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It looks like the FCC will be auctioning off the bandwidth above 600mhz after 2016. Sennheiser has posted more information and a petition to provide compensation from the wireless and broadband companies that will end up with the spectrum for the replacement of radio mics in those affected blocks. Let's protect what bandwidth we still have. If you don't already have it, GET YOUR FCC LP LICENSE EVERYONE!!!!

 

http://en-us.sennheiser.com/spectrum#sthash.30fN22ZR.dpbs

 

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looks like mid 2015 for the auction, then 39 months (or so) after that: " the framework for the incentive auction of broadcast spectrum, which would be slated to take place by mid-2015. The schedule would give broadcasters 39 months following the official start of the repacking process for stations to vacate their spectrum. "

so at least 4 years!

http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/washington/fcc-s-wheeler-circulates-incentive-auction-item/130558

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Meanwhile….Block 28 etc still clear in many locales.  Not legal, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

 

philp

 

ummmm...I'm telling!

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I may or may not have been using my blk 28 Zaxcom Stereoline all of the US without any problems. My RF Explorer always shows very clear scans in that range.

Meanwhile….Block 28 etc still clear in many locales. Not legal, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

philp

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jwill   

A nameless entity who is in their playoff season now routinely use wires on coaches, players ,refs and will hand me Lectro receivers on block 28 to pick up the ref the coach and the player!!

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geordi   

Microphone usage in B27/B28 may actually come back into vogue if the rumblings I heard at NAB come to pass. The FCC has been suggested at and are suggesting back, that the "duplex gap" or guard band of many megahertz between the wideband blocks that the cellphone carriers have purchased, might just be a nice quiet place to allow ultra-low-power (like our stuff!) wireless to operate. The chances of measurable interference right at the edges of higher-power cellphone transmissions is minimal, and would really only affect US, not the digital cellphone signals.

 

Shure / Sennheiser / et al have been talking at the FCC about this, and it does seem that they might have listened, if the comment from an FCC guy is to be believed. The comment was in an article on Ars Technica.

 

My scans of those bands *clearly* delineates the active frequencies on the little RF Explorer screen, and the space between is a vast wasteland of quiet nothingness. My mics could exist in that vast deadzone without being bothersome to anyone, and wouldn't be noticed either, b/c nobody would be expecting to look there. 

Be careful out there in the wild wild west...

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so the general consensus is, do not worry about block 26, because blocks 27 and 28 are actually still available, albeit illegal to use?

if you say so...

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so the general consensus is, do not worry about block 26, because blocks 27 and 28 are actually still available, albeit illegal to use?

 

I would not say that's a general consensus and the logic in the statement escapes me.

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I am just asking.  Everyone on this thread seemed to indicate folks are still using blocks 27 and 28.  I was surprised by what I am reading and perplexed by the possibility that my block 26 may well become illegal in the US at some point in the not-so-distant future.

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so the general consensus is, do not worry about block 26, because blocks 27 and 28 are actually still available, albeit illegal to use?

...my block 26 may well become illegal in the US at some point in the not-so-distant future.

actually.... NO

 

and nothing more will actually take effect for several years...

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Good enough.  I did not go through this the last time.  We had some wireless units at my old job that were in the 700 range, but nothing I owned was affected with the law change.  I guess several years is enough time to plan for the future.  Thanks.

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I suppose it's a debatable meaning to "not too distant". It sounds like all said and done worst case is probably 4+ years from now that you need to vacate 600MHz. If you are buying a few channels for the bag, and working, you'll pay them off. Anything you buy new today should be able to get re blocked. Chalk that up to cost of doing business.

If I was a rental house buying 500 sets of wireless, I would think about it a lot harder. I have friends that work for those huge companies that do corporate conference / expo / trade show stuff and they buy lots of wireless at once, but try to turn everything over every 5 years anyway. They have had this on the radar and are planning accordingly.

My bigger concern is losing half our spectrum and all of us squeezing in to what's left. It's doable, but will get a little harder. Major selling point for digital transmission. On the plus side, Zaxcom and Lectro are going wider band gear, so it's not going to be a case of "which of these 10 blocks is best for my usual work towns".

