The Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) issued a statement on Friday condemning the National Association of Broadcasters’ (NAB) recent suggestion that the FCC reserve one or more vacant channels in the 600MHz band for unlicensed use, saying the proposal defeats the purpose of the upcoming incentive auction.
“NAB’s proposal contradicts the very reasons the incentive auction exists – to reallocate additional low-band spectrum available for mobile broadband use,” said CCA President and CEO Steven K. Berry. “Competitive carriers are in dire need of low-band spectrum, and it absolutely is in the public’s best interest to make as much spectrum as possible available for consumer use. More spectrum will incentivize more carriers to bid, thus promoting competition and innovation throughout the industry. Further, replacing the 600 MHz spectrum reserve with vacant channels would eliminate the promise these bands hold to accelerate investment.”
Berry’s statement comes in response to the NAB’s October 30 comments to the FCC regarding the commission’s plan to locate a vacant channel for unlicensed use in the repacked TV band following next year’s auction.
Arguing that the so-called “vacant channel” proposal would have a detrimental impact on broadcasters and TV viewers, the NAB instead suggested the FCC locate the channel for unlicensed use in the 600MHz band.
“If…the FCC’s Title III authority to reserve spectrum in a licensed band for unlicensed use – at the direct expense of licensed users – is untrammeled and wholly distinct from the Spectrum Act, then there is no reason the Commission should not make the reservation for unlicensed use in the 600 MHz band, rather than the repacked television band,” the NAB wrote.
In particular, the NAB suggested that the vacant channel be relocated to a portion of the spectrum reserve, citing a need to balance out T-Mobile’s interests in the auction.
“Based on T-Mobile’s support for ‘the public benefits of robust unlicensed operations in the 600 MHz band,’ the Commission can best accommodate its desire to preserve white spaces spectrum by reserving spectrum in the new wireless band following the auction,” the NAB wrote. “It will preserve opportunities for the innovation T-Mobile supports, while also preventing T-Mobile from benefitting unduly from a spectrum reserve insulated from some competitors in the forward auction.”
On Friday, however, Berry said such an allocation is prohibited by the Spectrum Act, which he argued “unequivocally prohibits permitting unlicensed operations in the 600 MHz broadband spectrum outside of guard bands.” Berry also warned that “placing unlicensed users in the 600 MHz band runs the risk of forward-auction revenues falling short of exceeding reverse-auction expenses – a result no one wants to see.”
“The Commission can and should move forward with adopting the proposal to preserve at least one channel in the UHF television band for unlicensed users,” Berry continued. “I strongly encourage the FCC to dismiss NAB’s proposal.”
Filed Under: Telecommunications (Spectrum)