Comment On Options For 470-512 MHz (T-Band) Spectrum
Federal Communications Commission
News Media Information 202 / 418-0500445 12th St., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
Released: February 11, 2013
WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS BUREAU AND PUBLIC SAFETY AND HOMELAND
SECURITY BUREAU SEEK COMMENT ON OPTIONS FOR 470-512 MHz (T-BAND)
PS Docket No. 13-42
Comment Date: May 13, 2013
Reply Comment Date: June 11, 2013
Security Bureau (Bureaus) seek comment to inform the Bureaus in their recommendations to the
Commission relating to its implementation of Section 6103 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job
Creation Act of 2012 (Act) as it applies to the 470-512 MHz band (T-Band).1 Section 6103 provides that,
not later than nine years after the date of enactment, the Commission shall (1) “reallocate the spectrum in
the 470-512 MHz band … currently used by public safety eligibles,” and (2) “begin a system of
competitive bidding under Section 309(j) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 309(j)) to grant
new initial licenses for use of the spectrum.”2 It provides that “relocation of public safety entities from
the T-Band Spectrum” shall be completed not later than two years after completion of the system of
competitive bidding, and that proceeds from the auction of T-Band spectrum “shall be available to the
Assistant Secretary [of Commerce for Communications and Information] to make grants in such sums as
necessary to cover relocation costs for the relocation of public safety entities from the T-Band spectrum.”3
On April 26, 2012, the Bureaus announced a limited suspension of the acceptance and processing
of certain applications for Part 22 and Part 90 services operating in the T-Band that could alter the
spectrum landscape.4 The Bureaus took this action to stabilize the spectral environment “while the
Commission considers issues surrounding future use of the T-Band, solicits input from interested parties,
and works to implement the directives of the Act.”5 In a subsequent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
1 Pub. L. No. 112-96, 126 Stat. 156 (2012).
2 Id. § 6103(a).
3 Id. § 6103(b), (c).
4 Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Suspend the Acceptance
and Processing of Certain Part 22 and 90 Applications for 470-512 MHz (T-Band) Spectrum, Public Notice, 27 FCC
Rcd 4218 (WTB/PSHSB 2012). The Bureaus issued a further clarification of the suspension on June 7, 2012.
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Clarify Suspension of the
Acceptance and Processing of Certain Part 22 and 90 Applications for 470-512 MHz (T-Band) Spectrum, Public
Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 6087 (WTB/PSHSB 2012).
5 Suspension Notice at 1-2.
regarding other aspects of the Act, the Commission stated that T-Band issues would be addressed in a
forthcoming Public Notice “to advance the record on issues related to the technical, financial,
administrative, legal, and policy implications of the Act for T-Band licensees.”6 This Public Notice
initiates these next steps. This Public Notice does not propose any change to the current Commission
rules regarding T-Band. Its purpose is to gather information in order to inform the Bureaus in their
recommendations to the Commission concerning when, how, and under what circumstances it is most
appropriate to reallocate the T-Band and relocate incumbent T-Band users as required by Section 6103.
We encourage commenters to present specific proposals for implementing the provisions of
Section 6103, including the technical, financial, administrative, legal, and policy implications of each
option. To further guide public input on these issues, we seek specific comment on the questions
presented below, but also invite more general comment:
How many licensees of all types use T-Band?
What is the approximate percentage split between public safety licensees and non-public
safety licensees on T-Band?
How many base station/repeaters, mobile radios, and portable radios operate on T-Band
What is the approximate percentage split between the types of systems that these licensees
use? For example: analog/digital, conventional/trunked, voice/data. What is the average cost,
age, and useful life of these systems?
What are the main “use cases” for T-Band systems (e.g., dispatch, field communications,
command-and-control) and how much system capacity do these uses require?
Can responses to the above questions be broken down with respect to each of the T-Band
What additional information regarding incumbent T-Band users, apart from that contained in
the Commission’s Universal Licensing System (ULS) records, should the Commission
consider in its deliberations?
Section 6103 requires reallocation of T-Band spectrum “currently used by public safety eligibles”
within nine years of enactment and “relocation of public safety entities” from the T-Band not later than
two years after the completion of competitive bidding. This section further provides that the Assistant
Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information (Assistant Secretary) will “make grants in
such sums as necessary to cover relocation costs for the relocation of public safety entities from the T-
Band spectrum.” We seek comment on the following issues in connection with these provisions:
What alternative spectrum bands are potentially available for relocation of T-Band public
safety licensees? Could T-Band licensees relocate to other UHF-VHF spectrum bands, or to
public safety spectrum in the 700 MHz or 800 MHz bands? Should spectrum bands that are
not currently allocated for public safety use be considered?
What is the future feasibility of T-Band public safety licensees migrating their operations to
the 700 MHz public safety broadband spectrum by becoming users of the FirstNet public
safety broadband network once that network becomes operational? Which use cases (e.g.,
6 Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions, Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking, Docket 12-268, 27 FCC Rcd 12357, 12365 ¶ 19 (2012).
7 See 47 CFR § 90.303(b) for list of urbanized areas.
dispatch) are most easily migrated to a broadband data network? What capabilities must be
developed in the FirstNet network (e.g., mission-critical voice capability) in order for T-Band
relocation to the network to be feasible, and how long will it take for the FirstNet network to
develop these capabilities?
How much time is appropriate under Section 6103 to reallocate T-Band spectrum and
relocate public safety licensees? Should the Commission take the maximum period of years
allowed under the statute for these steps? What factors should be relevant in making this
assessment? If the Commission were to take these steps earlier than the statutory maximum,
what would be an appropriate timeline?
