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CCA to FCC: Stick With 39-Month TV Station Repack Timetable

Smaller wireless carriers are urging the FCC to stick with its 39-month timetable to repack TV stations after the spectrum auction.

Broadcasters have said that might not be enough time, and FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has told Congress that if they don't give the FCC enough money for the auction, those broadcasters would be right.

In an ex parte letter to the FCC, the Competitive Carriers Association said that the spectrum the FCC is freeing up, including reserved spectrum for competitive carriers, is essential and their best chance to get access to key low-band spectrum and to live up to their name as competitive carriers.

"For these reasons, we encourage the Commission to conduct post-auction repacking procedures on schedule, as is currently planned."

The plans is to give broadcasters three months after the close of the auction to file construction permits for new facilities or modifications and 36 months, with various internal deadlines.

The FCC has proposed a rolling, regional approach to the repack, in part so that the limited number of tower crews can be most efficiently deployed.

CCA agrees with that approach, so long that it "balances the clearing of urban and rural markets in a fair and objective way so all carriers benefit in the auction..."

They also include the warning that delay could devalue the spectrum and disincentivize bidders from participating in the forward auction, where the reclaimed broadcast spectrum will go to the highest bidder, which will have to be enough to compensate all the billions going to broadcasters.