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Good point. My buddy that said his bosses "shoot for 5 years" are the ones running the events, not renting them out to the public. I'm sure they get less abuse than those mega rental houses have to deal with.

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I think many of the folks who may or may not be occasionally accidentally using B27-8 are old farts who have that equipment from a time when it was open and free…..(and what a time it was….).  Buying new in that band would prob not be a good idea.  

 

philp

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looks like mid 2015 for the auction, then 39 months (or so) after that: " the framework for the incentive auction of broadcast spectrum, which would be slated to take place by mid-2015. The schedule would give broadcasters 39 months following the official start of the repacking process for stations to vacate their spectrum. "

so at least 4 years!

http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/washington/fcc-s-wheeler-circulates-incentive-auction-item/130558

That quote does not seem to be in the article at that link. Where is the quote on the 39 months?

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osa   

I think many of the folks who may or may not be occasionally accidentally using B27-8 are old farts who have that equipment from a time when it was open and free…..(and what a time it was….). Buying new in that band would prob not be a good idea.

philp

Dont know if i qualify as an old fart. Maybe a young fart. Or middle-aged fart. I bought a block 27 SR from lectro on their closeout list a few years ago. I have it set as a dedicated cam hop kit. The first 60 freqs or so are still legal and i've used it for years in that little legal area all over the midwest without any issues at all. In fact i cant remember the last time i changed the freqs because of rf issues after a scan. I scan everywhere purely out of curiosity and would find that sometimes there was a tiny bit of rf showing up at the beginning of the block but the rest was always wide open for the most part. I keep planning to some day get it converted but havent had the need to...yet, that is.

Funny though, coordinating at an NFL games just thia past year, when i put in for block 27 they would always come back with illegal freqs for me to use. They were always backups to other blocks that were never used but i found that interesting.

Ken

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FCC Spectrum Update - September 16, 2014 - Sennheiser files petition....

****************************************************

PUBLIC TV STATIONS, WIRELESS MIC

MAKER SEEK AUCTION ORDER CHANGES

Public TV stations asked the FCC today to modify its incentive auction order to ensure that no community in the U.S. will be left without a noncommercial TV station after the auction and subsequent repacking of stations. Meanwhile, a wireless microphone manufacturer asked the FCC to reserve more spectrum for their use and to require wireless carriers to cover the costs of replacing mics.

“The Report and Order adopting rules for the broadcast spectrum incentive auction overturns more than six decades of Commission precedent protecting reserved spectrum for noncommercial educational service, contrary to the statutory requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act and frustrating the congressional goals embodied in the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967,” the Association of Public Television Stations, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Public Broadcasting Service said in a petition for reconsideration filed in GN docket 12-268. “For over 62 years, the Commission has reserved spectrum in the Table of Allotments for exclusive noncommercial educational use, but the Report and Order reverses this well-settled policy sub silentio by making the continued existence of noncommercial educational reserved spectrum subject entirely to market forces. The Commission did not provide the required notice or reasoned analysis for this unprecedented reversal of longstanding policy.”

The petitioners urged the FCC “to reconsider and revise its incentive auction rules so that a noncommercial educational station operating on a reserved channel may relinquish all of its spectrum usage rights only if at least one such station remains on-air in the community or at least one reserved channel is preserved during the repacking process to enable a new entrant to offer noncommercial educational television service in the community. This balanced approach would continue the Commission’s long-established reserved spectrum policy, while also enabling the success of the incentive auction.”

Meanwhile, Sennheiser Electronic Corp., a manufacturer of wireless mics, filed a petition for reconsideration seeking more spectrum for wireless mics.

It said that “given the slow roll-out of TVWS [TV white spaces], channel 37 (assigned exclusively to TVWS) and the ‘naturally occurring’ vacant channel (shared with TVWS) may never see much TVWS use. We ask that both channels be made available exclusively for wireless microphones. Alternatively, noting that TVWS has particularly promised service to rural areas, the Commission could reserve the naturally occurring channel for wireless microphones in urban and suburban areas, and maintain TVWS with database registration in rural areas, where registration is likely to be infrequent.

