The Enterprise Wireless Alliance this week urged the Federal Communications Commission to slash the license terms for site-based Part 90 private land mobile radio (PLMR) services in half, arguing the change would help free up underutilized spectrum.
In comments filed with the Commission, EWA argued the current 10-year license terms are not beneficial to licensees who use the spectrum in support of other activities rather than as their primary business. The decade-long terms also leave usable spectrum sitting idle when licensees shift technologies or go out of business, the group said.
“Because technology is changing at an ever-increasing pace, they routinely evaluate their options and migrate to different equipment and/or networks as they deem appropriate. It is not uncommon for that migration to occur more than once during a 10-year period,” EWA wrote. “It also is an unfortunate fact that some businesses fail in less than a decade. In both these situations, the licensee is required to cancel its authorization under Rule Section 1.955(a)(3), but that does not always happen. When they do not proactively cancel their licenses, the license data remains in ULS until the authorization is not renewed. This often prevents other entities from using vacant spectrum, or prevents them from qualifying for a protected service area under Rule Section 90.187, and thereby limits their ability to deploy the most efficient digital technologies.”
Reducing license terms for these users from 10 years to five would force licensees to take action on the matter sooner, and would allow the FCC to revoke licensee authorizations in a shorter timeframe after failure to renew, the group said.
EWA asked the FCC to consider implementing shorter five-year terms as part of its consideration of the WRS Reform Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order. Initiated in 2010, the NPRM aims to create consistent requirements for the renewal of spectrum licenses, uniform consequences for discontinuance of service, and clarity on construction requirements for licenses that have been divided. Though the NPRM is seven years old, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau last month put out a call for industry stakeholders to update the record.
Both EWA and telecom industry association CTIA opposed elements of the NPRM that would require renewal showings for geographic-based wireless services – which the latter noted would “compel licensees to create and retain detailed records of their operations during the entire license term and submit voluminous information.” CTIA argued the rule would “impose substantial costs and burdens” on licensees, but provide no assurance that the records they keep will be sufficient to secure renewal of their licenses.
“The showing would impose impossibly vague obligations, such as a requirement to demonstrate ‘the level and quality of service’ and ‘any other factors demonstrating the level of service,’ … But it fails to explain how the Commission would weigh and compare all of these various elements in evaluating whether to grant renewal. It would thus inject tremendous cost and uncertainty into the renewal process,” CTIA wrote.
EWA added that the renewal showing rule would also ignore “fundamental differences among geographic licenses based on the amount of spectrum and geography authorized,” as well as the difference between licenses used for commercial versus private communication services.
“The proposed Renewal Showing in the NPRM is premised on the assumption that all geographic licensees can and should expand their operations beyond meeting their build-out requirements. That may be a reasonable expectation for licensees that utilize 5, 10, or 20 MHz of spectrum to offer wireless services to the consumer marketplace over expansive amounts of geography. It often is not realistic when a license is authorized for only 20, 30, 50, or 125 kHz of bandwidth, typically for use within a single Basic Economic Area,” EWA observed. “It often is exceedingly challenging to meet the FCC’s build-out requirements when working with very limited amounts of spectrum.”
Filed Under: Telecommunications (Spectrum)