FCC Sets Plans for 700MHz Public Safety Block

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FCC Sets Plans for 700MHz Public Safety Block

Oct 6, 2008 11:41 AM

Washington - Sep 25, 2008 - The Federal Communications Commission adopted a third further notice of proposed rulemaking that proposes to license the 700MHz D Block spectrum as part of a revised 700MHz public/private partnership for a nationwide, interoperable broadband network in the 700MHz band. The notice proposes to retain a public/private partnership framework for the 700MHz band absent other sources of funding. It proposes a modified set of rules to govern the D Block and a revised auction plan for assigning D Block licenses.

Specifically, the FCC proposes to use the competitive bidding process to determine whether, based on greatest population coverage and highest bid(s), the D Block spectrum would be licensed to a single licensee on a nationwide basis or to regional licensees on the basis of 58 public safety regions. If the D Block is licensed on a regional basis, the auction results also would determine the particular air interface technology that would be deployed across the nation by the D Block licensee(s) when building out the interoperable broadband network(s), which would facilitate the ability of public safety entities to communicate outside of their home regions. With regard to the D Block license term and performance requirements, the notice proposes to extend the license term to fifteen years and to adopt performance benchmarks applicable at the fourth, tenth, and fifteenth years under the life of the license(s).

The Notice also proposes and seeks comment on rules involving significant clarifications and revisions of the respective obligations of the D Block licensee(s) and the public safety broadband license regarding the construction and operation of the shared wireless broadband network.

The clarifications and revisions address the use of spectrum in the shared wireless broadband network (including requirements regarding public safety priority access to commercial capacity in emergencies), the technical requirements of the shared wireless broadband network (including detailed proposals relating to interoperability, robustness, capacity, quality of service, and security), the coverage requirements of the broadband network(s), and the respective operational roles of the D Block licensee(s) and the public safety broadband licensee.

Because the D Block did not meet its $1.3 billion reserve price in the 700MHz auction held in early 2008, the FCC sought comment in May on whether it should revise the 700MHz public/private partnership and reauction this spectrum. These rules included the creation of a 10MHz license in the D Block to be part of a public/private partnership with the adjacent 10MHz of spectrum dedicated to a public safety broadband license. To ensure that all aspects of this critical initiative are given careful consideration, the Commission seeks additional public comment on this latest proposal, which was largely developed from the input, ideas and recommendations received from public safety organizations and officials, government representatives, wireless carriers and manufacturers across the country.

The public comment period for this Notice will begin once it is published in the federal registry and run for a period of 30 days, with reply comments due within 40 days from federal register publication.

WT Docket Nos. 06-150; PS Docket No. 06-229