“If none of these options is feasible, then we ask the Commission either to reserve two separated 6 MHz channels on the TV side of the boundary for wireless microphone use, or (less preferably) to keep for wireless microphones an unauctioned 5 MHz pair on the wireless broadband side, adjacent to the guard bands,” Sennheiser said.

It also asked the Commission to reconsider its rejection of the company’s proposal to require wireless carriers that win spectrum in the auction “to compensate displaced wireless microphone users for the expenses of replacing their equipment. … We estimate that total reimbursement costs should not exceed $50 million.”

Today was the deadline for petitions for reconsideration of the incentive auction order, which was adopted in May (TRDaily, May 15).

Last week, the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition filed a petition asking the FCC to modify its rules to facilitate channel sharing between TV stations (TRDaily, Sept. 12).

The National Association of Broadcasters is challenging provisions of the order in court, which has granted a request for expedited consideration (TRDaily, Sept. 5).

NAB argues that the FCC violated the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which authorized the FCC to hold incentive auctions, as well as the APA.

Specifically, NAB says that the FCC ignored Congress’s dictate that the agency make “all reasonable efforts to preserve, as of February 22, 2012, the coverage area and population served of each broadcast television licensee” and that it use the methodology outlined in OET-69 to calculate the stations’ coverage areas and populations served.

Adoption of new TVStudy software was arbitrary and capricious and also violated the APA, NAB argues. The trade group also complains that “the Commission chose to ignore ‘fill-in translators’” in its order.

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FCC Spectrum Update - September 22, 2014

****************************************************

MICROSOFT, GOOGLE PRESS CASES

ON FCC’s UNLICENSED NPRM

Microsoft Corp. and Google, Inc., have had numerous meetings with FCC officials in recent days on the unlicensed notice of proposed rulemaking that the FCC plans to consider at its Sept. 30 meeting, according to an ex parte filing in GN docket 12-268.

“In these meetings, we discussed the importance of adopting technical rules that would permit the use of three 801.11af channels in the 600 MHz band,” the filing said. “To accomplish this goal, we discussed: (1) enabling operation of Mode 1 and 2 personal/portable unlicensed devices in the duplex gap, lower guard band, and Channel 37; (2) allowing the database to determine unlicensed device operation based on the device’s location-accuracy capabilities so that devices with better accuracy can operate in appropriate locations, rather than preserving the current rule, which mandates that all devices establish location within +/- 50 meters; (3) allowing databases to use the Longley-Rice propagation model to calculate interference protection for broadcast operations; (4) permitting unlicensed systems to determine areas where devices may operate in the broadcast band by using both the database and sensing approach; and (5) allowing Mode 1 and 2 personal/portable unlicensed devices to operate below Channel 21.”

Regarding the duplex gap, the draft NPRM proposes a division of the 11-megahertz block of 6 MHz for unlicensed devices, including unlicensed microphones, at the top of the duplex gap, followed by licensed mics in the next 4 MHz and a 1 MHz buffer between the duplex gap and wireless downlink spectrum, according to agency sources.

The item proposes to allow Mode 2, but not Mode 1, personal/portable devices in the duplex gap because Mode 1 devices do not have built-in geolocation capabilities, a source said.

The item also proposes to allow fixed, but not personal/portable, operations in channel 37, which is used by medical telemetry and radio astronomy incumbents, a source said.

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FCC Spectrum Update - September 23, 2014
 
****************************************************
FCC TO CONSIDER PART 15, WIRELESS MIC,
TV COVERAGE, SATELLITE ITEMS SEPT. 30
 
The FCC announced today that it plans to consider part 15, TV station coverage, wireless microphone, satellite, and sports blackout items at its Sept. 30 meeting. The meeting is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. 
 
