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FCC Preps Big Spectrum Moves

The FCC will be making some big spectrum-related decisions Friday (Feb. 28) at its February public meeting that will affect broadcast and cable operators.

The commission is scheduled to vote on freeing up 300 MHz of the 500 MHz C-Band satellite spectrum for next-gen terrestrial wireless, in the process repacking satellite operators and their broadcast and cable clients into smaller space and potentially paying those satellite operators billions to exit the spectrum early.

There has been a flurry of activity at the FCC as stakeholders argue for tweaks in the item before the vote.

The meeting will also include a separate vote on proposed rules for the auction of that C-Band spectrum.

Related: AT&T: FCC Should Tie C-Band Early Exit Payments to Moving Deadline

Also on the docket is a vote on freeing up more "white spaces"--the space between TV station channels--for unlicensed use by allowing for higher power and taller towers. The FCC is billing the move as a way to better close the rural digital divide.

Broadcasters have said they are willing to work with computer companies on freeing up the white spaces spectrum, but only if they have assurances it will not cause interference to their existing signals.

One of the main sticking points has been whether the FCC should allow unlicensed operations on channels adjacent to TV channels. Computer companies say they can without causing undue interference. Broadcasters are unconvinced.

The FCC will seek further input on whether that is feasible, essentially kicking that can a bit further down the road.

But wait, there's more.

The FCC will also vote on final procedures for an auction of county-sized licenses (22,000, the most ever) for 70 MHz of midband spectrum in the 3.5 MHz band.