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More C-band Auction Details In FCC's Feb. 28 Meeting Agenda

The Federal Communications Commission has added more details about its plans for the C-band auction, which will be voted upon at the Commission's February 28 open meeting in Washington. In a draft of its report and order, released on Friday, Feb. 7, the Commission said that the accelerated deployment plans will require incumbent fixed service licensees in the contiguous United States to relocate their point-to-point links to other bands by September 30, 2023.

The plan - with the goal of speeding up 5G deployment in the U.S. - will establish a Relocation Payment Clearinghouse to manage the intake, payout, and auditing of relocation funds and (as Chairman Ajit Pai explained in his February 6 preview of the plan), set up a "Relocation Coordinator" to orchestrate the transition between satellite operators and incumbent earth stations. The goal is to ensure uninterrupted service during and following the transition. The FCC's draft Report & Order, which runs more than 180 pages, also calls for the adoption of service and technical rules for flexible-use licensees in the 280 megahertz segment designated for transition to flexible-use.

Related: C-Band Auction Plan Faces Challenges That May Affect December Start

The "TV White Spaces" rulemaking proposal will lay out changes in the current broadcast "white spaces" device rules affecting channel 2 to 35. Pai has said that use of white spaces for rural broadband delivery using TV channels 2 through 35 will be on the Federal Communications Commission's next meeting agenda, opening a new way "help bridge the digital divide while protecting TV stations,"

Also on the Feb. 28 agenda is an explanation of the bidding procedures for the Commission's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The commissioners will review the paperwork that would launch the process of establishing pre- and post-auction application procedures and competitive bidding procedures to allocate up to $16 billion to support the deployment of fixed broadband networks in rural America in Phase I of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

Cable operators would get a paperwork reprieve under terms of the FCC proposal to modify of eliminate a rule that requires cable operators to maintain records in their public files about the "nature and extent of their attributable interest in video programming services. The Commission will seek comments about how to deal with this process.

A timely examination of "Promoting Public Safety Through Information Sharing" will round out the FCC meeting' s major agenda items. The proposal calls for the FCC to work with state and federal agencies with read-only access to communications outage data for public safety purposes while also preserving the confidentiality of that data.