March 21, 2017–The New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute is seeking prompt FCC action in a proceeding in which the agency is considering reversing one vacant TV channel in each market for unlicensed devices. In an ex parte filing in MB docket 15-146 and other dockets reporting on a meeting with FCC officials, the group said “that the outcome of the Incentive Auction, closing at the 84 megahertz threshold, served to reinforce the results of Google’s simulation study of likely Incentive Auction outcomes demonstrating that the vacant-channel proposal will have only a minimal impact on LPTV and translator stations. The study represents the only substantial data in the record that predicts the impact of the Commission pending proposal. Its findings seem even more likely to be accurate if the Incentive Auction closes at the current 84 MHz clearing target, or potentially even lower.”
The filing also reiterated “the strong support of the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition (PISC) for a quick and favorable resolution of the Commission’s still-pending proposal to preserve at least one vacant television channel in every market nationwide for unlicensed use” and it said “that there is no justification for further delay, since the auction is complete and the policy decision should be certainty around national markets to enable TVWS innovation even if a secondary broadcast licensee in one or two markets is left without a clear channel.
“An early Commission decision is needed to relieve the longstanding uncertainty about whether a minimum of at least three channels of unlicensed spectrum in the ongoing TV band will continue to be available for public use and private investment after the incentive auction,” the filing continued. “Leading chipmakers and other tech industry stakeholders have steadfastly maintained that the post-auction band plan and repacking policies must ensure at least three channels of 6 megahertz of unlicensed access in every market nationwide, especially in the most populated metro markets, to enable many emerging unlicensed use cases and the economic. Otherwise, the social benefits that derive from low-band unlicensed spectrum access for broadband could be lost despite the already enormous investments of time and capital.”
The assignment phase of the forward portion of the incentive auction is scheduled to end March 30, marking the close of the sale. – Paul Kirby, email@example.com