The part 15, TV station coverage, and wireless mic items are follow-up items in GN docket 12-268 to the incentive auction order that the FCC adopted in May (TRDaily, May 15). As TRDaily reported last week (TRDaily, Sept. 19), the Commission added a declaratory ruling to the “sunshine” notice concerning TV coverage that was not on the tentative agenda released Sept. 9 (TRDaily, Sept. 9).
 
In the part 15 item, the FCC said it will consider a notice of proposed rulemaking “to revise rules for unlicensed operations in the TV bands and new 600 MHz Band, including fixed and personal/portable white space devices and unlicensed microphones. The proposed changes and new rules are intended to allow more robust and spectrally efficient unlicensed operations without increasing the risk of harmful interference to other users.” 
 
The NPRM as circulated proposed a division of the 11-megahertz duplex gap of 6 MHz for unlicensed devices, including unlicensed microphones, at the top of the duplex gap, followed by licensed mics in the next 4 MHz and a 1 MHz buffer between the duplex gap and wireless downlink spectrum, according to agency sources. 
 
The item also proposes to allow Mode 2, but not Mode 1, personal/portable devices in the duplex gap because Mode 1 devices do not have built-in geolocation capabilities, a source said. 
 
The item also proposes to allow fixed, but not personal/portable, operations in channel 37, which is used by medical telemetry and radio astronomy incumbents, a source said.
 
Google, Inc., and Microsoft Corp. have pushed back against those duplex gap and channel 37 device proposals, while AT&T, Inc., has reiterated its concern that unlicensed operations in the duplex gap would cause harmful interference to licensed services.
 
Regarding an NPRM on wireless mics, the FCC said the item will “address the needs of wireless microphone users, while recognizing that they must share spectrum with other wireless uses in an increasingly crowded spectral environment.” 
 
The declaratory ruling “clarifies that the Commission intends to preserve both the ‘coverage area’ and ‘population served’ of eligible broadcast television stations in the repacking process associated with the Incentive Auction,” according to the sunshine notice. That item was peeled off from an inter-service interference order that circulated Sept. 9 for consideration on circulation, according to agency sources.
 
Also on the agenda for the Sept. 30 meeting is a further notice of proposed rulemaking in IB docket 12-267 “to streamline and update Part 25 of the Commission’s rules, which governs licensing and operation of space stations and earth stations for the provision of satellite communication services. These proposals will streamline, clarify or eliminate numerous rule provisions and reduce regulatory burdens.”
 
Commissioners also plan to consider a report and order in MB docket 12-3 eliminating the Commission’s sports blackout rules. The elimination of the sports blackout rule would not prevent private agreements between rights holders and other parties to black-out games and other sporting events. 
 
Late last year, the Commission unanimously proposed eliminating the nearly 40-year-old rule, which gives sports leagues or other holders of exclusive distribution rights in sports events the ability to prohibit cable and satellite TV operators from importing a distant broadcast channel’s coverage of an event if the local broadcast station is not carrying it, such as when an event does not sell out (TRDaily, Dec. 18, 2013). 
 
The NPRM noted that the rule was adopted in 1975 not to ensure “the profitability of organized sports, but rather [to] ensur[e] the overall availability of sports telecasts to the general public” by eliminating the incentive for rights holders to refuse to license coverage rights to distant stations. The NPRM also pointed out that in 1975, “ticket sales were the main source of revenues for sports leagues.” 
 
In an op-ed piece in the Sept. 9 “USA Today,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that the NFL “should no longer be able to hide behind government rules that punish loyal fans” and that the FCC should no longer be “complicit in preventing sports fans from watching their favorite teams on TV.”  He would appear to have the votes to end the sports blackout rule, because FCC Commissioners Ajit Pai and Mike O’Rielly have both called in recent months for elimination of the rule (TRDaily, June 19 and Aug. 12).

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FCC Spectrum Update - September 25, 2014 -

****************************************************

NAB CRITICIZES FCC’s PLAN TO 

CONSIDER DECLARATORY RULING

(excerpt)

In its filing, NAB also “expressed its concern that the FCC’s plan for the duplex gap is completely unworkable. As currently constructed, LTE, unlicensed devices and wireless microphones will each interfere with the other. The best plan – one that provides a meaningful place for ENG [electronic newsgathering] operations while not interfering with LTE – is one that places only wireless mics in the duplex gap, with evenly-spaced (or close to it) guard bands between the uplink and downlink.” NAB added that “the FCC’s current duplex gap approach will depress auction revenues.”

