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FCC Gives Wireless Companies Post-Auction Testing Flexibility

The FCC has voted to give wireless companies more flexibility to test out the spectrum they win in the broadcast incentive auction.

The FCC did not wait for its public meeting Thursday to vote out a number of incentive auction-related items. In addition to the channel-sharing item, the commission also voted early—then removed from the public meeting agenda—an item clarifying when a wireless company that won spectrum in the forward auction will be deemed to have commenced operations for the purposes of determining when unlicensed users, low power stations and translators will have to vacate those areas.

The FCC voted to make the general trigger when a wireless company has deployed and begun testing permanent equipment. But it will also allow the definition to extend, in limited circumstances where they have committed to launching early said an FCC source, to companies testing different types of equipment that may not wind up being the permanent installation.

The thinking is that in areas where the wireless companies will deploy early, they may need the flexibility to test different equipment.

CTIA: The Wireless Association had sought the flexibility to test nonpermanent base station equipment in early markets to help them decide what to choose.

“We appreciate the Commission’s work to develop a flexible framework for accessing repurposed 600 MHz spectrum [the broadcast spectrum that will be auctioned] in a way that will allow wireless providers to commence operations in the spectrum they have purchased in a timely manner, while affording secondary users ample time to transition out of the band," CTIA-The Wireless Association VP of regulatory affairs Scott Bergmann. "We are particularly pleased that the Commission recognized that wireless licenses will need access to spectrum to perform essential market testing. This approach is critical to making efficient network deployment plans and enabling providers to rapidly deploy advanced wireless broadband services to benefit American consumers.”

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.