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FCC Adopts Rules For First Ever Incentive Auction

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Released: June 2, 2014

Federal Communications Commission

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Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Expanding the Economic and Innovation
)
GN Docket No. 12-268
Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive
)
Auctions
)

REPORT AND ORDER

Adopted: May 15, 2014

Released: June 2, 2014
By the Commission: Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel issuing separate
statements; Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly dissenting and issuing separate
statements.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Heading
Paragraph #
I. INTRODUCTION.................................................................................................................................. 1
II. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY.................................................................................................................. 17
III. THE REORGANIZED UHF BAND.................................................................................................... 38
A. Band Plan for the New 600 MHz Band ......................................................................................... 40
1. Background ............................................................................................................................. 40
2. Discussion ............................................................................................................................... 44
a. All-Paired, Down From 51 Band Plan.............................................................................. 49
b. 5+5 MHz, Interchangeable Spectrum Blocks ................................................................... 61
c. Geographic Area Licensing .............................................................................................. 68
d. Market Variation............................................................................................................... 81
e. Guard Bands ..................................................................................................................... 88
f. Band Plan Technical Considerations ................................................................................ 98
B. Repacking the Broadcast Television Bands................................................................................. 109
1. Repacking Process Overview................................................................................................ 113
2. Implementing the Statutory Preservation Mandate ............................................................... 119
a. “All Reasonable Efforts” ................................................................................................ 120
b. OET-69 and TVStudy ...................................................................................................... 127
c. Preserving Coverage Area .............................................................................................. 162
d. Preserving Population Served......................................................................................... 176
3. Facilities to Be Protected....................................................................................................... 183
a. Mandatory Protection of Full Power and Class A Facilities........................................... 184
b. Discretionary Preservation.............................................................................................. 190
c. Non-Final License Revocation or Downgrade Proceedings. .......................................... 225
d. Facilities That Will Not Receive Discretionary Protection ............................................ 226
4. International Coordination .................................................................................................... 246
C. Unlicensed Operations................................................................................................................. 258
1. Background ........................................................................................................................... 259
2. Discussion ............................................................................................................................. 264
a. Television Bands............................................................................................................. 269
b. Guard Bands ................................................................................................................... 270
c. Channel 37 ...................................................................................................................... 274

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D. Other Services.............................................................................................................................. 279
1. Channel 37 Services .............................................................................................................. 279
a. Background..................................................................................................................... 280
b. Discussion....................................................................................................................... 284
2. Television Fixed Broadcast Auxiliary Stations..................................................................... 295
3. Low Power Auxiliary Stations and Unlicensed Wireless Microphones................................ 299
a. Television Bands............................................................................................................. 301
b. Guard Bands ................................................................................................................... 312
c. Long-Term Needs of Wireless Microphone Users ......................................................... 316
E. Allocations................................................................................................................................... 317
IV. THE INCENTIVE AUCTION PROCESS......................................................................................... 322
A. Overview and Integration of the Reverse and Forward Auctions................................................ 325
B. Reverse Auction........................................................................................................................... 347
1. Pre-Auction Process .............................................................................................................. 348
a. Eligibility ........................................................................................................................ 350
b. Bid Options..................................................................................................................... 365
c. Confidentiality and Prohibition of Certain Communications ......................................... 384
d. Two Competing Participants Requirement..................................................................... 412
e. Information and Certifications Required in Application to Participate .......................... 416
f. Procedures for Processing Pre-Auction Application ...................................................... 442
2. Bidding Process..................................................................................................................... 446
a. Bid Collection Procedures: Descending Clock Format .................................................. 448
b. Bid Assignment Procedures: Determining Which Bids Are Accepted........................... 456
c. Procedures to Determine Payments ................................................................................ 459
d. Additional Bidding Procedures....................................................................................... 462
C. Forward Auction .......................................................................................................................... 465
1. Pre-Auction Process .............................................................................................................. 466
a. Competitive Bidding Authority ...................................................................................... 467
b. Bidding Credits............................................................................................................... 472
c. Prohibition of Certain Communications ......................................................................... 484
d. National Security Certification ....................................................................................... 496
2. Bidding Process..................................................................................................................... 498
a. Bid Collection Procedures: Auction Format, Generic License Categories, Etc.............. 501
b. Bid Assignment Procedures: Determining Winning Bidders and Assigning
Frequency-Specific Licenses .......................................................................................... 513
c. Procedures to Determine Payments ................................................................................ 519
d. Additional Bidding Procedures....................................................................................... 522
3. Deletion of Outdated 1.2102(c)............................................................................................. 524
V. THE POST-INCENTIVE AUCTION TRANSITION ....................................................................... 525
A. Auction Completion and Effective Date of the Repacking Process ............................................ 527
B. Processing of Bid Payments......................................................................................................... 532
C. Transition Procedures for Television Stations and Reimbursement Procedures for
Television Stations and MVPDs.................................................................................................. 532
1. License Modification Procedures.......................................................................................... 542
a. Construction Permit Application Filing Requirements................................................... 542
b. Alternate Channel and Expanded Facilities Opportunities ............................................. 552
c. Channel Sharing Stations................................................................................................ 557
2. Construction Schedule and Deadlines................................................................................... 559
a. Construction Period for Stations with New Channel Assignments ................................ 562
b. Winning Bidders for License Relinquishment and Channel Sharing ............................. 574
c. Additional Flexibility for Stations with New Channel Assignments.............................. 579
3. Consumer Education ............................................................................................................. 586
4. Notice to MVPDs .................................................................................................................. 592
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5. Reimbursement of Relocation Costs ..................................................................................... 598
a. Television Station Licensees and MVPDs Eligible for Reimbursement ........................ 600
b. Reimbursement Process.................................................................................................. 605
c. Expenses Eligible for Reimbursement............................................................................ 620
d. Measures to Prevent Waste, Fraud, and Abuse............................................................... 631
e. Service Rule Waiver in Lieu of Reimbursement ............................................................ 637
f. Other Reimbursement Issues .......................................................................................... 645
D. Transition Procedures for Other Services and Unlicensed Operations........................................ 655
1. LPTV and TV Translator Stations......................................................................................... 656
2. Television Fixed Broadcast Auxiliary Stations..................................................................... 673
3. Television White Space (TVWS) and Unlicensed Device Operations ................................. 677
4. Low Power Auxiliary Station and Unlicensed Wireless Microphones ................................. 682
VI. POST-TRANSITION REGULATORY ISSUES............................................................................... 689
A. Broadcast Issues........................................................................................................................... 689
1. Media Ownership Rules and Diversity.................................................................................. 690
a. Media Ownership Rules.................................................................................................. 690
b. Diversity of Media Ownership........................................................................................ 694
2. Channel Sharing Operating Rules ......................................................................................... 697
B. 600 MHz Band Technical and Service Rules .............................................................................. 712
1. Technical Rules ..................................................................................................................... 713
a. Out-of-Band Emission Limits......................................................................................... 714
b. Power Limits................................................................................................................... 725
c. Base Station Antenna Height Restrictions...................................................................... 727
d. Co-Channel Interference Between 600 MHz Band Wireless Broadband Systems......... 729
e. Interoperability Rule ....................................................................................................... 731
f. Other Technical Issues.................................................................................................... 738
2. Service Rules......................................................................................................................... 740
a. Flexible Use, Regulatory Framework, and Regulatory Status........................................ 740
b. License Restrictions........................................................................................................ 748
c. License Term, Performance Requirements, Renewal Criteria, and Permanent
Discontinuance of Operations......................................................................................... 758
d. Secondary Markets ......................................................................................................... 798
e. Other Operating Requirements ....................................................................................... 805
VII.PROCEDURAL MATTERS.............................................................................................................. 807
VIII.
ORDERING CLAUSES .............................................................................................................. 812
APPENDIX A—RULES
APPENDIX B—REGULATORY FLEXIBILITY ANALYSIS
APPENDIX C—TECHNICAL APPENDIX
APPENDIX D—COMMENTER SHORT NAMES

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
This Order adopts rules to implement the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction.
The incentive auction is a new tool authorized by Congress to help the Commission meet the Nation’s
accelerating spectrum needs.1 Broadcasters will have the unique financial opportunity in the “reverse

1 See Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Pub. L. No. 112-96, §§ 6402 (codified at 47 U.S.C. §
309(j)(8)(G)), 6403 (codified at 47 U.S.C. § 1452), 126 Stat. 156 (2012) (Spectrum Act); Expanding the Economic
and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions
, GN Docket No. 12-268, Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 27 FCC Rcd 12357, 12368, paras. 25-26 (2012) (NPRM). The NPRM provided an overview of
broadcast television and other services that occupy the broadcast television bands, the Commission’s historical
efforts to meet America’s spectrum needs and Congress’s call for more broadband spectrum in the Spectrum Act, as
well as the statute’s incentive auction provisions. See id. at 12362-72, paras. 11-34.
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auction” phase of the incentive auction to return some or all of their broadcast spectrum usage rights in
exchange for incentive payments.2 By facilitating the voluntary return of spectrum usage rights and
reorganizing the broadcast television bands, we can recover a portion of ultra-high frequency (“UHF”)
spectrum for a “forward auction” of new, flexible-use licenses suitable for providing mobile broadband
services.3 Payments to broadcasters that participate in the reverse auction can strengthen broadcasting by
funding new content, services, and delivery mechanisms. And by making more spectrum available for
mobile broadband use, the incentive auction will benefit consumers by easing congestion on the Nation’s
airwaves, expediting the development of new, more robust wireless services and applications, and
spurring job creation and economic growth.
2.
Our central objective in designing this incentive auction is to harness the economics of
demand for spectrum in order to allow market forces to determine its highest and best use. We are also
mindful of the other directives that Congress established for the auction, including making all reasonable
efforts to preserve, as of the date of the passage of the Spectrum Act, the coverage area and population
served of remaining broadcast licensees.4 The auction affords a unique opportunity for broadcasters who
wish to relinquish some or all of their spectrum rights, but we emphasize that a broadcaster’s decision to
participate in the reverse auction is wholly voluntary. We are committed to removing barriers to this
voluntary participation. In particular, the reverse auction in which broadcasters will have the opportunity
to return spectrum rights will be transparent and easy to participate in.5 In the descending clock auction
format we choose, for example, a broadcaster need only decide whether it is willing to accept one or more
prices offered to it as the reverse auction proceeds; if at any point the broadcaster decides a price is too
low, it may drop out of the reverse auction.6 No station will be compensated less than the total price that
it indicates it is willing to accept.7
3.
The auction presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for broadcasters, and we are
committed to providing them with information about both our process and the financial opportunity the
auction represents to enable them to make informed business decisions about whether and how to
participate. We have conducted numerous workshops and other direct outreach efforts.8 We also have
developed the Learn Everything About Reverse Auctions Now (“LEARN”) program to provide useful

2 Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(1) (mandating “a reverse auction to determine the amount of compensation that each
broadcast television licensee would accept in return for voluntarily relinquishing some or all of its broadcast
television spectrum usage rights in order to make spectrum available for assignment through a system of competitive
bidding under subparagraph (G) of section 309(j)(8) of the Communications Act of 1934, as added by section
6402.”); see § IV.B (Reverse Auction).
3 Spectrum Act § 6403(c)(1) (A) (requiring the FCC to conduct a “forward auction” to assign licenses for the use of
spectrum reallocated from broadcast television as part of the incentive auction); see § IV.C (Forward Auction).
4 Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2).
5 See § IV.B (Reverse Auction).
6 See § III.B.1 (Repacking Process Overview); Spectrum Act § 6403(b).
7 See para. 453.
8 See, e.g., FCC Announces Panelists for September 30, 2013, Workshop on Issues Surrounding the Reassignment of
TV Stations After the Incentive Auction
GN Docket No. 12-268, , Public Notice, 28 FCC Rcd 13805 (2013); FCC
Announces Details for June 25, 2012 TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund Workshop
, GN Docket No. 12-268, News
Release, 2012 WL 1965368 (rel. June 1, 2012); FCC Announces Details for May 22, 2012 Channel Sharing
Workshop
, GN Docket No. 12-268, News Release, 2012 WL 1524622 (rel. May 1, 2012). In addition, the Media
Bureau conducted a series of webinars regarding the incentive auction for State Broadcasters Associations in 2011
and 2012. Moreover, representatives of the Media Bureau have spoken at a number of conferences about the
incentive auction since the enactment of Spectrum Act, including, among others, National Association of
Broadcasters (NAB) Shows, Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) Public Media Summits, and National
Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations (NASBA) Winter Meetings.
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information and resources.9 We anticipate offering demonstrations of the auction bidding system,
interactive tutorials, and other opportunities for broadcasters to familiarize themselves with the reverse
auction application and bidding processes in advance of the reverse auction. We also recognize the
importance of broadcasters that choose not to participate in the reverse auction. To free up a portion of
the UHF spectrum band for new, flexible uses, Congress authorized the Commission to reorganize the
broadcast television spectrum so that the stations that remain on the air after the incentive auction occupy
a smaller portion of the UHF band.10 The reorganization (or “repacking”) approach we adopt will avoid
unnecessary disruption to broadcasters and consumers and ensure the continued availability of free, over-
the-air television service.
4.
Ultimately, our actions will benefit consumers of telecommunications services. While
minimizing disruption to broadcast television service, we seek to rearrange the UHF spectrum in order to
increase its potential to support the changing needs of 21st Century consumers. We recognize that the
same individuals may be consumers of television, mobile broadband—using both licensed and unlicensed
spectrum—and other telecommunications services. To benefit such consumers, and consistent with the
framework of the Spectrum Act, we have strived for balance in our decision-making process between
television and wireless services, and between licensed and unlicensed spectrum uses.
5.
We adopt a “600 MHz Band Plan” for new services in the reorganized UHF spectrum.
By maximizing the spectrum’s value to potential bidders through features such as paired five megahertz
“building blocks,” the Band Plan will help to ensure a successful auction. By accommodating variation in
the amount of spectrum we recover in different areas, which depends on broadcaster participation and
other factors, the Band Plan will ensure that the repurposing of spectrum for the benefit of most
consumers nationwide is not limited by constraints in particular markets.11 The Band Plan will promote
competition and innovation by creating opportunities for multiple license winners and for future as well
as current wireless technologies. Because it is composed of a single band of paired spectrum blocks only,
our Band Plan also simplifies the forward auction design. We adopt for new licensees flexible-use
service rules, and technical rules similar to those governing the adjacent 700 MHz Band, an approach that
should speed deployment in the 600 MHz Band. Devices will be required to be interoperable across the
entire new 600 MHz Band.
6.
Our repacking methodology will ensure an efficient television channel assignment
scheme while avoiding unnecessary disruption to broadcasters and consumers. Repacking presents a
complex engineering problem that must be solved repeatedly during the course of the reverse auction
bidding process: namely, how to determine which channels to assign to stations that will stay on the air,
consistent with statutory requirements, as well as the technical requirements that we establish.12 For the
incentive auction to succeed, we need a methodology capable of solving the problem quickly and with
certainty as the reverse auction bidding proceeds. Our repacking methodology will address these needs
by simplifying the problem. During the reverse auction bidding process, provisional channel assignments
that satisfy applicable requirements will be identified, ensuring that a feasible channel is available for
every station that remains on the air. After the reverse auction bidding ends, final channel assignments
will be optimized to strive for additional goals, such as minimizing relocation costs for broadcasters

9 See http://www.fcc.gov/learn.
10 See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(1) (requiring the FCC, in order to “mak[e] available spectrum to carry out the
forward auction,” to “evaluate the broadcast television spectrum,” and authorizing it, “subject to international
coordination . . . ,” to “make such reassignments of television channels as the Commission considers appropriate”
and “reallocate such portions of such spectrum as the Commission determines are available”).
11 Under this framework, we can generally make available for new uses the amount of spectrum we recover in most
top markets, while offering different amounts in constrained markets (such as those that border Canada and Mexico)
where we may recover less spectrum. See § III.A.2.d (Market Variation).
12 See § III.B.1 (Repacking Process Overview).
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assigned to new channels. This approach will meet the practical requirements of conducting a successful
auction without sacrificing other objectives.
7.
Our repacking approach will also fulfill Congress’s mandate to use “all reasonable efforts
to preserve,” as of the date of the passage of the Spectrum Act, the coverage area and population served
of each remaining broadcast licensee.13 In particular, our approach will ensure that each station serves
essentially the same viewers that it served before the incentive auction, and that no station causes more
than a minimal (0.5 percent) amount of new interference to another station.14 The statutory mandate
covers facilities operating as of February 22, 2012, but we will extend the same protection to certain
facilities authorized after that date, having determined that the benefits of doing so outweigh the potential
costs to our flexibility in reorganizing the broadcast television spectrum.15
8.
In addition to repurposing UHF spectrum for new licensed uses, the rules we adopt in this
Order will make a significant amount of spectrum available for unlicensed use, a large portion of it on a
nationwide basis.16 Unlicensed devices complement licensed services, serve a wide range of consumer
needs, and contribute tens of billions of dollars to our economy annually. To prevent harmful interference
between licensed services, our 600 MHz Band Plan includes a number of guard bands, which we intend to
make available for use by unlicensed devices. Moreover, we will allow unlicensed use of channel 37, and
allow television white space (“TVWS”) devices as well as wireless microphones to operate on any unused
television channels following the incentive auction. We also intend to designate one unused channel in
each area following the repacking process for shared use by wireless microphones and TVWS devices.
9.
To facilitate broadcaster participation, we are striving for simplicity in designing the
reverse auction. Broadcasters will be able to participate online through an easy-to-use computer interface.
They will have several bid options, including relinquishing their licenses, moving to a lower band, and
sharing a channel. The descending clock format to collect bids will enable broadcasters to gain
information during the bidding, and will not require them to reveal how much compensation they
ultimately would accept; they need indicate only whether they accept the opening price and—if so—any
subsequent prices. If at any point a broadcaster decides prices are too low, it may drop out of the auction.
No station will be compensated less than the total price that it indicates it is willing to accept. We will
evaluate and select bids in conjunction with the repacking process, based on their potential impact on the
recovery of spectrum and other factors. We will keep the identity of broadcasters that participate
confidential, and that period of confidentiality will extend for two years after the incentive auction, except
for winning bidders.17
10.
For the incentive auction to succeed, the reverse auction and the repacking process must
work seamlessly with the forward auction of new, flexible-use 600 MHz Band licenses. We are designing
the forward auction for speed, so that reverse auction participants need not await its outcome for weeks or
months. In particular, by conducting bidding for generic or interchangeable spectrum blocks rather than
specific frequencies, we can condense the time required for bidding significantly. We establish a final
stage rule to assure that the forward auction raises enough proceeds to satisfy the minimum proceeds

13 See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2) (requiring “all reasonable efforts to preserve, as of the date of the enactment of
this Act, the coverage area and population served of each broadcast television licensee, as determined using the
methodology described in OET Bulletin 69”).
14 See § III.B.2 (Implementing the Statutory Preservation Mandate).
15 See § III.B.3 (Facilities to Be Protected); Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2).
16 See § III.C (Unlicensed Operations).
17 See § IV.B.1 (Reverse Auction Pre-Auction Process); Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(3) (requiring “all reasonable steps
necessary to protect the confidentiality of Commission-held data of a licensee participating in the reverse auction . . .
, including withholding the identity of such licensee until the [spectrum] reassignments and reallocations (if any) . . .
become effective”).
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requirements that we establish, but bidding will continue as long as demand for wireless licenses in any
area exceeds the number available in that area.18 In the Mobile Spectrum Holdings Report and Order
adopted today, we establish a market-based spectrum reserve in the forward auction designed to ensure
against excessive concentration in holdings of low-band spectrum, and we adopt certain secondary
markets limitations regarding 600 MHz Band licenses.19
11.
Following the conclusion of the incentive auction, the transition to the reorganized UHF
band will be as rapid as possible without causing unnecessary disruption. Television stations that
voluntarily turn in their licenses or agree to channel share must transition from their pre-auction channels
within three months of receiving their reverse auction payments.20 The time required for stations
reassigned to a new channel to modify their facilities will vary, so we will tailor their construction
deadlines to their situations.21 This approach will ensure that stations transition as quickly as their
circumstances allow, and allow coordination of deadlines where, for example, one station must vacate a
channel before another can begin operating on its new channel. No station will be allowed to operate on a
channel that has been reassigned or repurposed more than 39 months after the repacking process becomes
effective.22 In other words, the repurposed spectrum will be cleared no later than 39 months after the
effective date. Most new licensees should have access to 600 MHz spectrum well before then.
Consistent with Congress’s mandate, we also establish procedures to reimburse costs reasonably incurred
by stations that are reassigned to new channels, as well as by multichannel video programming
distributors to continue to carry such stations.23
12.
As Congress recognized, the incentive auction and the transition that follows require
coordination with our cross-border neighbors, Canada and Mexico.24 Because of these common borders,
the Commission has established processes and agreements to protect television and wireless operations in
border areas from harmful interference. The FCC staff has used these processes to fully inform Canadian
and Mexican officials regarding the incentive auction and, beginning in 2013, formed technical groups to
meet routinely to plan for harmonious use of the reorganized UHF band following the incentive auction.
Commission leadership has supplemented these efforts, meeting with their Canadian and Mexican
counterparts to emphasize the need for and mutual benefits of harmonization. We are confident that the
long and successful history of close cooperation with Canada and Mexico regarding the use of radio
spectrum along our common borders will continue before, during, and after the incentive auction.
13.
We intend to conduct the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction as soon as
possible. We must proceed deliberately, however, as the auction will be the first of its kind. We also are
committed to an open, transparent process with meaningful public input. The Commissioners and staff
have engaged in significant public discourse throughout the course of this proceeding. In addition to the

18 See § IV.C.2 (Forward Auction Bidding Process).
19 See Policies Regarding Mobile Spectrum Holdings, WT Docket No. 12-269, Report and Order, FCC 14-63
(adopted May 15, 2014) (MSH Report and Order).
20 See § V.C.2.b (Transition Procedures for Winning License Relinquishment and Channel Sharing Bidders).
21 See § V.C.2.a (Construction Period for Stations with New Channel Assignments). We note that no broadcaster
will be required to relocate its transmission facilities. Stations that are reassigned to new channels will have to
modify their facilities to operate on the new channels, however.
22 See id. Thirty-nine months includes the thirty-six month construction period provided under current FCC rules,
plus three months between the effective date—when the repacking process results are announced—and the deadline
for stations to file construction permit applications to modify their facilities.
23 See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(4)(A); § V.C.5 (Reimbursement of Relocation Costs).
24 See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(authorizing such reassignments of television channels as the Commission considers
appropriate, and reallocation of such spectrum as it determines is available for reallocation, subject to international
coordination along the border with Mexico and Canada).
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usual comment and reply process, the record reflects more than 400 ex parte meetings, numerous public
notices and workshops on specific incentive auction-related issues, and a series of Incentive Auction Task
Force presentations at Commission open meetings, which have provided critical input for the decisions
we make today. These decisions provide the essential framework for the incentive auction. But they will
not, by themselves, enable us to implement the incentive auction. Based on the framework we establish
today, we will develop the detailed procedures necessary to govern the auction process, which will be
based on additional record input on the remaining, narrower set of important issues, such as auction
design and issues arising from our decision to accommodate market variation in the 600 MHz Band
Plan.25
14.
Our experience with spectrum auctions over the past 20 years supports our conclusion
that the public interest is best served by acting now to establish the basic framework for the incentive
auction, and thereafter resolving discrete outstanding issues and adopting final auction procedures,
through a process that allows additional public input and concludes well in advance of the auction itself.
The Commission’s past practice has been to first establish general rules governing spectrum license
auctions in reports and orders, and then specific requirements through public notices that provide the
opportunity for comment by interested parties, including on critical matters such as bid collection,
assignment, and payment procedures and final stage rule. This approach has worked well, and a similar
one is all the more necessary for the incentive auction due to its novelty and complexity. Consistent with
this approach, today’s Order determines many of the significant elements of the incentive auction, which
are set forth in the following Executive Summary.
15.
In the coming months, the Commission will solicit public input on final auction
procedures by Public Notice (“Incentive Auction Comment PN” or “Comment PN”). This Public Notice
will include specific proposals on crucial auction design issues such as opening prices, factors for setting
reverse auction prices, and how much market variation to accommodate in the 600 MHz Band Plan. Well
in advance of the auction, also by Public Notice, the Commission will resolve these implementation
issues, and provide detailed explanations and instructions for potential auction participants (“Incentive
Auction Procedures PN
” or “Procedures PN”).26 We do not modify the Wireless Telecommunications
Bureau’s (“WTB” or “Wireless Bureau”) well-established authority to adopt final auction procedures
through a pre-auction public notice process.27 Compared to our typical spectrum auctions, many aspects
of the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction are unique, and in this proceeding we intend to
establish certain procedures by Commission vote. The WTB may continue to establish final auction
procedures in this proceeding concerning those matters that it typically handles under existing delegations
of authority.
16.
The Commission will resolve outstanding issues that fall outside the rubric of the
Comment PN and the Procedures PN, including a methodology for preventing co- and adjacent channel
interference between television and wireless services in certain areas, and proposals for an aggregate cap
on interference to television stations in the repacking process,28 through a separate process that will
conclude in advance of decisions on the final auction procedures. The discussion that follows identifies
such issues that are not being resolved in this Order and, where appropriate, delegates authority to one or
more of the Commission’s Bureaus and Offices to resolve those issues in accordance with our decisions.

25 See §§ III.A.2.d (Market Variation), IV.A (Overview and Integration of the Reverse and Forward Auctions),
IV.B.2 (Reverse Auction Bidding Process), IV.C.2 (Forward Auction Bidding Process).
26 We refer generally to the “pre-auction process” in this Order, which includes the Comment PN and Procedures
PN
. We may seek comment on, and/or resolve, certain final auction procedures in separate public notices if doing
so better conduces to the proper dispatch of business. See 47 U.S.C. § 154(j). Any such public notices will be
released during the pre-auction process and well in advance of the auction.
27 See 47 C.F.R. § 0.131(c).
28 See § III.B.2.d (Preserving Population Served).
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II.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

17.
600 MHz Band Plan. We adopt a 600 MHz Band Plan with specific paired uplink and
downlink bands, comprised of five megahertz “building blocks.” We find that specific uplink and
downlink bands that support Frequency Division Duplex (“FDD”) technologies are best suited for the
new 600 MHz Band at the present time in light of current technology, the Band’s propagation
characteristics, and potential interference issues present in the Band; and that offering paired spectrum
blocks will best facilitate the rapid deployment of networks, including by smaller carriers and new
entrants. The uplink portion of the Band will begin at channel 51 (698 MHz) and expand downward,
followed by a duplex gap and then the downlink portion of the Band. The Band Plan can accommodate
variation in the amount of spectrum recovered in different geographic areas in order to prevent the “least
common denominator market” from limiting the quantity of spectrum we can offer generally across the
nation.29
18.
In addition, the Band Plan we adopt incorporates technically reasonable guard bands,
including the duplex gap, to prevent harmful interference between licensed services.30 We adopt Partial
Economic Areas (“PEAs”) as the service area for the 600 MHz Band, finding that PEAs permit entry by
providers that contemplate offering wireless broadband service on a localized basis, yet may be easily
aggregated by carriers that plan to provide service on a larger geographic scale. Consistent with the
Spectrum Act’s directives, we also adopt “flexible use” service rules for the 600 MHz Band.31
19.
Repacking the Broadcast Television Bands. In reorganizing the television bands to make
spectrum available to carry out the forward auction, the FCC must “make all reasonable efforts to
preserve, as of [February 22, 2012], the coverage area and population served of each broadcast television
licensee, as determined using the methodology described in OET Bulletin 69 of the Commission’s Office
of Engineering and Technology” (“OET-69”).32 We interpret this mandate to require that we strive to
preserve full power and Class A stations’ existing service as of that date without sacrificing the objectives
of the incentive auction. While we will use the methodology described in OET-69 to determine the
coverage area and population served of each station, we must update the computer software and input
values used to implement that methodology. Among other things, doing so will ensure that our software
is capable of the rapid, complex calculations necessary to support the reverse auction and the repacking
process, and that we are relying on the most accurate population and other data available. We will protect
full power stations’ coverage areas based on their “service areas,”33 and protect the coverage areas of
Class A stations, which do not have “service areas” under FCC rules or OET-69, based on their
“protected contours.”34 Rather than merely attempting to preserve the same total population served by
each station, we will make all reasonable efforts to preserve the same specific viewers it served as of

29 If the 600 MHz Band Plan could not accommodate some market variation, we would be forced to limit the amount
of spectrum offered across the nation to what is available in the most constrained market (the “least common
denominator”), even if more spectrum could be made available in the vast majority of the country. See § III.A.2.d
(Market Variation).
30 See § III.A.2.e (Guard Bands). The size of the guard band between 600 MHz downlink and television depends on
how much spectrum is repurposed through the incentive auction. The duplex gap will be 11 megahertz, and the
potential size of the guard band between 600 MHz downlink and television is seven to 11 megahertz. If 84
megahertz or more is repurposed, there will be a three-megahertz guard band or bands between 600 MHz operations
and channel 37. See id.; § III.D.1 (Channel 37 Services).
31 See § VI.B.2 (600 MHz Band Service Rules); Spectrum Act § 6402 (granting incentive auction authority “to
permit the assignment of new initial licenses subject to flexible-use service rules”).
32 Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2).
33 See § III.B.2.c (Preserving Coverage Area); 47 C.F.R. § 73.622(e); OET-69 at 1.
34 See § III.B.2.c (Preserving Coverage Area); 47 C.F.R. § 73.6010.
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February 22, 2012. We will not allow any channel assignments that, considered on a station-to-station
basis, would reduce a station’s population served by more than a de minimis (0.5 percent) amount.35
20.
Television Facilities to Be Protected in the Repacking Process. As Congress required,
we will protect full power and Class A facilities that already were operating pursuant to a license (or a
pending application for a license to cover a construction permit) on February 22, 2012.36 We also
exercise our discretion to protect facilities in addition to those the statute requires us to protect, based on
consideration of the potential impact on our flexibility in the repacking process and our auction goals,
whether failing to protect would strand investment by broadcasters licensed on a primary basis, the loss of
service to existing viewers, and the potential impact on the Class A service’s digital transition. In
particular, we will protect:
 the small number of new full power television stations that were authorized, but not constructed
or licensed, as of February 22, 2012;
 full power facilities authorized in construction permits issued to effectuate a channel substitution
for a licensed station;
 modified facilities of full power and Class A stations that were authorized by construction permits
granted on or before April 5, 2013, the date the Media Bureau issued a freeze on the processing of
certain applications; and
 minor change facilities authorized to implement Class A stations’ mandated transition to digital
operations.37
21.
Except in very limited circumstances, we will limit discretionary protection to the above
categories. We conclude that protecting other categories of facilities, including low power television
(“LTPV”) stations and television translator (“TV translator”) stations, which are secondary in nature and
are not entitled to protection from primary services under our current rules, would unduly constrain our
flexibility in the repacking process and undermine the likelihood of meeting our objectives for the
incentive auction. To help preserve the important services provided by LPTV and TV translator stations,
we will open a special filing window for such stations that are displaced to select a new channel and will
amend our rules to expedite the process for displaced stations to relocate. We also intend to initiate a
rulemaking proceeding after the release of this Order to consider additional means to mitigate the
potential impact of the incentive auction and the repacking process on LPTV and TV translator stations.
22.
Unlicensed Operations. We will make the 600 MHz Band guard bands available for
unlicensed use, thereby making spectrum available for unlicensed devices nationwide. Depending on the
amount of spectrum repurposed through the incentive auction, we will make a total of 14 to 28 megahertz
of guard band spectrum available for unlicensed use. In addition, we will make an additional six
megahertz of spectrum available by allowing unlicensed use of channel 37 at locations where it is not in
use by channel 37 incumbents, subject to the development of the appropriate technical parameters to
protect the incumbent Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (“WMTS”) and Radio Astronomy Service
(“RAS”) from harmful interference.38 Following the incentive auction and the post-auction transition,

35 We will resolve proposals for an additional, aggregate cap on interference to television stations through a separate
process that will conclude in advance of decisions on the final auction procedures. See § III.B.2.d (Preserving
Population Served).
36 See § III.B.3 (Facilities to Be Protected); Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2).
37 See § III.B.3 (Facilities to Be Protected); In order to ensure that we have a largely static view of the facilities that
will be protected in advance of the repacking process, we generally will limit our discretionary protection to
facilities constructed and licensed on or before a Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline to be announced by the Media
Bureau. We anticipate that the Public Notice will give stations at least 90 days prior notice of this deadline.
38 See § III.C (Unlicensed Operations). We will initiate a separate rulemaking proceeding to establish technical rules
for unlicensed operations in the guard bands and on channel 37.
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TVWS devices may continue to operate on channels allocated and assigned for primary television
services, consistent with our current rules.39 We anticipate that there will be at least one channel not
assigned to a television station in all areas at the end of the repacking process,40 and we intend, after
additional notice and opportunity for public input, to designate one such channel in each area for shared
use by wireless microphones and TVWS devices. We expect a significant amount of spectrum to be
available for continued TVWS use, particularly outside of the central urban areas of the largest television
markets.41 Any other unused television channels in a market following the incentive auction will also be
available for TVWS device as well as wireless microphone use. We will initiate a rulemaking proceeding
after the release of this Order to consider changes to our existing Part 15 rules to facilitate unlicensed use
of the television bands, 600 MHz Band guard bands and channel 37.
23.
Other Services. We will not relocate the WMTS or the RAS from channel 37. To protect
these incumbent services from harmful interference, in the 600 MHz Band Plan we adopt guard bands
between such services and any new wireless broadband services that may be deployed adjacent to channel
37. Furthermore, we will require coordination with existing RAS facilities so that any new wireless
systems can be deployed to cover the broadest area possible with minimal impact to RAS observatories.
We will continue to license fixed broadcast auxiliary service (“BAS”) operations on a secondary basis in
the post-auction TV bands.
24.
We adopt measures to facilitate wireless microphone use of available spectrum in the
reorganized UHF band. With regard to the 600 MHz Band guard bands, we will allow broadcasters and
cable programming networks to operate licensed wireless microphones in a portion of the duplex gap, and
permit users generally to operate wireless microphones in the guard bands on an unlicensed basis.42 We
will initiate a proceeding to adopt technical standards to govern these uses.43 With regard to the
remaining television spectrum, while there may no longer be two unused channels for wireless
microphones in markets where those channels are currently used for that purpose, as noted above we
intend to designate one unused channel in each area following the auction for use by wireless
microphones and TVWS devices. We also revise our rules for co-channel operations in the post-auction
television bands to expand the areas where wireless microphones may operate. We will continue to
permit wireless microphone users of unused television channels to register to obtain needed protection
from unlicensed TVWS devices on such channels through the TV bands database registration system,
which we plan to improve to make protection more timely and effective. In a companion item that we
adopt today, we extend to certain unlicensed wireless microphone users the rights of licensed wireless
microphone users. 44 We will also initiate a proceeding in the near future to find additional spectrum for
wireless microphone users in other spectrum bands in order to help address their long-term needs.
25.
Incentive Auction Process: Integration of the Reverse and Forward Auctions. The
reverse and forward auctions will be integrated in a series of stages. Each stage will consist of a reverse

39 See generally 47 C.F.R. Part 15; § III.C (Unlicensed Operations).
40 See III.C (Unlicensed Operations). For engineering reasons, there may be a few areas with no spectrum available
in the television bands for unlicensed devices and wireless microphones to share.
41 TVWS devices may continue to operate in portions of the UHF band that will be repurposed until a 600 MHz
Band licensee commences operations, and in portions designated for guard band use.
42 See § III.D.3 (Low Power Auxiliary Stations and Unlciensed Wireless Microphones). Wireless microphones may
operate throughout the 600 MHz Band during the Post-Auction Transition Period. See § V.D.4 (Transition
Procedures for Low Power Auxiliary Stations (LPAS) and Unlicensed Wireless Microphones).
43 See § III.C (Unlicensed Operations).
44 Revisions to Rules Authorizing the Operation of Low Power Auxiliary Stations in the 698-806 MHz Band, WT
Docket No. 08-166, WT Docket No. 08-167, ET Docket No. 10-24, Second Report and Order, __ FCC Rcd __
(2014) (adopted May 15, 2014) (Wireless Microphones Second Report and Order).
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auction and a forward auction bidding process, and additional stages will be run if necessary. Prior to the
first stage, the initial spectrum clearing target will be determined. Broadcasters will indicate through the
pre-auction application process their willingness to relinquish spectrum usage rights at the opening
prices. Based on broadcasters’ collective willingness, the initial spectrum clearing target will be set.
Then the reverse auction bidding process will be run to determine the total amount of incentive payments
to broadcasters required to clear that amount of spectrum. The forward auction bidding process will
follow the reverse auction bidding process. If the final stage rule is satisfied, the forward auction bidding
will continue until there is no excess demand, and then the incentive auction will close. If the final stage
rule is not satisfied, additional stages will be run, with progressively lower spectrum targets in the reverse
auction and less spectrum for licenses available in the forward auction, until the rule is satisfied.
26.
The final stage rule is a reserve price with two components, both of which must be
satisfied. The first component requires that the average price per MHz-pop45 for licenses in the forward
auction meets or exceeds a certain price per MHz-pop benchmark. Alternatively, if the spectrum clearing
target at a particular stage is greater than a spectrum clearing benchmark, then the first component will be
met if the total proceeds of the forward auction exceed the product of the same price benchmark, the
spectrum clearing benchmark, and the total number of pops for those licenses.46 This alternative
formulation will allow the auction to close if the incentive auction repurposes a relatively large amount of
spectrum for wireless uses, even if the price per-MHz-pop is less than the benchmark price. The price
and spectrum clearing benchmarks will be established by the Commission in the Procedures PN, after an
opportunity for additional comment. The second component of the final stage rule requires that the
proceeds of the forward auction be sufficient to meet mandatory expenses set forth in the Spectrum Act47
and any Public Safety Trust Fund amounts needed in connection with FirstNet. If the requirements of
both components of the reserve price are met, then the final stage rule is satisfied.48
27.
Reverse Auction Eligibility and Bid Options. Full power and Class A station licensees
will be eligible to participate in the reverse auction. They may bid to voluntarily relinquish the spectrum
usage rights associated with station facilities that are eligible for protection in the repacking process.
Licensees with pending enforcement matters whose bids may result in their holding no broadcast licenses
may participate under a streamlined escrow approach that is consistent with current practice in the sales
context. Bidders will have the three bid options specified by the Spectrum Act: (1) license
relinquishment; (2) reassignment from a UHF to a VHF channel; and (3) channel sharing. UHF-to-VHF
bidders may limit their bids to a high (channels 7 to 13) or low (channels 2 to 6) VHF channel. We will
favorably consider post-auction waiver requests involving winning UHF-to-VHF and high-VHF-to-low-
VHF bidders’ technical operations. Bidders will have the additional option to bid for reassignment from a
high VHF channel to a low VHF channel. Channel sharing bidders may propose licensed community
changes if they cannot satisfy signal coverage requirements from their new transmitter sites, provided that

45 The term “MHz-pop” is defined as the product derived from multiplying the number of megahertz associated with
a license by the population of the license’s service area.
46 The operation of the final stage rule, including the alternative formulation of the first component, is explained in
detail below in § IV.A (Overview and Integration of the Reverse and Forward Auctions). In the pre-auction process,
we will consider whether to apply the final stage rule solely to “major markets” and, if so, how to identify such
markets. This approach could significantly speed up the determination of whether the final stage rule is satisfied.
47 The Spectrum Act requires that the forward auction generate proceeds sufficient to pay winning bidders in the
reverse auction and cover relevant administrative costs of the auction and an estimate of relocation costs subject to
reimbursement. See Spectrum Act § 6403(c)(2).
48 We note that the first and second components are not cumulative: the auction need not raise sufficient proceeds to
satisfy the first plus the second.
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the new communities meet the same allotment priorities as the current ones and are located in the same
Designated Market Areas (“DMAs”).49
28.
Reverse Auction Pre-Auction Process. Potential bidders will have to submit certified
applications.50 Consistent with the Spectrum Act, we will protect the identity of licensees that apply to
participate in the reverse auction.51 Specifically, we will maintain the confidentiality of information
submitted by all licensees that apply to participate until the results of the reverse auction and the
repacking process are announced. We will maintain the confidentiality of information on non-winning
bids for an additional two years. Confidential information will include licensees’ names, channels, call
signs, facility identification numbers, network affiliations, and any other information necessary to protect
licensees’ identities.
29.
Between the short-form application filing deadline and the announcement of the results of
the reverse auction and the repacking process, all full power and Class A licensees will be prohibited from
communicating directly or indirectly any reverse or forward auction applicant’s bids or bidding strategies
to any other full power or Class A licensee or forward auction applicant.52 Recognizing that many
broadcasters are not familiar with auction processes, we intend to make education regarding the pre-
auction application process, including the scope of the prohibition of certain communications, an
important part of our broadcaster outreach efforts.
30.
Reverse Auction Bidding Process. We adopt a descending clock format for the reverse
auction. In each bidding round, stations will be offered prices for one or more bid options and will
indicate their choices at these prices. The prices offered to each station for options will be adjusted
downward as the rounds progress in a way that accounts for the availability of television channels in
different bands in the repacking process.53 “Intra-round bidding” will enable bidders to indicate price
levels (between the opening- and closing prices in a round) at which they would like to either choose
different bid options or drop out of the auction and remain in their home bands. A station will continue to
be offered prices for bid options until the station’s voluntary relinquishment of rights becomes needed to
meet the current spectrum clearing target. When all remaining active bidders are needed in this way, the
reverse auction for the stage will end. If the final stage rule is satisfied in that stage, then the active
bidders are winning bidders, and the price paid to each will be at least as high as the last price it agreed to
accept.
31.
Forward Auction Pre-Auction Process. At this time we adopt the same size-based
bidding credits for the forward auction as the Commission applied in auctioning 700 MHz Band
spectrum: 15 percent for small businesses (defined as entities with average annual gross revenues for the

49 The Commission’s television allotment priorities implement the policy goals of § 307(b) of the Communications
Act. 47 U.S.C. § 307(b). See § IV.B.1.b.iii (Bid Options/Channel Sharing Bid).
50 Potential channel sharers need not submit applications (only sharees), but must certify regarding their channel
sharing agreements. “Sharer” refers to a licensee that agrees to share its channel with another licensee, but does not
bid to relinquish spectrum usage rights to its channel in the reverse auction. “Sharee” refers to a licensee that bids to
relinquish spectrum usage rights to its channel in the auction to share a different channel with another licensee.
51 See Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(3) (“The Commission shall take all reasonable steps necessary to protect the
confidentiality of Commission-held data of a licensee participating in the reverse auction . . . , including withholding
the identity of such licensee until [the repacking process has] become effective . . . .”).
52 The prohibition will apply to all controlling interest holders in the licensee, and all directors and officers of the
licensee. The prohibition will not apply to communications between (a) licensees that share a common controlling
interest, director or officer (and between a licensee and a forward auction applicant that have similar overlapping
interests) and (b) parties to a channel sharing agreement that is disclosed on a reverse auction application. See §
IV.B.1.c (Confidentiality and Prohibition on Certain Communications).
53 The more potential for interference a station has, the more assigning it a channel is likely to limit the availability
of channels for other stations, increasing the likely value of its bid to voluntarily relinquish spectrum usage rights.
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preceding three years not exceeding $40 million) and 25 percent for very small businesses (defined as
entities with average annual gross revenues for the preceding three years not exceeding $15 million).54
Soon we will initiate a separate proceeding to review our Part 1 designated entity rules. As part of that
proceeding, we will consider whether any revisions made to the rules should apply to the incentive
auction. Forward auction applicants will be subject to our existing Part 1 competitive bidding rules, with
modifications we adopt today that, among other things, provide for the selection of generic licenses and
prohibit communications with full power and Class A licensees during the auction process.
32.
Forward Auction Bidding Process. We adopt an ascending clock auction format for the
forward auction. Bidders will be able to bid for generic licenses in one or more categories. Intra-round
bidding will be allowed. There will be a separate clock price for each category in each geographic area,
and bidders will indicate the number of licenses that they demand at the current prices. The prices
generally will rise from round to round, as long as the demand for licenses exceeds their availability.
Bidders still demanding licenses when the clock prices stop rising in every license category in every area
will become winners of those licenses, provided the final stage rule is satisfied. If the rule is not satisfied,
those bidders will have an opportunity to make additional bids in an extended bidding round. Once the
rule is satisfied, winners may indicate their preferences for frequency-specific licenses in an assignment
round or a series of separate bidding rounds. Final license prices will reflect the winning bid amounts
from the clock bidding rounds as well as any adjustments from the extended bidding and assignment
rounds.55
33.
Completion and Effective Dates/Processing of Bid Payments. Reverse and forward
auction “completion,” required for the repacking process to become effective,56 will occur when the
Commission publicly announces that the incentive auction has ended.57 The repacking process will be
“effective,” triggering Commission authority to borrow up to $1 billion from the U.S. Treasury to use
toward the payment of relocation costs, when the results of the reverse and forward auctions and the
repacking process are announced. We anticipate that the completion and effectiveness announcements
will occur simultaneously. As soon as the auction is complete and the repacking process effective, we
anticipate borrowing some or all of the available $1 billion from the Treasury for reimbursement of
relocation costs. We will share forward auction proceeds with licensees that relinquish rights in the
reverse auction as soon as practicable following the successful conclusion of the incentive auction.58
34.
Post-Auction Transition. A public notice will mark the effective date of channel
reassignments based on the repacking process and specify any specific channel assignments for television
stations that will continue to broadcast. Reassigned stations will have three months to file construction
permit applications for any minor changes to their facilities necessary to operate on their new channels.
Stations also may request alternate channels or expanded facilities on their new channels. Following the
three-month application filing deadline, stations will have up to 36 months to transition to their new
channels. Stations will be assigned deadlines within that period tailored to their individual circumstances.
Stations may request extensions of time to construct their new facilities, but no station will be allowed to
continue operating on a reassigned or reallocated channel more than 39 months after the repacking
process becomes effective. Licensees that successfully bid to turn in their licenses or to share a channel
will have three months from their receipt of auction proceeds to cease operations on their pre-auction

54 See § IV.C.1.b (Bidding Credits).
55 See § IV.C.2 (Forward Auction Bidding Process).
56 Spectrum Act § 6403(f)(2).
57 See § V.A (Auction Completion and Effective Date of the Repacking Process).
58 See § V.B (Processing of Bid Payments). We will distribute auction proceeds as they become available.
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channels. We also adopt transition requirements for LPTV and TV translator stations, BAS operations,
wireless microphones and related services.59
35.
Reimbursement of Relocation Costs. We adopt procedures to reimburse costs reasonably
incurred by television stations that are reassigned to new channels in the repacking process, as well as by
MVPDs to continue to carry such stations, from the $1.75 billion Reimbursement Fund established by
Congress for that purpose.60 Under these procedures, we intend to issue eligible stations and MVPDs an
initial allocation of funds, in designated individual accounts in the United States Treasury, to cover the
majority of their estimated costs. The funds will be available for draw down as expenses are incurred.
Additional funds will be allocated as necessary prior to the three-year statutory deadline for all
reimbursements. We delegate authority to the Media Bureau to establish a list of eligible expenses and
estimated costs, and to calculate the amount of the allocations to eligible entities.61 We adopt measures to
minimize administrative burdens and to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in the reimbursement process.
36.
Post-Auction Broadcast Regulatory Issues. We will grandfather existing broadcast
station combinations that otherwise would no longer comply with the media ownership rules as a result of
the reverse auction. We concur with commenters that we should conduct extensive outreach to
broadcasters, including minority- and female-owned broadcasters, to ensure that they are fully informed
about the incentive auction. The Commission already has made significant efforts to inform broadcasters
about the process, and we intend to continue and expand those efforts. To provide guidance to licensees
interested in channel sharing and to promote certainty regarding channel sharing relationships following
the incentive auction, we will require that channel sharing agreements include certain key provisions
regarding licensee rights and responsibilities.62
37.
600 MHz Band Technical and Service Rules. We adopt for new 600 MHz Band licensees
flexible use service rules under Part 27 of our rules, and technical rules similar to those governing the
adjacent 700 MHz Band in order to speed deployment while protecting incumbent 700 MHz Band
licensees from harmful interference. We will require mobile devices to be interoperable across the entire
600 MHz Band. We will require new 600 MHz Band licensees to build out to 40 percent of the
population in their service areas within six years and to 75 percent of the population by the end of their
initial license terms of 12 years.63 Subsequent license terms will be 10 years.

III.

THE REORGANIZED UHF BAND

38.
The current UHF band consists of 228 megahertz of spectrum divided into 38 six
megahertz channels that are primarily licensed to broadcast television service.64 In the Spectrum Act,
Congress authorized the Commission to reorganize the UHF band so that the television stations that will
remain on the air after the incentive auction occupy a smaller portion of the band, thereby freeing up a

59 See § V.D (Transition Procedures for Other Services and Unlicensed Operations).
60 See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(4)(A); § V.C.5 (Reimbursement of Relocation Costs).
61 In lieu of reimbursement, stations also may request service rule waivers to make flexible use of their spectrum in
order to provide non-broadcast services, as long as they continue to broadcast at least one TV program stream. See
Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(4)(B); see § V.C.5.e (Service Rule Waiver in Lieu of Reimbursement).
62 See § VI.A.2 (Channel Sharing Operating Rules). We also address in § VI.A.2 termination and assignment or
transfer of channel sharing licenses, sharing by stations operating on channels reserved for NCE operations, sharing
between full power and Class A stations, the carriage rights of sharing stations, and other issues related to channel
sharing relationships.
63 If a licensee fails to meet its interim build-out benchmark, its initial license term will be shortened to 10 years.
See § VI.B.2 (License Term, Performance Requirements, Renewal Criteria, and Permanent Discontinuance of
Operations).
64 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12362-66, paras. 12-22.
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portion of the band for new wireless uses.65 The amount of repurposed spectrum depends on the outcome
of the incentive auction. To carry out the auction, however, we must first establish a plan for licensing
the repurposed spectrum. We have tailored our 600 MHz Band Plan to the unique challenges of the
incentive auction and have made it flexible enough to work with a variety of different spectrum recovery
scenarios.
39.
In this Section, we begin by addressing in detail the 600 MHz Band Plan we adopt for
licensing new wireless services in the reorganized UHF band.66 We then address how we will reorganize
or “repack” the spectrum that will continue to be used for broadcast television service. We also address
the actions we are taking to make spectrum available for unlicensed devices in the reorganized UHF band.
We then address other services in the reorganized band, including the incumbent services on channel 37,
broadcast auxiliary service operations, and wireless microphones. Finally, we address the changes to the
Table of Allocations that are necessary to implement the UHF band reorganization.

A.

Band Plan for the New 600 MHz Band

1.