As circulated, an unlicensed NPRM to be considered at the Sept. 30 meeting proposed a division of the 11-megahertz duplex gap of 6 MHz for unlicensed devices, including unlicensed microphones, at the top of the duplex gap, followed by licensed mics in the next 4 MHz and a 1 MHz buffer between the duplex gap and wireless downlink spectrum, according to agency sources.

The item also seeks comment on revisiting the FCC’s TV “white spaces” rules, which also drew the NAB’s ire. “The current rules were adopted in 2010, following several years of intense, highly technical debate,” it said. “Yet, just four years later, based on no apparent changes in the technical facts, the Commission is considering comprehensively re-examining fundamental aspects of now TV White Spaces devices can operate without causing harmful interference.”

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Long but here goes...
 
FCC Spectrum Update - September 30, 2014:
 
****************************************************
FCC ADOPTS UNLICENSED, WIRELESS MIC
NPRMs, TV COVERAGE DECLARATORY RULING
 
The FCC today unanimously adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking comments on proposals for rule revisions governing unlicensed part 15 operations in the TV bands, new 600 megahertz band, and on channel 37. The agency also unanimously adopted an NPRM exploring the future spectrum needs of wireless microphones.
 
At today’s monthly meeting, a third item adopted, on a 3-2 vote, was a declaratory ruling clarifying how the repacking approach that the FCC adopted in its incentive auction order meets the mandate of Congress to make all reasonable efforts to preserve the coverage areas and population served of TV stations.
 
All three items follow up on the incentive auction order, which was approved in May (TRDaily, May 15). 
 
“Following the incentive auction, with the repacking of the television band and the repurposing of current television spectrum for wireless services, there will be fewer frequencies in the UHF band available for use by unlicensed fixed and personal/portable white space devices and wireless microphones,” the FCC noted in a news release on the unlicensed NPRM. “The proposed changes to Part 15 rules are designed to allow for more robust service and efficient spectral use in the frequency bands that are now and will continue to be allocated and assigned to broadcast television services, while continuing to protect authorized users from harmful interference.”
 
Among the closest watched portions of the NPRM were those dealing with which devices would be permitted in the 600 MHz band duplex gap and guard band spectrum and on channel 37. 
 
As circulated Sept. 9 (TRDaily, Sept. 9), the item proposed to allow Mode 2, but not Mode 1, personal/portable devices in the duplex gap and guard band spectrum because Mode 1 devices do not have built-in geolocation capabilities, according to agency sources. The item also had proposed to allow fixed, but not personal/portable, operations in channel 37, which is used by medical telemetry and radio astronomy incumbents. 
 
The item as adopted proposes to allow fixed and portable devices in the duplex gap and guard band spectrum but seeks comment on whether the FCC should limit personal/portable devices to Mode 2 units. 
 
Regarding channel 37, the updated item seeks comment on whether to permit personal/portable devices on channel 37, striking a sentence proposing to allow only fixed devices. 
 
Unlicensed spectrum proponents Google, Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Public Knowledge had pushed back against the original duplex gap and channel 37 proposals in the original draft NPRM, arguing for greater access for Mode 1 and personal/portable devices. 
 
The NPRM proposes a division of the 11-megahertz duplex gap of 6 MHz for unlicensed devices, including unlicensed microphones, at the top of the duplex gap, followed by licensed mics in the next 4 MHz and a 1 MHz buffer between the duplex gap and wireless downlink spectrum. 
 
Comments are due 45 days after “Federal Register” publication and replies are due 20 days after that in ET docket 14-165 and GN docket 12-268.
 
