LPTV Proposal Envisions Use of T-Band Spectrum

A low-power TV proposal “ending the vacant channel war” would involve use of T-band channels that Congress has directed the FCC to auction by 2021 while relocating public safety and industry incumbents by 2023, according to an ex parte filing by the LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition. The coalition has said it has declared a “truce” in its fight with tech companies that support unlicensed use of TV white spaces, particularly on the issue of whether the FCC should reserve an additional white spaces channel in each market for unlicensed devices (TR Daily, Aug. 1).

The coalition’s ex parte filing yesterday in GN docket 12-268, ET docket 14-165, and MB docket 15-146 reported on an Aug. 1 meeting with 17 representatives of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force, Media Bureau, and Office of Engineering and Technology.

The redacted filing stressed the need for a five- to seven-year “bridge” for a legislative solution for holding an incentive auction of T-band spectrum. The FCC has the authority to conduct additional incentive auctions through fiscal year 2022, but it can’t hold additional auctions of TV spectrum, including in the T-band, without congressional approval.

In the Aug. 1 meeting, the coalition also reiterated its call “for a post-auction economic analysis of the impacts of repacking on non-eligible-for-the-auction LPTV and TV translator license and construction permit holders,” according to the ex parte filing.

Relocating public safety T-band incumbents from the 11 metro areas where they use the spectrum would cost more than $5.9 billion, according to a 2013 report by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (TR Daily, March 15, 2013).

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 requires the FCC to reallocate and auction public safety spectrum in the T-band by 2021 and relocate incumbents by 2023. Proceeds from the auction can be used to cover the relocation costs of public safety licensees. But the law doesn’t say anything about relocating non-public safety licensees.

The T-band is in TV channels 14-20 (470-512 megahertz).

Some public safety advocates have suggested the community lobby Congress to eliminate the mandate that the T-band be auctioned or at least to delay the deadline. —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily