications to request an alternate channel assignment. However, stations needing to make “critical modifications to their operating facilities” in order to maintain existing operations on channel 51 will not be foreclosed from doing so. The FCC has also determined that it is in the public interest to have this freeze implemented immediately and not delayed until thirty days after the Public Notice’s publication in the Federal Register.