Background

40.
In the NPRM, the Commission recognized the unique challenges associated with creating
a band plan from repurposed spectrum. In particular, neither the amount of spectrum available for
assignment nor the specific frequencies available in each geographic area will be known in advance of the
incentive auction.67 Due to these challenges, the Commission did not propose a traditional band plan with
designated frequencies and locations. Rather, it proposed a flexible band plan in which the uplink band
would begin at channel 51 (698 MHz) and expand downward based on the amount of spectrum available
to carry out the forward auction, and the downlink band would begin at channel 36 (608 MHz) and
likewise expand downward (“Down from 51 and 36”).68 The Commission also sought comment on a
number of alternative band plans, including the “Down from 51,” “In from 51 and 21,” and “Down from
51 TDD” band plans, that might address the challenges associated with creating a band plan, and invited
commenters to propose their own plans.69 The Commission proposed to incorporate a number of features
into whichever band plan it adopted, such as licensing in five megahertz “building blocks” and offering
licenses that accommodate both uplink and downlink operations.70 The Commission also sought
comment on the location of the specific band(s) under any of the plans proposed.71
41.
The Commission identified five key policy goals that would guide the choice of a
wireless band plan: utility, certainty, interchangeability, quantity and interoperability.72 It proposed to
achieve these goals by making spectrum blocks as technically and functionally interchangeable as

65 See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(1) (requiring the FCC, in order to “mak[e] available spectrum to carry out the
forward auction,” to “evaluate the broadcast television spectrum,” and authorizing it, “subject to international
coordination . . . ,” to “make such reassignments of television channels as the Commission considers appropriate”
and “reallocate such portions of such spectrum as the Commission determines are available”).
66 The technical and service rules for the 600 MHz Band are addressed below in § VI.B.
67 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12401, para. 123.
68 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12402, para. 126. The uplink band is a set of frequencies used for communication from a
user device to the network. The downlink band is a set of frequencies used for communication from the network to
a user device. Collectively, these are referred to as the “pass bands.”
69 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12420-23, paras. 177-84; see also Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Seeks to
Supplement the Record on the 600 MHz Band Plan
, GN Docket No. 12-268, Public Notice, 28 FCC Rcd 7414,
7418-19 (2013) (Band Plan PN).
70 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12403-4, 12405, paras. 128, 131.
71 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12406, para. 135.
72 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12401-02, para. 125.
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possible without limiting the Commission to offering the same amount of spectrum nationwide.73 It
proposed to retain the flexibility to accommodate “market variation,” i.e., offering different amounts of
spectrum in different geographic areas, to avoid the “least common denominator problem”: limiting the
amount of wireless spectrum available in most markets to the quantity that is available in constrained
markets.74
42.
The comments filed in response to the NPRM reflect strong support for a number of band
plan features proposed in the NPRM. These include licensing in five megahertz building blocks;75
offering paired blocks wherever possible;76 auctioning “generic” rather than specific frequency blocks;77
establishing guard bands that are technically reasonable to prevent harmful interference;78 and offering
blocks designated specifically for uplink and for downlink operations.79 As explained further below, the
600 MHz Band Plan that we adopt in this Order incorporates all of these features. The comments reflect a
lack of consensus on other band plan features, however, including on how and where to configure the
uplink and downlink blocks, based on a number of technical concerns. These technical concerns include
placing television stations between the 600 MHz uplink and downlink bands and the potential for
intermodulation interference, the pass band80 size that mobile device filters can support, mobile antenna
bandwidth, and the potential for both harmonic interference and co-channel interference.81

73 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12401-02, paras. 123-26; see also NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12406, para. 136.
74 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12406, para. 136.
75 See, e.g., CEA Comments at 18 (“[C]arriers have chosen to deploy networks using spectrum blocks that are
multiples of 5 MHz in size even when their licenses encompass larger amounts of spectrum, because current
standards contemplate the use of blocks that are a multiple of 5 MHz in size.”); MetroPCS Comments at 19
(“MetroPCS strongly supports the use of ‘building block’ sized spectrum blocks . . . .”).
76 See, e.g., CCA Band Plan PN Comments at 15 (“[T]he Commission should seek to maximize the amount of
paired spectrum.”); US Cellular Band Plan PN Reply at 15 (“[T]he Commission must strive to formulate a 600 MHz
band plan that best maximizes the number of paired spectrum blocks made available in the forward auction.”).
77 See, e.g., Ericsson Reply at 4 (the FCC should adopt fungible spectrum “building blocks” to ensure that specific
bands are not more desirable than others); Mobile Future Reply at 5 (“[T]he Commission should auction ‘generic’ 5
MHz spectrum blocks . . . .”). In referring to “generic licenses” or “generic blocks” we are not referring to the actual
licenses that will be assigned to winning bidders, but to standardized blocks of spectrum which will be used to
represent quantities of licenses for a time during the bidding process. We emphasize that licensees will ultimately
be assigned a license with a specific frequency assignment. See § IV.C.2.b (Bid Assignment Procedures:
Determining Winning Bidders and Assigning Frequency-Specific Licenses).
78 See, e.g., Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 20 (“[I]t is necessary as a legal and practical matter that the Commission
provide sufficient guard bands to ensure that licensed operations adjacent to those guard bands are not
disadvantaged compared to licensed operations further away.”); Comcast Comments at 21 (“[T]he Commission
must adopt robust guard bands that ensure continued protection for licensees (both broadcast and wireless
broadband) in the adjacent bands.”).
79 The vast majority of commenters support band plan proposals, such as the Down from 51 band plan, that use FDD
technologies and designate specific spectrum bands for uplink and downlink operations. See, e.g., AT&T Reply at
15-20; Ericsson Reply at 16; Motorola Band Plan PN Comments at 4; T-Mobile Reply at 37.
80 As described above, the pass band comprises the uplink band and the downlink band.
81 See Federal Communications Commission Provides Additional Details about Workshop to Discuss the 600 MHz
Band Plan
, GN Docket No 12-268, Public Notice, 28 FCC Rcd 5269 (2013). For a more comprehensive discussion
of the technical issues raised in the record with respect to the band plan, see § VI.B.1 (Technical Rules) and the
Technical Appendix.
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43.
On May 3, 2013, the FCC hosted a public workshop regarding these technical issues and
the trade-offs associated with the various proposed band plans.82 Many stakeholders expressed their
support for a “Down from 51” band plan in which the uplink band would begin at channel 51 (698 MHz),
followed by a duplex gap, and then the downlink band, but continued to express significant disagreement
regarding critical features of such a band plan.83 The Down from 51 proposals advocated by various
commenters and workshop participants also raised questions about how to best accommodate market
variation.84 To address such questions, the Wireless Bureau issued a Public Notice seeking to supplement
the record on how certain Down from 51 band plan variations can best accommodate market variation.85
Commenters responding to this Public Notice remain divided on how best to accommodate market
variation.86 Although they continue to agree generally on a “Down from 51” band plan, they express a
wide range of views87 on critical features of the band plan, such as whether to place television stations
between the downlink and the uplink pass bands to accommodate market variation,88 the size of the pass
bands,89 and how much paired spectrum to offer.90

82 At the workshop, a panel of FCC experts led a day-long roundtable discussion with stakeholders on how best to
achieve the Commission’s five policy goals in crafting a 600 MHz Band Plan. Interested parties discussed how best
to address the technical challenges associated with creating a band plan, and compared various band plans. A
transcript of the 600 MHz Band Plan Workshop is available at
http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7022421551 (600 MHz Band Plan Workshop Transcript). In addition, a
video of the workshop is available at: www.fcc.gov/events/learn-workshop-600-mhz-band-plan.
83 Such features included the size of the pass band, the utility of supplemental downlink spectrum, and the feasibility
of placing TV in the duplex gap. See generally 600 MHz Band Plan Workshop Transcript.
84 Band Plan PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 7415.
85 Band Plan PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 7416-17.
86 Compare NAB Band Plan PN Comments at 2 (“. . . NAB favors the ‘Down from 51 Reversed’ proposal, which
does not exacerbate the inherent challenges that accompany variability to the same degree as the alternate
proposals.”) with US Cellular Band Plan PN Reply at 3 (“Although some commenters have expressed interference
concerns related to broadcasters operating within the uplink pass band in spectrum-constrained markets, the record
reveals a general consensus that this interference potential could be successfully mitigated through technical and
band plan solutions.”) with Harris Broadcast Band Plan PN Reply at 5 (the Commission should “establish a uniform
national band plan . . . [which is the] simplest way to avoid co-channel interference”) with C Spire Band Plan PN
Reply at 8 (“A TDD band plan provides the necessary flexibility the Commission will require and is the primary
reason TDD, and not an FDD-based plan, should be used.”).
87 Parties have submitted no less than ten different “Down from 51” band plans into the record, which contain
fundamental differences regarding the design of the 600 MHz Band Plan. See Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 12-18;
AT&T Comments at 31-38; Ericsson Reply at 16-22; Intel Reply at 4-6; NCTA Reply, Att. at 25-30; Qualcomm
Comments at 4-20; RIM Band Plan PN Comments at 11-14; Sprint Comments at 21-26; T-Mobile Comments at 10-
13; Verizon Comments at 7-14. In addition, a number of commenters express support for a Down from 51 band
plan, but propose significant modifications to the Down from 51 proposal in the NPRM. See, e.g., Letter from Matt
Larsen, FCC Committee Chair for WISPA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268, Att. at 2
(filed Jul. 11, 2013) (seeking 36 megahertz of contiguous white space spectrum).
88 Compare T-Mobile Band Plan PN Comments at 3 (“[T]he technical concerns associated with accommodating
broadcast operations . . . [between the downlink pass band and the uplink pass band] are, in our view, entirely
manageable.”) with CEA Band Plan PN Comments at 6-7 (“[A]llowing TV broadcast operations within the duplex
gap will result in intermodulation products that will cause harmful interference to both broadcast and mobile
wireless operations.”).
89 Compare Samsung Band Plan PN Reply at 3 (“If the pass band is larger than 25 MHz in the 600 MHz band,
multiple duplexers may be needed. However, multiple duplexers will result in additional 1.2-1.7 dB implementation
loss due to the switch between each duplexer.”) with T-Mobile Reply at 18 (“[C]arriers can use the same antenna
that supports a 25x25 MHz configuration to support a 35x35 MHz configuration with little or no performance
degradation and few if any additional costs.”).
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2.

Discussion

44.
We conclude that the 600 MHz Band Plan we adopt best supports our central goal of
allowing market forces to determine the highest and best use of spectrum, as well as our other policy
goals for the incentive auction, including the Commission’s five key policy goals for selecting a band
plan.91 The Band Plan enhances the economic value and utility of the repurposed spectrum by enabling
two-way (paired) transmissions throughout this well-propagating “coverage band.”92 This approach also
simplifies auction design by offering only a single configuration—paired blocks—which allows for
maximum interchangeability of blocks, and enables limited market variation, thus avoiding a “least
common denominator” problem.93 It also provides certainty about the operating environment for forward
auction bidders by establishing guard bands between television and wireless services in order to create
spectrum blocks that are reasonably designed to protect against harmful interference. Further, the 600
MHz Band Plan promotes competition. By offering only paired blocks in a single band, and by licensing
on a Partial Economic Area (“PEA”) basis, the 600 MHz Band Plan will promote participation by both
larger and smaller wireless providers, including rural providers, and encourage new entrants. Finally, the
600 MHz Band Plan, composed of a single, paired band, promotes interoperability and international
harmonization.
45.
The 600 MHz Band Plan we adopt consists of paired uplink and downlink bands offered
in 5+5 megahertz blocks. The uplink band will begin at channel 51 (698 MHz), followed by a duplex
gap, and then the downlink band. We will license the 600 MHz Band on a geographic area license basis,
using PEAs. Further, we will accommodate market variation: specifically, we will use the 600 MHz
Band Plan in all areas where sufficient spectrum is available; and in constrained markets where less
spectrum is available, we may offer fewer blocks, or impaired blocks,94 than what we offer generally in
the 600 MHz Band Plan.95 Finally, we establish technically reasonable guard bands to prevent harmful
interference and to ensure that the spectrum blocks are as interchangeable as possible.96
(Continued from previous page)
90 If we can repurpose 120 megahertz of spectrum, Ericsson proposes pairing 90 megahertz of spectrum while
Verizon advocates for only 70 megahertz of paired spectrum. Compare Ericsson Reply at 18-21 with Verizon
Comments at 7-11.
91 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12401-02, para. 125.
92 Many commenters mention that the superior propagation characteristics of the 600 MHz Band make it an ideal
“coverage band,” i.e., a band in which a wireless provider can use fewer base stations to cover its service area. See,
e.g.
, RIM Comments at 8; CCA Comments at 7. In contrast, higher band frequencies have relatively poor
propagation, making them less suitable for providing coverage but offer advantages to carriers seeking to expand
capacity because many radio components, such as filters and antenna, can support larger absolute bandwidths at
higher frequencies. See, e.g., Letter from Tamara Preiss, Verizon, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN
Docket No. 12-268 at 2 (filed Jul. 17, 2013)(discussing propagation characteristics of higher frequency bands).
93 See § III.A.2.d (Market Variation).
94 Impaired blocks are blocks in which, due to remaining broadcast TV stations that may need to be protected
against harmful interference in parts of the licensee’s service area, the licensees may not be able to use the entire
license area. See § III.A.2.d (Market Variation).
95 As discussed below, we intend to determine the threshold at which a “near nationwide amount” is sufficient to
trigger a specific band plan scenario in the pre-auction process that follows this Order. In that pre-auction process,
we will determine not only the threshold but how to measure the “near nationwide amount,” e.g., by percentage of
total population or geographic markets. See § III.A.2.d (Market Variation).
96 As discussed in § IV.C.2.b (Forward Auction – Bid Assignment Procedures: Determining Winning Bidders and
Assigning Frequency-Specific Licenses), although we plan to conduct bidding for generic blocks in the forward
auction, we will assign specific frequencies in the assignment round. Further, we may offer different categories of
paired licenses to reflect any license impairments.
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46.
Because we will not know the exact number of blocks licensed or their frequencies until
the incentive auction concludes, the 600 MHz Band Plan we adopt today represents a framework for how
to license the repurposed spectrum. The Technical Appendix sets forth each of the specific 600 MHz
Band Plan scenarios based on the number of television channels cleared;97 ultimately, the repurposed
spectrum will be licensed according to one of these scenarios. We do not create a scenario for fewer than
two sets of paired blocks or more than 12 sets of paired blocks. With respect to the former, the costs
outweigh the benefits of offering only one set of paired blocks, given that we would need to clear five
television channels in this scenario. We also decline to create scenarios for more than 12 sets of paired
blocks, i.e., using more than a 144 megahertz clearing target.98
47.
Further, we emphasize that we may not offer each scenario listed in the Technical
Appendix in the forward auction, depending on the spectrum clearing targets we employ as part of the
incentive auction.99 We plan to address in further detail the scenarios associated with specific clearing
targets (i.e., number of spectrum blocks offered at each stage) and how we will determine which specific
scenarios to offer in the forward auction in the Comment PN and Procedures PN.100 We show below two
examples of the 600 MHz Band Plan scenarios set forth in the Technical Appendix.101

Figure 1. 84 megahertz scenario

Figure 2. 126 megahertz scenario

48.
In the first example, 84 megahertz of television spectrum is repurposed. A total of seven
5+5 megahertz paired blocks are licensed for new, flexible use. An 11 megahertz guard band or “duplex
gap” protects against harmful interference between 600 MHz uplink and downlink services, and a three
megahertz guard band protects against harmful interference between 600 MHz downlink services and
channel 37. Channel 37 itself, along with the three megahertz guard band, serves as a guard band
between 600 MHz downlink services and television services, which occupy the UHF spectrum down
from channel 36 down. In the second example, 126 megahertz of television spectrum is repurposed. Ten
5+5 megahertz paired blocks are licensed for new, flexible use. The duplex gap is 11 megahertz, there
are three megahertz guard bands on either side of channel 37, and a nine megahertz guard band between
600 MHz downlink services and television services, which occupy the UHF spectrum from channel 29
down.
a.

All-Paired, Down From 51 Band Plan

49.
Background. In the NPRM, the Commission proposed to establish specific uplink and
downlink bands that would generally be paired102 to reduce potential interference with adjacent operations
and to minimize interference between wireless operations.103 The Commission sought comment on band

97 See Technical Appendix § III (Band Plan).
98 In fact, commenters generally focus on band plans of 120 megahertz or less. See, e.g., Ericsson Reply at 18-21.
99 See § IV.A (Overview and Integration of the Reverse and Forward Auctions).
100 See § I (Introduction).
101 See Technical Appendix §§ III.B.6 (Seven Sets of Paired Blocks (84 megahertz repurposed)), III.b.9 (Ten Sets of
Paired Blocks (126 megahertz repurposed)).
102 The Commission contemplated using downlink only blocks to accommodate market variation in its original band
plan proposal. See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12407-09, paras. 138-143.
103 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12406, para. 135.
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plans that fall into two categories: (1) “split” band plans, in which the uplink and downlink bands are
separated by other services in addition to the duplex gap;104 and (2) a contiguous “Down from 51” band
plan, in which contiguous spectrum would be repurposed starting at channel 51 and expanding
downward.105 It also invited commenters to propose their own band plans.106
50.
In the Band Plan PN, the Wireless Bureau sought additional feedback on the band plans,
and in particular, how to implement certain variations of the Down from 51 band plan in order to
accommodate market variation in constrained markets.107 Under the “Down from 51 Reversed” band
plan, the downlink band would begin after a guard band at channel 51 (698 MHz), followed by a duplex
gap, and then the uplink band.108 Under the “Down from 51 with TV in the Duplex Gap” variation, the
uplink band would start at channel 51, followed by a duplex gap, and then the downlink band. Some
television stations would be placed adjacent to the uplink band (and the duplex gap) in geographic areas
where less spectrum is available (i.e., in constrained markets).109 The Commission also sought further
comment on whether it should permit Time Division Duplex (“TDD”) operations in the repurposed
spectrum.110
51.
Discussion. We adopt the 600 MHz Band Plan with paired uplink and downlink bands,
which will enhance the value of the 600 MHz Band, consistent with our central goal for the incentive
auction. Commenters overwhelmingly support this approach.111 The few commenters who oppose using
paired spectrum blocks support adopting a TDD-only band plan, which does not require separate uplink
and downlink spectrum bands.112 We are unpersuaded that the benefits these commenters assert for
allowing TDD technology in the 600 MHz Band—broad global adoption,113 improved spectrum

104 The split band plans include the “Down from 51 and 36” and “In from 51 and 21” band plans. NPRM, 27 FCC
Rcd at 12402, 12422-23, paras. 126, 181. Under these “split” band plans, the uplink and downlink bands would not
be adjacent to one another (separated by a duplex gap) unless we could repurpose at least 168 megahertz of
spectrum.
105 Under the “Down from 51” band plan, the uplink band would begin at channel 51, followed by a duplex gap, and
then the downlink band. NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12421, para. 178. Depending on the quantity of repurposed
spectrum, the downlink band could be situated on both sides of channel 37. The TDD variation of the Down from
51 band plan requires no duplex gap. See Band Plan PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 7418-19.
106 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12420, para. 177. In response, numerous commenters submitted their own band plan
proposals, many of which are variations on these general frameworks. See, e.g., Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 12-18;
AT&T Comments at 31-40; Ericsson Reply at 16-29; Intel Reply at 4-6; NCTA Reply, Att. at 25-30; Qualcomm
Comments at 4-20; RIM Band Plan PN Comments at 11-14; Sprint Comments at 21-26; T-Mobile Comments at 10-
13; Verizon Comments at 7-14.
107 Band Plan PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 7415-16.
108 Id. at 7416.
109 Id. at 7418. This variation differs from some commenter-proposed “Down from 51” band plans, which
accommodate constrained markets by limiting the location of full power TV stations in channels 38-51. See, e.g.,
Qualcomm Comments at 18 n.28 (recommends that only LPTV stations operate in the duplex gap).
110 Band Plan PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 7418-19; see also NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12423, paras. 183-84.
111 See, e.g., AT&T Comments at 18-19, Exh. A at 26; CCA Comments at 13; CEA Comments at 20; C Spire
Comments at 6-7; Ericsson Reply at 17; Google/Microsoft Comments 32-34; Leap Comments at 5-6; MetroPCS
Comments at 21; Mobile Future Reply at 5; Motorola Comments at 10; RIM Comments at 8; US Cellular Reply at
17-19; Verizon Comments at 6.
112 See Sprint Comments at 22; C Spire Band Plan PN Comments at 3-8.
113 Sprint Comments at 18. Sprint asserts that “significantly more bidirectional traffic is transmitted worldwide via
TDD than via paired spectrum allocations.” But see AT&T Band Plan PN Comments at 10 (stating that there is a
“paucity of current TDD operations in the United States”).
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efficiency,114 and more dynamic use of communications channels115—are sufficiently advantageous to
adopt an unpaired, TDD framework for the 600 MHz Band. For example, although TDD operations do
not require a duplex gap, TDD operations use five to 10 percent of their spectrum capacity as overhead
for time domain duplex guard time intervals,116 and therefore, are not necessarily more efficient than FDD
operations.117 Further, T-Mobile states that TDD has link budget constraints,118 resulting in less uplink
coverage at the cell edge than an FDD system.119 Based on our examination of the record, FDD is better
suited for the 600 MHz Band at the present time in light of current technology, the Band’s propagation
characteristics, and potential interference issues present in the Band. Therefore, we decline to adopt a
TDD-based band plan.
52.
We also decline to allow a mix of TDD and FDD use in the 600 MHz Band, because, as
several commenters indicate, allowing both FDD and TDD operations in the 600 MHz Band would
require additional guard bands and increase the potential for harmful interference both within and outside
the Band.120 We emphasize that our determination regarding the suitability of an unpaired, TDD
framework is limited to the decision before us. Different characteristics of other bands, or advances in
technology, may make an unpaired, TDD-compatible framework appropriate in other circumstances.
53.
Although most commenters support our decision to offer paired spectrum blocks,121 the
record diverges on how to offer spectrum blocks if we can repurpose more than 84 megahertz, i.e., how to
offer 600 MHz licenses below channel 37. Some commenters suggest that it would be beneficial to offer
downlink-only blocks122 because of the asymmetrical nature of broadband traffic patterns.123 Other

114 C Spire Band Plan PN Comments at 7.
115 Clearwire Comments at 6-8.
116 RIM Band Plan PN Comments at 9-10 (“In a typical TDD system, transmit and receive intervals must be isolated
by an amount of time equivalent to the transit time of radio signals for the largest cell size used by the system. This
is the functional equivalent of the duplex gap in the FDD frequency space and represents a similarly unusable
portion of the spectrum resource.”).
117 Further, although the duplex gap will not be used for licensed services under the 600 MHz Band Plan that we
adopt, unlicensed operations will be permitted in the duplex gap so the spectrum will not lie fallow. See § III.C.2.b
(Guard Bands). In addition, although TDD allows for tailored use of the communications channel, coordination and
synchronization is required (unlike for FDD, which has dedicated uplink and downlink channels), which could delay
deployment of service in the 600 MHz Band. T-Mobile Reply at 38.
118 Letter from Trey Hanbury, Counsel for T-Mobile, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-
268, at 1 (filed Sept. 23, 2013) (T-Mobile Sept. 23, 2013 Ex Parte Letter).
119 T-Mobile Sept. 23, 2013 Ex Parte Letter, Att. at 4. T-Mobile argues that TDD is better suited for a band used
primarily for capacity rather than the 600 MHz Band, which may be valued for coverage due to its propagation
characteristics. See also id. at 2 (Explaining that the “greatest benefit of 600 MHz is its coverage characteristics”
while TD-LTE is a better option in “capacity limited environments”).
120 See, e.g., AT&T Comments at 19; Ericsson Reply at 16; Motorola Band Plan PN Comments at 4; T-Mobile
Reply at 37. Indeed, even those commenters supporting TDD would prefer an all-paired FDD approach over a
mixed FDD/TDD approach, given these complexities. See Letter from Richard B. Engelman. Director – Spectrum
Resources, Government Affairs for Sprint, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 3-4
(filed Jan. 7, 2014) (Sprint Jan. 7, 2014 Ex Parte Letter).
121 See, e.g., AT&T Comments at 18-19, Exh. A at 26; CCA Comments at 13; CEA Comments at 20; C Spire
Comments at 6-7; Ericsson Reply at 17; Google/Microsoft Comments at 32-34; Leap Comments at 5-6; MetroPCS
Comments at 21; Mobile Future Reply at 5; Motorola Comments at 10; RIM Comments at 8; US Cellular Reply at
17-19; Verizon Comments at 6.
122 Downlink-only blocks consist of unpaired spectrum blocks in which a licensee can operate using that spectrum
only pursuant to the technical requirements specified for downlink operations. Commenters in the record refer to
these “downlink-only” blocks as “supplemental downlink.” In the NPRM, the Commission proposed to offer
(continued….)
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commenters note that offering downlink-only blocks creates an easy way to accommodate market
variation by varying the amount of downlink offered in a given market.124 Although we recognize that
broadband traffic patterns are currently asymmetrical and offering downlink-only blocks is one way to
accommodate market variation,125 we agree with other commenters that the benefits of offering paired
spectrum blocks are greater than the benefits of offering downlink-only blocks in the 600 MHz Band.126
Further, although some argue that offering downlink-only blocks would mitigate antenna performance
issues by creating two separate bands, such an approach would reduce the overall spectrum utility as a
result of the necessary frequency separation.127
54.
In order to repurpose this spectrum, we must enhance the spectrum’s value to potential
bidders, as well as serve the public interest, and we find that offering paired blocks rather than downlink-
only blocks best achieves these goals. To effectively use 600 MHz downlink-only blocks, a provider
must not only have available uplink spectrum to pair it with, but that spectrum ideally should be below 1
GHz in order to take advantage of the superior propagation characteristics of the 600 MHz Band that
allow for increased coverage.128 At the same time, some commenters state that aggregating 600 MHz
spectrum with another band below 1 GHz presents technical challenges; consequently, in practice,
wireless providers may choose to aggregate 600 MHz downlink-only blocks with a high spectrum band,
thus negating some of the coverage benefits of the 600 MHz Band that would be realized from using
paired 600 MHz blocks.129 Further, we agree with commenters that argue that paired blocks are more
valuable than downlink-only blocks to new entrants.130 Recent auctions also suggest that paired spectrum
is more valuable to bidders than unpaired blocks.131
(Continued from previous page)
unpaired downlink spectrum that could serve as supplemental downlink expansion for FDD operations. NPRM, 27
FCC Rcd at 12405, para. 133.
123 See, e.g., Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 25-27; CEA Comments at 20; Qualcomm Band Plan PN Comments at 9-
11.
124 Samsung Band Plan PN Reply at 3. See also AT&T Comments at 49-51; Qualcomm Comments at 16-18; T-
Mobile Comments at 12. In addition, AT&T argues that by keeping uplink spectrum closer to the 700 MHz Band
and using the lower portion of the 600 MHz Band for supplemental downlink reduces many interference risks.
AT&T Reply at 15-16.
125 As described in the Market Variation Section, we will determine precisely how we will accommodate market
variation in a subsequent item after an additional opportunity for public input. See § III.A.2.d (Market Variation).
Depending on how we choose to repack remaining television stations in the 600 MHz Band, we may offer impaired
600 MHz licenses that limit a licensee’s use of either the uplink or downlink block, or both, in a specific license.
126 See, e.g., CCA Band Plan PN Comments at 15; CEA Comments at 20.
127 See Technical Appendix § II.B (Mobile Antenna Considerations).
128 See, e.g., DISH Band Plan PN Reply at 3 (“Designating a portion of the 600 MHz band exclusively as SDL is an
inefficient use of the spectrum given that it needs to be paired with other low-band uplink spectrum in order to fully
utilize the 600 MHz spectrum’s superior propagation characteristics.”); see also T-Mobile Band Plan PN Reply at
10 (noting the “favorable propagation characteristics at 600 MHz . . . allow base stations to be separated farther
apart”); Sprint Jan. 7, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at 1-2 (“Similarly, Sprint has opposed band plans that would result in
large amounts of supplemental downlink (SDL), as that outcome would likely depress spectrum values and thus
prospective auction revenue, while unduly advantaging carriers that have spectrally-proximate low-band spectrum to
pair with it.”). Many commenters mention that the superior propagation characteristics of the 600 MHz Band make
it an ideal coverage band. See, e.g., CCA Comments at 7.
129 600 MHz Band Plan Workshop Transcript at 226-30.
130 See, e.g., T-Mobile Reply at 5; US Cellular Band Plan PN Reply at 13-15.
131 See Auction of 700 MHz Band Licenses Closes; Winning Bidders Announced for Auction 73, Public Notice, 23
FCC Rcd 4572 (2008) (where paired, 700 MHz Lower A Block licenses garnered more than three times the revenue
of unpaired, 700 MHz Lower E Block licenses). Results from recent international auctions also support this view.
(continued….)
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55.
We also agree with commenters that assert that offering downlink-only blocks in the 600
MHz auction may undermine competition. Because providers must pair downlink-only blocks with
existing spectrum holdings, new entrants would not be able to use downlink-only blocks, thus limiting
their utility.132 In contrast, offering paired spectrum blocks will benefit all potential 600 MHz Band
licensees. We also agree with commenters that assert that paired blocks will facilitate the deployment of
networks by smaller carriers and new entrants by allowing them to obtain much-needed low frequency,
paired spectrum.133
56.
Further, offering downlink-only blocks would further complicate the auction design
without a commensurate benefit. As explained above, downlink-only blocks are less valuable than paired
blocks to bidders, and offering both paired and unpaired blocks would introduce additional differences
among licenses in the forward auction and increase the amount of time the auction takes to close. As
discussed in the NPRM, the Commission expressed the desire to offer generic blocks in order to reduce
the time and, therefore, the cost, of bidder participation.134
57.
Finally, our all-paired band plan generally has nationally consistent blocks and guard
bands,135 which will promote interoperability.136 In contrast, offering downlink-only blocks could
exacerbate interoperability concerns by separating the 600 MHz Band into two bands. If we license both
unpaired and paired blocks, we would expect that the industry standards body would create separate
bands for the paired blocks and unpaired blocks, as it has done previously.137 If the 600 MHz Band were
split into two separate bands, then some devices could support part, but not all, of the Band. Further, US
Cellular raises concerns over the potential for wireless carriers using downlink-only blocks to configure
their networks so as to create barriers to roaming.138 Limiting the auction to paired blocks will help to
(Continued from previous page)
See also Industry Canada: 700 MHz Spectrum Auction-Process and Results (available at
http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=816869) (last visited Apr. 10, 2014); Ofcom (UK) 4G Auction Results
(available at http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/4g-auction/) (last visited Apr. 10, 2014).
132 US Cellular Band Plan PN Reply at 13-15; Clearwire Band Plan PN Comments at 5-6.
133 As MetroPCS explains: “[a]s a new entrant, having both uplink and downlink spectrum is an obvious necessity,
and auctioning spectrum in unpaired blocks risks discouraging new entrants from bidding in the auction, lest they
become stranded with a lone block of uplink or downlink spectrum.” MetroPCS Comments at 21. See also C Spire
Comments at 6-7; T-Mobile Reply at 5.
134 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12378, para. 61.
135 As discussed further in the § III.A.2.d (Market Variation), we will determine precisely how to offer licenses in
constrained markets in the pre-auction process that follows the Order.
136 In addition, uniform nationwide guard bands that are generally consistent across markets will allow for the most
robust deployment of unlicensed networks and products. See, e.g., CCIA Comments at 7 (“the U.S. economy needs
the substantial, uniform, and nationwide allocation of spectrum for unlicensed use”); Google/Microsoft Comments
at 31 (“the NPRM wisely proposes to design the 600 MHz band plan to make a substantial amount of spectrum
available for unlicensed uses, including a significant portion that would be available on a uniform nationwide
basis.”); WISPA Comments at 29 (“With a nationwide footprint [for unlicensed use], there will be even greater
incentive for entrepreneurs and companies to create new products, services and applications that will fuel innovation
and competition and benefit the economy, objectives that are consistent with the public interest.”).
137 3GPP has adopted standards for paired and unpaired blocks but has not combined the two. See 3GPP TS 36.101
V12.3.0 (3GPP RF UE Standard) at 23 (Table 5.5-1), available at
http://www.3gpp.org/ftp/Specs/archive/36_series/36.101/36101-c30.zip (last visited Apr. 23, 2014).
138 Letter from Leighton T. Brown, Counsel for US Cellular, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No.
12-268 at 2 (filed Jan. 6, 2014).
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ameliorate these concerns. It will also promote international harmonization, and in particular, should help
to address cross-border issues with Canada and Mexico.139
58.
“Down from 51” Approach. We conclude that the “Down from 51” approach we adopt,
with contiguous uplink and downlink bands starting at channel 51, will provide greater technical certainty
because of its technical advantages over other options and, therefore, will enhance the value of the 600
MHz Band for bidders and serve the public interest. In particular, a contiguous band plan will reduce the
antenna bandwidth140 for 600 MHz devices, which in turn will reduce the cost and complexity of such
devices.141 As a result, we decline to adopt any of the band plans in which the uplink and downlink bands
are “split” because the antenna bandwidth would be much greater.142
59.
Further, by placing the 600 MHz uplink band next to the 700 MHz uplink band and
adopting generally consistent technical rules for the 600 MHz and 700 MHz Bands, we improve spectrum
efficiency.143 This continuity should also speed deployment of the 600 MHz Band and make it easier to
develop devices for it.144 Further, placing the uplink pass band at the upper end of the 600 MHz Band
limits the potential effects of both harmonic interference and intermodulation interference.145 Starting the
600 MHz uplink band at channel 51 also clears television operations out of channel 51, which should help
spur deployment of the 700 MHz lower A Block.146 This approach will provide greater certainty to
WMTS operators regarding their operating environment as well,147 and will likely result in greater
spectrum efficiency than placing uplink operations adjacent to channel 37.148 This approach also

139 See § III.B.4 (International Coordination).
140 The antenna bandwidth is the frequency separation between the highest and lowest frequencies over which the
antenna meets a given performance threshold.
141 As discussed in the Technical Appendix § II.B (Mobile Antenna Considerations), reducing the antenna
bandwidth will reduce the cost and complexity of developing 600 MHz Band devices. If we repurpose a large
amount of spectrum, however, the mobile antenna design issues will not prevent wireless providers from utilizing all
of the repurposed spectrum.
142 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12422, para. 181.
143 As described in § III.A.2.e (Guard Bands), no guard band is required between the 600 MHz uplink band and the
700 MHz uplink band, thus improving spectrum efficiency. Commenters generally oppose the Down from 51
Reversed plan because it requires an extra guard band between the 600 and 700 MHz Bands. See, e.g., CEA Band
Plan PN
Comments at 4; Mobile Future Band Plan PN Comments at 3-4.
144 See, e.g., Qualcomm Band Plan PN Comments at 2 (“the straight DF51 band plan can be successfully and most
readily integrated into existing smartphone and tablet form factors”).
145 Commenters argue that keeping the uplink farther up in the 600 MHz Band and will limit the possibility of
harmonics interference. See, e.g., AT&T Band Plan PN Comments at 7; Qualcomm Band Plan PN Comments at 4-
7. See Technical Appendix § II.D (Harmonic Interference).
146 Some Lower 700 MHz A Block licensees are unable to fully deploy wireless networks throughout their service
area because they must protect incumbent television broadcast operations on channel 51. See Promoting
Interoperability in the 700 MHz Commercial Spectrum
, WT Docket 12-69, Report and Order and Order of Proposed
Modification, 28 FCC Rcd 15122, 15152, para. 65 (2013) (700 MHz Interoperability R&O).
147 As discussed in the Technical Appendix, although mobile handsets transmit at a lower power than mobile base
stations and DTV broadcast towers, they may operate anywhere, including inside healthcare facilities, very close to
WMTS equipment. The resulting in-hospital field strength of the mobile handsets could be greater than that of DTV
broadcast facilities or a wireless base station, thus causing interference to WMTS equipment. See Technical
Appendix § II.E.2 (Potential for Interference between 600 MHz Downlink and WMTS). In addition, as mobile
handsets vary their distance from WMTS equipment, their field strength is also likely to vary, which would increase
the complexity of operating a WMTS system.
148 Either broadcast television or wireless base stations (rather than mobile operations) will operate adjacent to
channel 37. See Technical Appendix § III.B (Specific Band Plan Scenarios). We note that Ericsson asserts that the
(continued….)
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simplifies the incentive auction design, which is critical to its overall success. We therefore adopt the
“Down from 51” approach and decline to adopt the “Down from 51 Reversed” band plan.149
60.
Very few commenters criticize the Down from 51 approach that we adopt in our 600
MHz Band Plan.150 DISH complains that the Down from 51 band plans that commenters propose limit
paired spectrum to the portion of the 600 MHz Band above channel 37, thereby restricting “the amount of
spectrum realistically available for smaller operators.”151 The approach we are adopting, however,
involves paired spectrum only, including below channel 37, so it increases the amount of spectrum
available for all wireless providers. We decline to adopt J. Pavlica’s proposal to first license to wireless
broadband providers the VHF channels in the 54-72 MHz and the 174-216 MHz bands (channels 2, 3, 4,
7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13).152 UHF spectrum above 300 MHz is better suited for wireless broadband
service because of its propagation characteristics as well as its shorter wavelengths, which allow for
smaller radio components including antennas and filters.153 In addition, the Spectrum Act limits the
Commission’s ability to repack the VHF channels,154 which would hamper our ability to repack efficiently
if we were to adopt Pavlica’s band plan.155
b.
5+5 MHz, Interchangeable Spectrum Blocks
61.
Background. In the NPRM, the Commission proposed to license the 600 MHz spectrum
in five megahertz “building blocks.”156 Recognizing that licensing wireless spectrum in five megahertz
blocks repurposed from six megahertz television channels might lead to “remainder” spectrum,157 the
Commission proposed to incorporate any remainder spectrum into the guard bands.158 It also sought
comment on alternative ways to make use of the remainder spectrum.159 In addition, the Commission
(Continued from previous page)
minimum guard band size necessary to protect WMTS “would be at least 6 MHz wide on either side of Channel 37 .
. . wherever uplink mobile operation is present.” Ericsson Band Plan PN Comments at 8.
149 We also recognize the concerns of commenters that the Down from 51 Reversed band plan potentially creates
some more challenging interference scenarios. Alcatel-Lucent Band Plan PN Comments at 4-6; AT&T Band Plan
PN
Comments at 3-4, 7-10; Ericsson Band Plan PN Comments at 4-11; NCTA Band Plan PN Comments at 4-6;
Verizon Band Plan PN Comments at 4-6.
150 But see DISH Reply at 2; J. Pavlica Comments at 3.
151 DISH Reply at 2.
152 J. Pavlica Comments at 3.
153 See U.S. Gov’t Accountability Office, GAO-11-352, Spectrum Management: NTIA Planning and Processes Need
Strengthening to Promote the Efficient Use of Spectrum by Federal Agencies at 2 (2011), available at
http://www.gao.gov/assets/320/318264.pdf (“The spectrum most highly valued generally consists of frequencies
between 300 megahertz (MHz) and 3 gigahertz (GHz), as these frequencies have properties well suited to many
important wireless technologies, such as mobile phones, radio, and television broadcasting.”).
154 See Spectrum Act § 6403(g).
155 We also note that the bands J. Pavlica identifies consist of only 60 megahertz of spectrum. Therefore, we would
potentially need to dedicate three different spectrum bands to wireless broadband service if we could repurpose
more than 60 megahertz of spectrum, significantly complicating design of a new band plan.
156 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12403-04, paras. 127-30.
157 Because we are converting six megahertz broadcast channels into paired five + five megahertz wireless
broadband channels, a certain amount of spectrum may be left over. Any leftover spectrum that cannot be grouped
into a paired five + five megahertz block is called “remainder” spectrum. NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12419-20, para.
175.
158 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12419, para. 175. Specifically, zero to five megahertz of spectrum may remain in a given
geographic market. See § III.A.2.e (Guard Bands).
159 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12419-20, paras. 175-76.
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sought comment on licensing in six megahertz increments (the size of television channels).160 The
Commission proposed auctioning interchangeable blocks of equal size to allow for enhanced
substitutability among building blocks and to provide more flexibility in its auction design choices.161
The Commission also sought comment on auction design options that would facilitate the aggregation of
larger contiguous blocks composed of multiple five megahertz building blocks.162
62.
Discussion. We adopt the proposal to license in five megahertz blocks, which
commenters overwhelmingly support, because these “building blocks” will allow for the greatest amount
of flexibility and efficiency in the 600 MHz Band Plan. Specifically, we find that five megahertz blocks:
(1) are the most compatible with current and emerging technologies;163 (2) may be easily aggregated to
form larger blocks;164 (3) will maximize the number of licensed blocks in each market;165 and (4) will
allow for diverse participation in the auction.166
63.
We agree with commenters that five megahertz building blocks are most compatible with
current wireless technologies.167 For example, numerous commenters state that five megahertz building
blocks are most compatible with several current and emerging wireless broadband technologies, including
LTE, LTE-Advanced, High Speed Packet Access + (“HSPA+”), and W-CDMA.168 Further, because
many current wireless broadband technologies operate with five megahertz blocks or blocks that are
multiples of five megahertz, this block size facilitates aggregation.169 Commenters also support our view
that five megahertz building blocks will maximize the number of licensed blocks in each market.170
Finally, licensing in five megahertz building blocks will allow auction participation by small, midsize,
regional, and national carriers.171 As Leap notes, using the smaller five megahertz bandwidth blocks will
promote flexibility and allow auction participation by diverse carriers, particularly smaller carriers who
may not need such large swaths of spectrum.172
64.
We decline to license the 600 MHz spectrum using six megahertz blocks, a proposal
which no commenters support, and which several commenters oppose.173 Using six megahertz blocks

160 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12404, para. 129.
161 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12419, para. 175.
162 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12404, para. 130.
163 See, e.g., C Spire Comments at 6; Leap Comments at 5; RIM Comments at 6; Verizon Comments at 15.
164 See, e.g., Motorola Comments at 13; RIM Comments at 7; Verizon Comments at 16.
165 See, e.g., C Spire Comments at 6; Mobile Future Reply at 5; RIM Comments at 6-7.
166 See, e.g., Leap Comments at 5; MetroPCS Comments at 17; US Cellular Reply at 17.
167 See, e.g., CCA Comments at 12; CTIA Comments at 20; MetroPCS Comments at 20; T-Mobile Comments at 14-
15.
168 See, e.g., AT&T Comments at 18 n.6; CEA Comments at 18; Mobile Future Reply at 5. But see Letter from
Peter D. Keisler, Counsel for AT&T, to Marlene Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268, WT Docket No.
12-269 at 2 (filed May 7, 2014) (asserting that “a 10 x 10 MHz block of spectrum is the minimum amount necessary
to take full advantage of the performance characteristics of modern LTE wireless technology.”).
169 See, e.g., Motorola Comments at 13; RIM Comments at 6.
170 See, e.g., Leap Comments at 5; MetroPCS Comments at 20 (MetroPCS explains that five megahertz blocks will
result in issuing more licenses than six megahertz building blocks would because “[f]or each 30 megahertz of
spectrum reclaimed from broadcasters, the Commission can auction six licenses, as opposed to merely five.”). See
also
CCA Comments at 12.
171 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(3)(B). See, e.g., MetroPCS Comments at 19; Leap Comments at 5.
172 Leap Comments at 5.
173 See, e.g., CTIA Comments at 20; MetroPCS Comments at 20; RIM Comments at 6; Verizon Comments at 15.
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would strand spectrum and reduce the number of new 600 MHz licenses because most FDD technologies
support five megahertz blocks.174 Similarly, using six megahertz blocks might lead to inefficient use of
the spectrum as each six megahertz block would typically accommodate only one active five megahertz
LTE channel.175 Converting six megahertz channels into 5+5 megahertz 600 MHz licenses could, in
contrast, create extra blocks to license.176 As explained further below, because we adopt a 600 MHz Band
Plan with paired uplink and downlink bands, we also decline to adopt Sprint’s proposal to license the
spectrum using ten megahertz blocks to accommodate its band plan proposal for TDD operations.177
65.
We also adopt the proposal to incorporate “remainder” spectrum, i.e., any excess
spectrum remaining after converting six megahertz television channels to paired, 5+5 megahertz 600
MHz licenses, into the 600 MHz Band guard bands to help prevent harmful interference between licensed
services.178 A majority of commenters supports this approach.179 As discussed below, we find that
including these remainders in the guard bands is the best approach to support a straightforward auction
design and help bolster innovation and investment by unlicensed devices in the guard band spectrum.180
We agree with Google and Microsoft that “[s]oliciting separate bids for the remaining small spectrum
slivers in the simultaneous forward and reverse auction will introduce needless complexity to the auction
process.”181
66.
In our 600 MHz Band Plan, we create interchangeable, “generic” categories of spectrum
blocks by establishing guard bands and technical rules to ensure a like operating environment among
different blocks. Creating spectrum blocks that are as functionally and technically interchangeable as
possible enhances substitutability among blocks. Offering interchangeable spectrum blocks allows us to
conduct bidding for generic blocks, assigning specific frequencies later, which will speed up the forward
auction bidding process.182 Commenters generally support the proposal to offer interchangeable blocks
but emphasize the importance of making them truly interchangeable.183 Some commenters suggest that

174 See, e.g., Verizon Comments at 15; CTIA Comments at 20 (confirms the Commission’s assertions in the NPRM
that six megahertz blocks do not precisely map onto the channel size used for most wireless broadband technologies
currently in the market, and as a result, could reduce the number of blocks auctioned).
175 RIM Comments at 5.
176 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12404, para. 129 n.207.
177 Sprint Comments at 22.
178 See § III.A.2.e (Guard Bands).
179 See, e.g., CCIA Comments at 2 (strongly supports proposal to add remainder spectrum to the guard band);
Google Reply at 7-8 (argues that adding the remaindered spectrum to the guard band is a technically reasonable
approach to avoiding harmful interference and will “enable unlicensed technologies to increase the utility of this
otherwise hard-to-use spectrum.”). Other commenters support this approach provided it comports with the
Spectrum Act’s requirements and maximizes the amount of paired spectrum auctioned. See e.g., MetroPCS
Comments at 21; TIA Comments at 9-10.
180 See § III.A.2.e (Guard Bands). We also find that adding these remainders to the guard bands results in a guard
band size that is technically reasonable to prevent harmful interference. Id.
181 Google/Microsoft Comments at 43.
182 In referring to “generic licenses” we are not referring to the actual licenses that will be assigned to winning
bidders, but to standardized blocks of spectrum which will be used to represent quantities of licenses for a time
during the bidding process. We emphasize that licensees will ultimately be assigned a license with a specific
frequency assignment, and to the extent that bidders desire a specific frequency to meet their particular business
plans, winning bidders will have the opportunity to bid for specific frequency blocks before they are assigned their
licenses. See § IV.C.2.b (Forward Auction – Assignment Procedures: Determining Winning Bidders and Assigning
Frequency-Specific Licenses).
183 See, e.g., AT&T Reply at 54; Qualcomm Comments at 5.
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we group the spectrum blocks into different classes and treat each class as a separate category.184 As
explained below, we adopt rules that will allow us to group generic blocks into separate categories of
licenses for purposes of the forward auction bidding.185
67.
We also conclude that it is important for wireless providers to be able to aggregate 600
MHz Band spectrum blocks. The ability to aggregate spectrum by obtaining multiple spectrum blocks in
the same service area, or licenses in multiple service areas, affords potential bidders significant flexibility
to meet their coverage and capacity needs in accordance with their business plans. Commenters
overwhelmingly support allowing licensees to aggregate spectrum blocks.186 Specifically, they encourage
us to create an auction process that allows bidders to aggregate contiguous frequency blocks within a
service area187 or across geographic areas188 using a variety of auction design mechanisms, such as
assignment round rules.189 Under our rules, licensees will be able to aggregate 600 MHz Band spectrum
in the forward auction,190 as well as after the auction.191 As a result of these rules, wireless providers have
the ability to aggregate spectrum to meet their business needs.
c.

Geographic Area Licensing

68.
Background. In the NPRM, the Commission proposed to license the 600 MHz Band
using a geographic area licensing approach.192 Specifically, it proposed licensing this spectrum using
Economic Areas (“EAs”),193 delineated by the Regional Economic Analysis Division, Bureau of
Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce and extended by the Commission.194 The
Commission also noted the statutory requirement to consider assigning licenses using a variety of

184 For example, Alcatel-Lucent and AT&T support different classes to account for the differences between paired
spectrum blocks and downlink only spectrum blocks. Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 18-19; AT&T Comments at 42-
43.
185 See § IV.C.2.a (Forward Auction – Bid Collection Procedures: Auction Format, Generic License Categories,
Etc.).
186 See, e.g., CCA Comments at 12 (The Commission “should enable carriers to bid on multiple blocks in a market
in order to obtain larger amounts of spectrum.”).
187 See, e.g., Leap Comments at 5 (“the Commission should enable carriers to bid on multiple licenses in a market”);
Verizon Comments at 46 (“winners of more than one 5 MHz generic block within an EA should be assigned
contiguous spectrum within that EA”).
188 See, e.g., CEA Comments at 19 (supports allowing carriers to bid on a package of licenses spanning several
geographic areas).
189 See, e.g., AT&T Comments Exh. A at 34-36 (the Commission should establish clear rules so that winning bidders
of multiple spectrum blocks will be licensed contiguous spectrum); Verizon PEAs PN Comments at 4-7 (advocates
for packages). See also § IV.C.2 (Bidding Process).
190 See § IV.C.2 (Bidding Process).
191 See § VI.B.2.d (Secondary Markets). But see MSH Report and Order at § V.B.5 (setting forth limitations on the
assignment, transfer, or leasing of 600 MHz Band licenses under certain conditions).
192 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12409, para. 144.
193 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12411, para. 148. The Bureau of Economic Analysis defines EAs as “one or more
economic nodes—metropolitan areas or similar areas that serve as centers of economic activity—and the
surrounding counties that are economically related to the nodes.” Final Redefinition of the BEA Economic Areas, 60
Fed. Reg. 13,114 (Mar. 10, 1995). There are 172 EAs.
194 Amendment of the Commission’s Rules to Establish Part 27, the Wireless Communications Service (“WCS”), GN
Docket No. 96-228, Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 10785, 10900, App. B at § 27.6 Service areas (1997) (Part 27
R&O
) (licensing Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands,
American Samoa, and the Gulf of Mexico as Commission-created EAs 173-176).
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different geographic size service areas, and sought comment on how it should take account of this
directive.195 Further, it sought comment on whether and how to license areas outside of the continental
United States, including the Gulf of Mexico.196
69.
In response to the NPRM, commenters are split between those supporting EAs and those
that argue for smaller service areas, specifically Cellular Market Areas (“CMAs”),197 which are a
combination of Metropolitan Statistical Areas (“MSAs”) and Rural Statistical Areas (“RSAs”).198 On
November 27, 2013, CCA199 submitted an alternative proposed scheme for smaller service areas based on
a new geographic area size that CCA calls Partial Economic Areas (“PEAs”).200 PEAs, as described by
CCA, are a subdivision of EAs based on the CMA boundaries which “ensure that some licenses consist of
large population centers while other PEAs consist of less populous areas.”201 As a result, PEAs are
smaller than EAs, and separate rural from urban markets to a greater degree than EAs.202 The Wireless
Bureau issued a Public Notice seeking comment on CCA’s proposed PEA licensing scheme.203 In
addition, the Wireless Bureau sought comment on other alternative geographic licensing approaches, such
as RWA and NTCA’s proposal.204 On March 20, 2014, CCA, NTCA, RWA and the Blooston Rural
Carriers (“PEA Coalition”) submitted a revised, joint PEA proposal for use in the incentive auction
(“Joint PEA Proposal”),205 and Verizon filed its own PEA proposal (“Verizon PEA Proposal”).206

195 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12410, para. 145. Section 6403(c)(3) of the Spectrum Act directs the Commission to
“consider assigning licenses that cover geographic areas of a variety of different sizes.”
196 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12411-12, para. 150.
197 CMAs are standard geographic areas used for the licensing of cellular systems and are comprised of Metropolitan
Statistical Areas (“MSAs”) and Rural Service Areas (“RSAs”). See 47 C.F.R. § 22.909; Common Carrier Public
Mobile Services Information, Cellular MSA/RSA Markets and Counties
, Public Notice, 7 FCC Rcd 743 (1992)
(CMA Public Notice).
198 Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Seeks Comment On A Proposal To License The 600 MHz Band Using
“Partial Economic Areas,”
GN Docket No. 12-268, Public Notice, 28 FCC Rcd 17255, 17255-56 (2013) (PEAs PN).
199 CCA, the Competitive Carriers Association, states that it “represents the interests of more than 100 competitive
wireless carriers, including rural and regional carriers as well as national providers.” CCA Comments at 1.
200 In its filing, CCA emphasizes that it still supports licensing by CMAs, but offers the PEA proposal as an
alternative to the proposed EA regime. Letter from Rebecca Murphy Thompson, CCA, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 2 (filed Nov. 27, 2013) (CCA Nov. 27, 2013 Ex Parte Letter).
201 CCA Nov. 27, 2013 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
202 Pursuant to CCA’s ex parte filing, it proposed 348 PEA licenses in the continental United States as compared
with 170 EA licenses. Compare CCA Nov. 27, 2013 Ex Parte Letter, Att. with 47 C.F.R. § 27.6(a). CCA
subsequently revised its proposed PEA boundaries. See Letter from C. Sean Spivey, Assistant General Counsel for
CCA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 (filed Dec. 23, 2013) (CCA Dec. 23, 2013 Ex
Parte
Letter); CCA PEAs PN Reply at 9-10.
203 PEAs PN, 28 FCC Rcd 17255.
204 Id. at 17256-57. Under the RWA/NTCA proposal, there would be two phases of the forward auction. The
Commission would conduct the reverse auction contemporaneously with the first phase of the forward auction
during which forward auction bidders would bid on the basis of EAs, but would receive licenses covering only a
portion of the EA – specifically, the MSA or MSAs (when there is more than one MSA) located within the EA.
Once the first phase of the forward auction is completed, the FCC would hold the second phase of the forward
auction for the remaining 429 RSAs. RWA/NTCA PEAs PN Comments at 10-11; Letter from Caressa Bennet,
General Counsel for RWA, and Jill Canfield, Assistant General Counsel for NTCA to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 (filed Dec. 6, 2013).
205 Letter from C. Sean Spivey, Assistant General Counsel for CCA, Jill Canfield, Assistant General Counsel for
NTCA, Caressa Bennet, General Counsel for RWA, and John A. Prendergast, Counsel to Blooston Rural Carriers, to
Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 (filed Mar. 20, 2014) (CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston
(continued….)
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70.
Discussion. We adopt the proposal to implement a geographic licensing approach.207 We
conclude that a geographic licensing approach is well-suited for the types of fixed and mobile services
that will likely be deployed in this band.208 In addition, geographic area licensing is consistent with the
licensing approach adopted for similar spectrum bands that support mobile broadband services.209
71.
Further, we adopt PEAs as the service area for the 600 MHz Band licenses. PEAs offer a
compromise between EAs and CMAs because they are smaller than EAs, yet “nest” (or fit) within EAs,
and can be easily aggregated into larger areas, such as Major Economic Areas (“MEAs”) and Regional
Economic Areas (“REAs” or “REAGs”).210 And like CMAs, PEAs divide urban and rural areas into
separate service areas. In short, this approach will encourage entry by providers that contemplate offering
wireless broadband service on a localized basis, yet at the same time will not preclude carriers that plan to
provide service on a much larger geographic scale. As a result, licensing by PEAs will best promote entry
into the market by the broadest range of potential wireless service providers without unduly complicating
the auction. As CCA notes, PEAs “address concerns regarding the unusual complexity of this particular
auction while also retaining many of the benefits of small license areas.”211
72.
Commenters agree that PEAs should: (1) nest within EAs; (2) reduce the number of
service areas (as compared to the 734 CMAs); (3) reflect Metropolitan Statistical Areas (“MSAs”); and
(4) be constructed from counties.212 Commenters disagree primarily over which version of MSAs we
should use to create PEAs. CCA, NTCA, and RWA argue in favor of using the MSA boundaries that the
(Continued from previous page)
Mar. 20, 2014 Ex Parte Letter). The Joint PEA Proposal divides the United States and its territories into 416 PEAs
and the parties emphasize that the proposal they submit is “without prejudice to their continued support for CMAs.”
Letter from C. Sean Spivey, Assistant General Counsel for CCA, Jill Canfield, Assistant General Counsel for
NTCA, Caressa Bennet, General Counsel for RWA, and John A. Prendergast, Counsel to Blooston Rural Carriers, to
Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 2 (filed Mar. 11, 2014) (CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston
Mar. 11, 2014 Ex Parte Letter).
206 Letter from Tamara Preiss, Vice President, Verizon, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-
268 (filed Mar. 20, 2014) (Verizon Mar. 20, 2014 Ex Parte Letter). Verizon argues in the alternative (Verizon
Alternative PEA Proposal) that if we adopt the Joint PEA Proposal, we should modify some of the boundaries in the
Joint PEA Proposal to “account for the expansion of some of the major metropolitan areas and associated population
shifts.” Letter from Tamara Preiss, Vice President, Verizon, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No.
12-268 (filed Apr. 29, 2014) (Verizon Apr. 29, 2014 Ex Parte Letter) at 2.
207 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12409, para. 144.
208 See § III.A.2.b (5+5 MHz, Interchangeable Spectrum Blocks).
209 See, e.g., Service Rules for Advanced Wireless Services in the 1.7 GHz and 2.1 GHz Bands, WT Docket No. 02-
353, Report and Order, 18 FCC Rcd 25162, 25174 para. 30 (2003) (AWS-1 R&O).
210 See 47 C.F.R. § 27.6(a) (“Both MEAs and REAGs are based on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s EAs. See
60 FR 13114 (March 10, 1995).”).
211 CCA PEAs PN Comments at 5; see also Public Service Wireless PEAs PN Comments at 4; Atlantic Telephone
et. al. PEAs PN Comments at 4; Letter from Leighton T. Brown, Counsel for US Cellular, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268, Att at 2 (filed May 7, 2014) (We support the “use of PEAs as the
geographic license area size.”); Letter from Dr. Apurva N. Mody, Chairman, WhiteSpace Alliance, to Marlene
Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 6 (filed May 7, 2014)(“WSA believes that the Partial Economic
Area[s] proposed by a coalition of rural interests presents a reasonable balance between the relatively large
Economic Areas proposed in the Notice, and smaller geographic licensing areas that would be optimal.”).
212 See CCA Nov. 27, 2013 Ex Parte Letter; CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston Mar. 11, 2014 Ex Parte Letter; Verizon
Mar. 20, 2014 Ex Parte Letter. Metropolitan statistical areas are geographic entities delineated by the Office of
Management and Budget for use by Federal statistical agencies in collecting, tabulating, and publishing Federal
statistics. United States Census Bureau, Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas Main,
https://www.census.gov/population/metro/ (last visited Apr. 9, 2014).
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Commission uses for its current CMA boundaries,213 updated with 2010 U.S. Census data for each county,
because these boundaries have been “employed in numerous previous auctions, including Auctions 73
(700 MHz), 78 (AWS-1), and 92 (Lower 700 MHz).”214 On the other hand, Verizon argues that we
should adopt its proposal, which uses more recent MSAs, because they are “a much more accurate
division of rural and urban areas.”215
73.
We adopt the PEA boundaries contained in the Joint PEA Proposal.216 This approach will
promote the simplicity and speed of the incentive auction, as well as our competitive goals. Specifically,
the Joint PEA Proposal encourages broad participation by utilizing the MSA boundaries that the
Commission currently uses.217 Because these boundaries may more closely fit many wireless providers’
existing footprints, they should provide a greater opportunity for wireless providers to acquire spectrum
licenses in their service areas.218 As Blooston notes, the Verizon PEA Proposal has “little in common with
geographic areas where rural and competitive carriers currently offer wireless service.”219 In addition,
Blooston argues that using the MSAs in the Joint PEA Proposal could increase service to rural areas as
compared to Verizon’s proposal.220 Further, while the Joint PEA Proposal provides service areas small
enough for smaller carriers to support,221 the number of total service areas is low enough to reduce the
time necessary to complete the incentive auction.222 With respect to larger carriers, the Joint PEA

