FCC Proposes Spectrum Screen Changes
The Federal Communications Commission today issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will see changes made to how it uses spectrum screens to weigh spectrum auctions and sales. The FCC wants to see low- and high-band spectrum put to use more evenly around the country by a wider range of companies. "Rules are needed to facilitate access to necessary inputs if competition, and the benefits it provides, are to be enjoyed by all," said the FCC "Today, 92% of non-rural consumers, but only 37% of rural consumers, are covered by at least four 3G or 4G mobile wireless providers' networks. The policies that we adopt today aim to address this discrepancy and ensure that all Americans, regardless of whether they live in an urban, suburban, or rural area, can enjoy the benefits that competition provides." To that end, the FCC is taking several steps. First, it plans to add the following blocks to its spectrum screen: 40MHz of AWS-4; 10MHz of H Block; 65MHz of AWS-3; 12MHz of BRS; 89MHz of EBS; and all of the 600MHz spectrum to be auctioned off in the upcoming Incentive Auction. The FCC will subtract 12.5MHz of SMR and 10MHz of Upper 700MHz D Block spectrum from the screen. The FCC will establish a market-based reserve of up to 30MHz for each license in the upcoming Incentive Auction, to be held for smaller companies. The FCC will limit all third-party sales of 600MHz spectrum for a period of six years after the auction. The FCC will not adopt specific limits for the AWS-3 auction. Last, the FCC will look at all transactions below 1GHz as an "enhanced factor" when weighing individual transactions. The FCC believes these changes will lead to better access to wireless broadband for more consumers in the long run.