What relocation costs are T-Band licensees likely to incur to relocate out of T-Band? To
what extent will relocation costs vary depending on what spectrum band is used for
relocation? Recognizing that under the statute, the Assistant Secretary ultimately has the
responsibility to administer the relocation grants, would it be appropriate to assume a
compensation regime similar to those previously adopted by the Commission for other
relocation obligations? For example, should we assume that the compensation regime would
provide for recovery of all costs associated with relocation, including planning and
administrative costs, or only the cost of retuning and/or replacing equipment? How should
the Commission address these issues to minimize costs?
Should we assume that the compensation regime would provide for recovery of the cost of
retuning or replacing equipment acquired since the enactment of Section 6103? Or should we
assume that such recovery would be conditioned on demonstrating that such acquisition has
not increased the licensee’s relocation costs over what they would have been otherwise?
How should the Commission address these issues to minimize costs?
Should the Commission encourage voluntary migration by T-Band public safety licensees
prior to the reallocation and relocation required by Section 6103? Are there incentives that
the Commission could implement to encourage voluntary relocation? Would licensees who
relocate voluntarily be entitled to recover their relocation costs from T-Band auction
proceeds? If so, would the delay in receiving such grants until after the auction be likely to
make critical services unavailable in the interim?
Are there potential incentives or requirements that would help facilitate T-Band relocation by
making more efficient use of replacement spectrum or reducing relocation costs? For
example, would consolidating adjacent T-Band public safety systems into larger regional
systems enable them to use replacement spectrum more efficiently or reduce relocation costs?
Are there potential costs or burdens associated with consolidation that would outweigh the
potential benefits? If consolidation would facilitate implementation of Section 6103, what
steps should the Commission take to encourage or require it?
Some state and local government agencies that are public safety-eligible also use non-public
safety frequencies in the T-Band for non-public safety activities. In addition, some public
safety entities operate on non-public safety T-Band frequencies pursuant to waivers. Should
the Commission treat these licensees as “public safety eligibles” for purposes of relocation to
alternative spectrum pursuant to Section 6103(c)?
Section 6103 does not address the status of non-public safety licensees in the T-Band, nor does it
require their relocation to other spectrum. We seek comment on whether the Commission should
consider options for relocating non-public safety T-Band licensees in conjunction with the relocation of
public safety licensees required by Section 6103.
Should the Commission consider relocating non-public safety as well as public safety
licensees out of T-Band in order to clear larger contiguous blocks of T-Band spectrum for
auction that would be likely to generate higher bids? Alternatively, should the Commission
consider consolidating non-public safety licensees within a single segment of contiguous T-
Band spectrum (e.g., TV Channel 14 at the bottom of the band) in order to clear the
remaining T-Band spectrum for auction in contiguous blocks?
What alternative spectrum bands are potentially available for relocation of T-Band non-
public safety licensees? Do T-Band non-public safety licensees require replacement
narrowband spectrum or could they relocate their operations to commercial broadband
spectrum, either by operating their own broadband networks or becoming customers on
existing commercial broadband networks?
A limited amount of T-Band spectrum is designated for Part 22 use, but this spectrum does
not appear to be subject to the same level of use as Part 90 T-Band frequencies. Do
incumbent Part 22 systems in T-Band require replacement spectrum, or is existing Part 22
spectrum outside of T-Band sufficient to accommodate these operations?
If the Commission were to relocate non-public safety licensees from T-Band, should it use
the same timetable applicable to relocation of public safety licensees or a different timetable?
Are there potential incentives or requirements that would help facilitate T-Band relocation or
consolidation by non-public safety licensees, if needed? For example, if the Commission
were to consolidate all non-public safety T-Band licensees into a single T-Band segment,
could the Commission expand the current T-Band geographic limitations or relax other
restrictions as incentives?
While Section 6103 does not authorize use of auction proceeds to pay for relocation of non-
public safety licensees, are there other mechanisms available that would enable non-public
safety licensees to recover some or all of their relocation costs?
In light of the enactment of Section 6103, T-Band licensees have been granted a waiver of the
January 1, 2013 narrowbanding deadline.8 If, as mentioned above, the Commission
consolidates non-public safety licensees into a single segment of contiguous T-Band
spectrum or relocates them out of the T-Band, should the Commission require those licensees
to narrowband as a condition of receiving replacement spectrum? For T-Band licensees that
have not already narrowbanded, would narrowbanding on replacement spectrum be any more
costly than narrowbanding on their current channels?
We seek comment on what, if any, interim actions the Commission should take with respect to T-
Band incumbents prior to implementing the reallocation and relocation provisions of Section 6103:
As noted above, the Bureaus have suspended the processing and filing of T-Band applications
for new or expanded operations while the Commission considers issues surrounding future
use of the T-Band. Should the Commission continue this suspension until reallocation and
relocation are implemented, even if this does not occur until the maximum period of years
allowed by Section 6103?
Should the Commission consider modifying the suspension to allow certain additional types
of modifications? For example, should frequency replacements be permitted within the same
TV channel or within TV channels already designated in a given urbanized area for PLMR
use? Should Part 22 applications for Part 22 frequencies continue to be suspended? Should
the Commission process applications that were pending prior to the announcement of the
suspension and are currently being held in abeyance?
8 See Implementation of Sections 309(j) and 337 of the Communications Act of 1934 as Amended; Promotion of
Spectrum Efficient Technologies on Certain Part 90 Frequencies, Order, WT Docket No. 99-87, RM-9332, 27 FCC
Rcd 4213 (WTB/PSHSB/OET 2012).
Should the Commission consider other measures to restrict changes to T-Band incumbent
systems that would increase their relocation costs?
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By the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Public Safety and Homeland Security
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