The Federal Communications Commission sought comment, in connection with the incentive auction and repacking process reported in previous posts, on whether to relocate wireless medical telemetry service (“WMTS”) users from the 608-614 MHz spectrum band, known as Channel 37, or allow unlicensed devices to coexist with WMTS on Channel 37.  The proposal elicited comments by a wide range industry players:

The Commission will accept reply comments on this and other issues raised in connection with the incentive auction and repacking proposals until March 12, 2013.

All five Federal Communications Commission Commissioners will testify on “Keeping the New Broadband Spectrum Law on Track” on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 before the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. As they become available, further details will be posted here.

Congress gave the FCC authority to conduct incentive auctions to reallocate and repack spectrum for wireless broadband use and fund a nationwide public safety network in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. The FCC recently launched its rulemaking process for implementing the incentive auction and repacking process, as discussed in prior posts.

On Friday, October 26, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission held its first workshop as part of its Learn Everything About Reverse-Auctions Now (“LEARN”) Program — a series that seeks to provide broadcasters guidance on the incentive auction process by which the FCC will reallocate a to-be-determined amount of broadcast television spectrum in the 600 MHz band for mobile broadband uses.  The workshop, following the agenda announced in a previous post, covered issues of interest both to television stations that may be interested in selling their spectrum rights in the auction and those that may be affected when the FCC “repacks” the remaining television stations into a condensed broadcast band.  

After providing an informative series of presentations on the three core components of the incentive auction — the reverse auction, forward auction, and repacking — FCC staff provided an open forum for questions at the workshop.  An archived webcast of the entire workshop as well as PDFs staff used in presentations are available on the FCC’s website.  The FCC also announced that it will continue to post answers to questions submitted to broadcasterlearn@fcc.gov on the LEARN Program website.  

The evening prior to the LEARN workshop, senior FCC officials also participated in a well-attended seminar on incentive auctions, hosted by the Wireless Telecommunications Committee of the Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA).  We understand that the FCC will continue to engage in outreach over the coming weeks and months as it prepares to adopt the principal rules for the auction by summer 2013.

Tomorrow, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will publish comment deadlines for its recently-released Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that begins the process of reviewing its policies regarding the allocation of mobile spectrum.   The full text of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is available here.  While the simultaneous adoption of proposed rules for an incentive auction of broadcast television spectrum arguably has attracted greater attention, this review of broader spectrum policy will have an important bearing on all future spectrum auctions and wireless transactions.

The FCC last reviewed its mobile spectrum holdings policies more than a decade ago, before the recent explosion of smartphones and tablets and the bandwidth-intensive services used on those devices by millions of Americans.  By assessing its rules now, the FCC hopes to provide clear and predictable “rules of the road” for this and other future auctions. Comments are due November 23, 2012, and reply comments are due December 24, 2012.

Continue Reading SpectrumWatch: FCC Initiates Review of Mobile Spectrum Holdings Policies

A joint statement released today by AT&T, the National Association of Broadcasters, and Verizon criticized the FCC for seeking comments on new proposals for reorganizing the spectrum currently used by television broadcasters, which the statement said would go against the “growing consensus” of the broadcast and wireless industries. Continue Reading SpectrumWatch: FCC Draws Criticism on Band Plan Proposals