213 See CMA Public Notice, 7 FCC Rcd 743.
214 CCA Nov. 27, 2013 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
215 Verizon Mar. 20, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at 3. Verizon contends that the MSAs used by the Commission are “badly
outdated . . . and thus fail to reflect more than thirty years of population growth and shifts.” Id. at 2. See also United
States Census Bureau, Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas Main,
https://www.census.gov/population/metro/ (last visited Apr. 9, 2014).
216 See CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston Mar. 20, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at 3. We direct the Wireless Bureau to issue a
Public Notice announcing the specific counties contained in each PEA (and the corresponding PEA number), as set
forth in the Joint PEA Proposal.
217 CCA Nov. 27, 2013 Ex Parte Letter at 2 (stating that they “respect existing CMA [i.e., MSA and RSA]
boundaries”).
218 See Amendment of the Commission’s Rules with Regard to Commercial Operations in the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-
1780 MHz, and 2155-2180 MHz Bands
, GN Docket No. 13-185, Report and Order, FCC 14-31, para. 49 (rel. Mar.
31, 2014) (AWS-3 Report and Order). Letter from D. Cary Mitchell, Counsel for Blooston Rural Carriers, to
Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 2 (filed Apr. 10, 2014) (Blooston Rural Carriers Apr.
10, 2014 Ex Parte Letter) (CMAs “conform to the areas where many incumbent service providers already hold
licenses and have wireless operations.”).
219 Blooston Rural Carriers Apr. 10, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
220 Id. at 4 (“In the Rapid City area, Verizon’s proposal would combine multiple tribal areas in EA 115 along the
Nebraska border with large counties in northwestern Nebraska. This would result in a single rural service area that is
far too large for rural and independent carriers to realistically bid or provide service, and companies that are
interested in serving tribal lands (or the tribes themselves) would be precluded from bidding on a license that is so
large. Moreover, including Custer and Fall River Counties in this large rural license, which have a significant
economic nexus with Rapid City, would likely draw bidding from companies that have little or no interest in serving
rural and tribal areas.”).
221 See CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston Mar. 20, 2014 Ex Parte Letter; see also CCA Comments at 1; RWA/NTCA
PEAs PN Comments at 1; Blooston Rural Carriers Comments at 1, Att.
222 As discussed in the Introduction, minimizing the number of licenses offered during the forward auction is
important because the time necessary to conduct the bidding increases exponentially as the number of licenses
increase.
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Proposal “nests” within the EAs so it may facilitate spectrum aggregation during the auction and in the
secondary market.223
74.
We decline to adopt the Verizon PEA Proposal. First, rather than defining the boundaries
for all PEAs, Verizon only defines those areas relating to MSAs.224 Verizon clearly intended to provide
the Commission with flexibility to consider a range of alternatives with respect to rural areas. However,
implementing Verizon’s PEA proposal, while respecting general principles of nesting within EAs and
limiting the number of licenses in the auction, would create inefficient service areas for non-MSA-based
service areas.225 Further, adopting the Verizon PEA Proposal may diminish competitive carrier
participation in the forward auction.226 We disagree with Verizon that adopting the Joint PEA Proposal
will lead to outdated service areas that are not based on objective criteria.227 The Joint PEA Proposal
creates PEA service areas by utilizing 2010 U.S. Census population and county boundary data;
consequently, it takes into account current population data for the counties that are included in each
PEA.228 The PEA boundaries in the Joint PEA Proposal also are based on objective criteria.229 We
further decline to adopt the Verizon Alternative PEA Proposal, which modifies the Joint PEA Proposal
“by adding specified counties to the PEAs representing some of the top markets.”230 Verizon’s proposed
modifications to the Joint PEA Proposal also have the potential to diminish competitive carrier
participation in the forward auction.231

223 CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston Mar. 11, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
224 Verizon proposes 218 service areas but does not provide boundaries for areas outside the MSAs. Verizon Mar.
20, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at 3.
225 For example, two counties in Georgia are “sandwiched” between the boundary for the Atlanta MSA and the
boundary for the EA containing Atlanta. If we were to follow Verizon’s principles, these two counties would form
their own very small PEA, immediately adjacent to the much larger Atlanta MSA. In Maine, the MSA encompasses
the middle of Maine and the non-MSA portion creates a “doughnut” around the MSA. These effects were most
widespread in the original Verizon proposal, which included 218 MSAs. See Verizon Mar. 20, 2014 Ex Parte Letter
at 3. The revised Verizon proposal focuses on fewer MSAs, but the resulting inefficiencies with respect to rural
license areas are still significant. See Verizon Apr. 29, 2014 Ex Parte Letter.
226 Letter from Rebecca Murphy Thompson, CCA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at
1 (filed Apr. 11, 2014). RWA concurs, noting that that the Verizon PEA Proposal makes it “difficult (if not
impossible) for small and rural wireless carriers to participate in the 600 MHz spectrum auction.” Letter from
Caressa D. Bennet, Counsel for RWA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 2 (filed
Apr. 11, 2014).
227 See Verizon Mar. 20, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
228 CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston Mar. 20, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
229 Specifically, PEAs were created by: (1) having the service areas “nest” into EAs; (2) limiting the number of
service areas to approximately 400, which will limit the reverse and/or forward auction implementation risks; (3)
generally combining contiguous MSA and RSA service areas within each EA; (4) complying with the statutory
requirements of § 309(j) of the Communications Act; (5) having more than 15,000 people in each PEA (with the
exception of four service areas); and (6) combining smaller territories (including unusually shaped service areas
such as “donut holes”) into larger territories. See Letter from C. Sean Spivey, Assistant General Counsel for CCA,
Jill Canfield, Assistant General Counsel for NTCA, Caressa Bennet, General Counsel for RWA, and John A.
Prendergast, Counsel to Blooston Rural Carriers, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268
(filed Apr. 16, 2014) (CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston Apr. 16, 2014 Ex Parte Letter). See also CCA PEAs PN Reply
at 6; Letter from John Leibovitz, Deputy Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, FCC, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268, Att. at 4 (filed Mar. 4, 2014); CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston Mar. 11, 2014
Ex Parte Letter at 2.
230 Verizon Apr. 29, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at 1.
231 The PEA Coalition asserts that adopting Verizon’s revised PEA boundaries even in a limited number of areas (as
in the Verizon Alternative PEA Proposal) “would create inefficiencies and complicate 600 MHz band licensing for
(continued….)
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75.
Although most commenters support PEAs as an alternative or compromise solution, the
nationwide wireless carriers prefer EAs as the license size for the 600 MHz Band, and the smaller and/or
rural carriers prefer CMAs.232 We decline to adopt EAs or CMAs as the licensing scheme for the 600
MHz Band. As discussed above, we need to create interchangeable spectrum blocks in order to permit
substitutability among the spectrum blocks (i.e., “generic blocks”) in the forward auction.233 To
accomplish this goal, we can adopt only one license size for the entire 600 MHz Band and cannot offer a
mix of license sizes as we have done in previous auctions.234 Under the PEA approach, there are 416
service areas,235 which is significantly fewer than the 734 CMA service areas, but more than the 176 EAs.
This will reduce the exposure risk to the nationwide carriers as compared to CMAs. In addition, PEAs
nest into EAs, MEAs, and REAGs, so that nationwide carriers can aggregate licenses to create the service
area they desire, allowing them to take advantage of economies of scale. PEAs separate out the urban and
rural areas, which should provide for greater auction participation by rural providers and allow them to
bid on a geographic area license that better matches their service area.
(Continued from previous page)
the vast majority of bidders and competitive carriers that are not themselves nationwide carriers.”
CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston May 2, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at 3.
232 Compare Verizon Comments at 60-61 (“EAs draw an appropriate balance between enabling the efficient
deployment of nationwide and regional services, and the policy objectives set forth in Section 309(j) and the
Spectrum Act, . . . [and] offer mobile providers flexibility in deployment and the ability to take advantage of
economies of scale.”); Sprint PEAs PN Reply at 4 (“EAs provide a reasonable balance for selecting a license size
that accords with traditional markets of interest while not being so big as to exclude smaller providers.”); AT&T
PEAs PN Comments at 3 (EAs will encourage widespread geographic build out, including in rural areas, and
provide licensees with sufficient flexibility to scale their networks); T-Mobile PEAs PN Reply at 2 (smaller license
sizes will subject bidders to exposure risk) with RTG Comments at 2 (EAs would shut out rural companies in
violation of § 309(j) because EAs often include densely populated urban areas and typically cover larger
geographical areas than the rural areas that rural carriers serve); Letter from Ron Smith, President of Bluegrass
Cellular, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 2 (filed Jul 10, 2013) (if FCC adopts
EAs, Bluegrass would “almost certainly be foreclosed from participating in the auction” because “it does not have
the financial wherewithal to bid on four or five separate EAs encompassing five times the number of pops it
currently serves.”); Letter from Gregory W. Whiteaker, Counsel for Chat Mobility, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 3 (filed Aug. 8, 2013) (adopting EAs “would delay the deployment of service to
rural areas because the few large entities able to bid on such licenses have little or no incentive to serve the rural
areas included within the large geographic license areas.”); NTCA Comments at 3-4 (licensing significant portions
of the 600 MHz spectrum as MSAs/RSAs would serve the public interest); CCA Band Plan PN Comments at 7-10
(CMAs encourage broad participation, generate maximum auction revenue, and promote competition); US Cellular
PEAs PN Comments at 11-12 (CMAs preserve opportunities for small and regional carriers and foster service to
rural and underserved areas).
233 See § III.A.2.b (5+5 MHz, Interchangeable Spectrum Blocks).
234 See e.g., AWS-1 R&O, 18 FCC Rcd at 25175-25177 paras. 35-40; Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and
777-792 MHz Bands
, WT Docket No. 06-150, Revision of the Commission’s Rules to Ensure Compatibility with
Enhanced 911 Emergency Calling Systems
, CC Docket No. 94-102, Section 68.4(a) of the Commission’s Rules
Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Telephones
, WT Docket No. 01-309, Biennial Regulatory Review – Amendment
of Parts 1, 22, 24, 27, and 90 to Streamline and Harmonize Various Rules Affecting Wireless Radio Services
, WT
Docket 03-264, Former Nextel Communications, Inc. Upper 700 MHz Guard Band Licenses and Revisions to Part
27 of the Commission’s Rules
, WT Docket No. 06-169, Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband, Interoperable
Public Safety Network in the 700 MHz Band
, PS Docket No. 06-229, Development of Operational, Technical and
Spectrum Requirements for Meeting Federal, State and Local Public Safety Communications Requirements Through
the Year 2010
, WT Docket No. 96-86; Decalatory Ruling on Reporting Requirement Under Commmission Part 1
Anti-Collusion Rule, WT Docket No. 07-166, 22 FCC Rcd 15289, 15315-18, paras. 62-68 (2007) (700 MHz Second
Report and Order
); AWS-3 Report and Order at paras. 48-49.
235 CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston Mar. 20, 2014 Ex Parte Letter.
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76.
We also decline to adopt broadcast Designated Market Areas (“DMAs”),236 nationwide,
REAG, or MEA licensing approaches. Some commenters suggest that the Commission consider
matching licensing areas to broadcast DMAs to simplify auction procedures by aligning the geographic
areas of the forward and reverse auctions.237 We agree with commenters that assert that DMAs are not
appropriate because they do not match wireless service footprints or existing FCC wireless service area
designations. 238 Further, we find that DMAs, like EAs, do not sufficiently address the needs of smaller
and rural wireless providers, given the number of licenses we would make available.239 The Commission
also sought comment on using nationwide and REAG service areas, but no commenters support using
these service areas, and some commenters actively oppose them.240 T-Mobile recommends that the
Commission license by MEAs—a service area size larger than EAs—because the economically efficient
size of wireless service is substantially larger than individual EAs, and MEAs will reduce transaction
costs and help wireless companies achieve economies of scale.241 T-Mobile notes that smaller licenses,
such as PEAs, are manageable and would not create a significant exposure risk under certain
conditions.242 For the reasons discussed above, using smaller, PEA service areas strikes the appropriate
balance and will allow both smaller and larger wireless carriers to obtain licenses that best align with their
respective business plans.243

236 Designated Market Area (DMA®) is a registered trademark of Nielsen Media Research, Inc. (Nielsen). Nielsen
owns the copyright to the DMA listing.
237 CCA Reply at 12; MetroPCS Comments at 18-19 (arguing that EAs are preferable, but DMAs might be another
useful option).
238 DMAs are the geographic areas in the U.S. used to measure local television viewing. The FCC does not use
these broadcast areas to license wireless spectrum. RTG opposes the use of DMAs because broadcast viewing areas
have no relationship to existing wireless licensing plans, and “[w]ireless licensing based on DMAs will have the
unintended effect of allowing licensees to cherry-pick highly concentrated urban areas while leaving large rural
areas unserved.” Letter from Caressa D. Bennet, General Counsel, RTG, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN
Docket No 12-268 at 9 (filed Mar. 19, 2013). MetroPCS notes that “using DMAs only makes sense if there is a
significant increase in the total number of licenses that would be available in the forward auction after re-packing. If
not, it would not be worth introducing yet another license area into the already complicated wireless license area
mix.” MetroPCS Comments at 18-19.
239 There are 210 DMAs compared to 172 EAs in the United States. Compare Nielsen, Local Television Market
Universe Estimates, http://www.tvb.org/media/file/TVB_Market_Profiles_Nielsen_TVHH_DMA_Ranks_2013-
2014.pdf (last visited Apr. 9, 2014) with 47 C.F.R. § 27.6.
240 For example, CCA argues that “using large geographic areas would give significant and unwarranted advantages
to the largest nationwide carriers at the expense of smaller carriers, and would risk leaving behind rural America . . .
[and that] [l]arge geographic areas significantly reduce the number of potential bidders for licenses, reducing
potential auction revenue as was the case in the Upper 700 MHz C Block.” CCA Comments at 14. See also C Spire
Comments at 7; Leap Comments at 5.
241 T-Mobile Comments at 15-16.
242 T-Mobile PEAs PN Comments at 2 (“while CCA’s proposed licensing scheme [using PEAs] is not optimal, it
may represent a reasonable compromise”).
243 AT&T and Verizon request that the Commission adopt package bidding, particularly if it adopts a geographic
area license size smaller than EAs. Letter from Joan Marsh, Vice President, Federal Regulatory for AT&T, to
Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 4 (filed Dec. 3, 2013) (AT&T Dec. 3, 2013 Ex Parte
Letter); Verizon Mar. 20, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at 3. T-Mobile and others oppose permitting package bidding. See
T-Mobile PEAs PN Comments at 1-2; CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston Mar. 11, 2014 Ex Parte Letter, at 3. Package
bidding is discussed in § IV.C.2.a (Forward Auction – Bid Collection Procedures: Auction Format, Generic License
Categories, Etc.).
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77.
Licensing Outside the Continental United States. The Commission sought comment on
licensing of the 600 MHz Band outside the continental United States and in the Gulf of Mexico.244 For
Alaska, Copper Valley Wireless supports licensing Alaska on a CMA basis.245 RWA (formerly RTG)246
initially recommended that we license using Alaska Boroughs, which divide the state based on population
density, and in any case, use service areas no larger than CMAs.247 Subsequently, RWA (along with
CCA, NTCA, and Blooston) filed the Joint PEA Proposal, which proposes to divide Alaska into four
PEAs.248 Recognizing that Alaska faces uniquely challenging operating conditions for deploying and
operating networks,249 adopting the Joint PEA Proposal endorsed by smaller and rural carrier associations
should best address these concerns. The Alaskan PEA boundaries closely approximate the CMA
boundaries in Alaska that providers support.250 We note that to the extent bidders are interested in
providing service in Alaska using smaller service areas than PEAs, they may use both pre- and post-
auction mechanisms (such as bidding as a consortium and/or partitioning spectrum in a service area) to
create the specific area they wish to serve.
78.
For the Gulf of Mexico, we will follow the established policy and license the Gulf as a
separate license251 that will be comprised of the water area of the Gulf of Mexico starting 12 nautical

244 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12411-12, para. 150.
245 Copper Valley Reply at 1-2. Copper Valley, which serves 15,000 square miles in south Central Alaska, supports
CMAs because licensing using these smaller areas will provide it “with the most meaningful opportunity to
participate in the incentive auction.” Id. We note that although Copper Valley states that it opposes PEAs, it
opposes specifically CCA’s original proposal to license Alaska as one single PEA, advocating that Alaska should be
split into four (CMA) service areas. Copper Valley Reply at 4-5.
246 The Rural Telecommunications Group (RTG) changed its name to the Rural Wireless Association (RWA) on
September 17, 2013. Press Release, RWA, RTG – The Rural Wireless Association Announces Name Change to RWA
and New Directors
(Sept. 19, 2013), available at http://ruralwireless.org/2013/09/rtg-the-rural-wireless-association-
announces-name-change-to-rwa/ (last visited Apr. 9, 2014).
247 RTG (RWA) Comments at 6-7. As RWA describes, Alaska Boroughs divide the state based on population
density, and are smaller than CMAs. RWA argues that smaller service areas would promote competition in Alaska
and allow for greater penetration. Id.
248 CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston Mar. 20, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at 2, Att.
249 Connect America Fund; A National Broadband Plan for Our Future; Establishing Just and Reasonable Rates for
Local Exchange Carriers; High-Cost Universal Service Support; Developing a Unified Intercarrier Compensation
Regime; Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service; Lifeline and Link-Up; Universal Service Reform—
Mobility Fund,
WC Docket Nos. 10-90, 07-135, 05-337, 03-109, CC Docket Nos. 01-92, 96-45, GN Docket No. 09-
51, WT Docket No. 10-208, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 17663,
17829 at paras. 507–508 (2011); aff’d In re: FCC 11-161, No. 11-9900, 2014 WL 2142106 (10th Cir. May 23,
2014)..
250 Alaska comprises four service areas under both the PEA and CMA licensing schemes. Compare Joint PEA
Proposal with CMA Public Notice, 7 FCC Rcd 743. In Alaska, the only difference between the Joint PEA Proposal
and CMAs is that the Joint PEA Proposal places the county of Yakutat Borough (FIPS 02282) into one service area
rather than dividing it into two. CMAs 316 and 317 each include part of Yakutat Borough.
251 Under the EA licensing scheme, the Gulf of Mexico is EA 176. 47 C.F.R. § 27.6. See also AWS-1 R&O, 18 FCC
Rcd at 25177, para. 40; Service Rules for Advanced Wireless Services in the 200-2020 MHz and 2180-2200 MHz
Bands
, WT Docket No. 12-70, Report and Order and Order of Proposed Modification, 27 FCC Rcd 16102, 16122-
23, para. 51 (2012) (AWS-4 Report and Order), 27 FCC Rcd at 16122-23, para. 51; NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12410,
para. 145; Service Rules for Advanced Wireless Services H Block—Implementing Section 6401 of the Middle Class
Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 Related to the 1915-1920 MHz and 1995-2000 MHz Bands
, Report and
Order, WT Docket No. 12-357, 28 FCC Rcd 9483, 9502, paras. 44-45 (2013) (H Block Report and Order). We will
similarly license the Gulf of Mexico as its own PEA, which the PEA Coalition proposes as PEA 222.
CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston Mar. 11, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at Att.
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miles from the U.S. Gulf Coast and extending outward.252 Similarly, we will license Guam, the Northern
Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, and American Samoa as we have in
previous auctions, which is consistent with the Joint PEA Proposal.253
79.
Statutory Requirements. We conclude that our action satisfies the Spectrum Act
requirement that the Commission consider assigning licenses that cover geographic areas of a variety of
different sizes.254 Based on the extensive record developed in this proceeding, we have carefully
considered assigning licenses using a variety of different geographic area sizes.255 As stated above,
however, we cannot offer a mix of license sizes as we have done in previous auctions without
endangering our goal of repurposing spectrum through this auction: using one license size (PEAs) is
essential to creating interchangeable spectrum blocks, which in turn are critical elements of the 600 MHz
Band Plan developed to promote a successful incentive auction.256 We note that various mechanisms are
available to carriers that wish to serve larger or smaller geographic areas.257

252 See 47 C.F.R. § 27.6(a)(2). We are establishing different performance benchmarks for the Gulf of Mexico
because the performance benchmarks we adopt for the 600 MHz Band are measured by the percentage of the
population in the service area. Determining “population” using the conventional methodology would be infeasible
for the Gulf of Mexico because it is a body of water. See § VI.B.2.c.ii (Performance Requirements).
253 See CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston Mar. 20, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at Att.; CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston Mar. 11,
2014 Ex Parte Letter at Att. In its accompanying map, the PEA Coalition proposes PEA 218 for Guam and the
Northern Mariana Islands, PEA 219 for the Virgin Islands, PEA 220 for Puerto Rico, and PEA 221 for American
Samoa. CCA/NTCA/RWA/Blooston Mar. 11, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at Att. Although there are no TV stations
licensed in American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands, we are including these territories in the forward
auction to the extent spectrum is available. This is consistent with the requirements of the Spectrum Act because the
Commission can make “reassignments of the television channels as the Commission considers appropriate.”
Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(1)(B)(i).
254 Spectrum Act § 6403(c)(3) (“the Commission shall consider assigning licenses that cover geographic areas of a
variety of different sizes”). US Cellular argues that the Commission must provide a mix of small service areas
pursuant to this provision. US Cellular Comments at 17-18. We disagree. The statute expressly requires us only to
consider licensing using a variety of sizes, not to do so. See, e.g., Melcher v. FCC, 134 F.3d 1143, 1154-55 (D.C.
Cir. 1998) (holding that requirement in § 309(j)(4)(D) of the Communications Act that the FCC “consider the use of
tax certificates” for small businesses, rural telephone companies, and businesses owned by minority groups does not
mandate such use, but merely “instructs the FCC to ‘consider’ that possibility”).
255 In the NPRM, the Commission sought comment on a wide range of geographic area sizes, including offering a
variety of sizes. NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12410, para. 145. Furthermore, in response to the comments regarding the
NPRM, the Wireless Bureau sought comment on a new licensing scheme that, according to CCA, would “ensure that
some licenses consist of large population centers while other[s] . . . consist of less populous areas.” PEAs PN, 28
FCC Rcd at 17256 (citing CCA Nov. 27, 2013 Ex Parte Letter). We have considered adopting a variety of sizes, in
particular, using a combination of CMAs and EAs. KSW, Sinclair, and US Cellular each advocate that we should
adopt a combination of EAs and CMAs. See KSW Reply at 6; Sinclair Reply at 3-5; US Cellular Comments at 9-19.
256 See § III.A.2.b (5+5 MHz, Interchangeable Spectrum Blocks).
257 As described above, the rules we adopt for the 600 MHz Band will permit a wireless provider to deploy service
seamlessly across adjacent geographic areas. Further, wireless providers will have additional opportunities using
secondary market mechanisms. See § VI.B.2.d (Secondary Markets); but see MSH Report and Order at § V.B.5
(setting forth limitations on the assignment, transfer, or leasing of 600 MHz Band licenses under certain conditions).
Moreover, PEAs “nest” within EAs and therefore can serve as building blocks for carriers who wish to create larger
footprints. Carriers that seek license areas smaller than PEAs may use auction mechanisms (e.g., consortium
bidding) and secondary market transactions (e.g., partitioning, disaggregating, and spectrum leasing) to acquire
spectrum for their preferred geographic area. See 47 C.F.R. § 1.2107(g); § VI.B.2.d (Secondary Markets); but see
MSH Report and Order
at § V.B.5.
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80.
We also conclude that licensing the 600 MHz Band on a PEA basis is consistent with the
requirements of section 309(j)258 because it will promote spectrum opportunities for carriers of different
sizes, including small businesses and rural telephone companies. Just as larger carriers can aggregate
EAs into larger geographic areas, PEAs are small enough to allow bidders to acquire a limited coverage
area—often only a few counties—which should enable small businesses and rural carriers to compete
with larger carriers in these areas. Further, if bidders want to acquire licenses for smaller geographic
areas, they can make use of the partitioning and disaggregation rules.259 Although the use of smaller
geographic service areas, such as CMAs, could potentially encourage participation by smaller providers
and support greater variation in the amount of repurposed spectrum from area to area, on balance offering
licenses for a large number of very small geographic service areas would be inconsistent with our auction
design goals of simplicity and speed.260 First, we must use fewer service areas because the time necessary
to close the incentive auction increases dramatically as the number of licenses increases. As discussed
above, we are designing the forward auction for speed.261 Further, more service areas could complicate
potential bidders’ efforts to plan for, and participate in, the auction for related licenses, potentially
affecting the success of the auction.262 More service areas could also complicate subsequent service
deployment.263
d.

Market Variation

81.
Background. Because the amount of UHF spectrum recovered through the reverse
auction and the repacking process depends on broadcaster participation and other factors, the Commission
explained in the NPRM that any band plan it adopted would have to accommodate variation in the amount
of spectrum recovered in different geographic areas; otherwise, the amount recovered in most markets
nationwide would be limited if less spectrum is recovered in certain markets.264 The Commission sought
comment on how to address potential variation in the amount of spectrum recovered in areas along the
border with Canada and Mexico,265 as well as whether and how to offer new 600 MHz spectrum blocks
that are encumbered or “impaired” by potential co- or adjacent channel interference with domestic
television services operating in nearby markets due to less spectrum being recovered in certain markets.266
We define “impaired” spectrum blocks or “impaired” licenses as those in which a wireless provider is
restricted from operating in the entire geographic boundary of a particular license area in order to prevent

258 Under § 309(j)(4) the Commission, in prescribing regulations for assigning licenses by competitive bidding, shall
“ensure that small businesses, rural telephone companies, and businesses owned by members of minority groups and
women are given the opportunity to participate in the provision of spectrum-based services.”
259 Under the rules we adopt today, a group of wireless providers can form a consortium to jointly bid on a license
that they can subsequently partition as they desire. See 47 C.F.R. § 1.2107(g); § VI.B.2.d.ii (Partitioning and
Disaggregation). We note that in the MSH Report and Order, we indicated that we plan to consider in a Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking possible changes to certain auction rules relating to joint bidding arrangements. See
MSH Report and Order
at § V.B.2.
260 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12411, para. 147.
261 See § I (Introduction).
262 See, e.g., AT&T Dec. 3, 2013 Ex Parte Letter at 2 (“a carrier might well decide that it makes no economic sense
to invest in 600 MHz technology at all if it does not win 600 MHz spectrum rights in most of the geographic areas
within its footprint”).
263 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12411, para. 147. See also Verizon PEAs PN Comments at 3 (“Given the smaller license
size, licensees must manage significantly more potential co-channel interference along their service area
boundaries.”).
264 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12406, para. 136.
265 Id. at 12418, para. 172.
266 Id.at 12419, para. 174.
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harmful interference to remaining television operations in or near the 600 MHz Band; or conversely,
those licenses in which a wireless provider may receive harmful interference from remaining television
operations in or near the 600 MHz Band. 267 In the NPRM, the Commission also sought comment on
what types of impaired blocks it should offer in the forward auction, if any, and how to incorporate any
such offerings into the auction design. The Wireless Bureau sought further comment on how certain band
plan approaches could best address market variation in constrained markets.268 In addition, the Office of
Engineering and Technology (“OET”) released a Public Notice inviting comment on a methodology for
predicting potential inter-service interference between television and licensed wireless services operating
on the same or adjacent channels in nearby markets.269
82.
Discussion. The 600 MHz Band Plan we adopt can accommodate market variation in
order to avoid restricting the amount of repurposed spectrum that is available in most areas nationwide.
We intend to offer a uniform number of 600 MHz spectrum licenses in most markets across the country,
but the 600 MHz Band Plan will enable us to offer some impaired spectrum blocks, or alternatively, fewer
spectrum blocks, in constrained markets where less spectrum is available. We find that accommodating
market variation is necessary. If the 600 MHz Band Plan could not accommodate some market variation,
we would be forced to limit the amount of spectrum offered across the nation to what is available in the
most constrained market (the “least common denominator”), even if more spectrum could be made
available in the vast majority of the country. By allowing for market variation in our 600 MHz Band
Plan, we can ensure that broadcasters have the opportunity to participate in the reverse auction in markets
where interest is high. As a result, more spectrum can be made available nationwide in the forward
auction.
83.
We recognize that there are certain advantages to having a generally consistent band plan.
In particular, limiting the amount of market variation will limit the amount of potential co- and adjacent
channel interference between television and wireless services in nearby areas (“inter-service
interference”).270 Furthermore, limiting the amount of variation will help licensees achieve economies of
scale when deploying their 600 MHz networks.271 Therefore, we will accommodate market variation to a
limited extent only.272 In no case will we offer more spectrum in an area than the amount we decide to
offer in most markets nationwide.273 Rather, we will offer the same amount of spectrum nationwide in all

267 As explained below, we will provide additional guidance in the pre-auction process as to these boundaries and
wireless licensees’ obligations when holding an impaired license. We emphasize that forward auction bidders will
know when they are bidding on an impaired license, and plan to seek further comment on the specific process and
approach for bidding on impaired licenses in the Comment PN.
268 See generally Band Plan PN, 28 FCC Rcd 7414. Specifically, the Wireless Bureau sought additional comment
on three variations of the Down from 51 band plan: (1) Down from 51 Reversed; (2) Down from 51 with TV in the
Duplex Gap; and (3) Down from 51 TDD. Id.
269 See Office of Engineering and Technology Seeks to Supplement the Incentive Auction Proceeding Record
Regarding Potential Interference Between Broadcast Television and Wireless Services
, GN Docket No. 12-268,
Public Notice, 29 FCC Rcd 712 (2014) (Inter-service Interference PN).
270 The Inter-service Interference PN addresses the potential interference scenarios between television and wireless
services where co-channel operations are permitted in nearby areas. See generally Inter-service Interference PN.
271 See, e.g., Ericsson Reply at 11 (offering all markets with the same downlink band “facilitates device
interoperability and promotes economies of scale by avoiding device fragmentation”).
272 The Comment PN will provide guidance and propose specific rules to address how market variation will work in
the forward auction (e.g., how we will determine the amount of spectrum we offer generally; the degree to which we
will accommodate constrained markets, etc.).
273 As we note in § III.C (Unlicensed Operations), we expect that there will still be a substantial amount of spectrum
available for use by TVWS devices in the post-auction television bands, particularly in areas outside of the central
urban areas of the largest DMAs.
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areas where sufficient spectrum is available. In constrained markets where less spectrum is available, we
will offer impaired blocks or fewer blocks than we offer in most markets nationwide.
84.
The decision to accommodate market variation raises a number of issues, including how
to prevent inter-service interference consistent with the requirements of the Spectrum Act,274 how much
market variation to accommodate under different spectrum recovery scenarios, where to place television
stations in the 600 MHz Band if necessary in constrained markets, and whether and how to offer impaired
spectrum blocks in the forward auction. Here, we explain the process by which we will resolve these
issues and establish rules and auction procedures related to inter-service interference. Specifically,
following this Order, we plan to issue an order that establishes the methodology for preventing inter-
service interference. That methodology will govern post-auction co- or adjacent-channel operation of
television and wireless services, including operation of new 600 MHz licensees in these areas (i.e.,
additional rules for licensees that hold impaired 600 MHz licenses). We will issue that order concurrent
with issuing the Comment PN inviting comment on final, specific auction procedures. This approach will
ensure that potential bidders in both the forward and reverse auctions have a clear understanding about
how we will protect against inter-service interference in the 600 MHz Band, and have an opportunity to
comment on how such protection should be taken into consideration in the auction process.
85.
The Comment PN will seek comment on aspects of market variation and inter-service
interference that affect the incentive auction, such as how much market variation to accommodate under
different spectrum recovery scenarios, where to place television stations in the 600 MHz Band in
constrained markets, if necessary, and whether and how to auction impaired spectrum blocks. We will
resolve these issues in the Procedures PN.275 The approach we adopt will appropriately balance the costs
and benefits of having a nationwide band plan versus accommodating market variation.
86.
Although we defer establishing the methodology by which we will prevent inter-service
interference so that we can do so based on a fully developed record with meaningful public input, we
provide guidance on several matters in this Order. First, to prevent inter-service interference to television
stations, 600 MHz licensees with impaired licenses may be required to operate within smaller boundaries
than the entire area for which they hold a license.276 We will provide forward auction bidders with
sufficient information both before and after the incentive auction to determine whether they are bidding
on, or hold, an impaired license. Licensees with impaired licenses will be limited to operation within the
boundaries permitted under the inter-service interference rules we adopt (“permitted boundaries”). Thus,
for example, licensees with impaired licenses will be allowed to operate at the power and out-of-band
emission (“OOBE”) limits authorized by our technical rules only to the permitted boundaries of the
impaired licenses, even if the actual boundaries of their license areas extend further.277 Likewise, such

274 See § III.B.2 (Implementing the Statutory Preservation Mandate).
275 Among other things, we anticipate seeking comment on whether to establish a threshold under which we would
accommodate variation in no more than a certain percentage of top markets nationwide. For example, if the
nationwide target amount were 126 megahertz and we were willing to accommodate variation of no more than 15
percent, then the threshold would be 85 percent of markets, or alternatively, 85 percent of the population nationwide.
276 We are only restricting wireless providers from operating in areas where they are likely to cause harmful
interference to broadcast operations. Nothing in our rules prevents a wireless provider from operating in a part of
their service area in which they may be subject to, but are not likely to cause, harmful interference, even if they hold
an “impaired license.”
277 We note that licensees with impaired 600 MHz licenses must operate within these “permitted boundaries” to
protect against harmful interference to remaining television stations in or near the 600 MHz Band. Consequently, if
a remaining television station affecting an impaired licensee’s service area ceases operating, the 600 MHz licensee
in that impaired area could then operate in its entire license area.
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licensees will be required to meet the build-out requirements only for the area they are permitted to serve
within each license area.278
87.
Second, television stations operating on a co- or adjacent channel to a new 600 MHz
licensee in a nearby market will be limited in their ability to expand their facilities following the incentive
auction. In these markets, some broadcasters will be operating adjacent to or co-channel to wireless
licensees. Such television licensees will not be permitted to expand their noise-limited service contours if
doing so would increase the potential for interference to a wireless licensee’s service area.279 We
recognize that there may be extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of a television licensee in
which it must involuntarily relocate its facilities or cannot replicate its service area on its new channel
after the repacking process without expanding its contour in the direction of the wireless license area.
Because this type of modification would affect both the television licensee and the wireless licensee, we
expect these cases will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and will carefully consider requests
for waiver of our rules in such situations. We encourage television and wireless licensees to work
cooperatively to find an equitable solution should this situation arise.
e.

Guard Bands

88.
Background. Section 6407(a) of the Spectrum Act makes clear that “[n]othing in [the
new incentive auction authority,] as added by section 6402, or in section 6403 shall be construed to
prevent the Commission from using relinquished or other spectrum to implement band plans with guard
bands.”280 In order to protect against harmful interference between dissimilar adjacent operations, and in
accordance with section 6407, the Commission proposed to create guard bands in which it would prohibit
high power operations.281 In addition to preventing harmful interference, the Commission reasoned that
guard bands would help to ensure that wireless spectrum blocks adjacent to television operations would
support wireless broadband services to the same level of performance as spectrum blocks adjacent only to
other spectrum blocks used for wireless broadband service.282 It also proposed to incorporate any
“remainder” spectrum into the guard bands.283 The Commission proposed to size the guard bands in
accordance with the requirement of section 6407(b) that they “shall be no larger than is technically
reasonable to prevent harmful interference between licensed services outside the guard bands.”284 In the
NPRM, the Commission also sought comment on the size of the guard band between the wireless
broadband uplink and downlink bands (commonly referred to as the “duplex gap”).285

278 See § VI.B.2.c.ii (Performance Requirements).
279 We note this limitation applies only to television stations whose operations affect new 600 MHz licensees. Other
stations that seek to expand their service areas may follow the standard procedures in our rules. Further, we clarify
that this restriction applies only to affected stations seeking to expand their service areas in the direction of a
wireless license. Affected stations will not be prohibited from reducing their service contours in the 600 MHz Band,
provided they are otherwise permitted to do so under our rules and policies. See also §§ III.B.2 (Implementing the
Statutory Preservation Mandate), V.C.1 (License Modification Procedures).
280 Spectrum Act § 6407(a).
281 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12412, para. 152.
282 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12412, para. 152.
283 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12419-20, paras. 175-76.
284 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12412, para. 152 (quoting Spectrum Act § 6407(b)).
285 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12417, para. 167. The Commission noted that the size of the duplex gap relative to the
width of the pass band is often considered more important than the absolute size because filter roll off is generally
proportional to frequency. The Commission also noted that in determining the appropriate duplex gap size to
protect against harmful interference, it may consider factors such as the pass band width relative to the center
frequency of the pass band, the duplex spacing between the transmitted and received signals, and allowances for
temperature and manufacturing variation in components. See id.
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89.
Discussion. As permitted by section 6407(a), we incorporate guard bands into our 600
MHz Band Plan to prevent harmful interference between licensed services. Commenters strongly support
the use of such guard bands.286 We adopt a guard band between television and wireless operations that
ranges from seven megahertz to 11 megahertz, depending on the amount of spectrum cleared, as
discussed below. We adopt a uniform duplex gap of 11 megahertz for every clearing scenario, and
uniform three megahertz guard bands to protect against interference between licensed WMTS services on
channel 37 and adjacent wireless services. The Spectrum Act specifically authorizes the FCC to
implement band plans with guard bands, subject to a “technically reasonable” restriction.287 We interpret
the statute to affirm the Commission’s discretion to employ guard bands in exercising its spectrum
management authority.288 Establishing these guard bands not only protects against harmful interference
between the 600 MHz service and adjacent licensed services, but also helps to ensure that the 600 MHz
spectrum blocks that we offer in the forward auction are as interchangeable as possible, consistent with
our auction goals.289 Guard bands also will bolster innovation and investment by unlicensed devices. In
that regard, section 6407(c) specifically authorizes “the use of such guard bands for unlicensed use.”290
90.
As discussed above, the incentive auction presents the unique challenge of not knowing
in advance how much spectrum will be repurposed, and the 600 MHz Band Plan we adopt is therefore
flexible enough to accommodate different spectrum recovery scenarios. The guard bands are tailored to
the technical properties of the 600 MHz Band under each scenario.291 In some scenarios, converting six
megahertz television channels to paired five megahertz blocks would leave “remainders” of spectrum
smaller than six megahertz. Auctioning these remainders would be inconsistent with our decision to
license the 600 MHz Band in paired five megahertz spectrum blocks,292 and would needlessly complicate

286 See, e.g., Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 20; AT&T Comments at 22; AT&T Reply at 20-27; Cisco Comments at
11; Comcast Comments at 21; CTIA Band Plan PN Comments at 4; Motorola Comments at 12-13; Verizon
Comments at 19-20; Verizon Reply at 2-4.
287 Spectrum Act §§ 6407(a), (b).
288 Title III of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 301, et seq., “endow[s] the Commission
with expansive powers,” including “broad authority to manage spectrum . . . in the public interest.” Cellco P’ship v.
FCC,
700 F.3d 534, 541, 542 (D.C. Cir. 2012) (internal quotes and citations omitted). Determinations with respect
to spectrum allocation policy have long been recognized to be precisely the sort that Congress intended to leave to
the broad discretion of the Commission under § 303 of the Communications Act. See Nat’l Ass’n of Regulatory
Util. Comm’rs v. FCC,
525 F.2d 630, 635-36 (D.C. Cir. 1976) (initial allocation of spectrum for land mobile radio
service). The Spectrum Act reinforces the Commission’s established authority by authorizing it to “implement and
enforce” the Spectrum Act’s provisions (including incentive auction authority) “as if this title is a part of the
Communications Act of 1934.” Spectrum Act § 6003(a). Nothing in § 6403(b) of the Spectrum Act “shall be
construed to . . . expand or contract [that] authority, except as otherwise expressly provided.” Id. § 6403(i)(1).
289 See §§ III.A.2.b (5+5 MHz, Interchangeable Spectrum Blocks), IV.C.2.b (Forward Auction – Bid Assignment
Procedures: Determining Winning Bidders and Assigning Frequency-Specific Licenses).
290 Spectrum Act § 6407(c). The legislative history of § 6407 reinforces the statutory language. Section 6407 was
designed as a compromise between competing versions of the legislation, some of which would have designated or
reallocated spectrum for unlicensed use, and one of which did not (the version passed by the House). Compare S.
911, 112th Cong. § 303(a) (2011); H.R. 2482, 112th Cong. § 303(a); with H.R. 3509, 112th Cong. § 301 (2011),
with H.R. 3630, 112th Cong., § 4103 (2011). Based on § 6407’s language and legislative history, we reject EOBC’s
argument that the Spectrum Act requires that all repurposed spectrum, including guard bands, be auctioned. See
EOBC Reply at 24-26.
291 The Technical Appendix shows the size of the guard bands under each scenario. See Technical Appendix § III.B
(Specific Band Plan Scenarios). We note that we may not use each of these scenarios in the forward auction. See §
IV.A (Overview and Integration of the Reverse and Forward Auctions).
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the auction design.293 Accordingly, such remainders are incorporated into the guard bands.294 As a result,
the guard band between television and 600 MHz downlink varies in size to some extent under different
spectrum recovery scenarios.
91.
Guard band size is subject to the statutory “technically reasonable” restriction we address
below. Importantly, it also is limited by our goals for the incentive auction. The statute requires that the
forward auction proceeds cover the costs of incentive payments to clear broadcasters from the 600 MHz
Band and other identified costs.295 The amount of spectrum available to generate such proceeds decreases
with increases in guard band size. In other words, the bigger the guard bands, the less spectrum we can
offer for sale in the forward auction.296 Alternatively, we could seek to repurpose more spectrum, but that
would require clearing more broadcasters, increasing the costs of incentive payments without increasing
the amount of spectrum available in the forward auction to generate the necessary proceeds. Thus, in
sizing the guard bands, we must be mindful of the objective of repurposing spectrum for new, flexible
uses, which can be fulfilled only if the forward auction generates sufficient proceeds. Decreases in the
amount of licensed spectrum available in the forward auction also may undermine competition among
licensed providers in the 600 MHz Band, another important policy objective. The guard bands we
establish in the 600 MHz Band Plan factor in all of these considerations.297
92.
The guard bands meet the statutory requirement that guard bands be “no larger than is
technically reasonable to prevent harmful interference between licensed services outside the guard
(Continued from previous page)
292 As described above, licensing the 600 MHz Band in five megahertz spectrum blocks will allow for the greatest
amount of flexibility and efficiency in the 600 MHz Band Plan, will provide uniformity and utility, and will be the
most compatible with current and emerging technologies. See § III.A.2.b (5+5 MHz, Interchangeable Spectrum
Blocks).
293 See Google/Microsoft Comments at 43 (“Soliciting separate bids for the remaining small spectrum slivers in the
simultaneous forward and reverse auction will introduce needless complexity to the auction process.”). See also §
III.A.2.a (All-Paired, Down From 51 Band Plan). Specifically, by offering these remainders, we would have to offer
additional types of licenses in the forward auction, which would increase the amount of time the auction takes to
close and, therefore, the cost of bidder participation. For these reasons, we reject the argument that we should
auction the guard band spectrum to the highest bidder based on its value for unlicensed use. See Letter from Peter
Pitsch, Executive Director, Communications Policy, Intel, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No.
12-268 (filed Feb. 5, 2014).
294 We note that commenters largely support this approach. See, e.g., CCIA Comments at 2; CEA Comments at 24;
Google Reply at 7 (asserting that it is technically reasonable for the remainder spectrum to be used as part of the
guard bands because increasing separation distance between adjacent services: (1) reduces the likelihood of harmful
interference; (2) improves the customer experience; and (3) reduces costs for carriers and consumers); Intel Reply at
21 (recommending adding remainder spectrum to the duplex gap “if the final band plan boundary conditions create
remainder spectrum that would otherwise be wasted”); PISC Reply at 3 (“PISC is pleased to find a clear consensus
among commenters supporting the Commission’s proposal to designate the guard bands for unlicensed use and to
add to the guard bands any ‘remainder’ spectrum that cannot be auctioned in standard 5 megahertz blocks.”).
295 See 47 C.F.R. § 6403(c)(2); § IV.A (Overview and Integration of the Reverse and Forward Auctions). The
reserve price we adopt requires, among other things, that the forward auction proceeds cover such costs, as well as
any Public Safety Trust Fund amounts needed for FirstNet. See id. (discussing final stage rule).
296 See EOBC Reply at 24-26 (arguing that designating spectrum to unlicensed does not generate revenue to meet the
Spectrum Act’s stated goals and risks auction failure). The above-stated conversion process can magnify the impact
of even small guard band size increases. For example, if the auction were to repurpose 84 megahertz of spectrum, a
one-megahertz increase in duplex gap size (from 11 to 12) could mean making only six 5+5 megahertz paired blocks
available in the forward auction instead of seven.
297 The guard bands we adopt also take into account the 600 MHz Band OOBE and power limits, which mitigate the
potential for harmful interference. See Technical Appendix § II.E (Effect of Frequency Separation on Inter- and
Intra-service Interference (Guard Bands)).
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bands.”298 We interpret “harmful interference” consistent with our rules, which define harmful
interference as interference that “seriously degrades, obstructs, or repeatedly interrupts a
radiocommunication service.”299 Courts have held that the use of the statutory term “reasonable” “opens a
rather large area for the free play of agency discretion.”300 In contrast, the term “necessary” has been read
to refer to something “required to achieve a desired goal.”301 In that regard, we reject suggestions that the
statute requires the Commission to restrict guard bands to the minimum size necessary to prevent harmful
interference.302 Congress knows how to draft provisions of this kind,303 and did not use such language in
section 6407. Rather, it left determination of the appropriate size of the guard bands to prevent harmful
interference to the Commission’s “reasonable” technical judgment. Establishing “technically reasonable”
guard bands is thus not only a matter that Congress left to the Commission’s discretion, but also the type
of predictive judgment that lies at the core of the agency’s expertise.