AT&T, Inc., and Qualcomm, Inc., have reiterated their concern that unlicensed operations in the duplex gap would limit use of the licensed frequencies due to harmful interference. The National Association of Broadcasters also has criticized the duplex gap plan, calling it “completely unworkable” due to interference among users.
 
NAB also has criticized the FCC’s plan to revisit its TV “white spaces” rules only four years after they were adopted and “based on no apparent changes in the technical facts.”
 
The wireless mic NPRM is designed to consider the future of the devices and the best bands for them to operate.
 
“Most wireless microphones today operate on unused spectrum in the UHF television band frequencies currently allocated for TV broadcasting.  Wireless microphones also operate in other bands, both on a licensed and unlicensed basis, depending on the particular band.  Following the incentive auction – with the repacking of the television band and the repurposing of current television spectrum for wireless services – there will be fewer frequencies in the UHF band available for use by wireless microphone operations,” the FCC noted in a news release.  
 
“The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks to address the needs of wireless microphone users, both licensed and unlicensed, in a comprehensive fashion,” it added. “The Notice examines wireless microphone users’ needs and different technologies that can address them, including digital technologies. In spectrum bands where wireless microphones currently operate, the Commission seeks comment on potential rule revisions that could accommodate better performance and increased use of wireless microphones. The Notice also seeks comment on authorizing wireless microphone operations in additional spectrum bands, consistent with the Commission’s overall spectrum management goals. Through this Notice, the Commission intends to enable the development of a suite of wireless microphone devices and applications over the long term that can meet users’ needs efficiently and effectively.”
 
Comments are due 45 days after “Federal Register” publication and replies are due 20 days after that in GN dockets 14-166 and 12-268.
 
In the declaratory ruling adopted in GN docket 12-268, the FCC seeks to clarify how the repacking approach it adopted in its incentive auction order complies with the statutory requirement that it make all reasonable efforts to preserve the coverage areas and population served of TV stations.
 
“We take this action in order to remove any uncertainty regarding the repacking approach we adopted in the Incentive Auction R&O,” the FCC said in the declaratory ruling. “We are concerned that the Incentive Auction R&O left some uncertainty regarding how we intend to carry out the statutory preservation mandate in the repacking process,” the FCC added, citing the NAB legal challenge, which questioned whether the Commission was complying with Congress’s dictate to make all reasonable efforts to protect TV stations’ coverage area and population served as of Feb. 22, 2012, when the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 was enacted. 
 
“We now clarify that we will independently protect each eligible station’s ‘coverage area’ and its ‘population served’ as defined in the Incentive Auction R&O,” the FCC said. “In doing so, we will seek to preserve each station’s coverage area as determined using the methodology described in OET-69. If the station is reassigned to a different channel, its coverage area on its original channel will be replicated as closely as possible, using the same antenna pattern and other technical parameters and allowing power adjustments as necessary to enable the signal to reach the same geographic area at the same field strength as before the repacking process. As we explained in the Incentive Auction R&O, this ‘equal area’ approach will enable a station to ‘replicat[e] the area within the station’s existing contour as closely as possible using the station’s existing antenna pattern.’ Consistent with OET-69 and our rules, we will seek to preserve coverage area without regard to interference from other stations or population.
 
“Independent of our efforts to preserve each station’s ‘coverage area,’ we also will seek to preserve its population served, again as determined using the methodology described in OET-69, by prohibiting any channel assignment in the repacking process that would cause one station to interfere with 0.5 percent or more of another station’s population served,” the FCC added. “As ‘population served’ by definition excludes unpopulated areas and areas where a station’s signal cannot be received due to existing interference from other stations, we will not protect such areas from new interference in the repacking process.”
 
But Republican Commissioners Ajit Pai and Mike O’Rielly dissented, complaining about the process the FCC used to adopt the declaratory ruling, which was peeled off an inter-service interference order that the FCC plans to consider at its Oct. 17 meeting. The Commissioners said the agency was violating the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by not seeking comment on the item and was rushing it out to help its defense of the order in response to a court appeal filed by NAB, which also has argued that the declaratory ruling violates the APA.
 
