T-Mobile US, Inc., announced today that it would help pay the relocation costs of low-power TV stations that can’t relocate to another permanent channel quickly enough to accommodate T-Mobile’s deployment of 600 megahertz band licenses it won in the FCC’s incentive auction. The commitment is the latest T-Mobile has made to help facilitate the 39-month repacking transition.
In an ex parte filing today in MB docket 16-306 and GN docket 12-268, T-Mobile informed the FCC of its commitment to “pay the reasonable costs associated for such stations to move from a temporary channel to a permanent channel. While these stations are required to vacate the 600 MHz band when the broadband provider is ready to initiate service, T-Mobile recognizes that some of these stations may need to move twice, and T-Mobile is willing to go beyond what is required and compensate these stations for the additional move. T-Mobile’s voluntary commitment will significantly ease the burden on these stations and help ensure that their service to the public is not disrupted.”
T-Mobile noted that it “expects to have at least ten megahertz of 600 MHz spectrum clear and ready for deployment across an area covering more than one million square miles by the end of 2017. T-Mobile’s rapid rollout of its newly won 600 MHz licenses will include hundreds of thousands of square miles of rural and remote portions of the country whose residents the traditional wireless carriers have all too often overlooked and underserved. Most of the spectrum T-Mobile will use to support its massive investment in broadband infrastructure is unencumbered and will support immediate broadband deployment. But in some areas, legacy low-power television and TV translator stations operate on a secondary, non-interference basis.”
T-Mobile’s filing noted that “the FCC has adopted numerous measures to support legacy secondary operations, including a process by which secondary licensees displaced by 600 MHz broadband deployments can seek new licenses in the remaining broadcast spectrum below the 600 MHz band. Under the FCC’s rules, displaced secondary stations will have an opportunity to file applications to access another channel in the repacked TV band or to enter channel-sharing arrangements during a so-called Special Displacement Window the Media Bureau will open no sooner than November 13, 2017. In some areas, however, the Special Displacement Window for secondary licensees could occur after T-Mobile’s planned 600 MHz wireless broadband deployment. The potential for T-Mobile’s broadband deployment to outpace the anticipated timing of the FCC’s displacement window could require some secondary licensees to relocate to temporary channels that differ from the permanent alternative channels the secondary operators may receive following the assignment of frequencies available during the Special Displacement Window.
“As a result, some secondary operators could face two sets of relocation expenses – one set of relocation expenses prior to the opening of the Special Displacement Window and a second set of relocation expenses after processing requests for alternative channels received during the Special Displacement Window. This type of double-payment risk, while fully consistent with the Spectrum Act of 2012, has generated concern among some secondary licensees,” T-Mobile noted.
“T-Mobile therefore will reimburse eligible secondary licensees for the costs that they reasonably incur to comply with the permanent channel assignment they may receive under the Special Displacement Window to the extent those channel assignments differ from the channel assignment these licensees may build following displacement from the 600 MHz band due to T-Mobile’s rapid broadband deployment,” the carrier added. “T-Mobile’s voluntary commitment to reimburse secondary 600 MHz licensees for the reasonable cost of any second move that would be required due to T-Mobile’s rapid broadband deployment will ensure that no secondary licensee in the 600 MHz band has to pay twice to relocate operations following the 600 MHz incentive auction.”
Last month, T-Mobile, the largest winner in the FCC’s incentive auction, agreed to pay for the relocation of low-power public TV stations that must move to other frequencies in the wake of the incentive auction (TR Daily, June 29).
Broadcasters today praised T-Mobile for its latest commitment. “Our Coalition applauds T-Mobile in doing the right thing in assisting displaced by the auction LPTV stations from having to incur the costs of moving twice in response to the T-Mobile rapid deployment of the spectrum they won in the auction,” said Mike Gravino, director of the LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition. “While not a panacea for all of the problems and inequalities of the auction and repack, this commitment by T-Mobile to assist some of the most vulnerable LPTV is most welcomed.”
“NAB is gratified by the T-Mobile announcement, which recognizes the important role that low power TV stations play in providing quality entertainment and lifeline news and information to millions of TV viewers,” said Dennis Wharton, executive vice president-communications for the National Association of Broadcasters. -Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org