298 Spectrum Act § 6403(b).
299 47 C.F.R. § 2.1(c); see also id. §§ 15.3(m), 76.613(a). We interpret the statutory term “harmful interference” in
accordance with the FCC’s rules because neither the Spectrum Act nor the Communications Act defines the term,
and “Congress’ repetition of a well-established term generally implies that Congress intended the term to be
construed in accordance with pre-existing regulatory interpretations.” Toyota Motor Mfg., Kentucky, Inc. v.
Williams
, 534 U.S. 184, 193-94 (2002), superseded by statute, ADA Amendments Act of 2008, Pub.L. 110–325,
122 Stat. 3553 (2008); see also McDermott Int'l, Inc. v. Wilander, 498 U.S. 337, 342 (1991) (“In the absence of
contrary indication, we assume that when a statute uses . . . a term [of art], Congress intended it to have its
established meaning.”). Although § 90.7 of the rules refers to a different definition of harmful interference, 47
C.F.R. § 90.7 (“specifically degrades, obstructs, or interrupts”), the Part 2 definition “shall be the definitive term or
definition and shall prevail throughout the Commission’s Rules.” 47 C.F.R. § 2.1(a); see InfoPET Identification
Sys., Inc.
, 11 FCC Rcd 11944, 11947 at para. 9 (1996); see also Northpoint Tech., Ltd. v. FCC, 414 F.3d 61, 69
(D.C. Cir. 2005) (deferring to Commission construction of the same undefined statutory term, “harmful
interference,” by reference to the agency’s own definition in 47 C.F.R. § 2.1).
300 Orloff v. FCC, 352 F.3d 415, 420 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (interpreting “unjust” and “unreasonable” in 47 U.S.C. § 201).
Indeed, the D.C. Circuit has held, in the context of applying another statutory standard of what is “reasonable” with
respect to “the interference potential of [radio] devices,” that such a statutory mandate reflects no more than the
usual requirement that the agency have a rational basis for its technical judgment, which is entitled to judicial
deference. American Radio Relay League, Inc. v. FCC, 617 F.2d 875, 879 (D.C. Cir. 1980) (applying 47 U.S.C. §
302a(a)); see also American Radio Relay League, Inc. v. FCC, 524 F.3d 227, 233 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (granting FCC
“considerable deference” where a “highly technical question” is involved, such as harmful interference). Other
courts have observed that the statutory term “reasonable” is “inherently ambiguous.” City of Arlington v. FCC, 668
F.3d 229, 255, n.126 (5th Cir. 2012) (citing cases), aff’d, 133 S. Ct. 1863 (2013); Alliance for Cmty. Media v.
F.C.C.
, 529 F.3d 763, 777 (6th Cir. 2008). Facially ambiguous terms can have their meanings rendered
unambiguous by reference to statutory structure and history, see, e.g., Alliance, 529 F.3d at 777, but the statutory
structure and history do not suggest an intent to limit the FCC’s predictive judgment regarding harmful interference.
301 See GTE Serv. Corp. v. FCC, 205 F.3d 416, 423 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (citing AT&T Corp. v. Iowa Utils. Bd., 525
U.S. 366, 389-90 (1999)).
302 See, e.g., TIA Comments at 9-10 (“‘Remainder’ spectrum, like all reclaimed spectrum save for guard bands
minimally sized to avoid interference, must be auctioned.”); Joshua Pratt, The 600 MHz Incentive Auction: A
Tension of Law and Public Policy at 22-23 (filed Nov. 26, 2013), available at
http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7520959592 (Pratt Ex Parte); see also AT&T Reply at 24-25 (guard
bands should be no larger than what is “technically needed,” or than the size “needed,” or “sufficient”); Letter from
Mike Gravino, Director, LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition, to Tom Wheeler, Chairman, William Lake, Chief, Media
Bureau and Gary Epstein, Chief, Incentive Auction Task Force, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 2 (filed Apr. 28,
2014) (The Commission should “not create guard-bands which are larger than exactly what is needed to prevent
interference between TV and the wireless services.”).
303 See, e.g., 47 U.S.C. § 251(c)(6) (duty to provide for physical collocation of equipment “necessary for
interconnection or access to unbundled network elements”); 47 U.S.C. § 353(d) (“The Commission shall, when it
finds it necessary for safety purposes, have authority to prescribe the particular hours of watch on a ship of the
United States which in accordance with this part is equipped with a radiotelegraph station.”) (emphases added).
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93.
The record supports our conclusion that the guard bands we adopt are technically
reasonable to prevent harmful interference. With respect to the guard band between television and
wireless operations, which may be from seven to 11 megahertz, depending on the spectrum recovery
scenario, most commenters support a size within that range.304 With regard to the duplex gap, which is 11
megahertz, a number of device manufacturers and wireless carriers support a size of 10 to 12
megahertz.305 Incorporating the “remainder” spectrum into the guard band between television and
wireless operations enhances the protection against harmful interference to licensed services. 306 The three
megahertz guard band in our Band Plan between WMTS on channel 37 and 600 MHz operations likewise
is supported by examination of the record.307
94.
The analysis in the attached Technical Appendix corroborates our conclusion that the
guard bands in our 600 MHz Band Plan are technically reasonable to prevent harmful interference.308
Guard bands employ frequency separation to protect against harmful interference between licensed
services outside the guard bands; the degree of protection generally increases with the amount of
separation. The extent to which frequency separation reduces the potential for interference between a

304 See, e.g., Ericsson Reply at 17 (arguing that the Commission should establish guard bands of at least six
megahertz for low power TV (50 kW EIRP or lower) and a larger guard band for higher power stations to prevent
interference); Google/Microsoft Comments at 39-41, App. at 5-6 (the Commission should implement a conservative
guard band that is larger than six megahertz); Motorola Comments at 12-13 (asserting that guard bands wider than
six megahertz, preferably around 10 megahertz, would help mitigate interference); Sony Comments at 6 (stating that
a six to eight megahertz guard band should be sufficient). But see CCA Comments at 15-16 (stating that three
megahertz is a sufficient guard band size); Comcast Comments at 30 (stating that “the Commission should allocate
at least 20 megahertz of contiguous spectrum in the 600 MHz band – the minimum amount of spectrum generally
considered necessary for providing robust Wi-Fi services – for unlicensed use.”); Free Press Band Plan PN Reply at
2 (“[T]he Commission should make available at the very least a contiguous 20 megahertz guard band or duplex gap
for unlicensed use within the 600 MHz band frequencies . . . .”).
305 See, e.g., Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 21 (“The duplex gap between wireless uplink and wireless downlink
should be between 10 and 12 MHz.”); AT&T Reply at 21 (“the size of the duplex gap needed to avoid such
adjacent-channel interference is 10-12 megahertz”); Qualcomm Reply at 18 (“A duplex gap of approximately 11 to
12 MHz is the minimum needed to avoid interference between mobile downlink and uplink. . . .”); Verizon
Comments at 18 (“The [duplex] gap must be at least 10 MHz (and possibly larger, depending on the overall band
design.”). But see NCTA Reply at 3-7 (“a duplex gap of at least 20 MHz—is technically reasonable and is the best
way to promote the objectives of the Spectrum Act and the public interest”). See also Technical Appendix §§ II.E.5
(Potential for Interference between 600 MHz Uplink and 600 MHz Downlink (Duplex Gap)), III (Band Plan).
306 See Google Reply at 7 (asserting that it is technically reasonable for the remainder spectrum to be used as part of
the guard bands because increasing separation distance between adjacent services reduces the likelihood of harmful
interference, which improves the customer experience and reduces costs for carriers and consumers).
307 See § III.D.1.b.ii (Interference Protections for Incumbent Services). We do not establish a guard band between
the adjacent operations in the 600 MHz uplink band and the Lower 700 MHz A Block (698 MHz to 704 MHz). See
Technical Appendix § II.E.4 (Potential for Interference between 600 MHz Uplink and 700 MHz Uplink).
Commenters agree that because these two bands are both used for terrestrial uplink services, they are harmonized
and do not require guard bands to prevent harmful interference. See, e.g., Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 21(stating
that no guard band is needed between 600 MHz uplink and Lower 700 MHz uplink); CEA Band Plan PN Comments
(stating that the 600 MHz uplink block should be situated adjacent to the 700 MHz uplink block, eliminating any
need for a guard band between those operations).
308 See Technical Appendix § II.E (Effect of Frequency Separation on Inter- and Intra-service Interference). As
discussed above in Section I (Introduction), we are committed to an open and transparent process for the incentive
auction. To that end, we provide the Technical Appendix to give additional insight into the FCC’s analysis
confirming our determinations about the appropriate guard band sizes, among other technical issues. We address the
appropriate guard band size between 600 MHz downlink and WMTS services on channel 37 in § III.D.1.b.ii
(Interference Protections for Incumbent Services), with supporting analysis in the Technical Appendix. See
Technical Appendix § II.E.2 (Potential for Interference between 600 MHz Downlink and WMTS).
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transmitter and a receiver can be measured by a well-established relationship among transmitted power
spectral density, receiver selectivity, and frequency separation between transmitter and receiver.309 In the
case of television and the 600 MHz downlink, the two specific interference cases are a television
transmitter to a mobile broadband device, and a mobile broadband base station to a television receiver.
Frequency dependent rejection (“FDR”) values for these two cases at different degrees of frequency
separation show significant differences in likely interference. Taken together, the results of these two
interference cases corroborate our decision that the technically reasonable guard band size between
television and the 600 MHz downlink is seven to 11 megahertz, depending on the particular band plan
scenario.310
95.
Transmit and receive filters often contribute significantly to interference protection, and
accordingly we also consider the capabilities of mobile device filters in the case of television and the 600
MHz downlink. The transition band, or separation needed for significant filter rejection, can be as small
as seven megahertz with reasonable cost, complexity, and size, but increasing the transition band size up
to 11 megahertz reduces the filter cost, complexity, and size and enables a greater variety of filter
technologies to be considered.311 Consideration of this determination together with our FDR analysis
confirms that a guard band size between television and wireless operations of seven to 11 megahertz is
technically reasonable.
96.
With respect to the duplex gap, many FDD technologies, including FD-LTE, allow
simultaneous transmission and reception. Because the transmitter and receiver are co-located, however,
there is a potential for self-interference (i.e., harmful interference within the device). For this reason, the
FDD device contains a receive and a transmit filter designed to operate together to reduce the likelihood
of such interference. The two filters depend on frequency separation, often referred to as the “duplex
gap,” to operate properly.312 Factors that affect the impact of frequency separation are the transmitter’s
Out of Band Emissions (“OOBE”) and filter capability.313 With regard to the former, a duplex gap of up
to 11 megahertz, depending on the spectrum recovery scenario, is reasonable to prevent third order
intermodulation products adjacent to the transmit signal from overlapping the frequency region of the

309 For a detailed description of this Frequency Dependent Rejection (FDR) relationship, see NTIA, Frequency
Dependent Rejection Overview, http://www.its.bldrdoc.gov/publications/2498.aspx (last visited Apr. 10, 2014); see
also
DISA/DSO, Communications Receiver Performance Degradation Handbook, Doc. Ctrl. No. JSC-CR-10-004, at
28-31 (2010), available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/jsc-cr-10-004final.pdf ; Edward F.
Drocella, et al., NTIA, Description of a Model to Compute the Aggregate Interference From Radio Local Area
Networks Employing Dynamic Frequency Selection, TM-09-461, at 5-9 (2009), available at
http://ntiacsd.ntia.doc.gov/msam/FDR/FDRoverview.htm. The FDR methodology compares the interference
potential to a theoretical situation where all the transmitter power falls directly on the receiver’s desired channel.
For example, if a transmitted signal reaches a receiver at a power of -40 dBm, and the FDR is 50 dB, this means the
interference is equivalent to -90 dBm in the receiver’s channel. The FDR value can also be viewed as the amount of
transmitted signal attenuation at the receiver, which depends on the frequency offset (separation) between the
receiver and transmitter due to the receiver detuning and different receiver and transmitter bandwidth overlaps.
310 See Technical Appendix § II.E.1 (Potential for Interference between Television and 600 MHz Services).
311 See Technical Appendix §§ II.A (Mobile Filter Considerations), II.E.5 (Potential for Interference between 600
MHz Uplink and 600 MHz Downlink (Duplex Gap)).
312 The duplex gap may also refer to all the frequencies between the two filters, and in this proceeding it has been
used by commenters in several related but distinct senses, such as all frequencies between the uplink and downlink
pass bands regardless of the filter arrangement. To avoid confusion, we refer to the spectrum between the uplink
and downlink bands in the 600 MHz Band as a “duplex gap,” which serves as a guard band between the 600 MHz
uplink and downlink bands.
313 In modern mobile broadband devices, the strongest OOBE is in the region of third order intermodulation products
adjacent to the transmit signal, so the duplex gap needs to be large enough to prevent this region from overlapping
the frequency region of the receive signal. See Technical Appendix § II.E.5 (Potential for Interference between 600
MHz Uplink and 600 MHz Downlink (Duplex Gap)).
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receive signal.314 With regard to filter capability, in order to be as large as the achievable transition band,
and considering the high rejection needed to prevent self-interference, the duplex gap should be at least
11 megahertz.315 Consideration of these two factors together confirms that the duplex gap in our 600
MHz Band Plan, which is 11 megahertz, is technically reasonable to prevent harmful interference.316
97.
We reject arguments that the Commission should establish larger guard bands to facilitate
their use by unlicensed devices.317 For the reasons discussed above, doing so would threaten our ability to

314 Intermodulation products are unintended transmissions that can be generated in radio components, and can be
significant sources of out-of-band emissions. See, e.g., CTIA Comments at 24-25 (“Intermodulation distortion
occurs due to the interaction between two radio signals such that each affects the amplitude of the other signal,
thereby distorting the received communication. The overall impact of the distortion will be driven by the magnitude
of the two signals and it is additive, such that the more frequencies that are mixed together (and at higher powers),
the more interference is generated.”). See Technical Appendix § II.E.5 (Potential for Interference between 600 MHz
Uplink and 600 MHz Downlink (Duplex Gap)). We reject Google and Microsoft’s argument that the size of the
duplex gap needs to be equal to the size of the pass band to address the intermodulation issue. Google/Microsoft
Comments, App. at 4; see Technical Appendix § II.C.2 (User Equipment Self-Intermodulation).
315 See Technical Appendix § II.E.5 (Potential for Interference between 600 MHz Uplink and 600 MHz Downlink
(Duplex Gap)).
316 A number of commenters support a duplex gap of 11 megahertz. See, e.g., Letter from Joan Marsh, Vice
President, Federal Regulatory for AT&T, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 2 (filed
May 9, 2014) (“AT&T supports a minimum 11 MHz duplex gap as essential to effective deployment of the new 600
MHz band.”); Letter from H. Nwana, Executive Director, Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 2 (filed May 7, 2014) (“[T]he duplex gap between uplink and downlink
licensed operations must be 11 or 12 MHz at an absolute bare minimum to . . . ensure that licensed devices are
protected from harmful interference.”); Letter from Paul Margie, Counsel, Google, Inc., to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 (filed May 8, 2014) (expressing support for establishing a nationwide 11
MHz duplex gap); Letter from Michael Calabrese, New America Foundation, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC,
GN Docket No. 12-268 at 2 (filed May 6, 2014) (“The Order should find that a duplex gap of [at] least 11-12 MHz
wide is technically reasonable.”); Qualcomm Reply at 18 (“A duplex gap of approximately 11 to 12 MHz is the
minimum needed to avoid interference between mobile downlink and uplink.”); Letter from Dr. Apurva N. Mody,
Chairman, WhiteSpace Alliance, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 3 (filed May 7,
2014) (“the duplex gap between uplink and downlink licensed operations must be a minimum of 11 or 12 MHz”).
In addition, a number of commenters support a duplex gap that is a minimum of 10 megahertz. See also Alcatel-
Lucent Comments at 21 (“The duplex gap between wireless uplink and wireless downlink should be between 10 and
12 MHz”); Letter from Rick Kaplan, Executive Vice President, Strategic Planning, NAB, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268, Att at 8 (filed May 9, 2014) (“The duplex gap should be at least 10
megahertz.”) Verizon Comments at 18 (“The [duplex] gap must be at least 10 MHz (and possibly larger), depending
on the overall band design.”).
317 In addition to TV white space (TVWS) device access to any unused channels in the reorganized television bands,
see 47 C.F.R. §§ 15.701-15.717 (Subpart H-Television Band Devices), unlicensed proponents argue that the
Commission should make spectrum available for unlicensed use on a nationwide basis, including: (1) an expanded
guard band separating television and commercial wireless services; (2) an expanded guard band or duplex gap
separating wireless uplink and downlink services; (3) two unused television channels set aside for wireless
microphone use; and (4) channel 37 on a shared basis with WMTS and RAS. See Google/Microsoft Reply at 5-6, 8-
9; IEEE 802 Reply at 2; Motorola Mobility Comments at 14-15; Wi-Fi Alliance Comments at 3-4; WISPA
Comments at 16-18. Commenters argue that 10-28 megahertz of spectrum in the 600 MHz Band should be
identified for unlicensed use. See Comcast Comments at 41-44 (20 megahertz of contiguous spectrum for Wi-Fi
use); Google/Microsoft Comments at 32 (duplex gap should be maximum amount of “usable” unlicensed spectrum
taking into account technical and economic factors); IEEE 802 Reply at 2 (minimum of three six-megahertz
channels for TVWS use); Wi-Fi Alliance Comments at 3 (more than six megahertz guard band is needed for TVWS
device to meet out-of-band emission limits and avoid interference to adjacent band services); WISPA Comments at
18 (24 megahertz of contiguous spectrum above channel 21); WSA Comments at 25-26 (10-14 megahertz guard
bands between LTE and broadcasting and 18-28 megahertz duplex gap). Over the course of this proceeding, their
proposal has evolved into a request for four “usable” channels for unlicensed use. See Letter from Austin C.
(continued….)
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meet our goals in the incentive auction.318 Moreover, guard bands larger than those incorporated in our
600 MHz Band Plan would not satisfy the requirements of section 6407(b).319 The statutory “technically
reasonable” restriction was a compromise between one legislative proposal that would have required all
repurposed spectrum to be licensed and other proposals that would have designated or reallocated
repurposed spectrum specifically for unlicensed use.320 That compromise permits the establishment of
guard bands, and the use of such guard bands for unlicensed use, but requires that the guard bands be no
larger than the Commission determines is technically reasonable for the specific purpose of preventing
harmful interference between licensed services outside the guard bands. Thus, we reject suggestions that
section 6407(c) implicitly requires us to size guard bands to facilitate unlicensed use without regard to
their effect in preventing harmful interference.321 Such arguments would effectively negate Congress’s
express directive in section 6407(b) regarding “size of guard bands.” We also reject NCTA’s argument
that the duplex gap is not a “guard band” and, therefore, need not be sized in accordance with section
6407(b).322
f.

Band Plan Technical Considerations

98.
The 600 MHz Band Plan technical issues below are addressed in detail in the Technical
Appendix. For a complete discussion of the issues and our conclusions, we refer readers to the Appendix.
(Continued from previous page)
Schlick, Director, Communications Law, Google, Inc., to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-
268 (filed Mar. 25, 2014) (seeking four “usable” six-megahertz channels for unlicensed use on a nationwide basis);
Letter from Paul Margie, Counsel, Google, Inc., to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268
(filed Mar. 6, 2014) (seeking four “usable” six-megahertz channels for unlicensed use on a nationwide basis). By
“usable” spectrum, these commenters mean the amount needed to accommodate six megahertz channels used by
TVWS devices under the Part 15 rules, with additional spectrum on either side of the emission bandwidth to protect
adjacent bands from harmful interference.
318 See § III.A.1 (Background).
319 One commenter, Google/Microsoft, submitted a technical analysis supporting a guard band of up to 12 megahertz
between television and 600 MHz downlink services, and a duplex gap of up to 24 megahertz. See Google/Microsoft
Comments at 37-42, App. We explain why we do not find this analysis persuasive in the Technical Appendix. See
Technical Appendix § II.E.1 (Potential for Interference Between Television and 600 MHz Services).
320 See n.292.
321 See Free Press Reply at 7; NCTA Comments at 16-17. NCTA argues that “the Spectrum Act explicitly
recognizes the importance of unlicensed spectrum in the wireless marketplace by specifically authorizing the
Commission to permit the use of guard bands for unlicensed use and by otherwise recognizing the importance of
unlicensed use of spectrum in parallel with the auction of spectrum for licensed uses,” that “Congress expected the
Commission to use that authority effectively and productively,” and that Congress’s “objective would be frustrated
by the adoption of a band plan that hampered or limited the utility of those bands for that purpose.” Id.
322 See NCTA Comments at 11 (citing NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12412, para. 152 & 12416, para. 166). NCTA’s
argument is based solely on the NPRM description of the duplex gap in the lead band plan proposal, not on an
existing or proposed definition of the statutory term “guard band.” See id. Contrary to NCTA’s argument,
interpreting “guard band” to include the duplex gap is consistent both with the statutory language, that the function
of the duplex gap is “to prevent harmful interference between licensed services outside the guard bands,”
specifically 600 MHz uplink and downlink services, and with the common meaning of the term. Spectrum Act §
6407(b); AT&T Reply at 25-26 n.32 (defining guard band as “[a] narrow bandwidth between adjacent channels
which serves to reduce interference between those adjacent channels”) (quoting Newton’s Telecom Dictionary 551
(26th ed. 2011)); Comcast Comments at 44 (“the duplex gap serves as a type of guard band”); Free Press Band Plan
PN
Reply at 2 n.5; Verizon Reply at 12 n.31 (characterizing duplex gap as “a guard band between the downstream
and upstream channels” that is “required to avoid self-interference”) (internal quotes and citations omitted); Cisco
Comments at 11 n.19 (guard band includes allocation either “to separate adjacent transmit and receive bands within
a given service” or “to separate bands of different services”) (internal quotes and citations omitted).
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(i)

Pass Band Size and Mobile Filter Considerations

99.
Background. In the NPRM, the Commission recognized that current technology limits
the size of an FDD pass band to roughly four percent of the center frequency for a single duplexer, or
filter, and a TDD pass band to 7.5 percent.323 It noted, however that surface acoustic wave (“SAW”)
filters using alternative manufacturing processes with lithium niobate may support an FDD pass band of
six percent.324 The Commission sought comment on current filter technology, the actual limitations on
filters, and why those limitations exist.325 It also asked commenters to address the potential for future
technologies that may support a wider pass band than what typically can be supported currently.326
Finally, the Commission sought comment on how pass band size relates to the size of the guard bands,
including the duplex gap.327
100.
Many commenters agree that current technology limits the pass band to roughly four
percent of the center frequency for a single duplexer.328 Some commenters support wider pass bands that
would require multiple filters to achieve, however. Commenters’ views differ on whether we should
adopt a pass band size using one or multiple filters.329
101.
Discussion. The 600 MHz Band Plan we adopt has at most a 60 megahertz pass band
size, which can be accommodated by using multiple filters. The specific size of the pass band for the 600
MHz Band Plan depends on the amount of spectrum we can ultimately make available in the forward
auction. Based on the results of our technical analysis, we agree with the commenters that assert that the
maximum pass band size for current technology is roughly four percent of the center frequency for a
single filter. However, we also agree with commenters who point out that this need not limit the 600
MHz Band Plan pass band size, as multiple duplexers can be used.330 Therefore, as discussed in the
Technical Appendix,331 filter pass band size is not a limit on the pass band size for our 600 MHz Band
Plan.
(ii)

Mobile Antenna Considerations

102.
Background. Some commenters suggest that mobile antenna bandwidth limitations limit
the amount of paired spectrum that can be offered in a single band. 332 For example, Qualcomm suggests
that bandwidths of 70 megahertz or more may not be feasible in smart phones without using a tunable

323 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12417-18, para. 169.
324 Id. at para. 169.
325 Id. at 12418, para. 170.
326 Id. at para. 171.
327 Id.
328 See, e.g., AT&T Comments at 18; Motorola Comments at 12; Qualcomm Comments at 14-15; RIM Comments at
14.
329 The following commenters support a pass band size of 25 megahertz: Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 28; AT&T
Comments at 18; Ericsson Reply at 13-14; Intel Reply at 4-16; Qualcomm Comments at 4; Samsung Band Plan PN
Reply at 3-5; Verizon Comments at 11-14 (for its band plan with a lower clearing target). NCTA supports a pass
band size of 30 megahertz. NCTA Reply, App. at 25-30. The following commenters support a pass band size of 35
megahertz: T-Mobile Comments at 10; Verizon Comments at 7-11 (for its band plan with a higher clearing target).
330 Letter from Kathleen Ham, T-Mobile USA, Inc. and Kathleen Grillo, Verizon, to Ruth Milkman, Chief, Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau and Gary Epstein, Chief, Incentive Auction Task Force, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268
(filed Sept. 16, 2013).
331 See Technical Appendix § II.A (Mobile Filter Considerations).
332 See e.g., Qualcomm Reply at 24-25; RIM Comments at 8; T-Mobile Reply at 12; Verizon Comments at 14.
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antenna or multiple antennas.333 AT&T proposes limiting paired spectrum to 25+25 megahertz using a
Down from 51 configuration because supporting larger amounts necessitates the use of larger antennas
and poses engineering challenges.”334 Other commenters, such as Ericsson and T-Mobile, suggest that
although there is some decrease in antenna performance when allowing for more paired spectrum in a
single band, making more paired spectrum available is nonetheless preferable.335
103.
Discussion. We will not limit the amount of paired spectrum we make available because
of mobile antenna concerns. We agree with Ericsson, T-Mobile and others that although more paired
spectrum in a single band decreases antenna performance to some extent, it is better nonetheless to make
more paired spectrum available. For example, as set forth in the Technical Appendix, the propagation of
the 600 MHz Band is such that even if repurposing a large amount of spectrum has a coverage impact, the
coverage would still be as good as the 700 or 800 MHz Bands.336 The relatively small potential costs of
degradation in antenna performance are outweighed by the utility of repurposing spectrum. Further, these
issues can be addressed using a tunable antenna or other antenna technologies.337 Therefore, we will not
limit the amount of paired spectrum we make available because of mobile antenna concerns.338
(iii)

Intermodulation Interference

104.
Background. Commenters raise two primary concerns about intermodulation causing
harmful interference to mobile broadband users of the 600 MHz Band.339 First, they argue that television
stations should not be placed between the 600 MHz uplink and downlink bands (“TV in the duplex
gap”).340 Second, they argue that in-band third order intermodulation products formed by the user
equipment (“UE,” e.g., mobile handset) transmission would combine with themselves and fall into the
downlink pass band.341
105.
Discussion. We will not limit the amount of spectrum available in the forward auction
based on intermodulation interference concerns. As discussed in the Technical Appendix, we find that
with appropriate frequency separation, placing television stations in the duplex gap will not cause harmful
interference, should we decide to do so to accommodate market variation.342 We also agree with Alcatel-

333 See Qualcomm Comments at 6. Other commenters argue that tunable antennas are practical for wide
deployment, however. But see, e.g., Craig Sparks, Sprint, 600 MHz Band Plan Workshop Transcript at 120-22.
334 AT&T Comments at 30 (“[T]he extreme width of [the Down from 51 and 36 band plan’s] duplex gap would
necessitate the use of larger antennas and pose major engineering challenges”).
335 See e.g., Christian Bergljung, Ericsson, 600 MHz Band Plan Workshop Transcript at 106-9; T-Mobile Reply at
18-20 (advocating for a 35x35 MHz pass band because it will create the most paired spectrum and arguing that the
losses suffered by the antenna are manageable).
336 See Technical Appendix § II.B (Mobile Antenna Considerations).
337 See, e.g., T-Mobile Reply at 18-20; see also Craig Sparks, Sprint, 600 MHz Band Plan Workshop Transcript at
120-22.
338 See Technical Appendix § II.B (Mobile Antenna Considerations).
339 Intermodulation interference occurs when signals combine in a non-linear device, which generates
intermodulation products on related frequencies, and one of these products interferes with a receiver.
340 See e.g., Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 14-16; CEA Band Plan PN Comments at 3; Ericsson Reply at 4, 9-10, 17;
Google Reply at 8-9; Motorola Comments at 9-10; NAB Comments at 6; TechAmerica Reply at 4; US Cellular
Band Plan PN Comments at 3.
341 See e.g., Google Reply at 8-9; Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 14-16. Commenters have also raised concerns about
intermodulation causing interference to TV receivers, which is discussed in § VI.B.1.a (Out-of-Band Emission
Limits).
342 See Technical Appendix § II.C (Intermodulation Interference). As discussed above, we are not now deciding
whether to place television stations in the duplex gap. See § III.A.2.d (Market Variation).
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Lucent that a technically reasonable duplex gap, which we adopt as part of our 600 MHz Band Plan, will
prevent in-band third order intermodulation products from falling in the downlink pass band.343
(iv)

Harmonic Interference

106.
Background. Harmonics are a form of intermodulation product that is generated by self-
intermodulation of a signal in a transmitter, resulting in the signal appearing at multiples of the desired
frequency.344 Some commenters express concerns about harmonic interference from 600 MHz mobile
devices interfering with mobile devices in other bands, such as the PCS band and the BRS/EBS band.
Most of these commenters focus on interference within the mobile device, which is caused by
simultaneous use of certain bands via carrier aggregation.345 Others argue that mobile-to-mobile
interference could occur between 600 MHz devices and devices in other bands,346 and that using the 643-
667 MHz Band for mobile uplink transmissions will result in harmonic interference.347
107.
Not all commenters believe that the harmonic interference will result in harmful
interference, however.348 Alcatel-Lucent acknowledges that while harmonic interference will occur, the
harmonics that are generated from base station emissions are manageable.349 Sprint argues that potential
third-harmonic conflicts already exist in the U.S., and “yet we have seen little evidence of such
interference problems to date.”350 T-Mobile explains that the vast majority of the time, the device
transmitter will operate with far less than 23 dBm power and, as a result, produce far less desensitization
into the PCS receiver.351
108.
Discussion. As discussed in the Technical Appendix, any potential harmonic interference
created in the 600 MHz Band can be effectively mitigated so that it does not result in harmful
interference. 352 The risk of mobile-to-mobile harmful interference through harmonic interference is
minimal.353 In addition, although we recognize that harmful interference within a device could occur in a
carrier aggregation scenario, we agree with commenters who suggest that this potential can be mitigated
in various ways.354 Therefore, we find that we do not need to limit the amount of spectrum we offer in the
600 MHz Band due to the potential for harmonic interference.

343 Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 14-16.
344 For example, given a frequency f, the harmonic intermodulation products appear at 2f, 3f, 4f, and so forth, and are
progressively weaker.
345 See, e.g., Qualcomm Comments at 6-13 (“[I]t would be particularly challenging to support a 600 MHz uplink
band that extends beyond 25 MHz in mobile devices that also support bands above 600 MHz.”).
346 See, e.g., Alcatel—Lucent Comments at 13 (“Considering the body loss for both terminals, a new entrant’s
terminal transmitting, for example, at 650 MHz at 200 MWatts (23 dBm) can inject -26dBm into a nearby PCS
terminal’s receive antenna.”).
347 Alcatel—Lucent Comments at 3, 13-14; AT&T Comments at 19, 24-27; CTIA Comments at 26; Ericsson Reply
at 31-32; Nokia Comments at 13-14; Verizon Comments at 14.
348 Alcatel—Lucent Comments at 17; DISH Reply at 8-9; Sprint Comments at 25; T-Mobile Reply at 23-26.
349 Alcatel—Lucent Comments at 17.
350 Sprint Comments at 25.
351 T-Mobile Reply at 24.
352 See Technical Appendix §II.D (Harmonic Interference).
353 See Technical Appendix §II.D (Harmonic Interference).
354 See Sprint Reply at 18 (“With little additional low-band spectrum available, neither industry nor the Commission
should preclude spectrally efficient, pro-competitive solutions simply because of harmonic issues that invite
practical, technical solutions.”); see also Technical Appendix §II.D (Harmonics Interference).
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B.

Repacking the Broadcast Television Bands

109.
Repacking involves reorganizing television stations in the broadcast television bands so
that the stations that remain on the air after the incentive auction occupy a smaller portion of the UHF
band, thereby freeing up a portion of that band for new wireless uses.355 In repacking, the Commission
will exercise its longstanding spectrum management authority,356 as it has in prior actions such as the
digital television transition, as well as the specific grant of authority in the Spectrum Act.357 The
Spectrum Act imposes express requirements on that exercise of authority; in particular, it makes
repacking “subject to international coordination along the border with Mexico and Canada” and requires
“all reasonable efforts to preserve, as of the date of the enactment of this Act, the coverage area and
population served of each broadcast television licensee, as determined using the methodology described
in OET Bulletin 69.”358
110.
The selection of winning reverse auction bids will depend in part on the Commission’s
ability to assign television channels to the stations that are not relinquishing their spectrum usage rights.
Because participation in the reverse auction is voluntary, the option for active bidders to stay in their pre-
auction band must remain available.359 To ensure this option is available, the feasibility of assigning a
channel in the pre-auction band must be checked for each non-participating station and each active bidder
before each auction round. The reverse auction and the repacking process are, therefore, interdependent;
for the incentive auction to succeed, they must work together.360
111.
Speed is critical to the successful implementation of the incentive auction.361 If the
reverse auction bidding takes an unreasonably long time to complete because of the time required to
determine whether there is an appropriate channel for each station that has not relinquished its spectrum
usage rights, then the viability of the auction as a whole will be threatened.362 Our repacking
methodology, therefore, must be capable of analyzing complex technical issues in a timely manner, that
is, fast enough not to unduly slow down the bidding process. Certainty also is vital: because the reverse
auction outcome depends on repacking decisions, the results of the repacking process cannot be tentative
or indefinite after the auction is complete.363

355 See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(1) (requiring the FCC, in order to “mak[e] available spectrum to carry out the
forward auction,” to “evaluate the broadcast television spectrum,” and authorizing it, “subject to international
coordination . . . ,” to “make such reassignments of television channels as the Commission considers appropriate”
and “reallocate such portions of such spectrum as the Commission determines are available for reallocation.”).
356 See n.288.
357 See Spectrum Act §§ 6003(a), 6403(b).
358 Spectrum Act §§ 6403(b)(1)(B), (b)(2). See also id. §§ 6403(b)(3) (no involuntary relocation from UHF to
VHF), (g) (limitation on reorganization authority).
359 Pre-auction bands, or home bands, include the lower VHF band (channels 2-6), the upper VHF band (channels 7-
13), and the UHF band (channels 14-51).
360 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12359, para. 5.
361 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12378, para. 61 (“We believe that speed is important to the successful design of the
incentive auction for a number of reasons, including the interdependence of the reverse and forward auctions.”).
362 Broadcast stations may drop out of the bidding or not participate in the first place if they must wait for days,
weeks or even months to find out whether their bids are accepted. Excessively long reverse auction stages would
also impose costs on bidders in the forward auction. Because closing the incentive auction requires completion of
the final stage of both the forward and the reverse auction, the possibility of significant delay in the latter could
discourage participation in the forward auction, as well. See § IV.A (Overview and Integration of the Reverse and
Forward Auctions).
363 See Spectrum Act § 6403(e) (the FCC may not conduct more than one reverse auction or more than one
repacking under §§ 6403(a)(1) and (b), respectively). As discussed below, after the auction is complete and any
(continued….)
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112.
Because our implementation of the repacking process is driven by the Spectrum Act’s
express requirements, as well as by auction design considerations, explaining our decisions requires an
understanding of the repacking methodology’s role in the reverse auction. Accordingly, we begin this
Section with an overview of how the repacking process will work in the context of the reverse auction.
We then address how we will make all reasonable efforts to preserve television stations’ coverage areas
and populations served pursuant to the statute’s requirements. Next, we address which stations’ coverage
areas and populations served we will make all reasonable efforts to preserve, both pursuant to the
requirements of the statute and as a matter of Commission discretion. Last, we address coordination with
Mexico and Canada along our common borders.
1.

Repacking Process Overview

113.
Here, we briefly describe the repacking methodology we adopt and how it will work in
the context of the reverse auction.364 As an initial matter, we adopt an approach that incorporates
elements of both procedures proposed in the NPRM to assign channels to television stations that will
remain on the air.365 During the reverse auction bidding process, we will undertake a “repacking
feasibility check” to ensure that each station that will remain on the air after the incentive auction is
reassigned to a channel that satisfies the statutory preservation mandate.366 After the final stage rule is
satisfied and bidding stops (but before the incentive auction concludes), channel assignments will be
optimized and finalized.367 As discussed below, this approach will enable rapid evaluation of bids during
the reverse auction. This approach also will provide certainty that a channel that complies with the
requirements imposed by the Spectrum Act and our rules is available for every station that remains on the
air following the incentive auction.
114.
Prior to the commencement of the reverse auction, the staff will determine the coverage
area and population served as of February 22, 2012 (the date of the enactment of the Spectrum Act) of
every television station whose coverage area and population served the Commission will make all
reasonable efforts to preserve in the repacking process, using the methodology described in the Office of
Engineering and Technology Bulletin No. 69 (“OET-69”).368 With respect to certain facilities we are
exercising discretion to protect, we will determine the coverage area and population served as of dates
appropriate to those facilities.369 Based on this data, the staff will develop constraint files for each station
(Continued from previous page)
channel reassignments become effective, we will accept applications by individual stations to modify the channel
assignments they received in the repacking process. See § V.C.1.b (Alternate Channel and Expanded Facilities
Opportunities).
364 The incentive auction is discussed in more detail below in § IV (The Incentive Auction Process).
365 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12374-75, paras. 45-46 (seeking comment on “integer programming algorithm” or
optimization-based and sequential algorithm approaches to establishing channel assignments). This decision is
discussed in detail in § IV.B.2.b (Reverse Auction – Bid Assignment Procedures: Determining Which Bids Are
Accepted).
366 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12375, para. 46 (setting forth the sequential algorithm approach).
367 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12374, para 45 (setting forth the integer programming algorithm approach).
Optimization techniques also will be employed during the initialization step of the reverse auction. See § IV.A
(Overview and Integration of the Reverse and Forward Auctions).
368 See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2); OET-69 (Feb. 6, 2004), available at
http://transition.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Engineering_Technology/Documents/bulletins/oet69/oet69.pdf. The methodology
described in OET-69 is addressed below in § III.B.2.b (OET-69 and TVStudy).
369 The stations whose coverage area and population served we will make all reasonable efforts to preserve are set
forth in § III.B.3 (Facilities to Be Protected).
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using the approach set forth in the Repacking Data PN, with the exceptions noted below.370 OET
explained in the Repacking Data PN how such data could be processed for use in the repacking process.371
Specifically, an “interference-paired” file will be produced that includes records for each station. The
interference-paired file will include a list of all the other television stations that could not be assigned to
operate on the same channel or on an adjacent channel with each particular station.372 Additionally, a
“domain” file will be produced that includes records for each station. The domain file will include a list
of all the channels to which the station could be assigned considering “fixed constraints,” that is,
incumbents in the bands other than domestic television stations that are entitled to interference protection
at fixed geographic locations and on specific channels.373 The two files, collectively the “constraint files,”
will be used to check the feasibility of assigning permissible channels to stations that will remain on the
air. The constraint files will enable the repacking methodology to rapidly evaluate during the reverse
auction bidding process whether a channel could feasibly (that is, consistent with the preservation
mandate of the Spectrum Act) be assigned to each station in light of the other stations that must also be
assigned channels at that point during the auction.374
115.
We adopt the approach to developing constraint files proposed in the Repacking Data
PN, except that the determination of coverage area and population served, as required by the Spectrum
Act, will not be calculated based on a single channel, or “proxy” channel, in each band.375 Instead, we
will calculate the coverage of a station and the interference between stations on every possible channel
that could be assigned to the station during the repacking process.376 Further, the data inputs and
assumptions that appear in the Repacking Data PN will be updated to reflect the decisions adopted in this

370 See Incentive Auction Task Force Releases Information Related to Incentive Auction Repacking, ET Docket No.
13-26, GN Docket No. 12-268, Public Notice, 28 FCC Rcd 10370 (2013) (Repacking Data PN).
371 The data included in the constraint files released in conjunction with the Repacking Data PN were based on
preliminary assumptions and will not be used in the auction. See id. at 10374. As stated below, the data instead will
be updated consistent with the decisions adopted in this Order.
372 The interference-paired file will match the coverage area of a station to the degree that the area is populated.
373 These incumbents include Canadian and Mexican television facilities or allotments, certain land mobile and radio
astronomy facilities (RAS), as well as wireless medical telemetry (WMTS) devices.
374 Consistent with the Repacking Data PN, in addition to the data required to carry out the statutory preservation
mandate, see Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2) (mandating “all reasonable efforts” to preserve coverage area and
population served), constraint files will include data necessary to meet the requirements of §§ 90.903, 73.623(e), and
2.106 of the Commission’s rules. See 47 C.F.R. §§ 90.303 (requiring distance-based protections between television
stations and land mobile operations in channels 14-20 in certain markets), 73.623(e) (protecting land mobile
licensees operating in variance with the specified locations and channels under waivers of § 90.303), 2.106
(protecting channel 37 allocation for RAS and WMTS, and protecting channel 17 in Hawaii only where it is
allocated on a primary basis for common carrier control and repeater stations for point-to-point inter-island
communications; currently there are no operating services on channel 17). Further, the files will include data
required to protect Canadian and Mexican facilities or allotments in line with our international obligations.
375 In the Repacking Data PN, the calculations for coverage and interference were made on a single channel in each
of the three television bands (low VHF, high VHF and UHF) as a proxy for that band. See Repacking Data PN, 28
FCC Rcd at 10385. NAB objected to the use of the proxy channel, expressing concern that it might underestimate
actual interference after the repacking process. See Letter from Rick Kaplan, NAB, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 21 (filed Sept. 5, 2013) (NAB Sept. 5, 2013 Ex Parte Letter); see also
Letter from Rick Kaplan, NAB, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 2-3 (filed Nov.
27, 2013) (NAB Nov. 27, 2013 Ex Parte Letter). Although the “proxy” channel approach was the only one
available at the time of the release of the Repacking Data PN, further staff work has resulted in the development of
an approach where calculating constraints on every possible channel, without relying on proxies, is possible.
376 As a result, the constraint files will include a list of all the other television stations that could not be assigned to
operate on the same channel or on an adjacent channel with a particular station for every channel in the three bands
rather than a “proxy” channel.
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Order.377
116.
During the initialization step of the reverse auction, the initial “clearing target” for how
much television spectrum will be repurposed through the reverse auction and the repacking process will
be determined based on broadcast stations’ collective willingness to relinquish spectrum usage rights at
the opening prices announced by the Commission.378 The clearing target will dictate the total number of
remaining channels available for the repacking process.379
117.
At the start of the reverse auction bidding process, broadcast stations will fall into two
general categories: non-participating stations that will remain on the air after the incentive auction, and
participating stations that may or may not remain on the air (including stations that may elect to change
bands from UHF to VHF or high VHF to low VHF), depending on the reverse auction outcome. The
repacking feasibility checker will ensure that every non-participating station can be assigned a television
channel in its pre-auction band.380 Each time a participating station drops out of the auction, the
repacking feasibility checker will determine whether a channel is available for each individual station that
continues to participate in the bidding.381 The bidding will continue within a stage until every station has
either dropped out of the auction or had its bid accepted. Final channel assignments will not be made
during the bidding stage.
118.
After the bidding in the reverse auction ends, the forward auction bidding will begin. As
the forward auction bidding proceeds, whether the final stage rule is met will be evaluated.382 If the rule
has not been satisfied, a new stage of the auction will commence with a lower spectrum clearing target.383
If the rule has been satisfied, the channel assignments for each station that will remain on the air will be
optimized to ensure an efficient post-incentive auction channel assignment scheme, taking into
consideration factors such as minimizing relocation costs. We will seek comment on the details of the
channel assignment optimization in the Comment PN.

377 Specifically, the baseline list of the television stations that will be included in the files for preservation of their
coverage area and population served will be updated to reflect the decisions set forth in § III.B.3 (Facilities to Be
Protected). An updated baseline list of those facilities and their populations served will be published prior to the
auction. International allotment or protected facilities will also be updated to reflect the result of international
coordination efforts. See § III.B.4 (International Coordination).
378 This process is discussed in detail in § IV.A (Overview and Integration of the Reverse and Forward Auctions).
379 For example, a 126-megahertz clearing target would clear 21 of the 49 channels currently allocated for television
service, and leave approximately 28 channels into which the remaining stations could be repacked. Constraints in
certain television markets due to the presence of non-broadcast incumbents in the T-band (channels 14 through 20)
or border constraints may impact the number of television channels available in those markets. The statute prohibits
channel reassignments from the UHF to the VHF band except on a voluntary basis, Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(3), so
any reassignments from UHF to VHF must be pursuant to voluntary relinquishments through reverse auction bids.
380 This process is discussed in detail in § IV.B.2.b (Reverse Auction – Bid Assignment Procedures: Determining
Which Bids are Accepted). The initial spectrum clearing target will be set such that a channel will be available to all
non-participating stations that is consistent with the requirements of the Spectrum Act and our rules.
381 If the dropping out of one participating station means that another participating station cannot feasibly be
assigned a channel, then the latter station’s bid will be provisionally accepted. See § IV.B.2.b (Reverse Auction –
Bid Assignment Procedures: Determining Which Bids are Accepted).
382 The final stage rule will be met when the forward auction has raised enough proceeds to satisfy the requirements
that we establish. See § IV.A (Overview and Integration of the Reverse and Forward Auctions). Forward auction
bidding will continue as long as demand for wireless licenses in any area exceeds the number available in that area.
See § IV.C.2 (Bidding Process).
383 The staged structure of the reverse and forward auctions is discussed in detail below. See § IV.A (Overview and
Integration of Reverse and Forward Auctions).
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2.

Implementing the Statutory Preservation Mandate

119.
Below, we address the requirements of section 6403(b) of the Spectrum Act.384 We first
address the Spectrum Act’s mandate that we make “all reasonable efforts” to preserve coverage area and
population served of television stations as of February 22, 2012, as determined using the methodology
described in OET-69. To fulfill the statutory mandate, we will use new software developed by OET,
TVStudy,385 to implement the methodology of OET-69.386 We conclude that section 6403(b)(2) directs us
to protect stations’ existing coverage areas, and interpret “population served” to mean the specific viewers
who had predicted access to a station’s signal. We also adopt the proposal to permit channel assignments
that would not increase interference from any one station by more than 0.5 percent.387
a.
“All Reasonable Efforts”
120.
The Spectrum Act gives the Commission broad discretion to “make such reassignments
of television stations that the Commission considers appropriate” “[f]or purposes of making available
spectrum to carry out the forward auction.”388 Congress imposed a qualification on this general mandate:
“the Commission must make all reasonable efforts to preserve, as of the date of the enactment of this Act,
the coverage area and population served of each broadcast television licensee, as determined using the
methodology described in OET Bulletin No. 69 of the Office of Engineering and Technology of the
Commission.”389
121.
As the Commission explained in the NPRM, “[w]hile the statute does not define the term
‘all reasonable efforts,’ that phrase is not uncommon: its meaning depends on the circumstances
involved, and comports with the common meaning of the word ‘reasonable.’”390 AT&T argues that
Congress’s use of the term “reasonable” gives the Commission “great flexibility to perform repacking in
light of the overarching goals of the Spectrum Act.”391 In this regard, courts have held that the statutory
term “reasonable” is ambiguous and that its generality “opens a rather large area for the free play of
agency discretion.”392 In contrast, broadcasters generally argue that the statutory language, structure and

384 Spectrum Act §§ 6403(b)(1), (2).
385 See § III.B.2.b (OET-69 and TVStudy).
386 Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2); see also OET-69. OET Bulletin 69 “provides guidance on the implementation and
use of Longley-Rice methodology for evaluating TV service coverage and interference” in accordance with the
Commission’s rules. Id. at 1.
387 We defer a decision on proposals to adopt an aggregate interference cap. See § III.B.2.d (Preserving Population
Served).
388 Spectrum Act §§ 6403(b)(1), (b)(1)(B)(i).
389 Id. § 6403(b)(2) (emphasis added).
390 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12393-94, para. 105 (citing cases).
391 AT&T Comments at 76.
392 Orloff v. FCC, 352 F.3d at 420 (interpreting “unjust” and “unreasonable” in 47 U.S.C. § 202(a). See also
Loveday v. FCC
, 707 F.2d 1443,1449 (D.C. Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 1008 (1984) (explaining that “[a]
variety of considerations, ranging from practical ones of administrative feasibility to legal ones, involving
constitutional difficulties, support [the FCC’s] view” that section 317 of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. § 317,
which requires a broadcast licensee to “exercise reasonable diligence” to learn the identity of the sponsor of any paid
matter transmitted over the airwaves, does not “require[] the exertion of every effort . . . to identify the real sponsors
of paid material”) (internal quotation marks omitted); Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Assoc., 496 U.S. 498, 519 (1990)
(acknowledging that State had “substantial discretion” to choose among various methods of calculating
reimbursement rates under Medicaid Act provision for “reasonable and adequate” reimbursement); City of
Arlington, Tex. v. FCC
, 668 F.3d 229, 255 (5th Cir. 2012) (interpreting “a reasonable period of time” in 47 U.S.C. §
332(c)(7)(B)), aff’d 133 S.Ct. 1863 (2013); Capital Network Sys., Inc. v. FCC, 28 F.3d 201, 204 (D.C. Cir. 1994)
(court owed substantial deference to FCC’s interpretation of “just,” “unjust,” “reasonable,” and “unreasonable” in §
(continued….)
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history clearly reflect Congress’s intent to protect them from any change in coverage area or population
served in the repacking process.393
122.
Consistent with the approach proposed in the NPRM, we interpret our “all reasonable
efforts” obligation in light of the statutory context. Thus, in determining what is “reasonable,” we agree
with AT&T and other commenters394 that we should take into account the other objectives in the
Spectrum Act, including the goal of repurposing spectrum—an objective which clearly militates in favor
of an efficient repacking method.395 This reading is consistent with the rest of the Spectrum Act. Section
6403(a)(1), for example, directs the Commission to “conduct a reverse auction . . . in order to make
spectrum available
for assignment through a system of competitive bidding.”396 It is also consistent with
Congressional intent.397 We therefore find that the statute requires that we use all reasonable efforts to
preserve each station’s coverage area and population served without sacrificing the goal of using market
forces to repurpose spectrum for new, flexible uses.398
123.
Accordingly, we reject NAB’s contention that section 6403(b)(2) of the Spectrum Act is
a “hold harmless” provision that requires the Commission to identify “extraordinary” or “truly
exceptional” circumstances before altering a station’s coverage area and population served.399 We note
that courts have interpreted the phrases “all reasonable efforts” or “every reasonable effort” to “require[]
(Continued from previous page)
201 of the Communications Act mandating that any interstate communications charge, practice, classification, or
regulation must be just and reasonable and declaring unlawful any that are unjust or unreasonable, because those
terms are ambiguous).
393 See Affiliates Associations Comments at 32; Comcast Comments at 12-13; Disney Comments at 34 (“any
reduction in a station’s service area due to additional interference effectively would amount to an involuntary
relinquishment of spectrum rights and thus contravene Congress’s mandate that the incentive auction process be
voluntary.”); NAB Comments at 18-21; NYSBA Comments at 21-22; Tribune Comments at 17; Univision
Comments at 6.
394 AT&T Comments at 77; AT&T Reply at 61-62; TIA Comments at 6-7; U.S. Cellular Reply at 15-16; Verizon
Reply at 33; T-Mobile Reply at 89-91.
395 See Martin v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 240 F.3d 223, 234 (3d Cir. 2001) (concluding that “best efforts”
agreement can “be construed by reference to case law and surrounding facts” and should be read “in the context of
the surrounding facts and circumstances.”); United Telecomm’ns, Inc. v. American Tel. & Comm’ns Corp., 536 F.2d
1310, 1319 n.7 (10th Cir. 1976) (“A ‘best efforts’ obligation . . . takes into account unanticipated events and the
exigencies of continuing business . . . .”); Mark Technologies Corp. v. Utah Resources Intern., Inc., 147 P.3d 509
(Utah Ct. App. 2006) (a “best efforts clause, like the one present here, creates an independent contractual obligation”
of “diligence” that will “be measured subjectively in the context of the particular facts and circumstances
involved.”). Courts treat “all reasonable efforts” and “best efforts” interchangeably. See, e.g., United Telecomm’ns,
Inc.
, 536 F.2d at 1319 n.7 (“best efforts” obligation “requires only that . . . all reasonable efforts within a reasonable
time to overcome any hurdles and accomplish the objective [be made]”) (emphasis added).
396 Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(1) (emphasis added).
397 Specifically, the Joint Conference Report explained that “this legislation advance[s] wireless broadband service
by clearing spectrum for commercial auction.” See Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference,
H.Rep. 112-399 at 136 (emphasis added). Notably, the conference report does not identify preservation of
broadcasters’ coverage areas and populations served as a purpose of the law.
398 See Raymond T. Nimmer, Jeff Dodd, Modern Licensing Law § 9.48 (“Here, then, is the irreducible minimum
[required by an all reasonable efforts-type clause]: diligent, reasonable effort within reasonable time to overcome
hurdles to the stated objective seems to establish the baseline duty.”). See U.S. v. Hayes, 722 F.2d 723, 725 (11th
Cir. 1984) (use of “some effort” rather than “all reasonable efforts” standard in assessing defense against contempt
of court was abuse of discretion).
399 NAB Comments at 19; see also id. at 20.
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that a party make every reasonable effort, not every conceivable one.”400 Congress included the term
“reasonable” in the statute because it anticipated that broadcasters’ interests would not be the only
interests that the Commission would have to consider in the repacking process. Had Congress instead
intended to ensure the primacy of broadcasters’ interests over all others, as NAB and others contend,
Congress could have so specified.401 It did not. Instead, it required the Commission to make “all
reasonable efforts” to preserve their coverage areas and populations served,402 a qualification that requires
of the Commission a certain level of effort rather than a particular outcome. Accordingly, we do not
believe the statute requires us to precisely and strictly preserve broadcasters’ coverage areas and
populations served without considering the other objectives in the Spectrum Act.
124.
Nor does the legislative history support broadcasters’ interpretation of section 6403(b)(2).
Comcast claims that “[d]uring markup, Congress specifically rejected alternate language that could have
allowed the auction and repacking process to permanently reduce broadcasters’ existing coverage, as long
as the process resulted in ‘substantially similar’ coverage.”403 Comcast’s argument misses the mark. The
cited legislative history informs our reading of “coverage area and population served” in section
6403(b)(2). As we explain below, we interpret those terms to require efforts to preserve service to those
viewers who had access to a station’s signal within its protected coverage area as of February 22, 2012—
an outcome that is consistent with Congress’ rejection of the term “substantially similar coverage.”404 By
contrast, “the reasonableness requirement [in section 6403(b)(2)] by its plain terms is a measure of effort
– i.e., the actions taken to achieve a goal – and not of the outcome itself.”405 As CEA explained in its
comments, “[t]he question is not whether the Commission will protect broadcasters”; rather, “[t]he
question is whether the Commission is obligated to protect all of the existing levels of service without
considering the impact on the goal of spectrum clearing.” 406 We agree with CEA that the answer to that
question “is plainly no.”407
125.
We clarify, however, that we are not adopting a “balancing approach” that weighs the
objective of preserving coverage area and population served against the Spectrum Act’s general objective

400 Bhd. of Maint. of Way Employees v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 358 F.3d 453, 458 (7th Cir. 2004); see also Price v.
Time, Inc
., 416 F.3d 1327, 1348 (11th Cir. 2005) (holding that a state shield law required a libel plaintiff to make
“all reasonable efforts,” “not every effort and not efforts for which there is a high probability of futility,” to obtain
the identify of a confidential informant before the court would force a journalist to disclose the informant’s identity).
Despite NAB’s claim, Raicovich did not equate “all reasonable efforts” with “do everything feasible.” See NAB
TVStudy PN Reply at 5 (citing Raicovich v. U.S. Postal Serv., 675 F.2d 417, 423-24 (D.C. Cir. 1982)); NAB
Comments at 4-5 (filed Apr. 4, 2014) (NAB Apr. 4, 2014 Comments). The court used the latter phrase to describe
“in general” Congress’s goal in passing a comprehensive law pertaining to compensation and reinstatement of
injured federal employees. Raicovich, 675 F.2d at 424. The “all reasonable efforts” language pertained to one
provision of this comprehensive law describing the efforts an agency must undertake in placing employees injured
for more than one year. The court never opined that such efforts required agencies to “do everything feasible” to
place such employees.
401 For example, Congress could have directed the Commission to simply “preserve,” not to “make all reasonable
efforts to preserve” broadcasters’ coverage areas and populations served.
402 Indeed, as Verizon points out, “NAB itself applies a more generous interpretation of the term ‘reasonable’ in the
repacking reimbursement context.” Verizon Reply at 34 (citing NAB Comments at 58-59). In the context of
reimbursement, NAB advocates applying the word’s “‘ordinary, natural meaning, in keeping with settled principles
of statutory construction’” – i.e., “‘not extreme or excessive,’ and ‘moderate, fair.’” Id.
403 Comcast Comments at 12-13.
404 See § III.B.2.d (Preserving Population Served).
405 T-Mobile Reply at 87.
406 CEA Reply at 14, n.37.
407 Id.
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of repurposing spectrum.408 Rather, the other objectives in the Spectrum Act inform our assessment of
the degree of effort required to protect the coverage areas and populations served of broadcast licensees,
that is, whether we have satisfied the “all reasonable efforts” mandate. This approach is consistent with
the Supreme Court’s directive that “[s]tatutory construction . . . is a holistic endeavor” such that “[a]
provision that may seem ambiguous in isolation is often clarified by the remainder of the statutory
scheme.”409 By way of example, efforts that would preserve broadcasters’ coverage areas and populations
served, but would prevent us from repurposing spectrum, would not be “reasonable” in the larger context
of the Spectrum Act.410 We therefore reject Comcast’s view that section 6403(b)(2) requires us to “focus
exclusively on preserving the integrity of broadcasters’ existing coverage area and population served.”411
126.
Similarly, by taking into account the other objectives in the Spectrum Act, we are not
“pretend[ing] that the word ‘all’ does not exist in the phrase ‘all reasonable efforts.’”412 “All” as used in
section 6403(b)(2) modifies “reasonable”; it measures quantity of effort, but does not affect the degree of
effort required by the statute. “All” therefore requires only that we make every reasonable effort to
preserve broadcasters’ coverage area.413 Under our reading of the statute, the Commission could not
satisfy its statutory obligation if it undertook only one of several reasonable actions to preserve
broadcasters’ coverage areas and populations served. “All,” however, has no bearing on whether any
particular effort is “reasonable” and thus does not require the Commission to ignore the other objectives
of the Spectrum Act when conducting the repacking process.414
b.

