FCC Releases Auction Coordination Plan With Mexico

The FCC has taken a step closer to resolving border spectrum issues in the broadcast incentive auction.

The FCC Thursday released a letter of understanding with Mexico on a plan for coordinating their respective TV station repacks following the FCC's broadcast incentive auction. That included agreeing to work together on repacking some TV stations in the mobile wireless spectrum band.

That differentiates the tentative agreement—a formal bilateral agreement must still be worked out—from that of Canada, which said it will not be repacking any TV stations in the wireless band up North.

In a letter to the FCC in response to an FCC letter outlining the joint plan, Mexico's Instituto Federal De Telecomunicaciones said the plan was "acceptable to our Administration," with some tweaks.

One clarification IFT made to the FCC letter was where it said that the FCC intended to clear a maximum of 144 MHz while Mexico intended to clear a maximum of 84 MHZ. IFT said: "Our Administration will not necessarily free a maximum of 84 MHz for mobile broadband services but may increase this amount of spectrum in the future."

The FCC will not necessarily clear its maximum 144 MHz, either, but has set that as the aspirational upper end.

As to placing TV stations in the wireless band, IFT said it was its intention to work with the FCC on "conditions for spectrum sharing and technical conditions for coexistence of television services and mobile broadband operations below channel 51."

An eventual agreement on the coordination plan will have to be struck in association with the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation of Mexico, which IFT said is the "formal authority" for international agreements.

The FCC announced last week it had tentative deals with both Mexico and Canada.

The National Association of Broadcasters has been pushing for those agreements to be sewn up but has yet to comment on the FCC announcements.

John Eggerton

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.