“Substantively, there is merit to the reasoning in this declaratory ruling,” Mr. O’Rielly said. “In the repacking process, protecting the unpopulated areas covered by a broadcast station’s signal makes little sense. In fact, under current procedures, a broadcast station does not receive interference protection in these unpopulated areas. Whether this entire issue is consistent with the statute, OET-69, and Commission precedent is now in the hands of the D.C. Circuit Court.  
 
“Procedurally, I have problems with the process used to generate the item,” Mr. O’Rielly added. “Therefore, I dissent to this declaratory ruling. During consideration of the incentive auction item earlier this year, I raised deep concerns that the speed by which we were moving left the Commission exposed to legal challenges. Now, the Commission attempts to clarify a portion of the previous item posthaste. In doing so, it sidesteps normal Commission procedures for questionable gain. … What is the rush? The answer is that the Commission is attempting to strengthen its litigation position in the D.C. Circuit Court over a recent challenge of certain incentive auction rules posed by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).  More specifically, this item is in response to a filing by NAB and some now are scrambling to address their arguments, even though others believe the existing language is sufficiently clear.”  
 
“Apparently worried about its chances of prevailing in court, the Commission decides at this late date to offer up additional arguments for its already-made decision not to protect the unpopulated portions of stations’ coverage areas against interference when repacking,” Mr. Pai said. “I must respectfully dissent from this highly unusual procedural maneuver. … Once an FCC order has been challenged in court and the deadline for its reconsideration has expired, the time for deliberation is over. Rather, the Commission should exit stage right and allow its able litigators to defend its position.”
 
But Mr. Pai added, “It’s still not too late to turn things around. Even after today’s vote, the Commission and broadcasters can still rise above the disputes of the past, set aside the ill will that has built up over the past year, and meet each other halfway. Most importantly, if the parties were to settle the litigation, we would take a big step towards holding a timely and successful incentive auction. I hope that happens soon.”
 
Commissioners Mignon L. Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel supported the declaratory ruling, with Ms. Rosenworcel saying, “I felt that the Commission adequately explained” its repacking rationale in the incentive auction order, “but I appreciate that sometimes, we want to update our explanations.”
 
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler took a jab at Messrs. Pai and O’Rielly, noting that they had voted against the incentive auction order.
 
“Only in Washington is it possible to get wound up on whether something is a modification or a clarification,” he said. “Noteworthy in this discussion, this appears to be a renewal of dissent by parties that were not supportive of the approach being taken to follow the statutory requirements created by Congress for the spectrum incentive auction. So let’s be clear: This does not modify the treatment of coverage areas. This does explain how the report and order meets the statute. One would think that cleaning up a misunderstanding is a good thing. That’s what we’re doing here.”
 
Mr. Wheeler added that the use of declaratory rulings for such purposes is “a common practice” at the FCC and not “highly unusual.”
 
There was general agreement, however, on the unlicensed and wireless mic NPRMs, although Mr. Pai only concurred in part on the first item, citing the FCC’s decision in its incentive auction order to permit white spaces devices to operate in 600 MHz band guard band spectrum.
 
“As I noted at the time, my preference would have been to seek comment in a neutral manner on whether we can permit those types of operations without causing harmful interference to licensed services before we decided to allow them,” Mr. Pai said. “But that is now in the past, and I am pleased that today we are asking many of the right questions. The record developed in response to this notice will hopefully shed light not only on why we made the choices we did, but whether we got them right.
 
“And while we won’t be able to answer the latter point until all of the engineering studies and comments are in, I do think there is reason for concern,” he added. “The Commission’s proposals carry a risk of creating impaired spectrum licenses, depressing auction revenues, and deterring auction participation. But since we are at the beginning of the process, I am reserving judgment until all of the studies are in. As a result, I will be voting to approve in part and concur in part.”
 
Regarding the wireless mic item, Mr. Pai said he was pleased the FCC was considering a “wide range of bands” where the devices might be able to operate and that the Commission plans to issue an order in that proceeding before the incentive auction begins.
 