OET-69 and TVStudy

127.
Background. OET Bulletin No. 69, which is titled “Longley-Rice Methodology for
Evaluating TV Coverage and Interference,” provides guidance on the implementation and use of the
Longley-Rice propagation methodology for evaluating television coverage and interference.415 The
methodology described in OET-69 predicts a television station’s coverage area and population served,
both of which the Commission must make all reasonable efforts to preserve under the Spectrum Act.
OET-69 specifically states that a computer program is necessary to implement the methodology.416 That
computer program takes certain inputs, including population data, geographical terrain data, and data

408 See Comcast Comments at 12-13.
409 United Savings Ass’n of Texas v. Timbers of Inwood Forest Assoc., Ltd, 484 U.S. 365, 371 (1988), cert. denied
129 S. Ct. 2821 (2009); see also Alliance for Cmty. Media v. FCC, 529 F.3d 763, 777-78 (6th Cir. 2008) (“[T]he
detection of inherent ambiguity in words such as ‘reasonable’ and ‘unreasonable’ by other courts in other sections of
the Communications Act does not terminate the analysis here, because such observations are divorced from the
specific context of Title VI”).
410 Cf. Rural Cellular Ass’n v. FCC, 588 F.3d 1095, 1103 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (explaining that “it is hard to imagine
how the Commission could achieve the overall goal of § 254 -- the ‘preservation and advancement of universal
service,’ 47 U.S.C. § 254(b) -- if the USF is ‘sufficient’ for purposes of § 254(b)(5), yet so large it actually makes
telecommunications services less “affordable,” in contravention of § 254(b)(1)”).
411 Comcast Reply at 10; see also NAB Comments at 19.
412 Comcast Reply at 9.
413 See Bhd. of R.R. Trainmen, Enterprise Lodge No. 27, v. Toledo P. & W. R.R., 321 U.S. 50, 57 (1944) (explaining
“[i]t is wholly inconsistent with the section’s language and purpose to construe it . . . to require reasonable effort by
only one conciliatory device when others are available” when “[t]he explicit terms [of the section] demand ‘every
reasonable effort’ to settle the dispute”).
414 Comcast Reply at 8.
415 OET-69 at 1. The OET-69 methodology is used to predict coverage and population served when prospective
licensees file new applications or existing stations file modification applications. See 47 C.F.R § 73.616(e)(1). The
OET-69 methodology was also used in the DTV transition.
416 OET-69 at 1.
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about stations’ transmission facilities, and applies the methodology described in OET-69 to generate a
station’s predicted coverage area and population served.417 The computer program that implements OET-
69 thus produces “output”—or more specifically, a description of a station’s predicted coverage area and
population served within its noise-limited contour.418
128.
Subsequent to the NPRM, OET issued a Public Notice announcing that it had developed
and was releasing a new computer program, called TVStudy, for performing interference analyses to
calculate television stations’ coverage areas and populations served using the methodology described in
OET-69.419 OET proposed to use this computer program to support the incentive auction. It sought
comment on the program generally, as well as the identification of any errors, unexpected behaviors, or
anomalous results produced in running the software.420 In addition, OET requested comment on the
implementation of various updates to inputs in the computer program, specifically: (1) population data,
(2) terrain data, (3) treatment of inaccurate data in FCC databases, (4) treatment of antenna beam tilt, (5)
calculation of depression angles, (6) the level of precision of geographic coordinates, (7) the
establishment of a uniform calculation (cell) grid, and (8) the treatment of certain internal (Longley-Rice)
warnings.421
129.
The record reflects divergent views by industry stakeholders on the use of TVStudy in the
incentive auction. NAB and several broadcasters strongly object to the use of TVStudy and the
introduction of updated input values, claiming that there is no practical need for new software and that the
proposed changes violate the Spectrum Act because they change the OET-69 “methodology.”422 On the
other hand, commenters representing the wireless industry and equipment manufacturers applaud the
release of TVStudy and the TVStudy PN proposals, arguing that relying on outdated computer software
and data would undermine the FCC’s ability to preserve broadcasters’ coverage area and population
served as of the date of the enactment of the Spectrum Act, in violation of the Spectrum Act’s
requirements and sound policy.423
130.
Discussion. We will use TVStudy, the updated computer program that implements the
methodology described in OET Bulletin No. 69, in the incentive auction. As discussed below, TVStudy’s
capability to create and use a uniform nationwide grid for analysis of coverage area and population served
is essential to the repacking process. In addition, the software previously used to implement OET-69
cannot support the incentive auction because it cannot undertake, in a timely fashion, the volume of
interference calculations necessary to ensure that all stations that will remain on the air following the
auction are assigned channels in accordance with the provisions of the Spectrum Act. Further, the
proposed updates to the input values used in applying the OET-69 methodology allow for a more accurate
analysis of each station’s coverage area and population served as of the date of the enactment of the
Spectrum Act and eliminate the use of input values that are now obsolete. Thus, with one exception that
is explained below, we adopt the updated input values proposed in the TVStudy PN. We find that using

417 See id. at 6, 11.
418 Id. at 12; see also 47 C.F.R. § 73.622(e). This rule defines “noise-limited contour” as “the area in which the
predicted F(50,90) field strength of the station’s signal” exceeds specified levels.
419 See Office of Engineering and Technology Releases and Seeks Comment on Updated OET-69 Software, ET
Docket No. 13-26, GN Docket No. 12-268, Public Notice, 28 FCC Rcd 950 (2013) (TVStudy PN). See n.473 for
releases of updated versions of the TVStudy software.
420 TVStudy PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 952.
421 Id.at 952-55.
422 See generally NAB TVStudy PN Comments; PTV TVStudy PN Reply; NAB Apr. 4, 2014 Comments.
423 CEA TVStudy PN Comments at 10; see also CTIA TVStudy PN Reply at 3 (“The creation of a more updated and
consistent software program to implement OET-69 is a logical step that will allow the Commission the ability to
input the results into the overarching algorithm to be used as part of the incentive auction and repacking process”).
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TVStudy with updated input values to implement OET-69 will support the unique requirements of the
incentive auction while satisfying our statutory obligation to make “all reasonable efforts” to preserve
television stations’ coverage area and population served as of February 22, 2012. Indeed, as discussed
below, we find that the Spectrum Act not only permits us to use TVStudy, but—because the statute
requires the Commission to make all reasonable efforts to preserve broadcast stations’ coverage areas and
populations served as of February 2012—requires us to update the software and data inputs necessary to
implement the methodology set forth in OET-69 to predict coverage as of that date as accurately as
possible.
131.
The computer program previously used to implement OET-69 lacks the capabilities
necessary to support a successful incentive auction. The Longley-Rice methodology described in OET-69
divides the area within a digital television station’s noise-limited contour into approximately square “grid
cells” to evaluate signal strength, or coverage, and any interference.424 The computer program previously
used to implement the OET-69 methodology generates station-specific grid calculations based on each
station examined.425 More specifically, the earlier software creates a new and unique grid for each station
centered on the station’s transmitting facilities. Signal strength and potential interference from other
stations are calculated for each cell in that particular grid. Because each grid is unique to each station,
however, no two station grids are typically the same, and signal strength and interference calculations for
one station cannot be used to calculate coverage and interference for another station, even where they
cover the same or portions of the same geographic area.426 The cell-level data are not consistent from one
station to another. Moreover, the earlier computer software lacks the capability to save grid calculations.
Given these two limitations (i.e., the lack of uniform grid cells and the inability to save calculations), the
earlier computer software would have to re-create an individual station’s grid each and every time it has
to analyze a possible channel assignment in the repacking process.427 In other words, an individual
station’s grid may have to be re-created thousands of times before a determination is made as to which
channel a station may be assigned following the auction.
132.
In contrast, TVStudy has the capability to apply the OET-69 methodology to calculate
signal strength and evaluate interference using a single, common grid of cells common to all television
stations. Based on the data derived from the common grid, TVStudy can undertake pairwise interference
analyses428 of every station that will remain on the air after the incentive auction and generate data that

424 TVStudy PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 951.
425 Comments include references to the “old software” or “present software” implementing OET-69 without
clarifying to which software they are referring. The Media Bureau uses tv_process software for the evaluation of
individual broadcast station applications (for a new station or a modification), whereas OET used separate software
to implement OET-69 during the DTV transition and for certain other large scale analysis projects. tv_process was
never used and cannot be used in a context that requires calculations involving more than an individual station.
426 For example, if two television stations, Station A and Station B, are in the same market and their coverage
overlaps in certain areas, we cannot use Station A’s grid to determine coverage and interference for Station B.
427 Thus, despite NAB’s claim, the old software is not a reasonable alternative. See NAB Apr. 4, 2014 Comments at
9. The old software implementing OET-69 is based “on source code and data from the 1990s and earlier.” TVStudy
PN
, 28 FCC Rcd at 950. As any computer user knows, this is “ancient in software terms.” See Letter from Julie
Kearney, CEA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, ET Docket No 13-26, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 4 (filed Mar.
18, 2013). The old software cannot “be downloaded and installed on modern [computers],” and it does not take
“advantage of the many advances in user interface design” since the software was developed. Id. at 5, n. 24. See
also
Brattle TVStudy PN Comments at 2 (“[T]he 2004 implementation of this methodology relies upon an archaic
FORTRAN program and contain little to no documentation for multi-station interference calculations.”).
428 A pairwise or station-to-station interference analysis studies “pairs” of television stations on the same channel
(co-channel) and on upper and lower adjacent channels to each other. The analysis provides grid cell level
information on where the two stations provide service and where they are predicted to interfere with each other
when operating on the same or an adjacent channel. The outputs of the analysis are inputs to the repacking
constraint generation process.
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identify combinations of stations that can (or cannot) co-exist on the same channel or adjacent channels.
These data are used to generate the constraint files that will be employed in the repacking process.429
Further, unlike the earlier software, much of the cell-level data produced by TVStudy are cached, or saved.
Hence, the repacking methodology need not re-create a station’s unique grid each time it examines a
possible channel assignment, and the numerous interference calculations can be run in a much shorter
period of time. These attributes of TVStudy (i.e., the common grid and caching) are essential to the timely
analysis of feasible channel assignments.430 Below we first address broadcasters’ statutory and other
arguments that we cannot use TVStudy or updated input values in applying the OET-69 methodology to
preserve the coverage area and population served of stations in the incentive auction. We then address the
specific updates to the input values associated with TVStudy that we adopt.
133.
Broadcaster Opposition. NAB and several broadcasters broadly object to the use of
TVStudy and the updated input values described above, asserting that any change to the computer
software and data used by the Commission to implement OET Bulletin No. 69 in the past is a change to
the “methodology of OET-69,” and therefore, a violation of section 6403(b)(2) of the Spectrum Act.431
NAB argues that when Congress directed the Commission “to preserve . . . the coverage area and
population served of each broadcast television licensee, as determined using the methodology described
in OET Bulletin 69,” it not only included OET-69 but “the procedures—here, the software—for carrying
it into effect.”432 According to NAB, the proposed software changes would violate section 6403(b)(2) of
the statute by altering the OET-69 methodology itself.433
134.
We disagree. We conclude that the statutory language allows the Commission to update
the computer software and input values used to implement the OET-69 methodology while adhering to
the methodology described in OET Bulletin No. 69. The statutory language is ambiguous, and it is
reasonable to read it narrowly. Indeed, we find unreasonable NAB’s interpretation, which would compel
the Commission to rely on outdated computer software and data to implement that methodology.434
Accordingly, we interpret the statutory phrase “methodology described in OET Bulletin No. 69” to refer
to the particular procedures for evaluating television coverage and interference that are provided for in
that bulletin, not the computer software or input values used to apply that methodology in any given

429 See § III.B.1 (Repacking Process Overview).
430 CTIA and CEA agree that TVStudy offers faster computations of television coverage and interference effects and
is more capable of supporting the incentive auction than the previous software. See CTIA TVStudy PN Comments at
1-2; CEA TVStudy PN Comments at 2; see generally Comm. Tech. TVStudy PN Comments. While NAB claims that
the earlier software was “fully capable of carrying out the tasks required for the incentive auction,” NAB TVStudy
PN
Comments at 21, NAB’s only support for this assertion is conclusory statements that it “conducted nationwide
sample runs using TVStudy and the existing OET-69 methodology, and both runs took roughly the same amount of
time.” Decl. of Bruce Franca at para. 17, cited in NAB TVStudy PN Reply. See Letter from Rick Kaplan, NAB, to
Marlene H. Dortch, FCC, ET Docket No. 13-26, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 2 (filed Apr. 26, 2013) (citing Comments
of NAB et al., ET Docket No. 13-26 and GN Docket No. 12-268 (filed Mar. 21, 2013), Decl. of William R. Meintel
at paras. 12-13). Notably lacking is a description of NAB’s analysis—and specifically, whether it performed the
pairwise interference analyses required by the repacking methodology we adopt—and the time it took to conduct
those analyses using the old software as compared to TVStudy.
431 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 3; NAB Apr. 4, 2014 Comments at 5-7; see generally APTS TVStudy PN Reply;
Sinclair TVStudy PN Comments; Block Stations TVStudy PN Comments.
432 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 3.
433 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at iv.
434 NAB’s argument that there would have been no reason to refer to OET-69 unless Congress intended to prohibit
software updates lacks merit. NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 5. As discussed, the Spectrum Act’s requirement to
use “the methodology described in OET Bulletin 69” assures the use of a well-established methodology for
evaluating television coverage area and interference without locking in the use of outdated software or input values.
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case.435 Our interpretation is consistent with the common meaning of the word “methodology.”436
Distinguishing between a “methodology” and the “software” and “inputs” used for applying that
methodology also is consistent with the ordinary meaning of the latter words,437 as well as with common
understanding. Courts have recognized similar distinctions between administrative methodologies and
the computer programs and data inputs used to apply them.438 Likewise, evaluating TV coverage and
interference using the methodology described in OET-69 requires a computer program and data inputs,
but they are tools for applying the evaluation procedure, not the procedure itself.439
135.
Even though computer software and certain inputs that are necessary to implement OET-
69 are referred to in OET-69, we find they are not part of the OET-69 “methodology.” Examination of
OET-69 itself bears out this distinction. OET-69 characterizes the computer program as a tool for
applying the Longley-Rice propagation model, explaining that “[a] computer is needed . . . because of the
large number of reception points that must be individually examined.”440 OET-69 also makes clear that

435 Under our interpretation, the OET-69 methodology comprises (1) a specification for determining a contour that
defines the boundaries of a station’s coverage area, and (2) an algorithm for evaluating the availability of service
within that contour, including the effects of interference from neighboring stations. The evaluation of service
involves the use of the Longley-Rice propagation model, certain planning factors, electromagnetic properties of the
environment, and parameters for describing a television station’s transmission system. Planning factors describe
television reception; for example, planning factors include antenna gain information for specific frequency bands,
thermal noise levels, and system noise figure by band, etc. See OET-69 at 3, Table 3. Electromagnetic properties
include the dielectric properties of earth and surface refractivity. The parameters that describe a television station’s
transmission system include effective radiated power, antenna pattern, antenna polarization and height of the
radiation center above ground. See OET-69 at 6, Table 4.
436 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 3 & n.11 (quoting Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English
Language Unabridged at 1423 (1976) (defining “methodology” as “the processes, techniques, or approaches
employed in the solution of a problem or in doing something: a particular procedure or set of procedures”)). See
CEA TVStudy PN Reply at 3 n.5 (“‘Methodology’ is defined by Webster’s as ‘a body of methods, rules, and
postulates employed by a discipline: a particular procedure or set of procedures’”) (quoting Merriam-Webster.com,
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/methodology).
437 Compare n.436 and accompanying text (defining “methodology” as, inter alia, “a particular procedure or set of
procedures”) with Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/computer program (accessed: Apr. 13, 2013) (defining “computer program”
as, inter alia, “a sequence of instructions that a computer can interpret and execute”); id.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/software (defining “software” as, inter alia, “the programs used to direct the
operation of a computer, as well as documentation giving instructions on how to use them.”); id.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/input (defining “input” as, inter alia, “something that is put in . . . data to be
entered into a computer for processing”). See also CEA TVStudy PN Reply at 2 (“There is no mystery or term of art
in the phrase ‘methodology described in OET Bulletin 69’ – it means just that, and does not extend to implementing
software such as TVStudy or any other aspect not included in the Bulletin itself.”); id. at 3 (“The standard meaning
of the term ‘methodology’ reflects that it is distinct from the implementation of that methodology, and thus the
process of implementing the methodology of OET-69 is distinct from the methodology itself.”).
438 See, e.g., Qwest Corp. v. FCC, 258 F.3d 1191, 1195-98 (10th Cir. 2001)(reversing the FCC’s decision
establishing a high-cost universal service support “methodology,” but upholding the FCC’s adoption of a computer
model and input values for estimating the costs of providing telephone service for the purpose of applying the
methodology).
439 See CEA TVStudy PN Comments at 11 (“The TVStudy software is fully consistent with the Commission’s
obligation under the Spectrum Act to ‘us[e] the methodology described in’ OET-69. It merely implements that
methodology, using updated data that [are] more accurate and thorough and establishing certain parameters not
specified in OET-69.”).
440 See OET-69 at 1; see also id. at 10 (“The FCC computer program . . . is complex, and many of its options are
available only by recompilation for each case of interest. The individual installing it should have computer
(continued….)
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the computer program for applying OET-69 is subject to change—for example, it refers to “the computer
program now used by the Media Bureau to evaluate applications . . . as well as predecessors of that
program,” and to “[t]he Fortran code currently used by the Media Bureau to evaluate new proposals”441 —
and provides instructions on how to use different computer programs to apply the Longley-Rice model.442
Indeed, OET-69 contemplates that others will utilize their own computer programs to implement the
OET-69 methodology and provides suggestions for obtaining information on using the Longley-Rice
model in doing so.443 Moreover, as discussed below, the Commission’s bureaus have used different
computer programs to implement OET-69.444 In contrast, the methodology itself has remained the same
through multiple versions of OET Bulletin No. 69 (other than corrections and updated Internet
references).445 We further note that our rules distinguish between “the procedure set forth in OET
Bulletin No. 69” and the inputs for applying it; for example, in evaluating post-digital TV transition
allotments, the rules require the use of “the 2000 census population data” when calculating interference
pursuant to the methodology in OET-69.446 Thus, we agree with CTIA and others that TVStudy is merely
an updated tool for implementing the methodology in OET-69.447 Likewise, the updated input values that
we adopt are not part of the OET-69 methodology within the meaning of the statute.
136.
While NAB argues that the statutory phrase “methodology described in OET Bulletin 69”
is “a term of art that was well established in 2012” to include the present software and input values,448
NAB cannot point to a single instance of the FCC using, let alone defining, that phrase prior to enactment
of the Spectrum Act. NAB does identify a number of decisions in which the Commission characterized
use of specific Census and terrain data and treatment of “flagged” results as part of a “methodology.”449
(Continued from previous page)
programming skills and experience as a system administrator of the computer system on which it is to be installed
because linking the data files, which occupy 1.6 gigabytes of disk space, will be a site-specific task.”).
441 See id. at 8 n.1, 10-11. Indeed, TVStudy includes features and functions that were not available in the software
previously used to implement OET-69, including for the use of a uniform global grid and a graphical user interface
to aid in the set-up of analyses. These attributes are integral to our repacking efforts. NAB’s cramped reading of the
statute would prohibit the Commission from making these necessary upgrades to the software tools used to
implement OET-69.
442 See id. at 8 n.1, 10-11.
443 See OET-69 at 5 (“Those desiring to implement the Longley-Rice model in their own computer program to make
these calculations should consult NTIA Report 82-100, A Guide to the Use of the ITS Irregular Terrain Model in the
Area Prediction Mode
, authors G.A. Hufford, A.G. Longley and W.A. Kissick, U.S. Department of Commerce,
April 1982. The report may be obtained from the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Technical Information
Service, Springfield, Virginia, by requesting Accession No. PB 82-217977”).
444 See para. 146.
445 See OET-69 at 1.
446 47 C.F.R. § 73.616(e)(1). NAB argues that the rule’s requirement to use 2000 Census data “was . . . incorporated
into the OET-69 methodology” and that “Congress is thus presumed to have intended the use of 2000 Census data as
part of the OET-69 methodology.” NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 10-11. But the rule simply requires use of 2000
Census data for a particular purpose. Indeed, the rule itself distinguishes between such data and “the procedure set
forth in OET Bulletin No. 69.” If Congress had intended the FCC to use 2000 Census data in the repacking, it could
have referred to the FCC rule instead of OET-69.
447 CTIA TVStudy PN Reply at 14; CEA TVStudy PN Comments at 2.
448 See NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 4-5; NAB Apr. 4, 2014 Comments at 5-6. See also NAB TVStudy PN
Comments at 5-6 (arguing that “Congress must be deemed to have intended use of OET-69 without modification”
because the statute uses “an administratively defined term without modification”).
449 NAB observes that the Commission previously found that an ‘assumption of service [in the case of flagged
results] was appropriate’ and that ‘reconciling calculations using a new methodology with the table calculations
based on different methodology is difficult and likely to result in uncertainty in the results and contested decisions.’”
(continued….)
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However, only one of those decisions referred specifically to OET-69. In that decision, the Commission
did not define or describe the OET-69 “methodology” but rather used the term “methodology”
colloquially to refer to inputs associated with application processing.450 Accordingly, we reject NAB’s
argument.451 The cases on which NAB relies no more prove that Congress understood “methodology
described in OET Bulletin 69” to include specific software and input values than cases referring, for
example, to terrain elevations as an “input” to the Longley-Rice propagation model prove the reverse.452
137.
In addition to being consistent with the statutory language, our interpretation furthers the
statutory requirement to “make all reasonable efforts to preserve, as of the date of enactment of this Act
[February 22, 2012], the coverage area and population served of each broadcast television licensee” by
allowing us to update the computer program and input values for applying the OET-69 methodology.453
For example, updated inputs like the 2010 U.S. Census data more accurately reflect the latest population
changes, which show an increase in population nationwide of approximately ten percent between 2000
and 2010, as well as changes in population distribution. Use of 2000 Census data, as NAB urges, would
preserve television service as of year 2000 rather than as of the date of enactment of the Spectrum Act.
Had Congress intended to prevent any updates to the software and input values used to implement the
OET-69 methodology, it could have expressly directed the FCC to use the methodology described in
OET-69, including the February 6, 2004 version of one of the Commission’s computer programs
implementing that methodology and the inputs used as of that date. Instead, Congress required “all
reasonable efforts” to preserve each station’s coverage area and population served as of February 22,
2012, a mandate that necessitates the use of updated software and inputs with greater utility and accuracy.
In light of this mandate, we disagree with NAB that Congress was interested not in “the realities of
population growth” but in “reduc[ing] coercive pressure on stations to give up their licenses.”454 We
(Continued from previous page)
See NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 7-8 (quoting Commission’s Rules and Policies Reflecting the Conversion to
Digital Television
, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 16 FCC Rcd 5946, 5972 (2001)
(emphasis added)). See also NAB Comments at 9, 11 (citing County of Los Angeles, California, 23 FCC Rcd
18389, 18401 (2008), Advanced Television Systems and Their Impact Upon the Existing Television Broadcast
Service
, 23 FCC Rcd 4220, 4312 (2008), and In re State of New York, 22 FCC Rcd 22195, 22198 (2007), 11 (citing
Third Periodic Review of the Commission’s Rules and Policies Affecting the Conversion to Digital Television, 23
FCC Rcd 2994, 3067 (2007) (Third DTV Periodic Review) (describing the adoption of 2000 Census data as
“revis[ing] the OET 69 interference analysis methodology”), and Amendment of Parts 21 and 74 to Enable
Multipoint Distribution Service and Instructional Television Fixed Service Licensees to Engage in Fixed Two-Way
Transmissions
, 13 FCC Rcd 19112, at * 22 (1998)).
450 Third DTV Periodic Review, 23 FCC Rcd at 3067; see CEA TVStudy PN Comments at 5 n.27.
451 In any event, we note that NAB’s argument is moot as to the treatment of flagged results because, for the reasons
we explain below, we will not change the treatment of flagged results in TVStudy.
452 The Commission has referred to terrain as an “input” into the Longley–Rice propagation model, Version 1.2.2,
on several occasions in the past. Amendment of the Commission’s Rules to Establish New Personal
Communications Services
, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 9 FCC Rcd 4957, Appendix D (1994) (“Terrain
elevations used as input to the model should be from the U.S. Geological Survey 3–second digitized terrain
database.” ); see Amendment of Part 74 of the Commission’s Rules with Regard to the Instructional Television Fixed
Service
, Order and NPRM, 9 FCC Rcd 3348, para. 36 (1994).
453 Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2).
454 See NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 11 (“Congress sought to reduce coercive pressure on stations to give up their
licenses by adopting a fixed benchmark—OET-69 as of February 22, 2012—as a safeguard for broadcasters
choosing not to participate in the incentive auction. In making that policy determination, Congress clearly favored
predictability and industry experience over other considerations”). The Spectrum Act expressly provides that
incentive auction participation for broadcasters is “voluntary.” See Spectrum Act § 6403(a). Having so provided,
Congress had no need to bar the FCC from accounting for “the realities of population growth” in the repacking
process. See also § V.C.5 (Reimbursement of Relocation Costs).
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cannot conclude that Congress intended to require us to maintain and somehow adapt an obsolete
computer program that relies on inaccurate data—particularly given the threat that doing so could leave
some viewers without television service.
138.
Our reading is also consistent with other relevant statutory obligations and with
Commission precedent. We have a well-established duty under the Administrative Procedure Act
(“APA”) to “analyze . . . new data” when faced with existing data that “are either outdated or
inaccurate.”455 NAB’s interpretation of section 6403(b)(2) is in direct conflict with our duty under the
APA; it would require us to ignore new Census data despite significant population changes between 2000
and 2010, more accurate and updated terrain data, and corrected technical information. Consistent with
its APA and other statutory obligations, the FCC has consistently relied on updated, accurate data and
procedures when possible. In the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999 (“SHVIA”), for
example, Congress directed the Commission to “take all actions necessary . . . to develop and prescribe by
rule a point-to-point predictive model for reliably and presumptively determining the ability of individual
locations to receive signals [of Grade B intensity].”456 In implementing that statutory mandate, the
Commission adjusted the Longley-Rice methodology for UHF stations but left VHF calculations
essentially unchanged.457 The D.C. Circuit upheld that decision, finding that the Commission acted
reasonably because its chosen methodology increased the accuracy of the model.458 NAB tries to
distinguish SHVIA on the basis that it expressly requires the Commission to “establish procedures for the
continued refinement of the application of the model by the use of additional data as it becomes
available”—a provision which the Spectrum Act lacks.459 We are not persuaded. The underlying purpose
of SHVIA was to identify “unserved households” eligible for the rebroadcast of distant network signals—
an inherently pro-consumer objective.460 Similarly, in the Spectrum Act, Congress required us to make
“all reasonable efforts” to preserve coverage area and population served as of February 22, 2012 – an
obligation that depends heavily on having accurate data for that date. We cannot fulfill the statutory
mandate using outdated data. The 2000 Census data that NAB advocates using fail to reflect the increase
in predicted population served that 88 percent of full power stations have experienced since that time.461
139.
NAB also objects that the proposed updates “are unlawful because they do not preserve
broadcast licensees’ coverage areas and populations served as predicted on February 22, 2012” —
predictions which it asserts necessarily depend on calculations pursuant to OET-69, as it was
implemented on that date.462 On the contrary, we read the date in section 6403(b)(2) to modify the
preservation mandate, not the reference to OET-69.463 In other words, we read the statute to require us to
preserve the actual coverage areas and populations served by broadcast stations on February 22, 2012, not
(as NAB contends) to preserve the coverage areas and populations served as calculated by using the input

455 Dow Agrosciences LLC v. Nat’l Marine Fisheries Service, 707 F.3d 462, 473 (4th Cir. 2013) (citing Sierra Club
v. EPA
, 671 F.3d 955, 966-968 (9th Cir. 2012)).
456 P.L. No. 106-113, 113 Stat. 1501, codified at 47 U.S.C. § 339(c)(3).
457 EchoStar Satellite LLC v. FCC, 457 F.3d 31, 33 (D.C. Cir. 2006).
458 Id.; cf. Costa de Oro Television, Inc. v. FCC, 294 F.3d 123, 129 (D.C. Cir. 2002) (finding that “the Commission’s
conclusion that Longley-Rice maps are more accurate than Grade B contours is ‘precisely the type of technical issue
on which we defer to the Commission’s expertise.’”) (citing Keller Comm’ns v. FCC, 130 F.3d 1073, 1077 (D.C.
Cir. 1997)).
459 See NAB TVStudy PN Reply at 8 (citing 47 U.S.C. § 339(c)(3)(A)).
460 EchoStar, 457 F.3d at 33.
461 See para. 149.
462 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 12-14.
463 Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2) (requiring the FCC to try to “preserve, as of [February 22, 2012], the coverage area
and population served of each [station], as determined using the methodology described in [OET-69].”).
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values and the version of the computer program implementing OET-69 in use by one of the
Commission’s bureaus on February 22, 2012. Use of the outdated computer program and input values
would not fulfill our statutory mandate to preserve the “coverage area and population served” as of
February 22, 2012, but rather the service provided long before the Spectrum Act’s enactment.
140.
We disagree with NAB that TVStudy redefines or reduces the coverage area of a
significant number of stations in comparison with the earlier version of the OET-69 computer program.464
OET took care in designing and developing TVStudy to ensure that it faithfully implements the OET-69
methodology, provides results that closely match those of the earlier computer software (notwithstanding
updates that improve accuracy), and avoids bias that would systematically reduce broadcast stations’
coverage areas and populations served. In support of its position, NAB, for example, predicts that station
KMAX-TV in Sacramento, California, would suffer a 15 percent loss in the population served if we use
TVStudy rather than the earlier OET software.465 However, OET’s analysis using TVStudy predicts that
KMAX-TV will experience an eight percent increase in population served.466 Further, OET’s analysis
using TVStudy and the updated inputs adopted in this Order shows that 88 percent of full power stations
will experience an increase in population served, while only 12 percent show some decrease.
141.
NAB also asserts that TVStudy departs from the OET-69 methodology because it
considers LPTV stations and TV translators in its evaluation of service and interference analysis.467 NAB
is correct that TVStudy has the capability of studying the interference from LPTV and TV translators.
However, NAB is incorrect in assuming that that option will be used in the repacking process.468
142.
In addition, NAB claims OET “failed to conduct any cost-benefit analysis for its
proposed changes.”469 According to NAB, “[t]he proposed changes to OET-69 and the attendant
uncertainty w[ill] drive up the costs for broadcast licensees, as they scramble to acquaint themselves with
the new methodology, without any countervailing benefit.”470 That is demonstrably not the case. The
benefits of using TVStudy clearly outweigh the costs. As set forth above, use of TVStudy and the updated
input values is essential to the repacking process and to fulfilling the statutory preservation mandate.471
143.
Moreover, NAB’s criticisms of OET’s efforts to provide support for TVStudy are
baseless.472 Copies of TVStudy have been made available to the public continuously since its original

464 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 13, 16. NAB Apr. 4, 2014 Comments at 8 (claiming, without providing any
supporting evidence, that TVStudy produces “wildly different results”). We also note that the existing coverage area
and population served are greater when estimated by TVStudy for more than one-half of the stations that are eligible
to participate in the incentive auction.
465 See NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 13. See also para. 161.
466 Our analysis indicates that KMAX-TV’s terrain-limited population would increase from 6,385,375 persons
(using 2000 U.S. Census data) to 6,944,172 persons (using 2010 U.S. Census data). Our analysis showing the eight
percent increase was based on use of TVStudy with all of the updated input values proposed in OET’s TVStudy PN
except for the change in the error flag treatment.
467 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 14.
468 LPTV and TV translators, having secondary status, will not be considered in determining the coverage area and
population served of full power or Class A broadcast stations in the repacking process. See § III.B.3.d.iii (LPTV
and TV Translator Stations).
469 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 21.
470 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 22.
471 See § III.B.1 (Repacking Process Overview).
472 See NAB Apr. 4, 2014 Comments at iv.
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release in February 2013.473 The TVStudy software was released in a form allowing it to be easily
installed and run on inexpensive, commonly available consumer computers. While OET has corrected
minor errors and improved the functionality of TVStudy since its original release,474 OET has informed the
public of these updates by releasing Public Notices, or (as announced in September 2013) through updates
on the Commission’s website.475 Commission staff have provided and continue to provide ongoing
support to users seeking to implement and utilize TVStudy, including participating in an online discussion
forum (list-serve) open to the public.476 As the developer of TVStudy, OET has provided support to users
of the software by responding to inquiries on the listserv.477 Thus, broadcasters have had ample
opportunity to evaluate and familiarize themselves with the updated software and input values.478
Accordingly, contrary to NAB’s claims, there should be no uncertainty associated with the use of
TVStudy.

473 Updated versions of TVStudy were announced by public notice in April, July, August, and September 2013. See
Office of Engineering and Technology Releases Updated TVStudy Software
, ET Docket No. 13-26, GN Docket No.
12-268, Public Notice, 28 FCC Rcd 5520 (2013); Repacking Data PN, 28 FCC Rcd 10370; Office of Engineering
and Technology Releases Updated TVStudy Software,
ET Docket No. 13-26 and GN Docket No. 12-268, Public
Notice, 28 FCC Rcd 12327 (2013); Office of Engineering and Technology Releases TVStudy Version 1.2.8 and
Announces Future Updates Will Be Posted to the Web,
ET Docket No. 13-26 and GN Docket No. 12-268, Public
Notice, 28 FCC Rcd 12979 (2013) (TVStudy Update PN). The most up-to-date version of TVStudy is posted at
http://data.fcc.gov/download/incentive-auctions/OET-69/.
474 Despite NAB’s concerns, these changes have been limited to minor error corrections or improved functionality.
See NAB Apr. 4, 2014 Comments at iv, 2, 16. NAB is also mistaken when it claims that there is no publicly
available record of the changes made to TVStudy. See id. at 13, 15. Since the original release of TVStudy, OET has
maintained a change log on the Commission’s website fully describing the changes and improvements made to
TVStudy. See TVStudy Installation and Upgrade Guide, available at http://data.fcc.gov/download/incentive-
auctions/OET-69/ . While NAB takes issue with OET’s removal from the website of previous versions of TVStudy,
it was reasonable for OET to conclude that maintaining such versions on the website might lead to confusion. See
NAB Apr. 4, 2014 Comments at 13. In any event, prior versions have always been, and will continue to be,
available upon request.
475 See n.474.
476 Cavell-Mertz maintains the list-serve, AFCCE-CDBS@cavell-mertz.com, which industry professionals have
been using for a number of years to communicate issues associated with the Commission’s Consolidated Database
System (CDBS) and its derivative databases. Contrary to NAB’s claim, public release of the minor corrections and
updates to TVStudy has not been limited to “private channels.” See NAB Apr. 4, 2014 Comments at 12-13, 15.
Rather, consistent with the announcement in the TVStudy Update PN, the two latest updates to TVStudy were
released to the public on the Commission’s website. OET made additional efforts to announce such updates on the
list-serv, which is open to the public and subscribed to by broadcast engineering professionals.
477 See, e.g., Office of Engineering and Technology Releases Updated TVStudy Software, ET Docket No. 13-26, GN
Docket No. 12-268, Public Notice, 28 FCC Rcd 5520 (2013) (announcing details of the listserv). Inquiries OET
received by other means of communications were summarized and responses were also provided on the list-serve.
We expect OET will continue to support TVStudy users by responding to inquiries after release of this Order.
478 NAB’s suggestion that the existing software should be used because it was used after the DTV transition ignores
a fundamental difference between the DTV transition and the incentive auction. See NAB TVStudy PN Comments
at 4. During the DTV transition, the Commission allowed most stations to select their post-transition channel. See
Second Periodic Review of the Commission’s Rules and Policies Affecting the Conversion to Digital
Television, MB
Docket No. 03-15, Report and Order, 19 FCC Rcd 18279, 18292 (2004). Interference analyses, where selectively
used, only involved resolution of conflicts between individual stations. The DTV transition thus did not involve
nearly as many interference analyses as the incentive auction, in which a far greater number of channel
reassignments may be made by the Commission, so that the process did not demand as intensive or time-consuming
computer analysis. Moreover, as described in § III.B.1 (Repacking Process Overview), there is a need for analytical
speed in this context that was not present during the DTV transition.
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144.
NAB complains that TVStudy contains “scores of soft switches,” which contain variables
or inputs that can lead to different predictions of coverage area and population served depending on how
the switches are set.479 Most of these switches reflect variables that are not meant to be changed from
their default values, were included in the software to maximize flexibility, and have not changed since the
original release of TVStudy.480 In the TVStudy PN, OET tentatively defined the eight soft switches for the
inputs that we adopt today.481 The release of this Order finalizes the variables or inputs associated with
the key soft switches.482 In addition, a Public Notice released by OET concurrently with the Order
provides guidance regarding how to set the switches for the remaining variables or inputs.483
145.
As interested parties continue to work with TVStudy, there may be further opportunities
for OET to correct minor errors in, or to improve the functionality of, the software, consistent with this
Order. Accordingly, OET may continue to make improvements and other changes to TVStudy after
release of this Order that are necessary and appropriate to correct minor errors or improve functionality,
provided such changes are consistent with this Order. However, we recognize the importance of
finalizing TVStudy well in advance of the auction. We direct OET to finalize TVStudy no later than the
release of the Procedures PN. We also direct OET to release a detailed summary of baseline coverage
area and population served by each television station to be protected in the repacking process, and to
provide an opportunity for additional public input.
146.
NAB further argues that it is “arbitrary and capricious” for the Commission to utilize
TVStudy only in the incentive auction context.484 According to NAB, if we adopt TVStudy, “the result
would be that on the very same day that the auction is commenced using [TVStudy], a person or entity
could file an application for a new television station, yet be required by the Commission to use the [old
software].”485 This assertion lacks merit because we have not yet addressed whether TVStudy will be used
for purposes other than the repacking process.486 We note that, contrary to NAB’s assumption, the
Commission does not always use the same computer software to implement OET-69. The Commission’s

479 See NAB Apr. 4, 2014 Comments at iv; see also id. at 3, 8.
480 Specifically, the majority of these parameters relate to interference protection requirements specified in the
Commission’s rules. See generally 47 C.F.R. §§ 73.600 et seq. (Subpart E – Television Broadcast Stations); see
also
47 C.F.R. §§ 73.6000 et seq.(Subpart J – Class A Television Broadcast Stations); 47 C.F.R. §§ 74.700 et seq.
(Subpart G – Low Power TV, TV Translator, and TV Booster Stations).
481 In addition, the Repacking Data PN specified these inputs. See Repacking Data PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 10380–82,
10399–411.
482 This Order finalizes the setting of the soft switches on population, terrain and certain technical inputs, see §
III.B.2.b (OET-69 and TVStudy), and adopts decisions that affect the settings of other switches (e.g. our decision to
include areas covered by DTS in the preservation mandate is reflected in one of the TVStudy switches). This order
does not finalize certain parameters in TVStudy that relate to the treatment of allotments outside of the U.S. due to
the ongoing negotiations with Canada and Mexico.
483 See para. 182. Specifically, the Public Notice specifies how the switches were set in developing the data being
released with the Public Notice.
484 Letter from Rick Kaplan, NAB, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 3 (filed Apr.
19, 2013).
485 Id.; see also NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 17-19; NAB Apr. 4, 2014 Comments at 18 (referring to 47 C.F.R. §
73.8000(d)(1), pertaining to incorporation of OET-69 by reference for purposes of 47 C.F.R. § 73.616).
486 Reviewing courts have held that “the FCC is not required to address all problems ‘in one fell swoop,’ and may
focus on problems depending on their acuteness,” Sorenson Comm’ns, Inc. v. FCC, 567 F.3d 1215, 1222 (10th Cir.
2009) (citing Nat’l Ass’n of Broadcasters v. FCC, 740 F.2d 1190, 1207 (D.C. Cir. 1984)); Nat’l Cable &
Telecomms. Ass’n v. Brand X Internet Servs.
, 545 U.S. 967. 1002 (2005) (Brand X) (affirming the FCC’s decision to
incrementally address the regulatory framework for different categories of facilities-based information service
providers).
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bureaus have used different software programs to implement OET-69: the Media Bureau has used
tv_process to process applications for new stations and modifications, OET has used “FLR” for large-
scale projects, like the DTV transition, and the International Bureau has used “V-Soft Probe” for
international coordination efforts. Each type of software provides a different utility that serves the
purposes for which it is used (i.e., licensing, interference and international coordination).
147.
NAB and other broadcasters also raise procedural objections that lack merit. Because we
are adopting TVStudy and updated input values in this Order, NAB’s claim that the Commission itself
must approve the use of TVStudy and updated input values is moot.487 NAB also complains that the
comment cycle was too short.488 We disagree. The TVStudy PN allowed 45 days for comments and an
additional 15 days for reply comments.489 In addition, parties have had additional time to work with the
updated software and inputs (and to submit ex parte filings) since the comment period closed.490 While
NAB claims that “formal” notice and comment procedures were required instead of Public Notices,491 the
purpose of the APA’s notice and comment requirement has been fully satisfied by OET’s issuance of the
TVStudy PN and its publication in the Federal Register.492 We have a robust record on the issues raised in
the TVStudy PN and we have taken the comments and ex parte filings into account in adopting the use of
TVStudy and the updated values in this Order.
148.
Use of 2010 U.S. Census Data. Having addressed the broadcasters’ statutory and other
arguments that we cannot use updated software or input values in applying the OET-69 methodology, we
turn to the specific updates to the input values associated with TVStudy proposed in the TVStudy PN.
First, we adopt use of the latest available population data from the 2010 U.S. Census. The old software
used population data from the 2000 U.S. Census or earlier. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the
country’s population has grown 9.7 percent since the 2000 Census, an increase of 27.3 million people.493
In addition, the distribution of the population across the country has shifted.494
149.
NAB argues that we should continue to use 2000 Census data, claiming that its
preliminary analysis of TVStudy with 2010 population data shows that 14 percent of broadcast licensees

487 See NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 17-19; see also NAB Apr. 4, 2014 Comments at 2, 11-12, 13, 18.
488 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 19.
489 The broadcasting community participated extensively in this docket. In response to the TVStudy PN, ten parties
submitted comments and ten parties submitted reply comments. Broadcasters, among other parties, also participated
in several ex parte meetings with the Commission and its staff to discuss the issues raised in the TVStudy PN. NAB
filed at least eight ex parte notices; CEA filed a letter in the record in response to NAB’s ex parte filing of February
2, 2013. NAB also filed an additional set of comments in April 2014.
490 In response to feedback received, OET has updated the original version of TVStudy on several occasions. See
n.474. We note that other parties found the release of TVStudy timely. CEA, for example, noted that by releasing
the software much earlier than the auction, OET is “wisely affording itself ample time before the auction to address
any errors, unexpected behaviors, or anomalous results identified by interested parties who have run tests of the
software.” CEA TVStudy PN Comments at 2.
491 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 18-19; NAB Apr. 4, 2014 Comments at 14, 18-19.
492 Cf. Sagebrush Rebellion v. Hodel, 790 F.2d 760, 764-65 (9th Cir. 1986) (“An agency’s failure to provide notice
and an opportunity to comment before taking action for which notice and comment were required by its enabling
legislation, constituted harmless error because the agency had earlier provided notice and comment on almost
identical issues in accordance with the notice and comment requirements of the National Environmental Protection
Act”). See also Appalachian Power Co. v. EPA, 135 F.3d 791, 804 n.22 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (“if ‘the purposes of
notice and comment have been adequately served,’ Fertilizer Inst. v. EPA, 935 F.2d 1303, 1311 (D.C. Cir. 1991)—
we will find no procedural violation.”).
493 Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010, United States Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce
(Mar. 2011) available at http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-01.pdf.
494 Id.
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will experience a decrease in predicted population served.495 Though our evaluation of TVStudy shows a
similar apparent reduction, it also shows that 88 percent of full-service broadcasters will experience an
increase in predicted population served.496 Moreover, while NAB contends that “[t]hese changes are
contrary to the Commission’s statutory obligation to preserve ‘population served,’”497 NAB fails to
acknowledge that using 2010 Census data, the most recent population data available, does not result in
actual population loss but rather an accurate representation of a broadcast station’s population served as
of 2010
. In other words, broadcast stations experiencing a “loss” in predicted population served were, in
fact, serving a smaller population on February 22, 2012, than predicted using 2000 Census data because
the 2000 Census data is outdated.
150.
Use of One Arc-Second Terrain Elevation Data. We adopt use of terrain elevation data
with a nominal resolution of one arc-second (approximately 30 meters) in most areas of the country. The
one arc-second dataset, which is derived from smaller scale topographic maps with more granular
elevation data than datasets used by earlier implementations of the OET-69 methodology, will allow for
more accurate calculation of the effect of terrain on propagation of television signals.498 The U.S.
Geological Survey (“USGS”) maintains a database with this terrain information, which is updated on a
two-month cycle to integrate newly available and improved data.499 The earlier software used to
implement OET-69 relied on a terrain elevation database of three arc-second resolution (approximately 90
meters).500 The USGS no longer distributes, maintains, or supports a three arc-second database, which
also has a history of errors and no mechanism to check the validity of those errors or to correct them. We
find no reason to continue using an obsolete database when there is an expert federal agency that offers
up-to-date and more precise terrain data.
151.
NAB opposes this change. According to NAB, OET-69 expressly requires use of a three
arc-second database.501 We acknowledge that OET-69 mentions that “the FCC computer program is
linked to a terrain elevation database with values every three arc-seconds of latitude and longitude.”502
This is a descriptive statement about an input database, however, not a prescriptive element of the OET-
69 methodology. We do not interpret the description of an input linked to the earlier software as a
methodological requirement or a restriction against updating that software to incorporate more precise,
accurate, and current data. 503

495 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 8-10.
496 Our analysis was conducted using TVStudy (incorporating the changes adopted in this Order) with the 2010
Census data and the 2000 Census data. All other inputs remained constant.
497 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 11.
498 TVStudy PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 953.
499 See www.ned.usgs.gov (the National Elevation Dataset (NED) is a seamless dataset with the best available raster
elevation data of the conterminous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and the territorial islands). While USGS
continues to update its NED, the Commission will be releasing a “snapshot” of the data it will be using in the
auction as of a certain date to ensure consistent results.
500 There have been a number of sources for three-arc-second databases; the Commission’s three arc-second
database was assembled from several different sources.
501 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 9.
502 OET-69 at 6 (emphasis added).
503 Commission precedent is consistent with our decision. See Qualcomm Petition for Declaratory Ruling, 24 FCC
Rcd 13992, 13993, ¶ 1 n.4 (2009) (stating that the OET-69 methodology makes a service determination, in part,
based on the elevation of terrain between the transmitter and each reception point); Study of Digital Field Strength
Standards and Testing Procedures
, ET Docket No. 05-182, Report to Congress on the Satellite Home Viewer
Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004, 20 FCC Rcd 19504, 19562, para. 132 (2005) (same).
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152.
NAB further maintains that switching from three to one arc-second terrain data will result
in predicted losses in population served for 85.1 percent of all broadcast stations – results that NAB
argues “simply cannot be squared with Congress’s directive to preserve broadcast licensees’ service
populations, as calculated using the version of OET-69 in effect on February 22, 2012.”504 NAB did not
provide any analytical information to support its calculations. By contrast, our analysis predicts that
about one-half of the stations examined will maintain or slightly improve population coverage in
comparison to what would have been predicted using the three arc-second terrain data, while one-half are
predicted to experience a slight decrease in coverage.505 Further, staff analysis shows that the results
using the one arc-second terrain database are more accurate than those of the three arc-second database.506

504 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 9-10.
505 Our analysis is based on publicly available data of all full power stations. It was conducted using TVStudy
(incorporating the changes adopted in this Order) and the one arc-second terrain database and the three arc-second
terrain database. A station-by-station comparison of population served when utilizing one arc-second versus three
arc-second terrain data showed that these differences generally occur in areas where the terrain varies significantly
over small distances. In such areas, the points analyzed for the one and three arc-second terrain data can result in
differences in elevation, which affect the predicted propagation of signals. Our analysis of all full power stations
shows that only two stations would experience terrain-limited population losses of greater than five percent solely
due to the use of the one arc-second terrain data and 20 full power stations would experience gains of greater than
five percent. Four full-power stations would experience interference-free population losses of greater than five
percent and 22 full-power stations would experience gains of greater than five percent.
506 In a separate study, we compared predicted field strength values applying TVStudy using one arc-second and
three arc-second data to measured field strength values. The measured field strength data were of eight analog full
power UHF television stations in New York, New York (WUHF-TV), Fresno, California (KJEO), Buffalo, New
York (WBUF), Baton Rouge, Louisiana (WAFB-TV), Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania (WBRE-TV), Springfield,
Massachusetts (WHYN-TV), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (WHYY-TV), and Madison, Wisconsin (WMTV), and
were collected in the 1950s by the Television Allocations Study Organization (TASO). These data are publicly
available. All other parameters in the study were held constant. The mean error between predicted and measured
field strength values across all of the locations considered either decreased or remained constant in every case when
one arc-second terrain data were used. The mean error between the TASO measurements and TVStudy for both
terrain databases is shown in the table below:
Mean Error, dB
Station
1 arc-sec
3 arc-sec
KJEO
0.10
0.15
WAFB
10.5
10.9
WBRE
13.2
15.0
WBUF
14.1
14.7
WHYN
16.5
17.0
WHYY
11.9
13.7
WMTV
7.37
7.37
WUHF
10.2
11.6
See A. D. Ring & Associates, “Field Strength Measurement Survey for AMST – Fresno, California,” [KJEO, TV
Channel 47], Aug. 1, 1958; A. D. Ring & Associates, “Field Strength Measurement Survey for AMST –
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” [WHYY-TV, TV Channel 35], Aug. 15, 1958; A. D. Ring & Associates, “Field
Strength Measurement Survey for AMST – Baton Rouge, Louisiana,” [WAFB-TV, TV Channel 28], Nov. 18, 1957;
A. D. Ring & Associates, “Field Strength Measurement Survey for AMST – Buffalo, New York,” [WBUF, TV
Channel 17]; Oct. 24, 1958; A. D. Ring & Associates, “Field Strength Measurement Survey for AMST –
Springfield, Massachusetts,” [WHYN-TV, TV Channel 40], Mar. 6, 1959; A. D. Ring & Associates, “Field Strength
Measurement Survey for AMST – Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania,” [WBRE-TV, TV Channel 28], Sept. 24, 1957; A.
D. Ring & Associates, “Field Strength Measurement Survey for AMST – Madison, Wisconsin,” [WMTV, TV
(continued….)
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153.
Antenna Beam Tilt Values. We adopt use of actual beam tilt data, as those data are
specified by the licensees and shown in the Commission’s Consolidated Database System (“CDBS”),
instead of an across-the-board-assumed downtilt figure. This will allow for a more accurate depiction of
the predicted coverage of, and interference from, each television station. As the TVStudy PN recognized,
the computer program previously used to implement the OET-69 methodology ignores this input from
CDBS and instead uses the same electrical beam tilt for every location, regardless of the actual beam tilt
value, which can result in a coverage projection that may effectively “miss” some of the population
served.507 In contrast, TVStudy uses the actual amount of electrical downtilt as specified by the broadcast
licensees in CDBS, generating a more accurate model of coverage and interference effects and therefore
better implementing the methodology in OET-69.
154.
NAB claims that OET-69 expressly requires the use of a standard beam tilt to determine
transmitting antenna patterns.508 This argument lacks merit. OET-69’s Table 8 represents a “typical”
vertical pattern shape for a transmitting antenna, not a beam tilt angle.509 In industry practice, the shape
of an elevation pattern is held relatively constant, while beam tilt angle is adjusted to correspond with the
maximum depression angle in any direction to maximize coverage.510 Broadcast licensees are assumed to
have chosen the appropriate beam tilt angle that maximizes their coverage. The TVStudy software only
offsets the tabulation in Table 8 so that the maximum value (antenna beam tilt value) matches the value in
CDBS, which is the actual value as inputted by the licensee. 511
155.
Coordinates, Depression Angles, and Incorrect Data. Instead of continuing to truncate
or round geographic coordinates to the nearest second, as was the practice in earlier versions of software
implementing OET-69, we adopt use of full-precision data in coverage and population served
projections.512 By increasing the precision of geographic coordinates, TVStudy eliminates rounding errors
and provides at least three additional orders of precision. NAB opposes this change because it estimates
that it will decrease predicted population served for 37.3 percent of stations and increase predicted
(Continued from previous page)
Channel 33], Feb. 5, 1958; Daniel B. Hutton, “Report on Mobile Field Strength Measurements, New York City
UHF-TV Project,” [WUHF-TV, TV Channel 31] FCC Report No. R-6302, Feb. 12, 1963.
507 TVStudy PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 953.
508 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 10.
509 OET-69 at 13. The old OET-69 software employed by OET does not provide an elevation pattern specifically for
Class A stations. In our analyses using TVStudy for the incentive auction, we will treat elevation patterns for Class
A stations the same as those of full power stations, including use of the antenna beam tilt data in CDBS.
510 See NAB Engineering Handbook, Chapter 6.8 (10th Edition 2007).
511 Commission precedent is not inconsistent with our decision. See n. [449] and accompanying text. When it
referred to “default vertical antenna patterns inherent in the OET-69 methodology” in a 2006 decision, the
Commission was summarizing reply comments filed in response to a Petition. Qualcomm Incorporated Petition for
Declaratory Ruling
, WT Docket No. 05-7, Order, 21 FCC Rcd 11683, 11690, para. 14 (2006) (“Qualcomm
Order
”). It clearly had no intention of defining the scope of the “OET-69 methodology” for general purposes. Later
in that same decision, the FCC used the term “methodology” in connection with two other departures from OET-69
that it approved for purposes of the Petition, but not in connection with the use of an actual vertical antenna
pattern. Compare Qualcomm Order, 21 FCC Rcd at 11692, para. 18 (use of part 27 D/U ratios and accounting for
the effect of multiple transmitters) with id. at 11694, para. 21 (use of actual vertical antenna patterns). While the
Commission in the Third DTV Periodic Review declined to use actual vertical antenna patterns based solely on
concerns with “time and resources,” it never stated that using actual vertical antenna patterns would change the
OET-69 “methodology.” Third DTV Periodic Review, 23 FCC Rcd at 3071, para. 166. The Commission declined
to use actual vertical antenna patterns in a section entitled “Post-Transition Interference Standards and Analysis
Methodology,” but the title of the general section does not imply that the Commission viewed actual or default
vertical patterns as part of the OET-69 “methodology.”
512 TVStudy PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 954.
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population served for 38.1 percent of stations.513 We find NAB’s argument unpersuasive; there is no
technical or computational basis to intentionally reduce the numerical precision of the geographic
coordinates used to calculate station coverage and population served as of February 22, 2012.514 As
discussed above, the FCC has a well-established statutory obligation to address known inaccuracies in
existing data.515 Therefore, we adopt the proposal set forth in the TVStudy PN.516
156.
For the same reasons, we adopt the TVStudy PN proposal to correct the previous
software’s error in calculating depression angles. Some versions of the computer program previously
used to implement OET-69 erroneously calculated depression angles based on the antenna height above
ground, rather than the height above mean sea level, which, as the TVStudy PN recognized, can cause the
radiated power toward the cell under study to be incorrectly calculated.517 This can result in an incorrect
representation of a station’s coverage area and population served.518 Nevertheless, NAB objects to the
correction of this error because it results in an estimated decrease in population served for 12.2 percent of
stations and an estimated increase in population served for 22.1 percent of stations. Again, we disagree
that the Spectrum Act requires us to disregard software improvements that increase the accuracy of
predictions.
157.
The TVStudy PN also recognized that there may be instances where the information
entered into the FCC’s broadcast station database, CDBS, may not be fully accurate. This could lead to
incorrect results when the values in that database are used to predict coverage and interference.519 While
OET sought comment on methods to detect and correct inaccurate data, the commenting parties did not
address this issue.520 As discussed below, full power and Class A stations will be required to certify the
accuracy of the information in CDBS prior to the incentive auction.521
158.
Longley-Rice Error Warnings or “Flags” Treatment. We decline to adopt an alternative
treatment of results that are flagged as “unusable or dubious” by the Longley-Rice algorithm underlying
the OET-69 methodology.522 Currently, the assumption is that the cells with such warning flags have
coverage, even if surrounding cells are predicted to lack coverage or are subject to interference.523
159.
NAB opposes any change in the treatment of the error flags, claiming it would change the
OET-69 methodology, in violation of the Spectrum Act, and result in loss of coverage area for the
majority of the broadcast stations.524 By contrast, CEA contends that treatment of the flags is not part of
the OET-69 methodology, and that providing the Commission flexibility in the treatment of such flags

513 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 12.
514 TVStudy PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 954.
515 See para. 138.
516 See also CEA TVStudy PN Comments at 6.
517 TVStudy PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 954.
518 This error mostly impacted stations on short towers located at high elevations (e.g., mountains).
519 Examples of incorrect data include negative values for beam tilt, swapped values for mechanical beam tilt and
orientation, missing maximum values for directional antenna patterns, missing or incorrect directional antenna flags,
and ERP values entered in dBk instead of kilowatts.
520 See TVStudy PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 954.
521 See n.615.
522 TVStudy PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 954.
523 Id.
524 NAB TVStudy PN Comments at 7.
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will allow us to better fulfill the objectives of the Spectrum Act.525 In a similar vein, CTIA argues that the
current assumption that a “flagged” cell receives television service overestimates broadcast licensees’
coverage areas, an outcome that will “hamstring the Commission’s ability to efficiently and effectively
manage the repacking process.”526
160.
We are not persuaded that a change in the underlying assumption of error warnings or
“flags” is necessary or appropriate at this time. As noted in the TVStudy PN, error warnings have been
treated differently depending on context.527 For example, the presence of an error “flag” is ignored in
applying the methodology of OET Bulletin Nos. 72 and 73.528 That assumption is consistent with the
purpose of OET-72 and OET-73, which were designed to identify whether service is available at a
specific location (household).529 OET-69 is designed to predict service availability within a station’s
coverage area generally
, at points that are not specific households but are intended to be representative of
a surrounding area or cell. The assumption of coverage in that context is consistent with the
Commission’s traditional assumption that service is available throughout a station’s coverage area and
that broadcasters locate and configure their transmitters to maximize coverage. Thus, despite the fact that
the current treatment of error warnings may overestimate coverage areas, we find no compelling reason to
change our treatment of the Longley-Rice error flags at this time. Further, we do not believe that
assuming service for cells with error flags will significantly impact our ability to efficiently repack
television stations, because this assumption does not increase the coverage area that we must make all
reasonable efforts to preserve. Accordingly, we will continue to assume coverage where Longley-Rice
error warnings appear.
161.
On May 8, 2014, NAB filed a 129-page submission purporting to demonstrate that
TVStudy “produce[s] flawed results” by comparing TVStudy and “the existing OET-69 software.”530
Despite the fact that OET first publicly released TVStudy over 15 months ago, NAB filed on the eve of the
Sunshine period, limiting analysis of its submission and depriving interested parties of an opportunity for
comment.531 Nonetheless, analysis indicates that NAB’s submission is flawed. First, NAB used the
wrong legacy software for its comparison. NAB maintains that “the version of OET-69 in existence on
February 22, 2012 (understood to include OET Bulletin 69 and its implementing software)” must be used
in the repacking process.532 NAB does not specify which of the legacy software programs for applying
the OET-69 methodology in use as of that date it believes must be used.533 If Congress had intended to
require the use of particular software, however, presumably it would have required the use of OET’s

525 CEA TVStudy PN Comments at 14; see also TVStudy PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 955.
526 CTIA TVStudy PN Comments at 8-9.
527 TVStudy PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 954-955.
528 CEA TVStudy PN Comments at 13.
529 OET-72 and OET-73 were designed to implement the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010
(STELA). STELA was enacted to ensure the satellite delivery of network television programming to specific
viewers that cannot receive that programming from their local television station by means of an outdoor or indoor
antenna. See Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010, Pub.L. 111-175, 124 Stat. 1218 (2010).
OET Bulletin No 72 is available at
http://transition.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Engineering_Technology/Documents/bulletins/oet72/oet72.pdf; OET Bulletin No.
73 is available at http://transition.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Engineering_Technology/Documents/bulletins/oet73/oet73.pdf.
530 NAB Comments, ET Docket No. 13-26, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 1, 3 (filed May 8, 2014) (NAB May 8 filing)
at 1, 3.
531 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1203(a), (c).
532 NAB Comments at 4-5.
533 See para. 146 (explaining that the Commission’s different bureaus have used different software programs to
implement the OET-69 methodology).
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“FLR” software (which has been publicly available on OET’s website for years), as the statute refers
specifically to OET as the originator of OET-69.534 Yet NAB apparently used a version of the Media
Bureau’s application processing software for its comparisons to TVStudy.535 Second, NAB used the
wrong input values for its comparison. NAB maintains that it used “the settings OET actually proposes to
use.”536 NAB used such settings selectively, however, skewing the results of its comparison. For
example, NAB maintains that use of TVStudy results in a loss of population served for approximately 52
percent of stations studied, yet NAB failed to update Census data reflecting an increase in the U.S.
population between 2000 and 2010.537 OET’s analysis using the settings OET proposed to use (and that
we adopt in this Order) results in a population increase for 88 percent of full power stations.538 Third,
NAB is mistaken that TVStudy must be flawed because it does not replicate the results produced by earlier
software for applying OET-69.539 The various legacy software programs used by the Commission’s
different bureaus do not always produce identical results: identical results are unnecessary when the
software is being used for different purposes. TVStudy is not designed to produce the identical results
produced by earlier software, although it does produce very similar results.540 TVStudy is configured
differently from earlier software so that it can support the repacking process using the most up-to-date and
accurate information and technical evaluation capabilities and, therefore, necessarily does not produce
exactly the same results.541
c.

