In Business Model, Internet Access, Mobile, Spectrum

A major vote on rules for the upcoming auction of 600-MHz spectrum has been delayed for about a month, as critics note inadequate public notice of new data and policy advocates spar over potential rules affecting unlicensed spectrum.

A major issue up in the air for the auction is whether TV stations will be allowed to move into guard bands in the 600 MHz band after the auction.

Initially, the Federal Communications Commission had dedicated the “duplex gap,” also known as the guard band, to Wi-Fi and other unlicensed uses, as well as for licensed broadcast news microphones.

Now a staff recommendation has reversed that. The National Association of Broadcasters, the Radio & Television Digital News Association, Microsoft, Open Technology Institute at New America, Public Knowledge, Free Press and Common Cause were among the parties asking the FCC to keep the original rules.

There also is concern about the procedural issues, specifically whether enough notice has been provided. Critics of the proposed change say no explanation for its about-face has been provided.

The proposed change benefits some TV broadcasters, in some markets, but reduces opportunities for creation of access services using Wi-Fi style non-licensed shared spectrum.

Competitive carriers desperately need access to additional spectrum, especially low-band spectrum,” said Competitive Carriers Association President Steve Berry. “I strongly urge the Commission to act as quickly as possible to move critical low-band spectrum to market.”

“The staff did not give stakeholders sufficient time to analyze the new data, attempt to

replicate it, and provide the Commission with fully informed feedback,” said Commissioner Ajit Pai. “Second, the staff did not disclose all of the data that had been requested.”

“And third, the Chairman’s Office did not afford the Commissioners enough time to analyze either the data or the comments about that data,” said Pai.

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