“At the heart of both of these items is science and fact, or at least it should be.  I am generally pleased by the work of the Office of Engineering and Technology to focus on the technical side of the equation in preparing these two items,” Mr. O’Rielly said. “While I may not agree with every outcome or proposal, the NPRMs have been drafted in way to allow parties to provide comments, including contradictory evidence and technology studies, to frame our work going forward.  I expect an ample record that includes the granular data necessary to fully inform our decision making. I am particularly interested in hearing about tests of the technical aspects of the various ideas and proposals. Let’s find out, to the best of our abilities, what works and what does not.”
 
He added that he wants to explore “opportunities for mobile unlicensed operations in Channel 37” and noted that he has “heard from many industry participants that the current proposal regarding wireless mics and unlicensed wireless use in the duplex gap may be infeasible. There are strong views on this, and I am not sure whether all the information needed to make a decision is available yet. This issue needs to be fleshed out further, and I trust the NPRM will allow everyone to debate the merits fully.”   
 
Ms. Clyburn said she is pleased that the unlicensed item stresses the need to protect incumbents and that the wireless mic item considers the future spectrum needs for the devices. She also said that both items make clear that “all parties will have to learn to live together in a spectrum constrained environment.”
 
She also said that “now it’s time to kick the lawyers out of the room and let the engineers rule.”
 
Commissioner Rosenworcel stressed the importance of both licensed and unlicensed services while also saying that the FCC needs “to recognize that key services striving for space in the 600 MHz band—like wireless microphones, low power television, and medical telemetry—deserve attention under the law.  Wireless microphones are critical for newsgathering, essential for Broadway productions, and widely-used in churches and schools. These microphones deserve a home. Low power television and translators also play an important role in communities across the country—and can extend the reach of television in rural areas. Plus, lives depend on medical telemetry. So we need to pay heed. We also need to be creative.”
 
“Both of these items reinforce the importance of unlicensed spectrum in the wireless ecosystem, and they are also both witness to the importance of spectrum sharing in the new wireless world,” Mr. Wheeler said. “They are a glimpse into the future.”
 
Outside parties had generally positive reactions today to the three incentive auction order follow-on items adopted today.
 
But in response to the declaratory ruling, Dennis Wharton, NAB’s executive vice president-communications, said the group “believes the FCC's procedure here is quite suspect. The court will have to decide if it passes legal muster."
 
“We’re pleased the Commission is making significant progress on the incentive auction process,” said Steve Berry, president and chief executive officer of the Competitive Carriers Association, commenting on the declaratory ruling. “Giving clarity to broadcasters who may want to participate in the auction as well as wireless providers who desperately need spectrum, especially low-band spectrum, is a necessary step in the process.”
 
“CTIA is encouraged by the FCC’s adoption of three additional incentive auction-related items at today’s open meeting,” said Scott Bergmann, vice president-regulatory affairs for the trade group.  “Countless studies and bipartisan policymakers recognize the need for additional spectrum to meet growing consumer demand and the integration of mobile broadband into important sectors of our economy, including education, health and transportation. A successful 600 MHz Incentive Auction is critical to meeting that need, and these proceedings will an important role in ensuring we maximize the amount and usability of the spectrum repurposed for mobile broadband services.”
 
Julie Kearney, VP-regulatory affairs for the Consumer Electronics Association, said that “CEA applauds the commission for its continuous hard work to ensure a successful auction. By considering proposals that allow for more robust use of unlicensed spectrum without increasing the risk of harmful interference to other users, the FCC is helping to pave the way for future mobile innovation.”
 
“Today the FCC follows through on the commitment made last May to strike the proper balance between our need for more open spectrum for innovation and next generation wifi, preserving traditional services such as wireless microphones, and protecting the exclusive licenses the FCC will auction to wireless carriers,” said Harold Feld, senior vice president of Public Knowledge. “The FCC’s item asks right questions. As Public Knowledge has insisted since Congress passed the Incentive Auction statute in 2012, we can make this a rare win-win-win by staying grounded in firm engineering analysis and working together on creative solutions to share our increasingly crowded public airwaves.”- 

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