Preserving Coverage Area

162.
Background. As stated above, the Spectrum Act requires that the Commission make “all
reasonable efforts to preserve . . . the coverage area . . . of each broadcast television licensee, as
determined using the methodology described in OET Bulletin 69.”542 The term “coverage area” is not
defined in the Spectrum Act, OET-69 or our rules. In the NPRM, the Commission proposed to interpret
“coverage area” to mean a full power station’s “service area,” as defined in section 73.622(e) of our
rules.543 Noting that the rules governing Class A stations do not define a “service area” for such stations,
the Commission proposed to use a Class A station’s “protected contour” — the area within which it is

534 See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2). Further, OET used “FLR” for all of the Commission’s analyses of broadcast
television stations’ coverage areas and populations served during the DTV transition.
535 See NAB May 8, 2014 filing, Declaration of Willliam R. Meintel at para. 7.
536 NAB May 8 filing at 7.
537 See id. at 5.
538 See para. 140. We also note that NAB treated Class A stations differently from full power stations, which
resulted in the largest discrepancies between the results produced by the earlier software and TVStudy. Further, in
generating its comparison of TVStudy and the legacy software program using old input values, NAB used the wrong
parameters relating to treatment of Class A stations, minimum antenna height above average terrain (HAAT), the
number of terrain radials used to determine HAAT, Census Block coordinate rounding, treatment of DTS stations,
and treatment of the digital antenna pattern field in the Commission’s CDBS database. These errors appear to
explain most of the apparent “losses” in coverage area and population in that comparison. See NAB May 8, 2014
filing, Att. A.
539 See NAB May 8, 2014 filing at 4.
540 See para. 140.
541 There are differences between TVStudy and FLR that would be expected to produce different results even when
the input parameters are set consistently. For example, TVStudy automatically corrects for obvious errors in the
license data base; the FLR and Media Bureau software has no such capability. The terrain grid sizes can be set to
be identical, but the programs use different compilations of the underlying 3 arc-second terrain data.
542 Spectrum Act §§ 6403(b)(1)(B), (b)(2). See also id. §§ 6403(b)(3) (no involuntary relocation from UHF to
VHF), (g) (limitation on reorganization authority).
543 47 C.F.R. § 73.622(e).
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protected from interference under our rules — as its “coverage area” for purposes of the repacking
process.544
163.
As discussed above, in the repacking process some stations may be reassigned to
different channels. When a station is assigned to a different channel, its technical facilities (transmit
power and antenna pattern) must be modified to preserve its coverage area, because radio signals
propagate differently on different frequencies.545 With such modifications, there may be some small
differences in the specific geographic areas served within the station’s noise-limited or protected contour,
even though the total geographic area within the station’s contour remains the same. These differences
are due to the varying propagation characteristics of different channels, which can change the degree to
which areas within a station’s contour are affected by terrain loss. The Commission proposed to use
replication software to calculate the power and antenna pattern adjustments necessary to reproduce, or
“replicate,” a station’s coverage area on its channel for post-auction operation.546 It further proposed to
allow a station assigned to a new channel to continue to use its existing antenna pattern, and to adjust its
power level so that the coverage area on the new channel would be the same in total square kilometers as
before the repacking process, without regard to terrain losses, instead of using the calculated antenna
pattern.547 The Commission also asked whether it would be consistent with the Spectrum Act to consider
a station’s signal to be receivable at all locations within its noise-limited or protected contour (depending
on whether it is a full power or Class A station) for purposes of replication.548
164.
Discussion. We adopt the proposal to interpret the statutory term “coverage area”
consistent with the definition of “service area” in OET-69 and section 73.622(e) of the Commission’s
rules with regard to full power stations.549 Accordingly, we will consider a full power station’s coverage
area to be the geographic area within its noise- limited F(50,90) contour where the signal strength is
predicted to exceed the noise-limited service level.550 Consistent with the methodology in OET-69, areas
within a station’s noise-limited contour where its signal strength is below the noise-limited signal strength

544 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12390, para 99. A Class A station’s protected contour is different from, and generally
smaller than, the noise-limited contour that defines the “service area” within which a full power station is protected
from interference under our rules. See 47 C.F.R. § 73.6010.
545 A broadcast signal transmitted on one channel will cover a slightly different area from a signal transmitted on a
different channel at the same location using the same technical facilities (e.g., antenna pattern, antenna height, and
ERP). For a station on a new channel to replicate its existing coverage area, its transmission facilities must be
adjusted to specify a new antenna pattern and/or Effective Radiated Power (ERP). “Replicate” in this context means
to reproduce a station’s existing noise-limited contour on a different channel.
546 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12391, para. 100. Replication would only be performed for stations assigned to new
channels after the auction. Stations remaining on their existing channels after the auction would not need to change
their operation. The replication software is incorporated into TVStudy.
547 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12391, para. 100. It may not be possible to build an antenna that achieves the antenna
pattern calculated for the station by TVStudy.
548 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12391, para. 102.
549 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12388, paras. 93-94; OET-69 at 1; 47 C.F.R. § 73.622(e)(1). The commenters that
address the definition of coverage area support the proposal to interpret the statutory term “coverage area” to mean a
full power station’s “service area” as defined in § 73.622(e) of the Commission’s rules. See Harris Comments at 7;
NAB Comments at 23.
550 47 C.F.R. § 73.622(e)(1). This rule defines “noise-limited contour” as “the area in which the predicted F(50,90)
field strength of the station’s signal” exceeds specified levels. Id. Within this contour, service is considered
available at locations where the station’s signal strength, as predicted exceeds specified levels using the Longley-
Rice methodology in OET Bulletin No. 69. 47 C.F.R. § 73.622(e)(2). “Noise” in this definition refers to
background noise from thermal sources and from within typical TV receivers themselves, not to interference from
other television stations. See OET-69 at 3-5 (distinguishing between “evaluations of service coverage and
interference”).
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level, which typically occurs due to terrain obstructions or other propagation factors, will not be
considered to be part of the station’s coverage area.551 As requested by KAZN and UVM, the coverage
areas of full power stations that operate distributed transmission systems (“DTS”) using multiple
transmitters will be determined in accordance with the definition of authorized service area and method
for determining DTS “authorized service areas” in sections 73.626(b), (c) and (d) of the rules.552 Further,
it is appropriate to use a DTS station’s authorized service area as currently set forth in our rules as the
definition of the coverage of such stations. While OET-69 does not specifically address DTS stations, we
find that considering a DTS station’s service area to be the combined coverage of its transmitters, as
limited by the maximum distances specified in the rules, is consistent with that methodology.553
165.
As proposed in the NPRM, we will make all reasonable efforts to preserve Class A
stations’ protected contours.554 We disagree with commenters who argue that we must protect the entire
area covered by Class A stations’ signals, i.e., the noise-limited contour within which viewers may be
able to receive the signal.555 Because our rules only protect Class A stations’ protected contours from
interference, defining their coverage areas as their noise-limited contours would provide these stations
with greater interference protection after the repacking process than they enjoy today.556 In the absence of
an explicit statutory directive, we find no basis to do so.557 Our approach makes our interpretation of the
statutory term “coverage area” consistent for full power and Class A stations, both of which will enjoy
protection in the repacking process for the same area that now receives interference protection under our
rules.558
166.
In preserving a station’s coverage area, we will replicate that station’s contour on its new
channel.559 As noted earlier, OET-69 sets forth the methodology for determining the contours that define

551 See OET-69 at 7.
552 47 C.F.R. § 73.626(b), (c), and (d); UVM Reply at 12-13; KAZN Reply at 2-3. Those rules define the authorized
service area of a DTS station as the area encompassed within the combined noise-limited signals of all of a station’s
DTS transmitters, subject to a maximum service area limit that corresponds to a pre-defined radius or contour that
could be served from a single transmitter.
553 In contrast, we will not include areas within a full power station’s noise-limited contour that are served by
replacement translators in a station’s coverage area, as requested by the Affiliates Associations, NAB, and others.
See Affiliates Associations Comments at 39-41, Bahakel Comments at 3, Belo Comments at 15-16, Bonten
Comments at 10, Cox Media Comments at 4-5, Gray TV Comments at 7-8, NAB Comments at 33, Tribune
Comments at 15, Disney Comments at 14 and WGAL Comments at 14-15. We address this issue in § III.B.3.d.iii
(LPTV and TV Translator Stations).
554 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12390, para. 99; see also 47 C.F.R. § 73.6010.
555 See Affiliates Associations Comments at 25; Casa Comments at 3-4; Dispatch Comments at 4-5; Dispatch Reply
at 7-8; Bonten Comments at 9-10; Bonten Reply at 8-9; Raycom Reply at 10.
556 47 C.F.R. §§ 73.6010, 73.6012.
557 See National Cable & Telecommunications Ass’n v. Brand X Internet Servs., 545 U.S. 967, 993 (2005) (noting
presumption that Congress is aware of “‘settled judicial and administrative interpretation[s]’” when it enacts a
statute) (quoting Commissioner v. Keystone Consol. Industries, Inc., 508 U.S. 152, 159 (1993)); Hernstadt v. FCC,
677 F.2d 893, n.22 (D.C. Cir. 1980) (“Congress is presumed to be cognizant of, and legislate against the background
of, existing interpretations of law.”).
558 We note that, for purposes of this proceeding, the coverage area of Class A stations does not include areas within
the protected contour of the Class A station where the signal is predicted to fall below the level needed for reception
of service due to terrain obstructions. This clarification brings the definition of “coverage area” for Class A stations
in line with the definition for full power stations and the principles of OET-69.
559 Replication of coverage area was also adopted in the context of the DTV transition. See Advanced Television
System and their Impact Upon the Existing Television Broadcast Service
, MM Docket No. 87-268, Sixth Report and
Order,12 FCC Rcd 14588,14605, para. 29 (1997). In the DTV transition, the Commission replicated stations’
(continued….)
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the boundaries of a station’s coverage area.560 As proposed in the NPRM, we adopt the “equal area”
approach for replicating the area within the station’s existing contour as closely as possible using the
station’s existing antenna pattern.561 Assuming a station maintains its other existing technical parameters,
i.e., location, antenna height and antenna pattern, we will permit the station to adjust its power on the new
channel until the geographic area within the station’s noise-limited or protected contour (depending on
whether the station is full power or Class A) is equal to the area within the station’s original contour on its
pre-auction channel. This approach will allow stations to preserve their existing coverage areas using
antennas that are practical to build, so that stations will be able to actually construct their new facilities.562
167.
In the NPRM, we proposed to make all reasonable efforts to preserve the existing
coverage area of stations whose operations exceed the limits on antenna height above average terrain
(“HAAT”), but not the absolute limits on effective radiated power (“ERP”), recognizing that a number of
full power stations operate licensed facilities pursuant to a waiver of HAAT and ERP limits.563 We adopt
the proposal to protect in the repacking process the existing coverage areas of stations operating under a
waiver of the HAAT or antenna height limits. As requested by several commenters, we will also protect
the existing coverage areas of stations that operate under a waiver of ERP limits.564 In addition, we will
make all reasonable efforts to preserve the existing coverage areas of stations that operate above the
HAAT and/or ERP limits pursuant to section 73.622(f)(5), except that such operations will not be
protected to the extent that they exceed the maximum power limits specified in the Commission’s rules
without regard to HAAT.565 Stations licensed pursuant to a waiver of the applicable ERP limit will be
permitted to continue operations at power levels up to the existing authorized ERP.566
168.
To the extent that a broadcaster participates in the auction through a UHF-to-VHF or a
high-VHF-to-low-VHF bid, we will make all reasonable efforts to preserve its coverage area and
population served. However, because these stations will be relocating to a different band, we anticipate
that it may be difficult for them to maintain their antenna pattern on the new channel.567 Accordingly, as
discussed in Section V.C.1.a, we will allow successful UHF-to-VHF and high-VHF-to-low-VHF bidders
(Continued from previous page)
analog coverage areas on a second channel for DTV service. See id. The Commission noted that this approach
would ensure broadcasters would have the ability to reach the audiences they served at that time and viewers would
have access to the stations that they received over-the-air at that time. See id. at 14605. Replication was based on
appropriate propagation models and technical planning factors that were later incorporated in OET-69. See
Advanced Television System and their Impact Upon the Existing Television Broadcast Service
, MM Docket No. 87-
268, Sixth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 11 FCC Rcd 10968, 11002, para. 82 (1996).
560 See OET-69 at 1-3.
561 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12391, para. 100; see also Repacking Data PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 10389.
562 See Affiliates Associations Comments at 27 (contrasting with “facilities predicated on a theoretical antenna
pattern that is impracticable, or even impossible, to build”).
563 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12391, n. 157. See 47 C.F.R. § 73.622(f). Our records indicate that, as of February 22,
2012, there were 16 licensed VHF stations operating pursuant to a waiver of the applicable ERP limit. There are
also numerous licensees as of that date that operated with increased HAAT and/or ERP pursuant to 47 C.F.R. §
73.622(f)(5).
564 See Bonten Comments at 9-10; Comcast Comments at 17, n.45; Disney Comments at 32-34.
565 See 47 C.F.R. § 73.622(f)(5).
566 See 47 C.F.R. § 73.622(f)(4). Our records indicate that no station has been granted a waiver of the 1,000 kW
ERP limit.
567 The number of antenna patterns manufactured for VHF channels is significantly smaller than for UHF channels.
Review of one antenna manufacturer’s online catalog shows nearly four times as many antenna azimuth patterns
available at UHF than at VHF. See, e.g., http://www.eriinc.com/Catalog/Antennas.aspx.
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to request alternative facilities that may result in increases in their coverage areas, as long as the increases
do not cause interference to other stations.568
169.
Although broadcasters generally support our decision to permit stations assigned to new
channels to continue to use their existing antenna patterns with power adjustments,569 the Affiliates
Associations contend that we should not consider a station’s signal to be receivable at all locations within
its noise-limited contour, thereby ignoring terrain losses.570 They argue that because the effect of terrain
on signal reception is the sine qua non of the OET-69 model, ignoring terrain losses and assuming that a
station’s signal is receivable at all locations within its noise-limited contour would eviscerate the statutory
requirement to preserve coverage areas using the OET-69 methodology.571 They acknowledge that there
inevitably will be some changes in coverage area due to channel reassignments, but contend that the
Commission can only satisfy the preservation mandate in the statute if it limits such changes to no more
than 0.5 percent.572 The Affiliates Associations alternately propose that the Commission allow stations
“flexibility in specifying alternative facilities that increase a station’s coverage area if that is necessary to
fully preserve the coverage area and population served of a station following repacking.”573
170.
While we agree that the goal of the repacking process should be preservation of stations’
pre-repacking coverage areas, we emphasize that, as the Affiliates Associations acknowledge, it may not
be physically practical or possible for some stations to build modified facilities that result in less than a
0.5 percent change in the geographic area served within the original contour.574 Because radio signals
propagate differently on different frequencies, the signal of a station reassigned to a different channel will
generally not be receivable in precisely the same locations within a station’s contour as it was in its
original channel. Instead, there may be signal losses due to terrain in different areas within the contour.575
Such losses are unavoidable, so exact replication of coverage within a station’s contour is not always
attainable under the laws of physics. We also note that the Affiliates Associations have mischaracterized
the proposal to preserve stations’ coverage areas in the repacking process. We are not assuming that
“coverage area” includes all of the area within a station’s contour (i.e., that a station’s signal is receivable
at all locations within the contour). Rather, we will adhere to the OET-69 methodology, which considers
variations in signal availability resulting from terrain losses, when determining the “coverage area” and
“population served” that must be preserved in the repacking process.576 Thus, we will not include areas
where a signal is not receivable due to terrain losses in the coverage area to be preserved.

568 See § V.C.1.a (Construction Permit Application Filing Requirements). As provided in § V.C.5 (Reimbursement
of Relocation Costs), UHF-to-VHF and high VHF-to-low VHF stations are not entitled to reimbursement for the
costs of moving to another band.
569 Affiliates Associations Comments at v; Comcast Comments at 17; Anon. Broadcaster 1 Comments at 4-5.
570 Affiliates Associations Comments at 29-30.
571 Affiliates Associations Comments at 29-30.
572 Letter from Wade H. Hardgrove et al., Counsel for Affiliates Associations, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 3 (filed Mar. 18, 2014) (Affiliates Associations’ Coverage Area Ex Parte).
573 See id.
574 Affiliates Associations Comments at v and 28.
575 The terrain obstacles remain the same in a geographic area, but the physics of propagation over or around those
obstacles include a frequency-dependent component. Given that we will be recovering channels from 51 down,
most television stations that are assigned new channels will have new channels that are lower in the band, with
better propagation than their current channels.
576 Specifically, as discussed in § III.B.2.d (Preserving Population Served), we acknowledge the terrain losses
experienced on a station’s original channel when we determine the “population served” to be preserved. We make
all reasonable efforts to preserve the “population served” in a station’s coverage area. The definition of coverage
area for both full power and Class A stations does not include areas that are lost to terrain. See paras. 164-165.
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171.
We decline to adopt the proposals advanced by the Affiliates Associations. First, we do
not interpret the Spectrum Act to prohibit anything greater than a de minimis change in a station’s
coverage area. Rather, as discussed above, we agree with T-Mobile that “the reasonableness requirement
[in §6403(b)(2)] by its plain terms is a measure of effort—i.e., the actions taken to achieve a goal—and
not of the outcome itself.”577 Hence, the demand that the outcome of the repacking process be no more
than a 0.5 percent change in the geographic area served, finds no support in the statute.
172.
Nor does the Spectrum Act require us to expand stations’ contours to account for terrain
losses. As stated above, we adopt the “equal area” approach for replicating the area within a station’s
contour using the station’s existing antenna pattern. This approach is designed to allow a station to use its
existing facilities, allowing for some adjustments, to serve the same geographic area on the channel to
which it is reassigned in the repacking process. The Affiliates Associations support our approach,578 but
seem to demand that we go even further by expanding a station’s contour to compensate for terrain losses
resulting from propagation differences on the reassigned channel are predicted to reduce the coverage
area within the contour.579 While not entirely clear, the Affiliates Associations seem to demand that we
preserve the same square kilometers of coverage, not a station’s actual coverage area prior to repacking.
Such an approach finds no support in the Spectrum Act, which specifically directs us make “all
reasonable efforts to preserve . . . the coverage area . . . of each broadcast television licensee, as
determined using the methodology described in OET Bulletin 69.”580 Consistent with our approach to
preserving population served,581 we interpret the statute to direct us to make all reasonable efforts to
protect the geographic area that a station actually served as of February 22, 2012. This approach, which
is consistent with our efforts to replicate coverage areas during the digital transition,582 is designed to
ensure that after the repacking process, broadcasters will continue to reach the same viewers, and that
viewers will continue to have access to the same stations. Expanding contours, as the Affiliates
Associations’ request, would thus be inconsistent with the statute, because it would not maintain the
status quo; to the contrary, it would expand the geographic area that a station actually serves. The
Affiliates Associations’ proposal could provide the station with a “windfall” in the form of new viewers
or, as discussed below, require us to undertake costly efforts to extend interference protection to areas
with no viewers. We do not believe that either of these outcomes was intended by the Spectrum Act.583
173.
Second, expanding contours in the repacking process is not practical or realistic, because
it would compromise the repacking process and, ultimately, the success of the auction. Allowing contour
extensions during the repacking process will make it more difficult to repack stations efficiently.584 We
would face the same problem if we were to prohibit any channel reassignment that resulted in anything
greater than a de minimis change in the geographic area served. Reducing the number of potential

577 T-Mobile Reply at 87.
578 Affiliates Associations Comments at 27.
579 Affiliates Associations’ Coverage Area Ex Parte at 3.
580 Spectrum Act §§ 6403(b)(1)(B), (b)(2). See also id. §§ 6403(b)(3) (no involuntary relocation from UHF to
VHF), (g) (limitation on reorganization authority).
581 See § III.B.2.d (Preserving Population Served).
582 See n.559.
583 Our rejection of the Affiliates Associations’ proposal to expand contours to compensate for terrain losses will
have no effect on existing television viewers. That will be addressed through our separate effort to preserve a
station’s “population served,” described in § III.B.2.d (Preserving Population Served).
584 This is because expanding a station’s contour will create greater interference potential between that station and
other stations, and require the Commission to protect a larger geographic area from interference. As a consequence,
stations on the same channel, and adjacent channels, would have to be spaced farther apart. That, in turn, would
effectively limit the number of potential channels to which a station could be reassigned.
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channels significantly limits the Commission’s flexibility to assign channels in the repacking process,
increasing the potential costs of clearing the spectrum and decreasing the likelihood of a successful
auction outcome.585 We interpret the statute to require that we make all reasonable efforts to preserve
each station’s coverage area and population served without sacrificing the goal of a successful incentive
auction.586 As set forth below, we are adopting a number of measures that will effectively address
broadcasters’ concerns without compromising the auction.587 Under these circumstances, we need not
adopt the proposals advanced by the Affiliates Associations to meet the statutory mandate.588
174.
Third, broadcasters’ concerns regarding the potential for substantial new terrain losses are
exaggerated. The majority of UHF stations will be assigned to channels that are lower in the band than
their original channels, because under the 600 MHz Band Plan the Commission will be seeking to
repurpose UHF spectrum contiguously from channel 51 down, meaning that stations being reassigned to
new channels within the UHF band generally will be assigned to channels lower in the band. Such
stations are likely to experience decreases rather than increases in coverage lost to terrain within their
contours due to the superior propagation characteristics of their lower frequencies.589
175.
Finally, we are adopting a number of measures to effectively address the Affiliates
Associations’ concerns. For those stations that may experience a loss of coverage due to terrain, we are
adopting several measures that will allow them to remedy such losses. Specifically, broadcasters will be
able to file initial construction permit applications that expand their coverage area by up to one percent, as
long as they do not cause new interference to any other station.590 In addition, if a station is dissatisfied
with its new channel assignment due to terrain losses, it may seek alternative transmission facilities on a
different channel, provided a channel is available and the alternative facilities meet all existing technical
and interference requirements and serve the public interest.591 Further, if a licensee wishes to provide
service to a specific area that had service on its pre-auction channel but lacks service on its new channel,

585 Limiting the number of potential channels to which a station can be reassigned increases the likelihood that the
Commission will have to accept bids at higher prices in the reverse auction to ensure that it will have channels
available for those stations that wish to remain on the air. See § IV.B.2.b (Reverse Auction – Bid Assignment
Procedures: Determining Which Bids Are Accepted). Further, limiting the number of potential channels could
require the Commission to reassign stations that are not participating in the reverse auction to channels above the
clearing target. This would create an impairment that reduces the amount of spectrum available in the forward
auction, which would reduce auction proceeds. See § III.A.2.d (Market Variation). Contour expansions likewise
could create or worsen impairments to wireless blocks to be auctioned.
586 See § III.B.2.a (“All Reasonable Efforts”).
587 See para. 1755.
588 See, e.g., WildEarth Guardians v. Pub. Serv. Co. of Colorado, 690 F.3d 1174, 1186-87 (10th Cir. 2012)
(explaining that while “[i]t is possible [a utility] could have done more” to achieve Clean Air Act compliance,
“doing so would have resulted in significant costs and delay” such that it was reasonable for the utility “to work
towards . . . compliance while continuing construction”); Grand Trunk Western R.R. Inc. v. Bhd. of Maint. of Way
Employees
, 497 F.3d 568, 572 (6th Cir. 2007) (holding that “it would not be reasonable to require [the union] to
engage in a third round of direct negotiations that are unlikely to succeed where two previous rounds of direct
negotiation and mediation have failed”); Price, 416 F.3d at 1347-48 (11th Cir. 2005) (holding that it was
unreasonable to require a libel plaintiff need not depose seventeen individuals to identify a confidential informant
when deposing four the women from whom he was most likely to discover the identity).
589 See, e.g., William C.Y. Lee, Mobile Communications Engineering, 2nd Ed., New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997,
Chapter 4, “Path Loss over Hilly Terrain and General Methods of Prediction.” Path loss over a knife-edge
obstruction is given by Equations 4.17 and 4.24, and the Fresnel parameter,  (the Greek letter nu) includes a
frequency-dependent component such that terrain losses increase with increasing frequency and decrease with
decreasing frequency.
590 See § V.C.1.a (License Modification Procedures).
591 See § V.C.1.b (Alternate Channel and Expanded Facilities Opportunities).
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it could use DTS, for example, to provide that coverage.592 This approach will allow us fulfill our
statutory duty to make “all reasonable efforts” to preserve broadcast licensees’ coverage area and
population served, as required by section 6403(b)(2) of the Spectrum Act.593
d.

Preserving Population Served

176.
Background. Channel reassignments, in combination with stations relinquishing their
spectrum usage rights as a result of the reverse auction, may change the interference relationships among
stations. Those relationships, in turn, may affect television stations’ populations served. Existing
interference to the stations that remain on the air will be eliminated by stations that go off the air.
Likewise, new channel assignments generally will eliminate interference that was caused by the previous
assignments. At the same time, new channel assignments could create a potential for new interference
between nearby stations on the same channel or a first adjacent channel.594
177.
In the NPRM, the Commission proposed to interpret the statutory term “population
served” to mean the persons who reside within a station’s service area at locations where service is not
subject to interference, as specified in OET-69 and section 73.616(e) of the rules.595 Section 73.616(e)
provides that the population served within a station’s service area “does not include portions of the
population within the noise-limited service contour of that station that are predicted to receive . . .
masking interference from any other station.”596 With regard to new interference, this rule provides that
an application for a new or modified station will not be accepted “if it is predicted to cause interference to
more than an additional 0.5 percent of the population served by another . . . DTV station.”597
178.
The Commission further proposed three options for fulfilling the statutory mandate to
make all reasonable efforts to preserve “population served.” Option 1 seeks to preserve service to the
same total number of viewers but not necessarily the same viewers, allowing reassignments that would
reduce a station’s total population served as of February 22, 2012 by no more than 0.5 percent.598 Option
2 seeks to preserve service to the same viewers, allowing interference from reassignments only in
previously affected areas or if any newly interfering station, considered alone, would reduce a station’s

592 In contrast, increasing a station’s contour as proposed by the Affiliates Associations may not address losses to
specific viewers resulting from terrain. Increasing the contour would only increase the sum of the population served
by adding viewers that did not receive service before.
593 Courts have repeatedly held that it is reasonable for the agency to rely on a waiver process to address any
unforeseen shortcomings that might arise in specific instances. See Vt. Pub. Serv. Bd. v. FCC, 661 F.3d 54, 65 (D.C.
Cir. 2011) (finding a waiver process provided a reasonable means to update stale line count data used in a model for
determining universal service support); Rural Cellular Ass’n v. FCC, 588 F.3d at 1104 (discussing, with approval, a
waiver process used to provide certain wireless carriers additional support should an interim cap render support
insufficient); Rural Cellular Association v. FCC, 685 F.3d 1083, 1095 (D.C Cir. 2012) (same); Alenco, 201 F.3d at
622 (finding a single carrier’s reduced rate of return under an operating expenses cap “at most . . . presents an
anomaly that can be addressed by a request for a waiver”).
594 Interference can occur between television signals on the same channel (co-channel) or on the channels
immediately above and below (first adjacent channels) the desired signal. The standards for determining whether
interference occurs to full power and Class A television stations from other full power and Class A stations are set
forth in §§ 73.623(c) and 74.793 of the rules, respectively. See 47 C.F.R. §§ 73.623(c), 74.793(b), (c), (d). Full
power stations are protected from interference within their noise-limited contours, whereas Class A stations are
protected within their “protected contours.”
595 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12388, para. 94.
596 47 C.F.R. § 73.616(e).
597 Id.
598 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12392, para. 103. The Commission’s existing rules treat 0.5 percent as “no new
interference” because 0.5 percent is equivalent to zero when rounded to an integer value. See id.
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population served by no more than 0.5 percent.599 Likewise, Option 3 seeks to preserve service to the
same viewers, allowing new interference up to 0.5 percent between stations that interfered with one
another as of February 12, 2012, as well as new interference up to two percent between stations that did
not interfere with one another previously.600 Option 3 allows “replacement interference” only from the
specific station that caused interference previously, as opposed to any station.601
179.
Discussion. As proposed in the NPRM, we interpret the statutory term “population
served” to mean the persons who reside within a station’s coverage area at locations where service is not
subject to interference from another station or stations, as specified in OET-69 and section 73.616(e).602
Commenters do not specifically address the NPRM proposal, although they express views on how the
Commission should make all reasonable efforts to preserve each station’s population served in the
repacking process.603 We will consider a station’s “population served” to be the population within the
station’s coverage area, as that term is defined above, less any portions of the areas where interference
from other stations is present as of February 22, 2012.604 Also, we adopt Option 2, proposed in the
NPRM, to fulfill the statutory mandate to preserve “population served” as of February 22, 2012. Thus, we
will preserve service to the same specific viewers for each eligible station, and no individual channel
reassignment, considered alone, will reduce another station’s population served on February 22, 2012 by
more than 0.5 percent. This approach is consistent with the standard for evaluating interference from new
or modified television operations in section 73.616(e) of the rules.605 As noted above, the 0.5 percent
level is considered to be no interference at integer precision.
180.
Option 2 will best fulfill our mandate to make “all reasonable efforts” to preserve
broadcast licensees’ populations served as of the date of enactment of the Spectrum Act, for the following
reasons. First, we agree with NAB and other broadcasters that section 6403(b)(2) of the Spectrum Act’s
charge that we “make all reasonable efforts to preserve . . . the population served of each broadcast
television licensee” directs us to protect service to the specific viewers who had access to a station’s
signal as of February 22, 2012. Interpreting the preservation mandate to refer to existing viewers as of
this date seems most consistent with the statutory language and legislative history, as well as Commission
precedent. The statute’s use of the word “preserve” suggests that the goal is to maintain the status quo,
not to replace some viewers with others. That interpretation is reinforced by Congress’s rejection of a bill
that would have established a goal of substantial equivalence rather than preservation,606 as well as
another bill that would have required the FCC to preserve “interference levels with respect to [each]

599 Id. at 12394, para. 106.
600 Id. at 12395, para. 107.
601 Id..
602 OET-69 at 5; 47 C.F.R. § 73.616(e).
603 Compare NAB Comments at 18-21, 24 (maintaining that Congress intended to protect the specific viewers who
currently receive service from a station,” and to prohibit increased interference except in exceptional circumstances),
Affiliates Associations Comments at 32 (same); Comcast Comments at 12-13 (same); NYSBA Comments at 21-22
(same); Tribune Comments at 17 (same); Univision Comments at 6 (same), with AT&T Reply at 62-63 (arguing that
the statute does not require or even permit the Commission to maintain coverage area and population served in all
but “extraordinary circumstances” if such rigidity would risk decreasing the spectrum reallocated to mobile
broadband uses.); CTIA Reply at 46-47 (same). We address our interpretation of the statutory preservation mandate
in § III.B.2.a.
604 See paras. 164-165.
605 We note that 47 C.F.R. § 73.616(e) does not limit the amount of new interference from multiple stations under
the 0.5 percent standard.
606 See Comcast Comments at 8 (citing Wireless Innovation and Public Safety Act of 2011, H.R.3509, 112th Cong.
§302(b)(3)(B)(2011)).
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licensee’s signal” rather than population served.607 Further, the Commission historically has been
concerned with avoiding disruption of service to existing viewers.608 Thus, while Option 1 would provide
greater efficiencies because it takes into account overall reductions in interference that result when
broadcast stations relinquish all of their spectrum usage rights,609 we decline to adopt it because it would
not preserve service to existing viewers as of February 22, 2012.
181.
Second, Option 2 best satisfies our auction design needs. Specifically, Option 2 can
accommodate pairwise interference analyses.610 Option 1 would require analysis of interference
relationships on an aggregate rather than a pairwise basis. While Option 3 permits greater new
interference than Option 2 (i.e., two percent per station versus 0.5 percent per station), it is unduly
restrictive because it does not allow any “replacement” interference, making repacking less efficient.611
Accordingly, Option 2 provides the most protection to television stations’ existing populations served
consistent with our auction design needs.
182.
Even though NAB recommends the adoption of Option 2 as the standard for “all
reasonable efforts,” it also urges the Commission to cap the amount of total additional interference at one
percent, and allow no new interference to stations that are currently experiencing ten percent or more
interference within their service areas.612 According to NAB, these interference caps are necessary
because, while an individual station can only cause a maximum addition of 0.5 percent interference under
Option 2, “stations repacked during the incentive auction process . . . would likely receive interference
from multiple stations” which, in the aggregate, could “lead to significant viewer losses.”613
Contemporaneously with the release of this Order, OET, and the Wireless, Media, and International
Bureaus will be releasing a Public Notice inviting comment on a staff analysis of the potential impact of
aggregate interference on television stations as a result of the repacking process. We defer a decision on
NAB’s proposal until the record is fully developed on the requested cap. We will resolve the issue in a
subsequent Order that will be released no later than the release of the Comment PN, and well in advance
of the incentive auction.
3.

Facilities to Be Protected

183.
In this Section, we address which broadcast facilities we must make all reasonable efforts
to preserve in the repacking process, as well as those we elect to protect as a matter of discretion. A
broadcaster may have one or more of the following types of facilities: licensed; authorized (i.e., facilities
that are not yet licensed but are authorized in a construction permit); and applied-for (i.e., facilities that
are requested in a pending application for a construction permit).614 The discussion that follows addresses

607 Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act, H.R. 2482, 112th Cong., § 303(a)(2), adding new § 47
U.S.C. § 309(j)(8)(F)(iii)(III)(bb)(CC).
608 See, e.g., Amendment of Section 73.622(i), Post-Transition Table of DTV Allotments, Television Broadcast
Stations (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin),
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 12712, 12714-15 (2011)
(technical changes “that would result in a loss in television service are generally considered prima facie inconsistent
with the public interest, unless outweighed by countervailing factors”).
609 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12392, para. 103.
610 See § III.A (Repacking Process Overview).
611 Under Option 3, locations where interference was formerly caused by stations that went off the air or changed
channels cannot be permitted to occur from other stations.
612 NAB Comments at 20-21. See Tribune Reply at 17 (supporting NAB’s proposals); Broadcast Networks at 7
(same).
613 NAB Comments at 29.
614 We note that we technically do not “protect” specific “facilities” in the repacking process. A broadcaster that is
reassigned to a different channel in the repacking process will have to modify its facilities in order to operate on its
(continued….)
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our interpretation of the statutory preservation mandate as well as our discretionary protection decisions
with regard to each of these types of facilities. We conclude that protecting certain facilities in addition to
those the statute requires us to protect will serve the public interest. We also explain our decision not to
extend protection to certain other categories of facilities.615
a.

Mandatory Protection of Full Power and Class A Facilities

184.
Background. Section 6403(b)(2) of the Spectrum Act directs the Commission, in making
any reassignments or reallocations under section 6403(b)(1)(B), to “make all reasonable efforts to
preserve, as of the date of enactment of [the] Act, the coverage area and population served of each
broadcast television licensee.” A “broadcast television licensee” is defined as the “licensee of—(A) a
full-power television station; or (B) a low-power television station that has been accorded primary status
as a Class A television licensee” under section 73.6001(a) of the Commission’s rules.616 In the NPRM,
the Commission tentatively concluded that section 6403(b)(2) mandates all reasonable efforts to preserve
full power and Class A facilities (1) licensed as of February 22, 2012; or (2) for which an application for a
license to cover was on file as of February 22, 2012.617
185.
Discussion. We adopt the tentative conclusion that section 6403(b)(2) mandates all
reasonable efforts to preserve the “coverage area and population served” reflected in full power and Class
A facilities (1) licensed as of February 22, 2012, the date of enactment of the Spectrum Act; or (2) for
which an application for a license to cover was on file as of February 22, 2012. We also adopt the
tentative conclusion that the scope of mandatory protection under section 6403(b)(2), which is limited to
“broadcast television licensees,” defined by the Spectrum Act as full power and Class A stations only,
excludes LPTV and TV translator stations.618 We interpret this mandate to apply to full power and Class
A broadcasters that do not participate in the reverse auction and full power and Class A broadcasters that
participate in the reverse auction but do not submit a winning bid. We also interpret this statutory
mandate to apply to full power and Class A broadcasters that submit a winning bid to move from a UHF
to a VHF channel or from a high VHF to a low VHF channel.619
(Continued from previous page)
new channel. Rather, we use the term “facilities” as shorthand for the “coverage area and population served” of
licensees that we make all reasonable efforts to preserve in the repacking process.
615 To ensure a stable, accurate database, and to facilitate the repacking process, we will require all full power and
Class A television stations to verify and certify to the accuracy of the information contained in CDBS with respect to
their protected facilities. Prior to the start of the incentive auction, the Media Bureau will issue a Public Notice
announcing each station’s protected facility. All full power and Class A stations will be required to submit a form
(to be developed by the Media Bureau following the release of this Order) specifying any changes to the information
contained in CDBS and certifying to the accuracy of the information in CDBS or provided on the form for their
protected facility. We delegate authority to the Media Bureau to announce by Public Notice the deadline and
procedures for filing the form.
616 Spectrum Act §§ 6001(6), 6403(a)(1).
617 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12397, para. 113. The Commission also tentatively concluded that § 6403(b)(2) does not
prohibit us from granting protection to additional facilities where appropriate. Id. We discuss our exercise of
discretionary authority below.
618 Id. at 12399, para. 118; Spectrum Act §§ 6001(6), 6403(a)(1); see also paras. 238-39 (explaining that LPTV and
TV translator stations are not entitled to the protections afforded by § 6403(b)(2) because they are not “broadcast
television licensee[s]” as defined in § 6001(6)).
619 See § IV.B.1.b (Reverse Auction Bid Options). It is reasonable to interpret the preservation mandate as applying
to such successful bidders. If such bidders were not covered by the mandate, stations likely would be less willing to
submit UHF-to-VHF or high-VHF-to-low-VHF bids, thereby undermining our goal of allowing market forces to
determine the highest and best use of spectrum.
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186.
We conclude that section 6403(b)(2) requires all reasonable efforts to preserve only
facilities that were in operation as of February 22, 2012. The statutory mandate to make all reasonable
efforts to “preserve” coverage area and population “served” as of a date certain (February 22, 2012)
clearly reflects a Congressional intent to protect or maintain facilities operating on this date. This
interpretation is consistent with the arguments of NAB and other broadcasters that section 6403(b)(2)
directs us to protect service to the specific viewers who had access to a station’s signal as of that date,620
and with the Commission’s historical concern with avoiding disruption of service to existing viewers.621
The full power and Class A facilities that were in operation as of February 22, 2012 are facilities that
were licensed on that date622 or for which an application for a license to cover an authorized construction
permit was on file. Under the Commission’s rules the filing of a license to cover application, which is the
last step in the process before the Commission issues a license, provides the applicant with the right to
provide a broadcast television service to the public.623 Thus, even if a facility was not licensed as of
February 22, 2012, it is reasonable to assume that the facility was in operation as of that date if an
application for a license to cover was on file.624 Accordingly, we agree with commenters who argue that
we must protect these facilities.625
187.
We reject claims that section 6403(b)(2) mandates protection of facilities authorized in
construction permits as of February 22, 2012.626 As discussed above, we interpret section 6403(b)(2) to
require all reasonable efforts to preserve only the coverage area and the population that a full power or
Class A station was actually serving as of February 22, 2012, not the coverage area and population
authorized to be served by a station at some point in the future. While facilities authorized in a
construction permit are protected from interference under Commission rules,627 the grant of a construction
permit standing alone does not authorize operation of those facilities.628 Rather, operations are

620 See § III.B.2.d (Preserving Population Served).
621 See id.
622 A license requires the licensee to broadcast; a license will be revoked if the station is silent for any consecutive
12-month period, and a station must seek approval to discontinue operations in excess of 30 days. See 47 U.S.C. §
312(g); 47 C.F.R. §§ 73.1635(a)(4), 73.1740(c), 73.1750.
623 Upon completion of construction of the facility authorized in its construction permit, a permittee may operate the
facility pursuant to program test authority provided that an application for a license to cover is filed within 10 days.
See 47 C.F.R. § 73.1620(a)(1) (automatic program test authority). Full power and Class A permittees operating
under program test authority must operate “in strict compliance with the rules governing broadcast stations,” which
include a minimum operating schedule. 47 C.F.R. §§ 73.1620(d), 73.1740(a)(2), 73.6001(b).
624 Through comments filed in this proceeding, the Commission is aware of one station, KTNC-TV, Concord,
California, that had a license application on file on February 22, 2012, but was unable to operate according to the
technical parameters set forth in that application. We will exercise our discretion, however, to protect the facilities
specified in the pending license application. See para. 223.
625 See, e.g., ACTBN Comments at 2–3; UCC Comments at 2–5; Dispatch Comments at 1–2; Univision Comments
at 12–13.
626 See Affiliates Associations Comments at 20–22; CCB Comments at 2–3; Channel 32 Comments at 4–5; Cox
Media Comments at 6–7; Disney Comments at 15–16; KAZN Comments at 7–9; Parker Comments at 3–4; Tribune
Comments at 20–21; 4 NY Broadcasters Comments at 3–4; see also Comcast Comments at 15–16; CTI Comments
at 2–3.
627See 47 C.F.R. § 73.623(h).
628 The Communications Act provides that a “construction permit” authorizes “construction” of a station for the
transmission of signals by radio, whereas a “license” authorizes “use” of that station. Compare 47 U.S.C. § 153(13)
with 47 U.S.C. § 153(49); see also Cedar Rapids Television Co. v. FCC, 387 F.2d 228, 230-31 (D.C. Cir. 1967)
(upholding Commission decision declining to consider a facility authorized in a construction permit as “actual
television operations”).
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permissible only upon completion of construction of the facilities authorized, provided the Commission is
notified and an application for a license to cover is filed within 10 days.629
188.
Some commenters contend that, if Congress intended its preservation mandate to apply to
“licensed facilities” only, it would have used that terminology in section 6403(b)(2). Instead, these
commenters note, section 6403(b)(2) refers expressly to “broadcast television licensee[s]” and not to
“licensed facilities.”630 We do not, however, interpret section 6403(b)(2) as limiting our mandatory
preservation obligation to facilities for which a license had been granted as of February 22, 2012. Rather,
we interpret it to require all reasonable efforts to preserve actual operations as of February 22, 2012.
Such operations were permissible on that date only for facilities for which a license had been granted or
that were subject to a pending license to cover application.
189.
We disagree with commenters who argue that failing to interpret section 6403(b)(2)
broadly to mandate protection of facilities authorized in construction permits would frustrate the purposes
of the Spectrum Act, one of which, they claim, is to hold harmless those broadcasters not participating in
the reverse auction.631 Commenters also claim that failure to protect such construction permits would
undermine Congress’s goal to ensure that viewers receive a reliable over-the-air digital signal following
the DTV transition.632 We reject these arguments. First, we do not interpret section 6403(b)(2) as a “hold
harmless” provision that requires or allows us to ignore the broader objectives of the Spectrum Act.633
Second, as discussed in the following section, we have discretion to extend protection beyond the scope
of the statutory mandate where doing so is consistent with those objectives and serves the public interest.
Congress struck a balance in the Spectrum Act by establishing the minimum extent to which the
Commission must make all reasonable efforts to preserve broadcast facilities and leaving the Commission
discretion to protect additional facilities in appropriate cases.634

629 See 47 C.F.R. § 73.1620(a)(1) (automatic program test authority). Other provisions of § 6403 also support our
interpretation that § 6403(b)(2) does not mandate protection of facilities authorized in construction permits.
Reading § 6403(b)(2) to require all reasonable efforts to preserve the coverage area and population to be served by
authorized but unlicensed facilities would undermine the purpose of § 6403(h). This provision makes the right of a
“licensee,” but not a permittee, to protest a proposed order of modification under § 316 of the Communication Act
inapplicable in the case of a modification under § 6403. If § 6403(b)(2) were read to mandate all reasonable efforts
to preserve the coverage area and population to be served by authorized but unlicensed facilities, then a permittee
would have greater rights than a licensee in the repacking process, and the apparent purpose of § 6403(h) to expedite
the auction and repacking process would be frustrated. Our reading also is consistent with other subsections of §
6403(b) that focus solely on the preservation of the rights of licensees and do not mention the preservation of any
rights reflected in construction permits. See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(3) (prohibiting the Commission from
involuntarily reassigning a “licensee” from UHF to VHF or from high VHF to low VHF); id. § 6403(b)(4) (requiring
the Commission to reimburse costs incurred by “licensees”).
630 See Affiliates Associations Comments at 20–21; Bahakel Comments at 2–3; Channel 32 Comments at 4; Disney
Comments at 16; Post-Newsweek Comments at 6; WGAL Comments at 7; see also Raycom Comments at 8.
631 See Affiliates Associations Comments at 20–21; Belo Comments at 14; CCB Comments at 2–3; Channel 32
Comments at 5; CTI Comments at 2–3; Disney Comments at 2, 13–14, 15–16; Parker Comments at 3–4.
632 See 4 NY Broadcasters Comments at 4; Channel 32 Comments at 5 n.15; Disney Comments at 2, 13–14, 16–18;
Parker Comments at 3–6.
633 See § III.B.2.a (“All Reasonable Efforts”).
634 Although we reject claims that § 6403(b)(2) mandates protection of facilities authorized in construction permits
as of February 22, 2012, we exercise our discretionary authority to protect these facilities if licensed by the Pre-
Auction Licensing Deadline, for the reasons discussed below.
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b.

Discretionary Preservation

190.
Background. The Commission tentatively concluded in the NPRM that it has the
discretion to protect additional facilities in the repacking process where appropriate.635 The Commission
proposed to exercise this discretion to protect the small number of new full power television stations that
were authorized by construction permits, but were not yet constructed or licensed, as of February 22,
2012, and certain digital Class A facilities that also were not licensed on that date.636 The Commission
also sought comment on whether to protect any other authorized full power or Class A television
facilities, including outstanding full power construction permits issued to effectuate a channel substitution
following a rulemaking proceeding.637
191.
Discussion. Although we interpret the Spectrum Act to mandate that we protect only
facilities that were in operation as of February 22, 2012, we adopt the tentative conclusion in the NPRM
that the Spectrum Act does not preclude us from exercising discretion to protect additional facilities
beyond this statutory floor. Many commenters support this view.638 Section 6403(i)(1) specifies that
nothing in section 6403(b), including the preservation mandate in section 6403(b)(2), “shall be construed
to expand or contract the authority of the Commission except as otherwise expressly provided.”639
Furthermore, section 6403(b) does not expressly restrict the Commission’s authority to protect facilities
that are not subject to the statutory mandate where doing so would serve the public interest. That
authority is clearly encompassed within the Commission’s broad spectrum management authority under
the Communications Act.640
192.
Our exercise of discretion requires a careful balancing of numerous factors in order to
carry out the goals of the Spectrum Act and other statutory and Commission goals. On one hand, failing
to protect certain facilities beyond the statutory floor may deprive viewers of television service they
currently receive. A decision not to protect certain facilities also may strand the investments broadcasters
have made in these facilities, including equipment and construction costs, as well as the payment of legal
and engineering costs associated with applying for and licensing a facility,641 in the justifiable belief that
their facilities would be protected in the repacking process. In addition, a decision to deny discretionary
repacking protection could have an adverse impact on the Class A service’s digital transition.
193.
On the other hand, any additional preservation beyond the statutory floor may encumber
additional broadcast television spectrum, thereby increasing the constraints on the repacking process due
to interference and other technical requirements. This additional encumbrance could hinder our ability to
repack television spectrum and undermine our goal of using market forces to repurpose spectrum for

635 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12397, para. 113.
636Id. at 12397–98, paras. 114–115.
637 Id. at 12398, para. 116.
638 Comcast Comments at 16; Gray TV Comments at 3; Broadcast Networks Comments at 8.
639 Spectrum Act § 6403(i)(1).
640 See n.288.
641 The consideration of these factors in connection with the repacking process is consistent with Commission
precedent. See, e.g., Reexamination of the Comparative Standard for Noncommercial Educational Applicants, MM
Docket No. 95-31, Second Report and Order, 18 FCC Rcd 6691, 6707, para. 41 (2003) (pending applicants “spent
the time and money necessary to complete all of the engineering and legal components of a long-form application”);
Reallocation and Service Rules for the 698-746 MHz Spectrum (Television Channels 52-59), GN Docket No. 01-74,
Report and Order, 17 FCC Rcd 1022, 1042-43, para. 45 (2002) (Lower 700 MHz R&O) (“With regard to
applications for construction permits, we recognize parties have made investments in these applications . . . .”).
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flexible use.642 In addition, the exercise of discretionary protection may increase the costs of the reverse
auction. Protecting facilities that were not in operation as of February 22, 2012 also may undermine our
ability to prepare for the auction and repacking process and our need for a stable database of the facilities
that will be protected prior to the auction. If we opt to protect facilities that significantly expand a
station’s coverage area, the cost of compensating the station for relinquishing its spectrum usage rights
may be higher than if we were to protect only facilities licensed on February 22, 2012.643
194.
As set forth more fully below, based on careful consideration of these factors, we
conclude that the public interest is best served by extending protection to certain categories of facilities
that were not licensed or the subject of a pending license to cover application as of February 22, 2012.
More specifically, we will protect: (1) the small number of new full power television stations that were
authorized, but not constructed or licensed, as of February 22, 2012; (2) full power facilities authorized in
outstanding construction permits issued to effectuate a channel substitution for a licensed station; (3)
modified facilities of full power and Class A stations that were authorized by construction permits granted
on or before April 5, 2013, the date the Media Bureau issued a freeze on the processing of certain
applications; and (4) Class A facilities authorized by construction permits to implement Class A stations’
mandated transition to digital operations. Except in very limited circumstances discussed below,644 we
will limit discretionary protection to these categories.
195.
We also generally will limit our discretionary protection to facilities in the preceding
categories that are licensed645 by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline to be announced by the Media
Bureau.646 Our approach avoids the possibility that we will protect facilities authorized in construction
permits that may never be constructed, as well as the need to protect two sets of facilities for many
stations—those that have been licensed as well as those that are authorized by construction permits.
Protecting two sets of facilities would hinder our ability to repack television spectrum and unduly
complicate the repacking process, thus undermining the purpose of the Spectrum Act. Our approach is
consistent with past Commission actions to freeze facilities modifications during major spectrum
transitions, fairly accommodates broadcasters’ legitimate expectations, and adequately balances their
ongoing need to make technical modifications to their facilities and the Commission’s need for a stable
database in order to prepare for and carry out the incentive auction.
(i)

New Full Power Stations

196.
As proposed in the NPRM, we will exercise our discretion to protect the new full power
television stations that were authorized by construction permits, but not yet licensed, as of February 22,
2012.647 We have considered all of the circumstances involved, including the equities in favor of these

642 Because we cannot predict the outcome of the reverse auction or the number of stations that ultimately will be
subject to the repacking process, we cannot predict with specificity the impact that affording certain protections will
have on our repacking flexibility. We must rely on our general expertise and predictive judgments in this regard.
643 See § IV.B.1.a (Reverse Auction Eligibility).
644 See §§ III.B.3.b.v (Additional Cases) and III.B.3.d.ii (Out-of-Core Class A-Eligible LPTV Stations).
645 The references to “licensed” facilities in this Section of the Order encompass both licensed facilities and those
subject to a pending license to cover application.
646 We delegate authority to the Media Bureau to issue a Public Notice specifying the Pre-Auction Licensing
Deadline. We conclude that establishment of such a deadline in advance of the auction is necessary in order to
ensure that the Commission will have a largely static view of the facilities that will be protected in the repacking
process. We anticipate that the Public Notice will give stations at least 90 days prior notice of this deadline.
647 WACP, Atlantic City, New Jersey, WMWC, Galesburg, Illinois, and KUKL-TV, Kalispell, Montana are now
licensed. The construction permit for the one remaining station in this category, WMDE, channel 5, Seaford,
Delaware, was originally scheduled to expire in May 2014, but has been tolled pursuant to § 73.3598(b) of our rules.
47 C.F.R. § 73.3598(b). This station will not be protected unless licensed by its expiration date or the Pre-Auction
Licensing Deadline, whichever occurs earlier.
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permittees and the potential impact on repacking flexibility, and conclude that protection is warranted.
Several of these stations are now licensed and providing service to viewers and their communities of
license. Each of these licensed stations filed a license application either before or shortly after release of
the NPRM,648 which occurred approximately seven months after the Spectrum Act was enacted. The
timing of the license applications thus suggests that these permittees made significant investments toward
constructing the stations prior to the statute’s enactment date, in reliance on Commission-authorized
construction permits. Moreover, we conclude that protecting these facilities will have minimal impact on
our flexibility in the repacking process, because they are small in number and they are licensed or
authorized on VHF channels and/or in remote locations where we anticipate that our repacking needs will
be limited.649
(ii)

Channel Substitution Construction Permits

197.
Background. The Commission sought comment in the NPRM on whether to protect
facilities authorized in a construction permit issued to a licensed station to effectuate a substitution of a
new channel for its licensed channel (a “channel substitution”).650 The Commission noted that such
stations already had completed a rulemaking process considering the proposed channel change, the
Commission had modified the DTV Table of Allotments (“Table of Allotments”) to reflect the change,
and the substitute channels were entitled to interference protection under our rules.651
198.
Discussion. We will exercise our discretion to protect facilities authorized in
construction permits for channel substitutions that are licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline.
After considering the equities in favor of protecting the facilities authorized in channel substitution
construction permits, as well as the potential impact on repacking flexibility, we conclude that protection
is warranted. At the time the Spectrum Act was enacted, there were fewer than 20 of these construction
permits outstanding. All of the rulemaking proceedings and corresponding changes to the Table of
Allotments associated with these channel substitutions were completed prior to enactment of the
Spectrum Act. In reliance on their Commission authorizations, a number of these stations have licensed
their substitute channels, and are now providing service to viewers on their new channels. Approximately
half of these licensed stations constructed their substitute facilities prior to release of the NPRM. Thus, it

648 Although § 6403(b)(2) of the Spectrum Act provided notice to broadcasters that facilities not in operation as of
February 22, 2012 may not be protected, the Commission confirmed and provided a more detailed explanation of
that possibility in the NPRM. See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12390, para. 98 and 12397, paras. 113–114.
649 Extending discretionary protection to VHF stations will have some impact on our repacking flexibility because it
may limit our ability to accept UHF-to-VHF and high-VHF-to-low-VHF bids in the reverse auction, which will free
up UHF spectrum. Overall, however, discretionary protection of VHF stations will have less impact on our
repacking flexibility than protection of UHF stations because the Spectrum Act prohibits us from involuntarily
reassigning stations from UHF channels to VHF channels in the repacking process and one of the central goals of
that process will be to make as much UHF spectrum as possible available for new uses. NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at
12361, para. 10. Further, fewer than 25 percent of full power and Class A stations are licensed on VHF channels,
and many of these stations are located in sparsely populated states and areas.
650 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12399, para. 116; see also 47 C.F.R § 73.622(i). Under the Commission’s rules, a station
must engage in a two-step process, including a rulemaking proceeding and a subsequent application process, to
change the channel allotted to it in the Table of Allotments. As noted in the NPRM, as of February 22, 2012, these
stations held authorizations for two channels—a license for the channel on which they were operating at that time
and a permit to construct the substitute channel. NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12398 n. 177. Thus, as of February 22,
2012, these stations were “licensees” with respect to the channel on which they were operating and “permittees”
with respect to their newly authorized, but not yet licensed, substitute channel.
651 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12399, para. 116.
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is apparent that significant investments were made toward constructing these substitute facilities prior to
enactment of the Spectrum Act.652
199.
The fact that these channel substitution allotments were protected in the Table of
Allotments prior to enactment of the Spectrum Act further weighs in favor of protecting the
corresponding authorized facilities. Moreover, the Media Bureau authorized the channel substitutions
because the proposals would improve service to existing viewers and/or expand service to new viewers.
Failing to protect them would deprive viewers of this improved television service.
200.
Protecting these stations’ substitute facilities rather than their facilities licensed on
February 22, 2012 will not significantly impact our repacking flexibility. While protecting such
substitute facilities may have some impact on our repacking flexibility in the case of a contour increase,
the number of stations that will receive protection is small and the majority of protected channel
substitutions involve channel changes within the UHF band, changes from a UHF to a VHF channel,
and/or stations located in less populated areas where our repacking needs should be limited. We find that
any impact on repacking flexibility caused by protecting these facilities is far outweighed by the equities
in favor of protection noted above.
201.
Seven of the channel substitutions we are electing to protect result in a station moving
from a VHF to a UHF channel, which will encumber additional UHF spectrum by adding a new station to
the band. If any of these stations participates in the reverse auction, it will have the opportunity to
relinquish its newly allotted UHF channel through a UHF-to-VHF bid, which could increase the cost of
clearing UHF spectrum. On balance, however, we conclude that these concerns are outweighed by the
investments we expect these seven stations have made in constructing their substitute facilities, the fact
that three of them have already licensed their substitute facilities and are providing service to viewers on
their new UHF channels, and the improved or expanded viewer services the Media Bureau determined
would result from these substitutions.
202.
We will protect channel substitution construction permits only if they are licensed by the
Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline. Some commenters maintain that unconditionally guaranteeing
protection of the facilities authorized in these construction permits would not have a significant impact on
the Commission’s repacking flexibility and that the stations at issue relied on their expectation that they
would have the normal, three-year construction period in which to build their new facilities.653 As
discussed above, we do not interpret the Spectrum Act as requiring the protection of facilities authorized
in construction permits, and we decline to exercise our discretion to protect such facilities that are not
licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline. While we acknowledge that these channel substitutions
were granted because the Media Bureau found them to be in the public interest, those findings did not
take into account Congress’s mandate in the Spectrum Act to repurpose UHF spectrum for flexible use.
We find that preserving a facility for the channel licensed and operating on February 22, 2012 (as
required by the Spectrum Act) as well as an authorized facility for a different channel that remains unbuilt
would limit our repacking flexibility without offering sufficient countervailing public interest benefits.

652 The stations with channel substitution construction permits that did not complete construction of their substitute
facilities prior to release of the NPRM did not receive their construction permits until various dates between mid-
2011 and early 2012. These stations likely would not have been in a position to make substantial investments in
construction of their facilities prior to the enactment of the Spectrum Act in February 2012. However, we expect
that they have made significant investments since that time in reliance on their Commission authorizations.
Accordingly, failure to protect these substitute facilities would result in a significant amount of stranded investment.
653 See Channel 32 Comments at 8; Disney Comments at 29; Gray TV Comments at 4–5; LeSea Comments at 1–3;
Lincoln Comments at 2–3; NAB Comments at 31.
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Furthermore, the stations in this category should have sufficient time and notice to complete construction
by the deadline if they wish to ensure protection on their substitute channels.654
203.
Construction Permits to Relocate from Channel 51. We also address our treatment of
stations seeking to relocate from channel 51 pursuant to a voluntary relocation agreement with Lower 700
MHz A Block licensees. After the Commission instituted a freeze on the acceptance of channel
substitution rulemaking petitions in May 2011,655 it announced that it would lift the freeze to accept
petitions for rulemaking filed by these stations.656 Since enactment of the Spectrum Act, we have issued
three orders reallocating stations from channel 51.657 Consistent with our approach above, we will protect
the substitute channel facilities of former channel 51 licensees if they are licensed by the Pre-Auction
Licensing Deadline.658 We conclude that protecting these stations’ substitute facilities rather than the
channel 51 facility licensed on February 22, 2012 will not significantly impact our repacking flexibility.
While protecting such facilities may have some impact on repacking flexibility in the case of a contour
increase, the number of stations involved is small, they are moving from channel 51 to another UHF
channel, and some are within relatively unpopulated areas where our repacking needs should be limited.
We conclude that the minimal impact that protection of these relocated channel 51 facilities would have
on our repacking flexibility is outweighed by the public interest benefit of clearing broadcast operations
from channel 51 as expeditiously as possible in order to promote deployment of wireless broadband
service in the 700 MHz A Block.

654 Of the five channel substitution permits in this group that are not yet constructed, two must be constructed by
dates in 2014, which we expect will precede the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline. The remaining construction
permits expire in 2015. These stations, whose channel allotments were modified prior to enactment of the Spectrum
Act, will have sufficient time (i.e., approaching the traditional three-year construction period) to make necessary
arrangements to have their substitute channel facilities licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline if they prefer
protection on their substitute channel. We encourage channel substitution permittees who no longer wish to
construct their substitute channels to notify the Media Bureau and request that the channel on which they currently
operate be reallotted to the Table of Allotments, 47 C.F.R. § 73.622(i).
655 Freeze on the Filing of Petitions for Digital Channel Substitutions, Effective Immediately, Public Notice, 26 FCC
Rcd 7721 (2011) (Channel Substitution Freeze PN).
656 General Freeze on the Filing and Processing of Applications for Channel 51 Effective Immediately and Sixty (60)
Day Amendment Window for Pending Channel 51 Low Power Television, TV Translator and Class A Applications
,
Public Notice, 26 FCC Rcd 11409 (2011) (Channel 51 Freeze PN).
657 Amendment of Section 73.622(i), Post-Transition Table of DTV Allotments (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), DA No.
14-130 (Vid. Div. rel. Feb. 4, 2014); Amendment of Section 73.622(i), Post-Transition Table of DTV Allotments
(Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
, 28 FCC Rcd 13009 (Vid. Div. 2013); Amendment of Section 73.622(i), Post-Transition Table
of DTV Allotments (Greenville, North Carolina)
, 27 FCC Rcd 8865 (Vid. Div. 2012). The Greenville and Cedar
Rapids facilities have been constructed (File Nos. BLCDT-20121029ACA and BLCDT-20140416AA.
658 Because rulemaking petitions seeking to relocate stations from channel 51 are still permitted to be filed, they are
not subject to the Media Bureau’s April 5, 2013 freeze on the filing of certain facilities modifications, which is
discussed in the following Section. Accordingly, we will not impose the requirement discussed in the next Section
that these facilities modifications need to be authorized in a construction permit by April 5, 2013 in order to qualify
for protection. We conclude that our ability to plan for the auction and repacking process, and our interest in having
a stable station database leading up to the auction, will not be undermined by the processing and grant of such
petitions because we do not expect a significant number of such petitions to be filed and, in any event, our interest is
outweighed by the significant public interest benefits in clearing channel 51 as expeditiously as possible. Moreover,
for the reasons discussed above, we do not expect that protecting a substitute facility rather than the channel 51
facility licensed on February 22, 2012 will significantly impact our repacking flexibility. Further, in determining
whether to grant any rulemaking petitions seeking to relocate from channel 51 that are filed after the release of this
Order, the Media Bureau will assess the extent to which grant of the petition will affect repacking flexibility.
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(iii)

Facility Modifications

204.
Background. The Commission proposed in the NPRM not to exercise its discretion to
protect construction permits for facilities modifications that were authorized but not licensed on February
22, 2012, or applications for such construction permits that were pending on that date.659 That proposal
was opposed by a number of broadcasters.660
205.
On April 5, 2013, the Media Bureau issued a Public Notice (the “Freeze PN”) imposing
limitations on the filing and processing of certain applications by full power and Class A television
stations in light of the forthcoming auction and the need to plan for the repacking process.661 The Media
Bureau announced that, effective April 5, 2013, it would not accept for filing modification applications
for changes to existing television service areas that would increase a full power station’s noise-limited
contour or a Class A station’s protected contour in one or more directions beyond the area resulting from
the station’s authorized facilities as of that date. Similarly, Class A displacement applications that would
increase the station’s protected contour would not be accepted.662 The Media Bureau explained that these
limitations were necessary to (1) create a stable database of full power and Class A facilities that would
allow for development and analysis of potential repacking methodologies; and (2) avoid frustrating the
goals of the incentive auction.663
206.
The Media Bureau also announced that it would continue to process pending or future
applications that comply with the limitations described in the Freeze PN.664 Pending applicants at
variance with these limitations were given 60 days to amend their applications to comply with the
limitations or request a waiver. The Bureau stated that pending applications that were not amended

659 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12397, para. 114.
660 For example, some broadcast commenters assert that the Commission should exercise discretion to protect
facilities licensed or authorized after enactment of the Spectrum Act in order to avoid unnecessary disruption and
permit fulfillment of the reasonable service expectations of stations and their audiences. See Gray TV Comments at
3. Commenters also argue that outstanding construction permits should be protected because, by granting a
construction permit application, the Commission made the statutorily required determination that the proposed
facility would serve the public interest, and failure to protect the facility necessarily would contravene the public
interest. Broadcast Networks Comments at 8. Other broadcasters claim that a failure to protect facilities licensed
after February 22, 2012 would result unfairly in the loss of investments that broadcasters made in reliance on
construction permits with a three-year construction period. See, e.g., Channel 32 Comments at 5–7. In this regard,
commenters point out that the Commission continued to accept and process modification applications after the
enactment of the Spectrum Act, and broadcasters expended technical, financial, and other resources to implement
modifications in reliance on the Commission’s authorizations. Disney Comments at 21–23; Parker Comments at 8;
Univision Comments at 12; Belo Comments at 17. Only T-Mobile supports a February 22, 2012 cut-off date for
discretionary protection, observing that, while some broadcasters argue that this date is arbitrary or unfair, “the
Commission would likely face similar complaints regardless of the date selected.” T-Mobile Reply at 97.
According to T-Mobile, “[t]he alternative of a less definitive or more flexible cut-off date is far worse” because it
would “risk[] delaying or disrupting the auction by making a moving target out of the spectrum that is its subject.”
Id.
661 Media Bureau Announces Limitations on the Filing and Processing of Full Power and Class A Television Station
Modification Applications, Effective Immediately, and Reminds Stations of Spectrum Act Preservation Mandate
,
Public Notice, 28 FCC Rcd 4364 (2013).
662 The Media Bureau stated in the Freeze PN that it would consider, on a case-by-case basis, requests for waiver of
the filing limitations in the Freeze PN “when a modification application is necessary or otherwise in the public
interest for technical or other reasons to maintain quality service to the public.” Id. at 4365. It also stated that Class
A minor change applications to implement the digital transition could be filed and would be processed subject to the
limitations set forth in the Commission’s rules. Id.
663 Id. at 4364–65.
664 Id. at 4365.
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would be processed subject to the rules and policies adopted in this Order.665 Finally, the Bureau
reminded stations that the Commission proposed to interpret section 6403(b)(2) as requiring only the
preservation of facilities licensed as of February 22, 2012, and that it would decide in this Order the
extent to which facilities that were not licensed as of that date would be protected in the repacking
process.666
207.
Discussion. We conclude that it will serve the public interest to extend discretionary
protection to the facilities of full power and Class A stations authorized in construction permits that were
granted on or before April 5, 2013, provided that the facilities are licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing
Deadline. We find that protection is justified by the equities in favor of these licensees, who expended
technical, financial, and other resources to implement modifications in reliance on the Commission’s
grant of authorizations. We also conclude that these equities outweigh any adverse impact that protection
may have on our repacking flexibility.
208.
As commenters point out, the Commission continued to accept and grant modification
applications after enactment of the Spectrum Act.667 Once the Commission granted these applications, the
authorized facilities were entitled to interference protection under our rules. Approximately 40 full power
licensees with authorized modification construction permits on February 22, 2012 requested licenses to
cover these facilities either before or shortly after release of the NPRM, suggesting that they made
investments in constructing these facilities prior to enactment of the Spectrum Act in reliance on
Commission authorizations.668 Similarly, more than 30 full power licensees with construction permit
applications that were granted after February 22, 2012 requested licenses to cover these facilities either
before or shortly after release of the NPRM. Failure to protect these facilities, which are now licensed,
would result in stranded investment and loss of service to viewers. While stations that constructed
authorized facilities after issuance of the NPRM were on notice that these facilities might not be protected
during the repacking process, we do not believe that this factor outweighs the harm that would result to
broadcasters and viewers if such facilities are not protected.
209.
We also conclude that the equities in favor of protecting these facilities modifications
outweigh any potential adverse impact on our repacking flexibility. In July 2013, the Incentive Auction
Task Force released updated TVStudy computer software for determining the coverage area and
population served of each broadcast station and a Public Notice with the results of a staff analysis of
whether a station could be reassigned to certain channels in the repacking process, using the licensed
technical facilities of stations as of February 22, 2012.669 After release of the Repacking Data PN and
updated software, with respect to each licensee with a facilities modification construction permit
authorized on or before April 5, 2013, but not licensed as of February 22, 2012, we compared the facility
contour licensed on February 22, 2012 with the modified contour specified in the construction permit.
Based on this comparison, we concluded that protection of the facilities specified in the construction
permits, rather than the facilities licensed as of February 22, 2012, would not significantly impact our
flexibility in the repacking process. We conclude that any such impact is outweighed by the equities in
favor of these broadcasters, which expended technical, financial, and other resources to implement
modifications in reliance on the Commission’s grant of the authorizations.

665 Id.
666 Id. at 4366.
667 See Affiliates Associations Comments at 23; Channel 32 Comments at 6; Parker Comments at 8.
668 See CCB Comments at 1–2 ($400,000 investment in modified facilities); CTI Comments at 2 ($200,000
investment in modified facilities); KAZN Comments at 5-6 ($2 million invested in DTS facilities); KRBK
Comments at 2-3 ($1.7 million invested in modified facilities).
669 Repacking Data PN, 28 FCC Rcd 10370.
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210.
Although some broadcasters challenge the specific timing of the Freeze PN, many
acknowledge that a freeze would be necessary at some point in advance of the incentive auction670 and
that a freeze is consistent with past Commission actions during other major broadcast spectrum
transitions.671 We disagree that the timing of the Freeze PN was not adequately justified.672 We conclude
that the release of the Freeze PN well over a year after passage of the Spectrum Act appropriately
balanced broadcasters’ ongoing need for flexibility in making modifications to their facilities with the
Commission’s need for a stable database in advance of the incentive auction.673 For these reasons, we
reject the argument that the Freeze PN, and any limits on the broadcast facilities that will be protected,
should not have taken effect until just before the incentive auction.674
211.
Processing of Pending Applications. Applications that were pending on April 5, 2013
that complied with the filing limitations set forth in the Freeze PN, or were amended to comply, as well as
later-filed applications that comply with the filing limitations, will continue to be routinely processed by
Commission staff. To the extent that such applications are granted, the facilities will be protected in the
repacking process, provided they are licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline. Because these
modified facilities will not increase a full power station’s noise limited contour or a Class A television
station’s protected contour in any direction beyond the area resulting from a station’s authorized facilities

670 For example, NAB claims that “a future freeze date [by which broadcaster service areas will be measured] is both
fair to broadcasters . . . and in the public interest.” NAB Reply at 55; see also KAZN Reply at 2 (agrees with NAB
that Commission should establish a “freeze” date). WGAL suggests that the Commission “protect such post-
February 22, 2012, facilities up to a deadline in advance of the spectrum repacking.” WGAL Comments at 8–9.
671 Disney acknowledges that “[h]istorically, the FCC imposes a freeze when it determines that it is in the public
interest to impose a freeze upon the acceptance, processing, or action upon applications seeking to operate using
spectrum that is the subject of a rulemaking to change license service rules or spectrum allocations.” Disney
Comments at 22 n.63; see also Cox Media Comments at 7 (citing to “the Commission’s well-established practice of
issuing freezes when it seeks to cut-off requests for facilities changes or cease processing pending requests” in
urging that the Commission protect facilities sought or granted as of some future freeze date); Affiliates
Associations Comments at 23 (“The Commission has not yet imposed a freeze on modifications like it did before
conducting the post-transition DTV repacking . . . .”). Examples of such prior Commission actions include the
following: Channel 51 Freeze PN, 26 FCC Rcd 11409 (freezing applications for new Channel 51 facilities to permit
Commission consideration of interference issues to licensees of adjacent reallocated spectrum); Freeze on the Filing
of Applications for New Digital Low Power Television and Translator Stations
, Public Notice, 25 FCC Rcd 15120
(2010) (freezing new and major change applications for low power stations in rural areas to permit the Commission
to evaluate proposals to reallocate 120 megahertz of spectrum to mobile broadband use); Freeze on the Filing of
Certain TV and DTV Requests for Allotment or Service Area Changes
, Public Notice, 19 FCC Rcd 14810 (2004)
(freezing applications for changes to service areas and channels to assist the Commission in designing a channel
election and repacking process to assign each eligible broadcaster an in-core post-transition DTV channel); Freeze
on the Filing of TV and DTV “Maximization” Applications in Channels 60-69
, Public Notice, 18 FCC Rcd 627
(2003) (announcing freeze to facilitate clearing of spectrum for auction of the Upper 700 MHz Band); Freeze on the
Filing of TV and DTV “Maximization” Applications in Channels 52-59
, Public Notice, 17 FCC Rcd 11290 (2002)
(announcing freeze of broadcast applications leading up to the auction of the Lower 700 MHz Band).
672 See Letter from Rick Kaplan, NAB, to William T. Lake, Chief, Media Bureau, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268
(filed May 6, 2013).
673 We also reject T-Mobile’s argument that February 22, 2012 is the preferable freeze date because this date would
remove the risk of “delaying or disrupting the auction by making a moving target out of the spectrum that is its
subject.” T-Mobile Reply at 97. By releasing the Freeze PN well before the commencement of the auction, and
adopting a Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline by which facilities must be licensed in order to be protected, we have
provided forward auction applicants adequate time to prepare for the auction and to consider bidding strategies,
while at the same time providing flexibility to broadcasters to make modifications.
674 NAB Reply at 55; KAZN Reply at 2.
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as of April 5, 2013, extending protection to these facilities has no impact on our need for a stable database
nor will it constrain our repacking flexibility.675
212.
While the Freeze PN remains in effect, we direct the Media Bureau to begin processing
facilities modifications and displacement applications that were on file but were not granted by April 5,
2013 and were not amended to comply with the filing limitations set forth in the Freeze PN. We
emphasize, however, that any such facilities, even if authorized and subsequently licensed by the Pre-
Auction Licensing Deadline, will not be protected in the repacking process.676 In light of the justifications
underlying the Freeze PN and the fact that these applications were not amended to comply with it, we
find that protection is not warranted. In addition, because these applications request facilities that would
increase the stations’ contour in one or more directions beyond the area resulting from the stations’
authorized facilities as of the date of the Freeze PN, they have the potential to constrain our repacking
flexibility. Moreover, because these applications have not yet been granted, these applicants have not
acted in reliance on Commission grants, made any substantial investment in constructing their requested
modified facilities, or begun operating such facilities to provide service to viewers. The fact that these
applicants may have expended resources in preparing and filing their applications does not outweigh the
detrimental impact on our repacking flexibility, or our interest in maintaining a stable database in advance
of the auction, that would result from preservation of these facilities.677
213.
However, we direct the Media Bureau to process these applications, rather than
instructing that they be dismissed, to afford as much flexibility to these applicants as possible. For
example, a pending applicant may determine that the likelihood of its facility being impacted by the
repacking process is relatively small. Alternatively, a pending applicant may conclude that the risk of
losing some coverage of its modified facility is outweighed by the benefit of operating such facility prior
to the post-auction transition.

675 We note that the Media Bureau has granted two waivers of the Freeze PN. With respect to WBRA-TV, channel
*3, Roanoke, Virginia, the licensee received a construction permit to operate at maximized power, which expired in
June 2011. Although the licensee timely finished construction and began operating the maximized facility in 2009,
it failed to file a license application. Because the maximized facility was constructed and operating prior to
February 22, 2012, we will protect the subsequently licensed facility (BLEDT-20131218CHV). With respect to
KERA-TV, channel *14, Dallas, Texas, the tower on which the licensed facility is located is being dismantled and,
thus, is no longer available for reasons outside the licensee’s control. The licensee proposed to move its facility to a
tower located 3.9 km from its licensed site with no change in height (BPED-20130528ALD), and the Media Bureau
has granted a construction permit authorizing this change. While the construction permit authorizes a minimal
contour extension in several directions, the total geographic area within the proposed noise-limited service contour
does not exceed that of the licensed NLSC. Although not authorized on or before April 5, 2013, we will protect this
facility if licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline. We find that the equities in favor of preservation,
including the fact that the change is outside the licensee’s control, outweigh the impact on our repacking flexibility.
676 This ineligibility for repacking protection does not apply to minor change applications filed by analog Class A
licensees to convert to digital service that were pending as of or are filed after the Freeze PN. Such applications are
exempt from the Freeze PN and are discussed in the next subsection.
677 The Media Bureau will continue to consider requests for waiver of the Freeze PN. Our interest in a stable
database will not be undermined by the processing and grant of such requests because the Media Bureau will grant
such requests only upon a strong public interest showing, thereby limiting the number of waivers granted. In
determining whether to grant any requests for waiver of the Freeze PN that are filed after the release of this Order,
the Media Bureau will assess the extent to which grant of the waiver will affect the Commission’s repacking
flexibility. We expect that any potential impact on repacking flexibility will be outweighed by the public interest
benefits that justify a waiver of the Freeze PN. Moreover, given the expected limited number of waivers granted,
we do not expect that protecting the facilities authorized pursuant to a waiver will significantly impact our repacking
flexibility.
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(iv)

Class A Television Stations Transitioning to Digital Service

214.
We next address the protection of Class A licensees that were not operating digital
facilities on February 22, 2012 and that received (or will receive) licenses for their initial Class A digital
facilities after February 22, 2012. Some of these licensees will receive protection of their initial digital
facilities under the discretionary protection we will afford to facility modifications authorized prior to
issuance of the Freeze PN, as set forth in the previous discussion. However, not all Class A licensees
were granted a digital construction permit prior to the Freeze PN. We accordingly discuss the protection
of Class A stations’ initial digital facilities separately here.678
215.
Background. As explained in the NPRM, Congress authorized the incentive auction in
the midst of the Class A television digital transition; the deadline for Class A stations to operate on a
digital-only basis is not until September 1, 2015.679 Because Class A licensees made their digital
conversion plans in reliance on rules adopted in July 2011, the Commission proposed in the NPRM to
protect in the repacking process certain digital Class A facilities that were not licensed as of February 22,
2012.680 The Commission proposed to require such licensees to inform it of their digital transition plans
and to elect protection of either their licensed analog facility or their authorized digital facility. The
Commission also proposed to protect the licensed analog facilities of licensees that did not notify it of
their election by a deadline it would determine in the future.
216.
Discussion. We will exercise our discretion to protect Class A stations’ initial digital
facilities that were not initially licensed until after February 22, 2012, including those that were not
authorized until after the Freeze PN, provided they are licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline.681
Our records show that approximately 110 analog Class A stations have transitioned to digital operations
since enactment of the Spectrum Act in reliance on transition rules adopted by the Commission in 2011.
Failure to protect these facilities could have a significant negative impact on the service’s digital
transition and result in wasted investment. We also conclude that protecting Class A stations’ digital
facilities rather than their analog facilities licensed on February 22, 2012 will not significantly impact our
repacking flexibility. While protecting such Class A digital facilities may have some impact on our
repacking flexibility in the case of a contour increase,682 we note that digital Class A stations have

678 As discussed above, § 6403(b)(2) mandates that we protect Class A facilities that were licensed or for which a
license application was pending as of February 22, 2012. Moreover, we are exercising our discretion to protect
modifications of Class A facilities, if licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline, that were authorized in
construction permits on or before April 5, 2013, the date of the Freeze PN, as well as after that date if proposed in
applications that met the filing limitations set forth in the Freeze PN. Class A minor change applications filed by
analog Class A licensees to convert to digital service that were pending as of or filed after April 5, 2013 were
exempt from the Freeze PN, and the Media Bureau clarified that it would continue to process such applications if
they comply with our current rules. Freeze PN, 28 FCC Rcd at 4365. In this Section, we discuss the extent to which
initial digital facilities not licensed as of February 22, 2012, including facilities authorized after the date of the
Freeze PN, will be protected in the repacking process.
679 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12397, para. 115; see also Amendment of Parts 73 and 74 of the Commission’s Rules to
Establish Rules for Digital Low Power Television, Television Translator, and Television Booster Stations and to
Amend Rules for Digital Class A Television Stations
, MB Docket No. 03-185, Second Report and Order, 26 FCC
Rcd 10732, 10753–54, para. 45 (2011) (LPTV DTV Second R&O).
680 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12397, para. 115.
681 Many commenters support extending protection to digital Class A facilities initially licensed after February 22,
2012. See, e.g., Casa Comments at 3–4 (KQDK-CA’s digital facility, which was licensed in November 2012,
should be protected to avoid stranding investment); Vision Comments at 7–8 (supporting allowing stations to elect
protection of digital facilities at some future date, rather than protecting only those digital facilities licensed as of
February 22, 2012).
682 As discussed above, we find no significant repacking impact resulting from protection of construction permits
authorized on or before April 5, 2013, but not licensed as of February 22, 2012, which includes some construction
(continued….)
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significantly smaller coverage areas than full power stations. While full power stations may radiate up to
1000 kilowatts power, Class A stations may radiate at a maximum operating power of 15 kilowatts.683 In
addition, the Spectrum Act already requires us to protect an analog Class A station’s facilities as licensed
on February 22, 2012, and we find that protecting a station’s digital conversion facility, rather than its
analog facility, will not have a significant additional impact on our repacking flexibility.
217.
We do not adopt the proposal to allow Class A stations to elect protection of a digital
construction permit that remains unbuilt as of the commencement of the auction process.684 Rather, in
order to qualify for protection, Class A digital facilities must be licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing
Deadline.685 Class A stations that have not completed the transition to digital service as of that deadline
will receive protection only of their licensed analog facilities, to the extent protected in this Order. We
find that requiring Class A digital facilities to be licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline in order
to receive protection is warranted to avoid protecting facilities that may never be constructed.686 We
further find that Class A licensees have a reasonable amount of advance notice to complete construction
of their digital facility and obtain a license by the deadline, in light of the fact that such licensees have
been on notice since July 2011 of the need to file construction permits to covert to digital service, the
specific notice provided by the Media Bureau informing them of the importance of beginning the digital
conversion process,687 and the length of time between release of this Order and the expected timing of the
Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline.
218.
We clarify that we are not modifying the deadline for Class A stations to convert to
digital service in this Order. Licensees are free to wait until the September 2015 deadline to complete
(Continued from previous page)
permits for initial digital Class A facilities. See para. 209. Task Force staff has conducted similar analyses on a
continuing basis with respect to Class A initial digital facilities that were authorized after April 5, 2013. Based on
those analyses, we conclude that protecting these digital facilities, including any increase in coverage area these
stations will have by virtue of their digital construction permits vis-à-vis their analog facilities, will not significantly
impact our flexibility in the repacking process.
683 See 47 C.F.R § 74.735(b) (limiting UHF Class A stations to operating power of 15 kilowatts and VHF Class A
stations to three kilowatts); see also 47 C.F.R. § 74.787(b)(2)(requiring Class A stations to have contour overlap
between analog and initial digital facilities). We also note that as of February 22, 2012, there were fewer than 350
analog Class A stations, and since that date more than 60 of these licensees were cancelled or reverted to LPTV
status and thus no longer are entitled to protection under the Spectrum Act.
684 Class A minor change applications to implement the digital transition are not subject to the filing limitations in
the Media Bureau’s April 5, 2013 freeze. Our interest in a stable database will not be undermined by the processing
and grant of such applications because we do not expect a significant number of them and, in any event, our interest
is outweighed by the significant public interest benefits resulting from the Class A digital transition. Moreover, for
the reasons discussed here, we do not expect that protecting the Class A digital, rather than the analog, facility will
significantly impact our repacking flexibility.
685 Licensees choosing to flash-cut to digital service on their analog channel are required to submit an FCC Form
302-CA application to cover construction of the digital facility. Licensees with a digital companion channel also
must submit an FCC Form 302-CA application to transfer Class A status to their constructed digital facility. LPTV
DTV Second R&O
, 26 FCC Rcd at 10756–57, paras. 52-3.
686 As a practical matter, we note that relatively few Class A stations are at risk of having their digital facilities
unprotected under our approach. More than half of Class A licensees already have licenses for their digital facility,
and a third hold or have a pending application for a digital construction permit. However, we note that
approximately 35 analog Class A licensees still have not filed for a digital construction permit, despite individual
notice from the Media Bureau in the first quarter of 2013 of the need to do so. The digital facilities of these stations
will not be protected if they are not licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline.
687 See, e.g., Mar. 3, 2013 letter from Deputy Chief, Video Division to KVBI-LP (http://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-
bin/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/getimportletter_exh.cgi?import_letter_id=39467).
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their digital transition, but will receive repacking protection only for their analog facilities consistent with
the provisions of this Order.688
(v)

Additional Cases

219.
World Trade Center Stations. We will afford discretionary protection to stations affected
by the destruction of the World Trade Center and will not require certain authorized facilities for these
stations to be licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline. Full power television stations WNBC,
WABC-TV, WPIX, and WNET were licensed and operating on the World Trade Center, and WPXN-TV
held a construction permit to move to that site, when it was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September
11, 2001. Each of these five stations, as well as WCBS-TV, currently are operating at the Empire State
Building and have pending applications for construction permits seeking interference protection for
facilities in Lower Manhattan near the previous site of the World Trade Center. Given the unique
circumstances facing these stations, which were forced to move to a temporary location after the
destruction of the World Trade Center,689 the length of time necessary to construct a building comparable
to the World Trade Center to which they could relocate, and the small number of stations involved, we
conclude that there are significant equities in favor of providing these stations with a choice as to which
facilities will be protected in the repacking process. Accordingly, we will permit each of these stations to
elect protection of either: (1) their licensed Empire State Building facilities or (2) facilities at One World
Trade Center (“1WTC”), the primary building of the new World Trade Center complex, that are
authorized in a construction permit.690 Providing these stations with such flexibility will not significantly
impact our repacking flexibility or our interest in a stable database,691 and any such concerns are far
outweighed by the substantial equities in favor of flexibility noted above.
220.
To be eligible for protection under the second option, stations must obtain a construction
permit for the 1WTC facilities by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline. Such facilities, however, are not
required to be licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline in order to be protected. Because stations
seeking to operate permanent facilities on 1WTC have had to await the construction of the building before
they could file for construction permits reflecting their proposed new facilities, we find that it would be
unreasonable to require such stations to construct in time to meet this deadline.692
221.
Stations Reallocated Pursuant to Section 331 of the Communications Act. We will
exercise our discretion to protect the facilities for new full power television stations on channel 2 at
Wilmington, Delaware and channel 3 at Middletown Township, New Jersey that were allotted in 2013
pursuant to a court order.693 Although these allotments were made and applied for after passage of the

688 See §§ III.B.3.a (Mandatory Protection of Full Power and Class A Facilities); III.B.3.b (Discretionary
Preservation) (discussing discretionary preservation of certain modifications authorized on or before the Freeze PN,
provided they are licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline).
689 The licensee of WPXN-TV was unable to construct authorized facilities at the World Trade Center because of the
terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.
690 The deadline for these stations to elect the facility to be protected in the repacking process is the Pre-Auction
Licensing Deadline.
691 Because 1WTC is close to the former World Trade Center site and the facilities that were destroyed were
operating with maximum height and power, moving the stations to 1WTC will not result in a significant change in
the stations’ coverage contours.
692 In addition, we will waive the Freeze PN to accept any applications from stations impacted by the destruction of
the World Trade Center proposing a facility at 1WTC because we do not believe that it was possible to prepare a
FCC Form 301 application for that site by April 5, 2013 given the stage of construction of the site at that time.
693 These channels were allotted to the Post-Transition DTV Table of Allotments, see 47 C.F.R. § 73.622(i), after a
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decision. PMCM LLC, TV v. FCC, 701 F.3d 380 (D.C.
Cir. 2012); Reallocation of Channel 3 from Ely, Nevada to Middletown Township, New Jersey, Report and Order, 28
(continued….)
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Spectrum Act, it is necessary to protect these facilities to avoid frustrating the court’s mandate that we
authorize these facilities and the mandate under section 331 of the Communications Act that the
Commission allocate a commercial VHF channel to each State if possible.694 In addition, we note that,
because the court’s mandate is limited to two stations that will operate on VHF channels, protecting these
facilities will have minimal impact on our repacking flexibility.
222.
Although the Wilmington station is now licensed, the Middletown Township facility is
not.695 We will not require this station to be licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline in order to
be protected in the repacking process. The station’s channel was not allotted until March 2013, it was not
possible for the station to file a construction permit application for the facility until after this date, and the
application was not grantable until April 14, 2014. Thus, it would be unreasonable to require this station
to be constructed in time to meet the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline.
223.
KTNC-TV, Channel 14, Concord, California. TTBG, the former licensee of KTNC-TV,
channel 14, Concord, California, constructed and had an application for a license to cover on file for its
authorized channel 14 facility prior to February 22, 2012, but was operating at reduced power on that date
(and continues to do so) due to its inability to satisfy a condition pertaining to non-interference to land
mobile stations.696 TTBG argues that it should be allowed to choose protection of either its licensed pre-
DTV transition facility on channel 63, or the facility specified in its construction permit for channel 14.697
We will exercise our discretion to protect the facilities in TTBG’s pending channel 14 license application,
even if they are not fully operational and the station has not received a license by the Pre-Auction
Licensing Deadline, in order to prevent stranded investment in the event the station is able to commence
full operations.698 Given the unique circumstances that have prevented TTBG from operating at full
power, the fact that it had completed construction and filed a license to cover application as of the
enactment of the Spectrum Act, and the minimal impact that protecting this one facility will have on our
repacking flexibility, we conclude that the equities in favor of protection outweigh any potential harm.
224.
KHTV-CD, Los Angeles, California. We will not protect stations that are eligible for a
Class A license but that did not file an application for such license until after February 22, 2012, even if
the application is granted before the auction.699 For the reasons discussed in detail below, however, we
make one exception for KHTV-CD, Los Angeles, California.700
(Continued from previous page)
FCC Rcd 2825 (2013); Reallocation of Channel 2 from Jackson, Wyoming to Wilmington, Delaware, Report and
Order, 28 FCC Rcd 2828 (2013). The Wilmington facility is now licensed (File No. BLCDT-201131129AIH).
694 Section 6403(i)(1) specifically states that nothing in § 6403(b) “shall be construed to expand or contract the
authority of the Commission except as otherwise expressly provided.” Spectrum Act § 6403(i)(1).
695 FCC File No. BPCDT-20130528AJP.
696 TTBG Comments at 1–4.
697 Id. at 4.
698 FCC File No. BLCDT-20091210ABC. Because § 6403(b)(2) requires only preservation of actual operations on
February 22, 2012, and TTBG was not operating on that date at its fully authorized power, we conclude that these
facilities are not entitled to mandatory protection. In the event the channel 14 authorization is subsequently
modified, the modified facility will be protected if licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline. We will not
protect TTBG’s channel 63 facility. Television stations were required by statute to cease digital operations on
channels 52-69 (out of core channels) and operate on only the “core” television channels 2-51 by June 12, 2009. See
DTV Delay Act, Pub. L. 111-4, 123 Stat. 112 (2009). Because television stations have been statutorily prohibited
from operating on channel 63 since 2009, we decline to protect that facility.
699 See § III.B.3.d.ii (Out-of-Core Class-A-Eligible LPTV Stations) (deciding not to extend discretionary protection
to such stations).
700 See id.
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c.

Non-Final License Revocation or Downgrade Proceedings.


225.
We clarify that any licensee of facilities that are eligible for protection in the repacking
process as set forth in this Order that is the subject of a non-final license validity proceeding701 or
downgrade order will be protected until the proceeding or order becomes final and non-reviewable.
Specifically, this treatment will apply to the facilities of licensees who have been downgraded from Class
A to LPTV status, and to the facilities of full power and Class A licensees with expired, cancelled, or
revoked licenses. This approach is consistent with the protections from interference afforded under our
general processing standards, and we see no reason to depart from those standards with respect to the
repacking process. Moreover, we agree with commenters who argue that denying protection to such
facilities effectively would invalidate the licensees’ rights to pursue their pending appeals.702
d.

Facilities That Will Not Receive Discretionary Protection

226.
We will not exercise our discretion to extend protection in the repacking process beyond
the facilities discussed above. Doing so may encumber additional broadcast spectrum, increase repacking
constraints, and undercut our ability to repurpose spectrum. We conclude that these concerns outweigh
other considerations with regard to facilities that are not entitled to mandatory protection or addressed
above. Below, we specifically address our decision not to afford protection to pending rulemaking
petitions to move from a VHF to a UHF channel, out-of-core Class A-Eligible LPTV stations, LPTV and
TV translator stations, and special temporary and experimental authorizations.
(i)

Pending Channel Substitution Rulemaking Petitions

227.
Background. Section 6403(g)(1)(B) of the Spectrum Act provides that the Commission
“may not” reassign a television licensee from a VHF to a UHF channel from the enactment date of the
Spectrum Act until the completion of the incentive auction “unless (i) such reassignment will not decrease
the total amount of [UHF] spectrum made available for reallocation . . . or (ii) a request from such
licensee for the reassignment was pending at the Commission on May 31, 2011.”703 In the NPRM, the
Commission proposed not to act on VHF-to-UHF channel change requests pending on May 31, 2011 “in
order to ensure that we do not unnecessarily compromise our flexibility in the repacking process.”704 The
Commission also noted that granting these requests prior to the incentive auction could create an
opportunity for the petitioners to relinquish their rights to newly allotted UHF channels through UHF-to-
VHF bids in the reverse auction.705
228.
Discussion. We decline to exercise our discretion to protect the facilities requested in
pending VHF-to-UHF channel substitution rulemaking requests.706 Although the number of petitions
involved is small, protecting them would encumber additional UHF spectrum by adding new stations to
the UHF band, thereby increasing the number of constraints on the repacking process and limiting our
flexibility. We conclude that protecting the facilities requested in these petitions would disserve our goals

701 See § IV.B.1.a.iv (Relinquishment of Expired or Revoked Licenses and Downgraded Class A Licenses) (defining
“license validity proceeding” as a proceeding regarding the expiration or cancellation of a license).
702 See UVM Reply at 20.
703 Spectrum Act § 6403(g)(1)(B).
704 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12398, para. 117; see Spectrum Act § 6403(g)(1)(B). When the NPRM was adopted,
there were 10 such requests pending. Channel Substition Freeze, 26 FCC Rcd 7721. The petition for Augusta,
Georgia was subsequently dismissed at petitioner’s request.
705 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12397, para. 117 n.181.
706 This includes the facilities addressed in Amendment of Section 73.622(i), Post-Transition Table of DTV
Allotments, Television Broadcast Stations (Cleveland, Ohio)
, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 14280
(Vid. Div. 2011).
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by increasing the potential cost of repurposing UHF spectrum for new, flexible uses.707 Moreover, these
petitioners have not acted in reliance on Commission grants, have not made any investment in
constructing their requested facilities, and have not begun operating the proposed facilities to provide
service to viewers. Although the petitioners have expended some resources in preparing and filing their
rulemaking petitions, we find that this factor does not outweigh the detrimental impact on repacking
flexibility that would result from preservation of the UHF facilities proposed in these petitions.
229.
We disagree with commenters who assert that section 6403(g)(1)(B) compels the
Commission to process and grant channel substitution rulemaking requests that were pending on May 31,
2011.708 The statute grants the Commission the discretion to reassign a licensee from VHF to UHF if
either of the two statutory conditions in this provision is satisfied, but it does not mandate such
reassignment.709 Further, the mandatory reading advocated by commenters would compel the
Commission to grant all pre-May 31, 2011 VHF-to-UHF channel substitution requests without regard to
whether the requests meet our technical requirements or otherwise serve the public interest.710 There is no
indication in the statute that Congress intended such a result.711

707 If a petition to move from a VHF to a UHF channel is granted in advance of the incentive auction and protected
in the repacking process, the station could demand a share of incentive auction proceeds in exchange for
relinquishing its newly granted rights through a UHF-to-VHF bid in the reverse auction. In response to the
Commission’s expression of concern about this possibility in the NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12398 n.181, Bonten stated
that it would accept a condition on its construction permit prohibiting it from submitting such a bid. Bonten
Comments at 7. We note, however, that § 6403(a)(2) provides that “a relinquishment of usage rights . . . shall
include
” three types of relinquishment, one of which is a UHF-to-VHF bid. Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(2) (emphasis
added).
708 For example, according to Media General, “Congress mandated that the FCC process pending VHF-to-UHF
allotment petitions . . . that were pending [as of May 31, 2011].” Media General Comments at 5. See also Bonten
Comments at 6; Raycom Comments at 2–4 (failure to process the pending petitions contravenes Congressional
intent that they be processed in the ordinary course).
709 As stated above, § 6403(g)(1)(B) provides that during the relevant time period, the Commission “may not”
reassign a broadcast television licensee from a VHF channel to a UHF channel “unless” either of two conditions is
satisfied. Thus, the two conditions trigger exceptions to the general prohibition against reassigning a licensee from
VHF to UHF. The Commission and a number of courts have interpreted the “may not . . . unless” and “shall not . . .
unless” construction in other contexts as permissive. For example, the 1993 Budget Act provides that the
Commission “shall not” issue any license by lottery “unless” one or more applications were accepted for filing
before July 26, 1993. The Commission interpreted this language as permissive, providing it with the discretion to
use lotteries—but not mandating lotteries—if the condition following “unless” was satisfied. See, e.g.,
Implementation of Section 309(j) of the Communications Act – Competitive Bidding
, PP Docket No. 93-253,
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 9 FCC Rcd 7387, 7391, para. 13 (1994); see also Folden v. U.S., 56 Fed. Cl. 43,
46 (2003), aff’d, 379 F.3d 1344, 1350 (Fed. Cir. 2004); Ranger Cellular v. FCC, 333 F.3d 255, 257 (D.C. Cir.
2003). Similarly, the Seventh Circuit interpreted a federal education law providing that attorney’s fees “may not” be
awarded for an attorney’s participation in a certain type of meeting “unless” the meeting is convened by order of a
court or agency as permissive, granting the discretion to award attorney’s fees if the condition following “unless”
was satisfied. Linda T. v. Rice Lake Area Sch. Dist., 417 F.3d 704, 709 (7th Cir. 2005); see also Petrarca v. Rhode
Island
, 583 F.Supp. 297, 300 (D.R.I. 1984) (statute stating that prisoner “shall not” be paroled “unless” certain
conditions are met provided parole board with “discretion to keep a convict in prison for any amount of time, up to
his maximum sentence, after he has met these criteria”).
710 Some commenters claim that § 6403(g)(1)(B) compels the Commission to act on or process (but not necessarily
grant) the pending pre-May 31, 2011 VHF-to-UHF channel substitution requests. See Media General Comments
passim; Bonten Comments at 6–9; Bonten Reply at 2–6; Raycom Comments at 3–6; Raycom Reply at 4–6. This
argument has no merit. The statute expressly refers to “reassign[ment],” not processing.
711 If Congress had intended such a result, it could have explicitly provided that the Commission “shall” reassign a
licensee from VHF to UHF “if” a “request from such licensee for the reassignment was pending at the Commission
on May 31, 2011.” Congress knows how to use a “shall . . . if” construction, and did so in other provisions of the
(continued….)
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230.
Some commenters argue that failure to process these pending rulemaking petitions would
inequitably treat these petitioners differently from similarly-situated petitioners whose petitions resulted
in the issuance of an NPRM after May 31, 2011 and were subsequently granted.712 We disagree. The two
petitions that resulted in the issuance of an NPRM after May 31, 2011 were accompanied by expedited
consideration requests,713 whereas none of the pending petitions requested such consideration. Moreover,
both of these petitions were granted prior to enactment of the Spectrum Act. Thus, their processing was
not dependent on the Commission’s consideration in this proceeding of the goals of the auction and
repacking process or the meaning of section 6403(g)(1)(B).
231.
Having determined that section 6403(g)(1)(B) does not compel grant of the pending
VHF-to-UHF petitions, we direct the Media Bureau to dismiss any of these petitions if issuance of an
NPRM would not be appropriate. This would be the case, for example, if the proposed facility would
result in an impermissible loss of existing service or the petition fails to make a showing as to why a
channel change would serve the public interest. We further direct the Media Bureau to hold in abeyance
any remaining petitions or related rulemakings proceedings and to process them once the Media Bureau
lifts the filing freezes now in place, unless the petition is withdrawn.714
(Continued from previous page)
Spectrum Act. See Spectrum Act § 6403(d)(4). Bonten and Media General rely on letters from Members of
Congress purporting to interpret § 6403(g)(1)(B) to “allow those broadcasters who had invested the time and
resources necessary to file reallocation petitions to have their petitions considered in accordance with existing
Commission standards and processes.” Letter from Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen.
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) to Julius Genachowski, Chairman, FCC (May 1, 2012), at 1; Letter from Rep. G.K.
Butterfield (D-NC), Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS), Rep.
Cliff Stearns (R-FL) to Julius Genachowski, Chairman, FCC (July 26, 2012) at 1. See Bonten Comments at 6;
Media General Comments at 6; see also Letter from Sen. Mark R. Warner (R-VA) to Julius Genachowski,
Chairman, FCC (May 16, 2012). We do not read these letters as interpreting § 6403(g)(1)(B)(ii) to require the
Commission to grant the pending requests. We also note that it is well-settled that such post-enactment explanations
of intent are of little or no probative value in interpreting legislative history. See Regional Rail Reorganization Act
Cases
, 419 U.S. 102, 132 (1974) (“[P]ost-passage remarks of legislators, however explicit, cannot serve to change
the legislative intent of Congress expressed before the Act’s passage.”) (citations omitted); Bread Political Action
Committee v. FEC
, 455 U.S. 577, 582 n.3 (1982) (“We cannot give probative weight to these [post-enactment]
affidavits [of a Senator and his assistant], however, because ‘[s]uch statements ‘represent only the personal views of
th[is] legislato[r], since the statements were [made] after passage of the Act.’”) (citations omitted).
712 Media General Comments at 9–10; NAB Comments at 31–32.
713 In one case, the station’s tower had collapsed and since it was required to construct a new facility, it requested a
channel change in order to address on-going viewer reception problems. Amendment of Section 73.622(i), Post-
Transition Table of DTV Allotments, Television Broadcast Stations. (Eau Claire, Wisconsin)
, MB Docket No. 11-
100, Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 10326 (2011). In the other case, the licensee had already modified its facility
twice to increase power in an attempt to alleviate reported VHF reception problems and its proposed channel
substitution would result in a population gain of approximately 515,000 persons. Amendment of Section 73.622(i),
Post-Transition Table of Allotments, Television Broadcast Stations. (Panama City, Florida)
, MB Docket No. 11-
140, Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 14415 (2011).
714 See para. 556. We direct the Media Bureau to hold such petitions in abeyance, rather than process them, because
allowing VHF stations to move their existing service into the UHF band on an unprotected basis pending the
outcome of the repacking process presents a significant potential for viewer disruption if the station’s operations in
the UHF band are displaced. We find there to be less potential for viewer disruption in the case of pending
modifications that do not comply with the Freeze PN, which the Media Bureau will process but, if granted, will not
be protected in the repacking process. See para. 212. In the case of a facilities modification, only the increase in
contour will not be protected, not the station’s entire existing service.
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(ii)

Out-of-Core Class A-Eligible LPTV Stations

232.
Background. The Community Broadcasters Protection Act of 1999 (“CBPA”) accorded
certain qualifying LPTV stations with “primary” Class A status.715 Although the statute prohibited the
Commission from granting Class A status to LPTV stations operating on out-of-core channels (channels
52-69),716 it provided such stations with an opportunity to achieve Class A status on an in-core channel
(channels 2-51).717 There remain approximately 100 formerly out-of-core Class A-eligible LPTV stations
that obtained an in-core channel but did not file for their Class A license until after February 22, 2012 or
have not yet filed for a Class A license.
233.
Discussion. With one exception, we will not protect stations that are eligible for a Class
A license but that did not file an application for such license until after February 22, 2012, even if the
application is granted before the auction.718 These stations are not entitled to mandatory preservation
because their Class A facilities were not licensed or the subject of a pending Class A license application
as of February 22, 2012.719 The fact that such a station may obtain a Class A license after that date does
not alter this conclusion because section 6403(b)(2) mandates preservation of only the full power and
Class A facilities that were actually in operation as of February 22, 2012.720 We also reject the claim that
the CBPA requires preservation of such stations.721 Despite the availability of two alternative approaches
whereby these stations could obtain Class A status, the stations in this category failed to take either step
and thus remained secondary LPTV stations on February 22, 2012.722
234.
Moreover, we decline to extend discretionary protection to LPTV stations that had not
filed an application for a Class A license as of February 22, 2012. Protecting such stations would
encumber additional spectrum by requiring protection of approximately 100 stations, thereby increasing
the number of constraints on the repacking process and limiting our flexibility.723 While we recognize

715 Community Broadcasters Protection Act of 1999, Pub. L. No. 106-113, 113 Stat. Appendix 1 at pp. 1501A-594 –
1501A-598 (1999), codified at 47 U.S.C. § 336(f).
716 47 U.S.C. § 336(f)(6)(A); see Establishment of a Class A Television Service, MM Docket No. 00-10, Report and
Order, 15 FCC Rcd 6355, 6396–97, para. 103 (2000) (“it would be inconsistent with the statute to provide
interference protection on a channel outside the core”) (Class A R&O).
717 Such stations were required to obtain a construction permit for an in-core channel before receiving Class A
status. 47 U.S.C. § 336(f)(6)(A) (providing that, when an out-of-core Class A-eligible LPTV licensee was assigned
an in-core channel, the Commission was required to issue a Class A license simultaneously). To effectuate this
requirement, the Commission directed out-of-core Class A-eligible LPTV stations seeking Class A status to file a
Class A license application simultaneously with the construction permit application to move to an in-core channel.
Class A R&O
, 15 FCC Rcd at 6396–97, para. 103. The Commission commenced protection of such stations with
the award of the in-core construction permit, rather than waiting until the in-core facility was constructed. Some
out-of-core Class A-eligible LPTV stations did not follow the procedures outlined by the Commission. Instead,
these stations filed their Class A license applications after the in-core facility was constructed, which the Media
Bureau granted if otherwise consistent with the Commission’s rules.
718 Moreover, spectrum usage rights covered by such unprotected facilities will not be recognized for relinquishment
during the reverse auction. See § IV.B.1.a.ii (Spectrum Usage Rights Eligible for Relinquishment).
719 See § III.B.3.a (Mandatory Protection of Full Power and Class A Facilities) (explaining that § 6403(b)(2)
mandates that we protect Class A facilities that were licensed or for which a license application was pending as of
February 22, 2012).
720 See id.
721 See Venture Reply at 9–10.
722 See § III.B.3.d.iii (LPTV and TV Translator Stations) (explaining that protection of LPTV and TV translator
stations in the repacking process is not mandated by § 6403(b)(2)).
723 Almost all of the stations in this category operate on UHF channels and many are located in spectrum-congested
areas.
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that these stations have made investments in their facilities, we conclude that this does not outweigh the
significant detrimental impact on repacking flexibility that would result from protecting them, especially
in light of the failure of such stations to take the steps to obtain a Class A license and remove their
secondary status in a timely manner. These stations failed to file for Class A licenses until after February
22, 2012, or have still failed to file to date, despite the fact that the CBPA and the Commission’s rules
implementing it were adopted more than a decade ago.724 These stations remained secondary and any
investment was made with “explicit, full and clear prior notice that operation in the LPTV [and TV
translator service] entails the risk of displacement.”725 Although we will not protect stations that filed for
and obtained a Class A license after February 22, 2012, in the repacking process, we will provide them
with an advanced opportunity to locate a new channel. Specifically, if such station obtains a Class A
license but is displaced in the repacking process, it may file a displacement application during one of the
filing opportunities for alternate channels.726
235.
We will, however, exercise our discretion to protect one station in this category --
KHTV-CD, Los Angeles, California, licensed to Venture. Venture made repeated efforts over the course
of a decade to convert to Class A status.727 During this period,728 Venture continued to have a Class A

724 Indeed, in 2000, the Commission cautioned that “it would be in the best interest of qualified LPTV stations
operating outside the core to try to locate an in-core channel now, as the core spectrum is becoming increasingly
crowded and it is likely to become increasingly difficult to locate an in-core channel in the future.” Class A R&O,
15 FCC Rcd at 6396–97, para. 103 (emphasis added). Moreover, all out-of-core LPTV stations were required to file
displacement applications for an in-core channel by September 1, 2011. LPTV DTV Second R&O, 26 FCC Rcd at
10733, para. 2. Thus, all stations in this category had the opportunity to file for Class A status when filing for their
in-core channel by September 1, 2011, well in advance of February 22, 2012.
725 In the Matter of Petition by Community Broadcasters Association to Amend Part 74 of the Commission’s Rules,
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 59 Rad. Reg. 2d (P&F) 1216, 1217, para. 4 (1986) (Community Broadcasters
Association MO&O
). Our decision above to exercise discretion to protect new full power stations licensed after
February 22, 2012 does not warrant protection of the Class A-eligible stations in this category, even if they obtain a
Class A license before the auction. See Venture Reply at 10; see also § III.B.3.b.i (New Full Power Stations). As an
initial matter, such full power stations are small in number and are licensed or authorized on VHF channels and/or in
remote locations, and thus present far less impact on repacking flexibility than the approximately 100 stations in this
category, almost all of which operate on UHF channels and many of which are located in spectrum-congested areas.
Moreover, the new full power stations have proceeded to obtain licenses for their stations in due course, whereas the
stations in this category have failed to take the steps necessary to remove their secondary status, despite the fact that
the CBPA and the Commission’s rules implementing it were adopted more than a decade ago.
726 See § V.C.1.b (Alternate Channels and Expanded Facilities Opportunities) (delegating authority to the Media
Bureau to determine whether such stations should be permitted to file for a new channel along with priority stations
or during the second filing opportunity). Except as indicated here, our existing displacement rules will apply to such
applications. See 47 C.F.R. §§ 73.3572(a)(4) and 74.787(a)(4).
727 Venture was granted an in-core construction permit for KHTV-LP, constructed the facility, and filed a Class A
license application for the in-core channel in July 2001. In that application, it made the required certification that it
“does, and will continue to” meet all Class A operating requirements and applicable full power requirements. See
FCC File No. BLTTA-20010712AHT, FCC Form 302-CA, Section II, Questions 3, 4, 8, 9, 10. That application
was dismissed pursuant to § 336(f)(7) of the Communications Act, however, because the licensed facility was
predicted to cause interference. Venture Reply at 4. Venture subsequently filed three more applications for in-core
channels, each of which was dismissed because of interference or international objection. Id. at 4–6. KHTV-LP
was displaced by the commencement of digital operations by a full power station on channel 48 in May 2003 and
was granted an STA to operate on channel 67 through 2011.
728 In addition to its initial Class A license application filed in July 2001 that was later dismissed, Venture filed a
Class A license application for the construction permit application it filed in 2002, certifying again that it was
meeting all Class A operating requirements and applicable full power requirements. While the construction permit
application was dismissed due to interference, the Class A license application remained pending until July 11, 2012.
Venture Reply at 5 n.12, 6–7 (stating that KHTV “abide[d] by the FCC’s Class A continuing eligibility requirements
for the last 12 years”).
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license application on file in which it certified that it was meeting, and would continue to meet, all Class
A operating requirements and applicable full power requirements.729 After finally locating and
constructing a suitable in-core channel, Venture filed its Class A license application just two days after
February 22, 2012.730 Given the unique circumstances that prevented Venture from filing its Class A
license application for channel 27 until just two days after February 22, 2012, its certified operation of
KHTV-LP consistent with Class A operating requirements since 2001, and its repeated efforts to convert
to Class A status, we conclude that the equities in favor of protection of this station outweigh the minimal
impact that protecting this one facility will have on our repacking flexibility.
(iii)

LPTV and TV Translator Stations

236.
Background. Section 6403(b)(5) of the Spectrum Act provides that nothing in section
6403 “shall be construed to alter the spectrum usage rights of low-power television stations.” The
Commission proposed in the NPRM not to extend repacking protection to LPTV or TV translator stations,
noting that these low power stations always have had secondary status under the Commission’s rules.731
In addition, the Commission sought comment on its view that the interference protection ordinarily
accorded to LPTV and TV translator facilities against modifications of Class A facilities under section
336(f)(7)(B) of the Communications Act does not apply with respect to channel assignments made in the
repacking process.732
237.
Discussion. Although we recognize the valuable services that many LPTV and TV
translator stations provide, we decline to extend repacking protection to these stations. We recognize that
our decision will result in some viewers losing the services of these stations, may strand the investments
displaced LPTV and TV translator licensees have made in their existing facilities, and may cause
displaced licensees that choose to move to a new channel to incur the cost of doing so. On balance,
however, we conclude that these concerns are outweighed by the detrimental impact that protecting LPTV
and TV translator stations would have on the repacking process and on the success of the incentive
auction. As discussed below, we adopt measures to mitigate the potential impact of the auction and
repacking process on LPTV and TV translator stations, including adopting special procedures for
displaced stations to select a new channel among the limited number of channels that will remain
following the repacking process.733 We will also initiate a rulemaking proceeding after the release of this

729 Thus, Venture certified that KHTV-LP aired a minimum of 18 hours of programming each day and three hours of
locally produced programming each week, and complied with the Commission’s main studio requirements, rules
governing informational and educational children’s programming, the public inspection file rule, including
preparing and placing in the file on a quarterly basis an issues/programs list and the station’s quarterly-filed
Children’s Television Programming Report, the political programming rules, station identification requirements, and
the Emergency Alert System (EAS) rules. See Class A R&O, 15 FCC Rcd at 6366, paras. 24–25.
730 The application for a construction permit for this in-core channel (channel 27) was filed in August 2009. That
application was granted on February 15, 2012. Because Venture had not filed a Class A license application with its
August 2009 construction permit application, the staff granted Venture an LPTV authorization on February 15,
2012, requiring that Venture obtain an LPTV license for channel 27 before applying for Class A status. Venture
filed a license to cover construction of the LPTV facility on February 17, 2012, which the staff granted on February
22, 2012. Accordingly, Venture was unable to file its Class A license application for channel 27 until after that date.
Venture Reply at 6. That application (FCC File No. BLDTA-20120224ABQ) was granted on July 11, 2012.
731 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12399, para. 118.
732 Id. Specifically, § 336(f)(7)(B) of the Communications Act prevents the Commission from approving a proposed
modification of a Class A license “unless the . . . licensee shows” non-interference to LPTV or translator facilities
authorized or proposed before “the application for . . . modification of such a license . . . was filed.” 47 U.S.C. §
336(f)(7)(B). The Commission proposed to interpret § 336(f)(7)(B) as “reflect[ing] an intention to grant protection
against changes in Class A facilities proposed by licensees, not to limit the previously unanticipated broadcast
television spectrum auction required by Congress in the Spectrum Act.” NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12399, para. 118.
733 See § V.D.1 (Transition Procedures: LPTV and TV Translator Stations).
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Order to consider further actions to provide regulatory relief to displaced LPTV and TV translator
stations.734
238.
Protection of LPTV and TV translator stations in the repacking process is not mandated
by section 6403(b)(2). The protection provision applies only to “each broadcast television licensee,”
which is defined as the “licensee of—(A) a full-power television station; or (B) a low-power television
station that has been accorded primary status as a Class A television licensee” under section 73.6001(a) of
the Commission’s rules.735 There is no basis in the text of section 6403(b)(2) or the pertinent statutory
definitions to conclude that low power stations that have not been accorded Class A status are entitled to
the protections afforded by section 6403(b)(2).736
239.
We disagree with parties who argue that section 6403(b)(5) mandates protection of LPTV
and TV translator stations in the repacking process.737 Section 6403(b)(5) provides that nothing in section
6403 shall be construed to “alter the spectrum usage rights of low power television stations.” This
provision simply clarifies the meaning and scope of section 6403; it does not limit the Commission’s
spectrum management authority.738 In any case, our decision not to protect LPTV or TV translator
stations when we repack full power television stations does not “alter” their spectrum usage rights.739
LPTV and TV translator stations are secondary to full power television stations, which may be authorized
and operated “without regard to existing or proposed low power TV or TV translator stations.”740 As T-
Mobile points out, “the Commission made clear more than three decades ago that secondary, low power
television stations ‘may not cause interference to, and must accept interference from, full-service
television stations, certain land mobile radio operations and other primary services.’”741

734 See id.
735 Spectrum Act §§ 6001(6), 6403(b)(2).
736 TV translators were not made eligible for Class A status under the CBPA. See Class A R&O, 15 FCC Rcd at
6369–70, para. 35.
737 ICN Comments at 1; Mako Comments at 5; NRB Comments at 4–5; SEI Comments at 3; Signal Above
Comments at 2–3.
738 See n.288.
739 Several commenters refer to recent statements by Congressman Joe Barton as support for their argument that
Congress intended that all licensed television stations, including LPTV stations, be protected in the repacking
process. See Capitol Reply at 3; MSGPR Comments at 5 (“Congressman Barton reminded the Chairman that the
intent of Congress was to protect broadcasters, and it was therefore not their intention to force LPTV broadcasters
off the air or remove them from the market.”); A. Weiss Comments at 6 (“Congressman [Joe] Barton never intended
for the FCC to have the right to wipe out existing licensed LPTV broadcasters who were serving the public.”).
However, as discussed above, post-enactment explanations of the intent of individual legislators cannot substitute
for legislative history, or override the clear meaning of the statutory language. See n.711.
740 See 47 C.F.R. § 74.702(b).
741 T-Mobile Reply at 99 (citing Amendment of Parts 73 and 74 of the Commission’s Rules to Establish Rules for
Digital Low Power Television, Television Translator, and Television Booster Stations and to Amend the Rules for
Digital Class A Television Stations,
, MM Docket No. 03-185, Report and Order, 19 FCC Rcd 19331, 19333, para. 2
(2004) (Digital LPTV Order)). Accordingly, we disagree with commenters who assert that LPTV and TV translator
stations are secondary only to full power television stations, and are entitled to repacking protection vis-à-vis new
primary users of the repurposed broadcast spectrum. Letter from Mike Gravino, Director, LPTV Spectrum
Coalition, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, Gen. Docket No. 12-268 at 3–4 (filed Aug. 27, 2013)(LPTV
Spectrum Aug. 27, 2013 Ex Parte Letter); Mako Comments at 4–6; MSGPR Comments at 2; SEI Comments at 4–5.
We note that in an analogous situation, when the Commission reallocated spectrum comprising television broadcast
channels 52-69 to wireless usage, it likewise treated LPTV stations as secondary to the services provided by future
wireless licensees in the reallocated spectrum. See Lower 700 MHz R&O, 17 FCC Rcd at 1034–5, para. 27 (LPTV
and TV translator stations not permitted to cause harmful interference to primary services, including new licensees
in Channels 52-59, and cannot claim protection from harmful interference from primary services, including new
(continued….)
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240.
We reject IBN’s assertion that LPTV and TV translator stations’ spectrum usage rights
are protected from taking by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.742 The Communications Act
is clear that there can be no ownership interest in spectrum licensed to broadcast television stations,743 and
that this principle is equally true for licenses awarded at auction.744 Any rights of LPTV and TV
translator station licensees to use spectrum are defined by their licenses, which expressly subject them to
accepting interference from primary services.745
241.
Although we have discretion to grant protection to additional facilities where appropriate,
we do not believe that extending protection to LPTV and TV translator stations in the repacking process
would be consistent with the goals of the Spectrum Act. There are more than 5,500 licensed LPTV and
TV translator stations, and almost 4,500 of these stations are licensed on UHF channels. Protecting them
would increase the number of constraints on the repacking process significantly, and severely limit our
recovery of spectrum to carry out the forward auction, thereby frustrating the purposes of the Spectrum
Act. While we recognize that LPTV and TV translator station operators have made investments in their
facilities, they have done so with “explicit, full and clear prior notice that operation in the LPTV [and TV
translator service] entails the risk of displacement.”746
242.
We likewise decline to exercise our discretionary authority to protect replacement digital
low power TV translator stations authorized pursuant to section 74.787(a)(5) of the Commission’s rules
(“digital replacement translators” or “DRTs”).747 There are approximately 150 licensed or authorized
DRT facilities, all of which are on UHF channels separate from the primary stations whose signals they
(Continued from previous page)
licensees in Channels 52-59); Advanced Television Systems and Their Impact Upon the Existing Television
Broadcast Service
, MM Docket No. 87-268, Sixth Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 14588, 14652–53, para. 142
(1997) (noting that, as a secondary service, LPTV stations must cease operation when a new service provider on
reallocated channels 60-69 is operational and would receive interference from the LPTV station).
742 See U.S. Const., amend. V. IBN argues that “[i]n the modern era when applicants for television spectrum must
often participate in auctions run by the Commission, old theories that licensees have no property rights are obsolete
and invalid.” IBN Comments at 3.
743 See 47 U.S.C. §§ 301, 304, 309(h); FCC v. Sanders Bros. Radio Station, 309 U.S. 470, 475 (1940) (“The policy
of the Act is clear that no person is to have anything in the nature of a property right as a result of the granting of a
license.”); see also Ashbacker Radio Corp. v. FCC, 326 U.S. 327, 331–32 (1945); CBS, Inc. v. FCC, 453 U.S. 367,
395 (1981); Prometheus Radio Project v. FCC, 373 F.3d 372, 428 (3rd Cir. 2004). We also note there is no merit to
the argument that a post-auction rulemaking change that may affect the value of an auctioned license should be
considered a taking under the Fifth Amendment. See Mobile Relay Assocs. v. FCC, 457 F.3d 1, 11–12 (D.C. Cir.
2006); Amendment of Part 27 of the Commission’s Rules to Govern the Operation of Wireless Communications
Services in the 2.3 GHz Band
, WT Docket No. 07-293, Report and Order and Second Report and Order, 25 FCC
Rcd 11710, 11775-76, para. 150 & n.388 (2010) (2010 WCS Order).
744 See 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(6); Celtronix Telemetry, Inc. v. FCC, 272 F.3d 585-589 (D.C. Cir. 2001).
745 See Digital LPTV Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 19333, para. 2 (“stations in the low power television service are
authorized with ‘secondary’ frequency use status. These stations may not cause interference to, and must accept
interference from, full-service television stations, certain land mobile radio operations and other primary services”)
(citing 47 C.F.R. §§ 74.703, 74.709, 90.303).
746 Community Broadcasters Association MO&O, 59 Rad. Reg. 2d (P&F) at 1217, para. 4.
747 See PTV Comments at 8; Bahakel Comments at 3; Bonten Comments at 10; Bonten Reply at 7–8; CBS Reply at
2–4; Cox Media Comments at 5; Cox Media Reply at 2–4; NAB Comments at 33; PTV Reply at 4; Raycom Reply
at 8; Tribune Comments at 18–21; WGAL Comments at 13–14. We do not interpret the statute to mandate
protection of the coverage area and population served by secondary translators “who re-broadcast the main station’s
signal.” See NAB Comments at 4 (filed May 8, 2014). Despite NAB’s claim, our interpretation is not “contrary to
the plain text of the Spectrum Act.” Id. Moreover, interpreting the statute to mandate protection of secondary
translators, including DRTs, would have a detrimental impact on the repacking process and on the success of the
incentive auction. See para. 237.
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carry. If the Commission protected these facilities, it would have to protect a separate channel facility for
each DRT operated by a full power station, significantly affecting repacking flexibility in markets where
they are licensed. As discussed below, however, in order to mitigate the potential impact of the repacking
process on DRTs, we will afford DRT displacement applications priority over other LPTV and TV
translator displacement applications in cases of mutual exclusivity.748 Moreover, in connection with the
rulemaking proceeding we intend to initiate relating to the potential displacement of LPTV and TV
translator stations, we will consider whether to create a new replacement translator service for stations
that experience losses in their pre-auction service areas.
243.
We do not agree with commenters who claim that the licensing process for the DRT
service justifies according DRTs different repacking protections than other TV translators.749 In creating
the DRT service, the Commission concluded that, because assigning these translators a separate call sign
based on the translator’s channel would cause technical problems and impose additional costs, it would
instead assign DRTs the same four letter call sign as their associated full power station.750 In addition, the
Commission associated DRTs with full power stations’ main licenses so that the translators could not be
separately transferred or assigned, or converted to a LPTV station, thus “ensur[ing] that the replacement
translator service is limited to only those situations where a station seeks to restore service to a loss area
and the license is used for that purpose.”751 In doing so, the Commission did not confer an operating
status on DRTs that differs from other TV translator stations. On the contrary, it put the licensees of these
facilities on notice that DRTs, like other TV translator stations, would be secondary in nature and
therefore subject to displacement.752
244.
Finally, we adopt our proposal in the NPRM not to extend interference protection to
LPTV or TV translator stations vis-à-vis Class A television stations in the repacking process.753 Section
336(f)(7)(B) of the Communications Act prevents the Commission from approving a modification of a
Class A license “unless the . . . licensee shows” that its proposal would not cause interference to LPTVor
translator facilities authorized or proposed before “the application for . . . modification of such a license . .
. was filed.”754 We do not interpret this language, which grants LPTV and TV translator stations
protection against changes to facilities proposed by Class A licensees, to restrict the Commission in
implementing the previously unanticipated broadcast television spectrum incentive auction and repacking
process authorized by Congress in the Spectrum Act.755

748 See § V.D.1 (Transition Procedures: LPTV and TV Translator Stations). We also note that, if a station is
reassigned to a new channel in the repacking process, its need for a DRT may no longer exist or may be significantly
different based on the signal propagation characteristics of its new channel assignment.
749 CBS argues that the Commission should protect DRTs because, unlike typical TV translator stations, DRTs are
not given a separate call sign, and may not be separately assigned or transferred. See CBS Reply at 4. PTV and
NAB also assert that, because DRTs were authorized to fill in full power station service areas, they are an integral
part of full power stations’ facilities that must be protected. PTV Reply at 8; NAB Comments at 33.
750 See Amendment of Parts 73 and 74 of the Commission’s Rules to Establish Rules for Replacement Digital Low
Power Television Translator Stations
, MB Docket No. 08-253, Report and Order, 24 FCC Rcd 5931, 5943–44,
paras. 28–29 (2009) (DRT R&O).
751 DRT R&O, 24 FCC Rcd at 5941, para. 23.
752 The Commission determined that the DRT service would be licensed “with ‘secondary’ frequency use status,” id.
at 5942, para. 25, and that the rules associated with television translator stations generally would apply to the new
service.
753 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12399, para. 118. We did not receive any comments on our NPRM proposal regarding
this issue.
754 47 U.S.C. § 336(f)(7)(B).
755 LPTV Coalition asserts that the Commission should conduct a study of the Spectrum Act’s impact on the LPTV
and TV translator industry pursuant to the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). LPTV Spectrum Aug. 27,
(continued….)
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(iv)

Special Temporary and Experimental Authorizations

245.
Several commenters argue that section 6403(b)(2) requires the Commission to protect not
only licensed facilities as of February 22, 2012, but also any other facilities that were being used to serve
viewers on that date, including facilities operating pursuant to experimental authorizations or Special
Temporary Authority (“STA”).756 We disagree. As numerous commenters have argued in this
proceeding, Congress is presumed to legislate against the background of existing laws and regulations.757
STAs and experimental authorizations are, as their names indicate, interim, provisional, and non-
permanent in nature.758 These authorizations also are secondary to all other authorized and licensed users,
including secondary services such as the LPTV service.759 We are not persuaded that Congress intended
to require the Commission to preserve experimental, temporary, or secondary facilities in the repacking
process. We also decline to exercise our discretionary authority to protect such facilities. While station
operators may have made investments in these authorizations, they have done so with full prior notice that
operations pursuant to these authorizations are secondary and subject to termination at any time. In
addition, there are presently outstanding a small number of these authorizations allowing full power
broadcasters to operate with power levels in excess of those permitted under our rules, and protecting
such authorizations would have a negative impact on our repacking flexibility.
4.

International Coordination

246.
Section 6403(b)(l) of the Spectrum Act states that, for purposes of making spectrum
available for the forward auction of broadcast television spectrum, the Commission “may, subject to
international coordination along the border with Mexico and Canada,” reassign television channels and
reallocate available portions of spectrum.760 In the NPRM, the Commission acknowledged the need to
coordinate, stating, “[w]e note that modification of the 700 MHz band arrangements [negotiated with
Canada and Mexico during the DTV transition] or the creation of new separate arrangements pertaining to
the 600 MHz spectrum will be necessary to implement 600 MHz operations in areas along the common
border and to protect these 600 MHz operations from cross-border interference.”761
(Continued from previous page)
2013 Ex Parte Letter at 3. UMRA, however, does not apply to independent regulatory agencies such as the
Commission. See 2 U.S.C. § 1502(1) (incorporating terms as defined under 2 U.S.C. § 658); 2 U.S.C. § 658(1)
(providing that the term “agency” has the same meaning as defined in § 551(1) of title 5 of the U.S. Code, “but does
not include independent regulatory agencies”). Because we decline to protect LPTV stations in the repacking
process, we also reject the proposal of the LPTV Coalition that LPTV stations should be able to qualify for primary
status when they are repacked. See LPTV Spectrum Ex Parte Letter at 4–5.
756 Affiliates Associations Comments at 21; WGAL Comments at 2.
757 See Brand X, 545 U.S. at 993 (noting presumption that Congress is aware of “‘settled judicial and administrative
interpretation[s]’” when it enacts a statute) (quoting Commissioner v. Keystone Consol. Indus., Inc., 508 U.S. 152,
159 (1993)); Hernstadt v. FCC, 677 F.2d 893, 903 n.22 (D.C. Cir. 1980) (“Congress is presumed to be cognizant of,
and legislate against the background of, existing interpretations of law.”).
758 Experimental authorizations permit a station to conduct technical experiments directed toward improvement of
operations and service, see 47 C.F.R. Part 5, subpart D, and STAs permit a station to temporarily operate at a
specified variance from the station’s authorization or the rules applicable to the particular class of station. 47 C.F.R.
§ 73.1635; see 47 C.F.R. § 73.1635(a)(4) (providing that an STA may be granted for an initial period not to exceed
180 days and that a “limited number of extensions” may be granted, not to exceed 180 days per extension). That
rule also specifically provides that “[a]n STA may be modified or cancelled by the FCC without prior notice or right
to hearing.” 47 C.F.R. § 73.1635(b).
759 In the Matter of Promoting Expanding Opportunities for Radio Experimentation and Market Trials Under Part 5
of the Commission’s Rules and Streamlining Other Related Rules
, ET Docket Nos. 10-236, 06-155, Report and
Order, 28 FCC Rcd 758, 760, para. 3 (2013).
760 Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(1).
761 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12426-27, para. 197.
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247.
Pursuant to international treaty,762 the United States coordinates all radio spectrum
operations in the border areas with Canada and Mexico. Coordination secures interference protection and
promotes successful operations for all users of spectrum along the borders. Through efforts of the U.S.
Department of State (“State Department”) with technical input from the FCC, several bilateral
arrangements have been negotiated with Canada and Mexico governing the border areas to afford each
country the opportunity to maximize efficient use of spectrum. As explained in the NPRM, “[t]hese
arrangements provide for the establishment of new services, protection of new and existing services from
cross-border interference, and the integration of new services within each country’s domestic spectrum
agenda.”763 For example, the United States was able to complete its DTV transition and reallocate
spectrum from broadcast television to wireless service pursuant to and in accordance with agreed-upon
cross-border arrangements requiring coordination of reassigned television stations operating within
certain distances of the borders.764 Canada has largely completed its DTV transition, again in accordance
with agreed-upon cross-border arrangements. Mexico’s DTV transition is still ongoing, as is coordination
of television station reassignments and reallocations in accordance with agreed-upon cross-border
arrangements.
248.
We stress that this cross-border coordination process is continual. In addition to holding
numerous face-to-face working level bilateral meetings and teleconferences on various spectrum issues
throughout the year, the U.S.-Canada Radio Technical Liaison Committee (“RTLC”) and the U.S.-
Mexico High Level Consultative Committee on Telecommunications (“HLCC”) hold high level meetings
to discuss spectrum coordination issues and set agendas for discussion of future issues. The active
participants in the RTLC meetings are the State Department, FCC, and Industry Canada, and in the HLCC
meetings, the State Department, FCC, Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (“IFT”)765 and Secrétaria
de Comunicaciones y Transportes (“SCT”).766
249.
The FCC has used this ongoing process to keep Canada and Mexico fully informed on
broadcast television spectrum incentive auction coordination issues. Beginning in 2010, Commission
staff discussed with Mexico and Canada the National Broadband Plan and its recommendation to conduct
an incentive auction to make more spectrum available for wireless broadband service.767 In 2011,
Commission staff informed Canada and Mexico of the Commission’s progress in planning for the
incentive auction, including discussion of repacking models for the 600 MHz Band and the status of
pending legislation authorizing the FCC to conduct an incentive auction. The FCC staff further briefed
Canadian and Mexican counterparts at the first meetings following passage of the Spectrum Act,
including providing detailed descriptions of the Commission’s proposed process for conducting the
incentive auction. In numerous meetings and teleconferences since adoption of the NPRM, FCC staff
provided detailed briefings on the NPRM and discussed the 600 MHz Band Plan for the incentive auction,

762 See generally International Telecommunication Union Radio Regulations (rev. World Radio Conference 2012).
763 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12371-72, para. 34.
764 Id. at 12426-27, para. 197. See also 2000 U.S.-Canada DTV Letter of Understanding, 2008 U.S.-Canada DTV
Exchange of Letters, 2005 U.S.-Canada 700 MHz Public Safety Land Mobile Arrangement and 2011 U.S.-Canada
700 MHz Commercial Land Mobile Arrangement (Arrangement 0); 1998 U.S.-Mexico DTV Memorandum of
Understanding, and 2006 U.S.-Mexico 698-806 MHz Protocol for Terrestrial Non-Broadcasting
Radiocommunication Services.
765 Prior to September 2013, when IFT began operation, IFT’s predecessor, the Comisión Federal de
Telecomunicaciones (COFETEL), participated in HLCC meetings.
766 In September 2013, a new entity, the Federal Communications Institute or IFT (Instituto Federal de
Telecomunicaciones), assumed COFETEL's responsibilities, as well as new authorities granted by a major
Constitutional and statutory communications reform initiative. As a result, IFT now participates in the HLCC
process.
767 Federal Communications Commission, Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan at 88-91 (2010).
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interference issues, and coordination issues for resolution. Significantly, Industry Canada recognized 600
MHz spectrum coordination issues in a 2013 spectrum outlook report, stating: “[i]t is expected that the
Canadian usage of the UHF TV band will eventually be harmonized with usage in the United States.
Industry Canada will evaluate the timing and the process that could be used in Canada for the repurposing
of the 600 MHz band, based on the outcome of the incentive auction process in the United States.”768
250.
As planning for the incentive auction progressed, the FCC increased incentive auction-
related coordination. In 2013, it formed technical task groups with both Industry Canada and IFT to
conduct regular meetings to further coordination. The FCC has used these meetings to demonstrate the
mutual benefit to all our countries of harmonized usage of the 600 MHz Band, and to keep our neighbors
informed of our specific plans for usage of the band as a result of the incentive auction. All parties at the
meetings agree on the technical benefits of freeing more spectrum for wireless broadband and
harmonizing use of the 600 MHz Band.
251.
The FCC combined these technical meetings with high level engagements by
Commission leaders to foster greater cooperation. Chairman Genachowski, Commissioner Clyburn (both
as Commissioner and as Acting Chairwoman) and Chairman Wheeler have met with senior officials from
both Canada and Mexico on various occasions regarding coordination of the 600 MHz Band, including
representatives from Industry Canada, the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canadian Radio-
television and Telecommunications Commission, and from Mexico, SCT, the new Mexican regulator
IFT, and its predecessor COFETEL. These engagements continue bilaterally and at meetings of
international organizations where senior level officials of the United States, Canada and Mexico are
present.
252.
These efforts demonstrate that the FCC is moving quickly to coordinate 600 MHz
spectrum usage with Canada and Mexico, as urged by several commenters.769 They also show that the
FCC is fully complying with its obligation to ensure that spectrum reassignments and reallocations taken
by the Commission are coordinated with Canada and Mexico.
253.
NAB asserts in its comments on the NPRM that the Spectrum Act “requires coordination
as a precondition to repacking.”770 In a 24-page document filed on the eve of the Sunshine period771 (thus
preventing in-depth analysis and depriving interested parties of an opportunity for comment), NAB and
other broadcasters claim that, “the FCC must conclude new agreements with Canada and Mexico before
conducting the incentive auction” and that, to repack stations as part of the incentive auction, we must
negotiate a “new, pre-approved table of allotments with Canada and Mexico.”772 We disagree with NAB
that we must complete such coordination before the auction or the repacking process, either as a legal or a
practical matter. As a legal matter, the statutory language does not impose a temporal requirement
regarding coordination; rather, consistent with the ordinary meaning of the phrase “subject to,”773 we

768 Industry Canada, Spectrum Mgmt. and Telecomms., Commercial Mobile Spectrum Outlook 33, (2013) available
at https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/vwapj/Outlook-2013-en.pdf/$FILE/Outlook-2013-en.pdf.
769 See, e.g., Belo Comments at 12-13; Nokia Comments at 21; CEA Comments at 34.
770 NAB Comments at 15.
771 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1203(a), (c).
772 See Letter from Rick Kaplan, Executive Vice President, NAB, et al. to Marlene H. Dorch, Secretary, Federal
Communication Commission in Docket No. 12-268 at 8-9 (May 8, 2014) (May 8, 2014 NAB International Filing) .
See also Affiliates Association Reply at 26-27; Block Stations Reply at 5; Harris Broadcast Reply at 3, 4, 6-7.
773 The Spectrum Act states: “For purposes of making available spectrum to carry out the forward auction . . .the
Commission . . . may, subject to international coordination along the border with Mexico and Canada – . . . (i)
make such reassignments of television channels as the Commission considers appropriate; and (ii) reallocate such
portions of such spectrum as the Commission determines are available for reallocation.” Spectrum Act §
6403(b)(1).
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interpret the statute to mean that any reassignments or reallocations the Commission makes are governed
or affected by coordination.774 Thus, the statute affords the FCC discretion in determining how to
implement the coordination process, including the timing of that process.775 NAB argues to the contrary
in its latest filing because agreements were reached in advance of the DTV transition,776 and Congress
presumably was aware of that precedent when it adopted the Spectrum Act.777 NAB mischaracterizes the
precedent of the DTV transition, and places more weight on it than it will bear. International coordination
is an ongoing process; in the case of the DTV transition, coordination of some TV stations continued past
the DTV transition deadline. Even if Congress could be assumed to share the NAB’s subjective view of
the DTV transition, however, the statutory language hardly can be stretched to require the Commission to
conduct the incentive auction coordination on a schedule similar to the DTV coordination, given that
international coordination by its nature involves negotiation with sovereign nations whose actions the
FCC cannot control.778 For all of these reasons, we agree with CTIA and Verizon that preapproval by
Canada and Mexico of all reassignments and reallocations is not required by the Spectrum Act.779
254.
Further, we disagree with NAB that as a practical matter the Commission must complete
coordination, including assignment of specific channel allotments, in order to carry out the repacking
process. What is required to undertake the repacking process is a mutual understanding with Canada and
Mexico as to how the repacking in the United States will be conducted to protect border stations in all
countries from interference, and how any possible repacking could be conducted in Canada and Mexico
should either of those countries ever determine that they might want to undertake such a process. Based
on the incentive auction coordination discussions to date, the mutual benefit to Canada, Mexico, and the
United States to find more spectrum to meet the burgeoning demand for wireless broadband, and our
shared history of cooperative spectrum coordination, we expect to reach arrangements with Canada and
Mexico that will enable us to carry out the repacking process in a manner that is fully consistent with the
requirements of the statute and our goals for the auction.780
255.
While NAB claims that the Spectrum Act requires the Commission to conduct the
incentive auction coordination the same way it conducted the DTV coordination, it also asserts that the
amount of time required for the DTV coordination will make it impossible for the FCC to do so prior to
the incentive auction and the repacking process.781 Contrary to NAB’s arguments, the incentive auction is
not the DTV transition: unlike the former, the latter involved a time-consuming television station-by-
television station coordination. While NAB is correct that the coordination process can take time, the

774 See Black’s Law Dictionary, 1425 (6th Ed. 1990) (defining “subject to” as meaning “[l]iable, subordinate,
subservient, inferior, obedient to; governed or affected by; provided that; provided; answerable for.”).
775 Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(1).
776 See May 8, 2014 NAB International Filing, Declaration of Bruce Franca at 2, para. 8 (“international coordination
agreements were reached with Canada and Mexico before any significant implementation of DTV by U.S. stations
occurred”).
777 See id. at 6 n.17 and accompanying text.
778 Had it so intended, Congress might have required “all reasonable efforts” to produce such agreements in advance,
as it did with regard to preservation of existing broadcast service. See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2). Yet it did not.
779 CTIA Comments at 32; Verizon Comments at 32.
780 As demonstrated above, the Commission is making every effort to reach to new arrangements with Canada and
Mexico as soon as international sovereignty and the internal processes and spectrum policies of our neighbors allow.
If for any reason we are unable to conclude such arrangements prior to repacking, we will repack U.S. broadcast
stations consistent with existing agreements. Contrary to NAB’s assertions (May 8, 2014 NAB International Filing
at 7), we can do so consistent with the requirements of the Spectrum Act.
781 NAB Comments at 13; May 8, 2014 NAB International Filing at 9; Declaration of Bruce Franca at 7-8, paras. 21-
23.
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FCC, as explained above, has already been engaged with Canada and Mexico on incentive auction
coordination for years.782
256.
As the foregoing discussion clearly demonstrates, NAB’s suggestion that the
Commission is waiting until after the incentive auction and the repacking process to begin coordination,
or that it is “planning to reach agreements with Canada and Mexico only after the auction,”783 is simply
wrong. The Commission is making an all-out effort to reach arrangements. NAB’s further suggestion
that coordination must not be ongoing because broadcasters have not been briefed on it is also wrong.784
The Commission regards the confidentiality of the ongoing government-to-government incentive auction
coordination discussions as critical to their ultimate success.785
257.
The Commission noted in the NPRM that “modified domestic rules might be necessary in
order to comply with any future agreements with Canada and Mexico regarding use of the 600 MHz
Band.” 786 In addition to cross-border spectrum sharing arrangements, the Commission sought comment
in the NPRM on possible changes to FCC rules. While the FCC received comments regarding the
arrangements, discussed above, it received none regarding possible rule changes. We have determined
that minor changes to section 27.57(b) are required to include the spectrum band to be auctioned and to
make the rule applicable to wireless services. Therefore, we adopt these changes and include the revised
rule in Appendix A.

C.

Unlicensed Operations

258.
Below, we address the operation of unlicensed devices in the reorganized UHF band. We
will allow TVWS devices to operate on any unused television channels following the incentive auction.
We also intend to designate, after additional notice and opportunity for public input, one unused channel
in the remaining television band in each area for shared use by wireless microphones and TVWS devices.
In addition to access to these unused channels in the television bands, we designate the 600 MHz Band
guard bands for unlicensed use nationwide and will allow unlicensed use of channel 37 in locations that
are not being used for the RAS or WMTS. Such use will be subject to the completion of a rulemaking
proceeding that we will initiate after the release of this Order to consider changes to our existing Part 15
rules to further facilitate the use of TVWS devices in the remaining television spectrum and flexible
unlicensed use in the 600 MHz Band guard bands and on channel 37 (600 MHz and TVWS Part 15
Proceeding). In order to provide certainty to all potential bidders, and to participants in the unlicensed
device ecosystem, we intend to conclude that rulemaking prior to the incentive auction.

782 NAB also fails to acknowledge that the FCC still has considerable time to continue to coordinate with Canada
and Mexico, with the auction targeted for mid-2015 and, thereafter, a phased transition of spectrum from broadcast
to wireless operations, which will occur in the U.S. over a period lasting up to 39 months after the broadcast station
repacking becomes effective.
783 May 8, 2014 NAB International Filing at 9.
784 May 8 NAB, 2014 International Filing, Declaration of Bruce Franca at 6, para. 17
785 We note, however, that the many meetings and discussions outlined above have addressed, among a number of
key factors, non-operational allotments. See Letter from Rick Kaplan, NAB to Gary Epstein, Mindel De La Torre,
Ruth Milkman, and William Lake, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 2 (filed March 7, 2013) (urging the FCC to
“identify the number of non-operational allotments [with no operating broadcast station] that are currently being
protected by Canada, Mexico and the U.S . . . [and p]ropose to Canada and Mexico using these non-operational
allotments to find new channels . . . to accommodate repacked U.S. stations in the border areas”).
786 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12426-27, para. 197. Section 27.57(b) of the Commission’s rules states that operation in
the 698-763MHz, 775-793, and 805-806 MHz bands is subject to international agreements with Mexico and Canada,
and that, consistent with such agreements, licenses must not cause interference to, and must accept harmful
interference from, television broadcast operations in Mexico and Canada. 47 C.F.R. § 27.57(b).
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1.

Background

259.
The Commission’s Part 15 rules provide for operation of low power radio transmitters on
an unlicensed basis in many different spectrum bands.787 These unlicensed radio transmitting devices
(unlicensed devices) are an important part of this nation’s communications capabilities, serving to
augment the operations of licensed services and to meet the needs of a wide range of wireless
applications. Unlicensed devices operate on a non-interference basis within bands allocated for authorized
services or designated for Industrial, Scientific and Medical (“ISM”) devices. The Part 15 rules specify
the minimal technical requirements necessary to prevent harmful interference to authorized services. This
approach has provided manufacturers and developers with the flexibility to devise a wide variety of
innovative standards and devices, like WiFi and Bluetooth, which are thriving in bands that were formerly
considered to be lacking significant commercial value.
260.
Today in the television bands, the Part 15 rules allow the operation of two general
categories of unlicensed devices, fixed and personal/portable (“TV White Space devices” or “TVWS
devices”).788 Fixed devices may operate at power levels up to four watts equivalent isotropically radiated
power (“EIRP”) and incorporate a geo-location capability and a means to access a database that provides
a list of available television channels at their location.789 They also must contact a database to obtain a
channel list before operating and re-check the database at least once daily.790 Personal/portable devices
may operate at power levels up to 100 milliwatts EIRP and must contact a database to obtain a list of
available channels or operate under the control of another white space device that obtains a list of
available channels from a database.791 Fixed TVWS devices may operate on channels 2-51 (except
channels 3, 4 and 37), while personal/portable devices may operate on channels 21-51 (except channel
37).792
261.
In the NPRM, the Commission sought comment on how best to preserve and expand
unlicensed use of the television bands and repurposed UHF spectrum, including making some spectrum
available for unlicensed operations on a nationwide basis.793 The Commission proposed to continue to
allow the operation of TVWS devices in the remaining broadcast television spectrum on unused television
channels, under the same rules they use for access currently.794 The Commission also sought comment on

787 47 C.F.R. part 15. Under Part 15, unlicensed devices are allowed to operate on frequencies allocated to other
services on the basis that unlicensed devices do not cause harmful interference and have no rights to protection from
interference. Id. § 15.5(b). The rules allow unlicensed operation across most frequency ranges, but specify radiated
field strength and/or conducted power limits, as appropriate, at low levels in order to minimize the potential for
harmful interference.
788 See Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands, ET Docket No. 04-186, Second Report and Order and
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 23 FCC Rcd 16807 (2008) (Unlicensed Operation Second R&O or 2008 White
Spaces Order
). See also 47 C.F.R. §§ 15.703(c) and 15.703(i).
789 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 15.711(b)(1) and 15.711(b)(3)(i). As an alternative to incorporating a geo-location capability,
fixed devices may have their geographic coordinates determined and programmed by a professional installer.
790 See id. § 15.711(b)(3)(i).
791 See id. §§ 15.711(b)(3)(ii) and 15.711(b)(3)(iv)(A).
792 See id. §§ 15.703(i), 15.703(k) and 15.703(m). As of this date, the Commission has approved nine fixed TVWS
devices but no personal/portable devices.
793 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12437, para. 227.
794 Id. at 12439, para. 233. The Spectrum Act provides that nothing in § 6403(b) “shall be construed to . . . prevent
the implementation” of the Commission’s 2008 White Spaces Order “in the spectrum that remains allocated for
broadcast television use after the reorganization required by” § 6403(b). Spectrum Act § 6403(i)(2). See
Unlicensed Operation Second R&O
, 23 FCC Rcd 16807.
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whether it should permit unlicensed operations on the two unused channels in the television bands near
channel 37 (if available) that currently are designated exclusively for wireless microphones.795
262.
In addition, the Commission proposed to make 600 MHz Band guard band spectrum
available for unlicensed device use on a non-interference basis.796 The Commission sought comment on
whether the existing power and emission limits for TVWS devices in the television bands are appropriate
for unlicensed operations in the 600 MHz Band guard band spectrum to protect licensed operations in
adjacent bands, whether the same database process should be used to make such spectrum available for
use by unlicensed devices operating in the guard bands, and whether changes would be required to
accommodate different amounts of guard band spectrum.797 The Commission also sought comment on
making some portion of the duplex gap available for unlicensed operations.798
263.
The Commission further proposed to make channel 37 available for unlicensed use, while
protecting WMTS and the RAS that operate on this channel.799 It sought comment on appropriate
interference protection criteria for WMTS and the RAS. The Commission noted that its rules require that
locations of WMTS operations be registered with the American Society for Healthcare Engineering
(“ASHE”), and that there are relatively few radio astronomy operations, all of which operate at specified
locations. It therefore believed that protection of these services would be feasible by identifying
appropriate protection areas in the TV bands databases.800
2.

Discussion

264.
We are taking a number of actions to make available a significant amount of spectrum for
unlicensed use in the post-auction television bands, the 600 MHz Band guard bands, and on channel 37,
some of it on a nationwide basis.801 In total, we will make between 20 and 34 megahertz of spectrum
newly available for unlicensed use, including for use by unlicensed broadband devices. This new
spectrum for unlicensed use will be in addition to the TV white space channels that will exist after the
incentive auction. These actions will help to create certainty for the unlicensed industry, thereby
promoting greater innovation in new devices and services, including increased access for broadband
services across the country.802
265.
First, we anticipate that there will be at least one channel not assigned to a television
station in all areas of the United States at the end of the repacking process,803 and we intend, after notice
and an opportunity for public input, to designate one such channel in each area for shared use by TVWS
devices and wireless microphones. We will also permit TVWS devices to operate on all other available

795 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12440-12441, para. 238.
796 Id. at 12440, paras. 234-236.
797 Id. at 12440, paras. 235-36.
798 Id. at 12421, para. 178.
799 Id. at 12440, para. 237.
800 Id.
801 In the discussion below, we use the general term “unlicensed operation” with respect to operations in the guard
bands and on channel 37, and the specific term “TVWS device” with respect to operations in the television
broadcast bands.
802 See Id. at 12238, para. 232, 12440, para.234. We note that this spectrum for unlicensed use is in addition to
spectrum that is available nationwide in a number of other bands, including the 915 MHz, 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 5.8
GHz bands. See 47 C.F.R. § 15.247 (rules for the 915, 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands) and subpart E of Part 15 (rules
for the 5 GHz band).
803 For engineering reasons, there may be a few areas with no spectrum available in the television bands for
unlicensed devices and wireless microphones to share.
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channels in those portions of the UHF band that remain allocated and assigned only to broadcast
services.804 We expect that there will still be a substantial amount of spectrum available for use by these
devices in the post-auction television bands, particularly in areas outside of the central urban areas of the
largest DMAs.
266.
Second, we will permit unlicensed devices to operate in the 600 MHz Band guard bands,
as specifically contemplated by section 6407(c) of the Spectrum Act, which will make spectrum available
for unlicensed devices nationwide. Under the band plan we adopt in this Order, between 14 and 28
megahertz of spectrum in the 600 MHz Band guard bands will be available for unlicensed use nationwide,
depending on the amount of spectrum recovered in the auction, including in major markets where today
and post-auction few if any vacant television channels may be available.
267.
Third, we will permit unlicensed operations on channel 37 at locations where it is not in
use by incumbents, subject to the development of the appropriate technical parameters to protect
incumbents from harmful interference.
268.
Finally, we will initiate a rulemaking proceeding to establish Part 15 technical rules that
implement our decisions here, and to revisit our TVWS rules.805 We will allow TVWS devices to
continue to operate in those portions of the UHF band that will be repurposed for the 600 MHz Band until
a 600 MHz Band licensee commences operations.806
a.

Television Bands

269.
We anticipate that there will be at least one channel in the UHF band in all areas that is
not assigned to a television station in the repacking process. As is the case today, these white space
channels will be necessary to avoid interference between primary broadcast stations in the final channel
assignment process. Although we also anticipate that there will be fewer unused television channels in
the repacked television bands,807 we believe that at least one of them should be available for shared use by
wireless microphones and unlicensed devices. We therefore intend, after additional notice and an
opportunity for comment, to designate one television channel in each area for such shared use.808 We
also agree with those commenters who argue that television channels that remain unused by broadcast
television stations after the incentive auction should not be designated exclusively for wireless

804 As discussed in § III.E (Allocations), we are allocating the 600 MHz Band for co- primary broadcasting, fixed,
and mobile services. After the incentive auction, full power and Class A stations will be relocated out of portions of
the 600 MHz Band that will be used for new fixed and mobile services; however, some low power and TV translator
stations may continue operating for some period of time in spectrum that will be assigned to new wireless broadband
services or designated for unlicensed guard band use. See § V.D.3 (Transition Procedures for TVWS and Unlicensed
Device Operations). Ultimately, unlicensed TVWS devices will not be permitted to operate in geographic locations
where spectrum is assigned to new wireless broadband services.
805 Our rules generally condition operation of unlicensed devices on the requirement that they not cause harmful
interference to authorized services. See 47 C.F.R. § 15.5(b). The Spectrum Act likewise conditions unlicensed use
of guard band spectrum on not causing harmful interference to licensed services. Spectrum Act § 6407(e).
806 See § V.D.3 (Transition Procedures for TVWS and Unlicensed Device Operations).
807 Currently, TVWS devices are prohibited from operating on the first unused channel above channel 37 and the
first unused channel below channel 37. See 47 C.F.R. § 15.707(a). Depending on the amount of spectrum recovered
in the incentive auction, there may be no television channels remaining above channel 37 in some or all parts of the
country. Thus, in some areas, particularly urban areas in certain DMAs, the two unused television channels
previously designated (where available) exclusively for wireless microphone use may no longer be available.
808 See Letter from Austin Schlick, Director, Communications Law, Google Inc., to Gary Epstein, Chair of the
Incentive Auction Task Force, Federal Communications Commission, GN Docket No. 12-268 (filed Apr. 21, 2014)
(asking that the FCC preserve up to two vacant channels in each television market that are now being used by
wireless microphones and open such channels to use by unlicensed TVWS devices following the incentive auction).
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microphones, and instead should also be made available for potential use by unlicensed TVWS devices.809
Accordingly, in addition to the channel designated for shared use by wireless microphones and unlicensed
devices as described above, we will make any other television channels unused by broadcast television
stations after the incentive auction available for TVWS device use (to the extent consistent with the
applicable technical rules) as well as wireless microphone use except at those specified times and
locations where wireless microphone users have registered their operations for interference protection in
the TV bands databases.810 In taking this approach, we seek to strike a balance between the interests of all
users of the television bands, including secondary broadcast stations as well as TVWS devices and
wireless microphones, for access to the UHF TV spectrum.
b.

Guard Bands

270.
The 600 MHz Band Plan includes guard bands to prevent harmful interference between
licensed services outside the guard bands. Under the Spectrum Act, these bands may be no larger than
technically reasonable to prevent harmful interference to licensed services.811 Consistent with the
Spectrum Act, the 600 MHz Band Plan we adopt provides for a guard band between television spectrum
and 600 MHz downlinks, a guard band between 600 MHz uplinks and downlinks (a duplex gap), and
guard bands between 600 MHz downlinks and channel 37, to protect licensed services from harmful
interference.812 We will not know until the conclusion of the incentive auction which specific 600 MHz
Band Plan scenario we will employ, including the specific sizes of the guard bands. Depending on the
amount of spectrum recovered in the auction, guard band spectrum will total at least 14 megahertz, and as
much as 28 megahertz.813 As an example, if we clear 84 megahertz of spectrum, there will be a three
megahertz guard band between channel 37 and the 600 MHz Band downlink band, and an 11 megahertz
duplex gap between 600 MHz Band uplink and downlink bands (a total of 14 megahertz).814 If we clear
126 megahertz of spectrum, there will be two three megahertz guard bands adjacent to channel 37, an 11
megahertz duplex gap, and a nine megahertz guard band between the 600 MHz Band downlink band and
television licensees (a total of 26 megahertz).
271.
Permitting unlicensed operations in the 600 MHz Band guard bands will make additional
spectrum available for unlicensed devices nationwide. The record provides significant support for this
action.815 Unlicensed devices complement licensed services and serve a wide range of consumer needs.

809 See, e.g., Broadcom, CSR, and Marvell Comments at 1; IEEE 802 Comments at 3-4; Google and Microsoft
Comments at 51; Motorola Comments at 14-15, 51; Neul Comments at 6-7; PISC Comments at 41; WSA
Comments at 34; WISPA Comments at 17-19; Google Reply at 11-13; IEEE Reply at 2-4; PISC Reply at 16-19;
Wi-Fi Alliance Reply at 2. See also para. 309.
810 See § III.D.3 (LPAS and Unlicensed Wireless Microphones). As discussed in § V.D.4 (Transition Procedures for
LPAS and Unlicensed Wireless Microphones), however, we will continue to prohibit TVWS devices from operating
on the two channels currently designated for wireless microphones until the Commission’s rules to improve the TV
bands databases to provide for more immediate protection of registered wireless microphone operations becomes
effective. Licensed wireless microphone users may register their operating information in the TV bands databases at
any time. See 47 C.F.R. § 15.713(h)(8). Entities operating large numbers of wireless microphones on an unlicensed
basis must comply with channel use requirements and must obtain Commission approval before they can register in
the TV bands databases. See 47 C.F.R. § 15.713(h)(9).
811 Spectrum Act § 6407(b). This issue is discussed in detail in § III.A.2.e (Guard Bands).
812 See § III.A.2.e (Guard Bands).
813 The smallest amount of guard band spectrum (14 megahertz) results if 84 megahertz of spectrum is repurposed,
while the largest amount of guard band spectrum (28 megahertz) results if 108 megahertz or 138 megahertz of
spectrum is repurposed.
814 Under this scenario, channel 37 functions as a guard band between 600 MHz downlink and television spectrum.
815 See, e.g., Google/Microsoft Comments at 32; Motorola Mobility Comments at 14; WGAW Comments at 8. See
also
Spectrum Act § 6407(c). Section 6407(c) was a compromise intended by the conferees to “create a nationwide
(continued….)
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They contribute tens of billions of dollars to our economy annually, not only through the sales of
unlicensed products themselves, but also through collateral commercial activities that they facilitate.
Making spectrum available for unlicensed devices will result in economic and consumer benefits,
including greater broadband innovation and increased access for broadband services.816 Additionally,
unlicensed spectrum poses low barriers to entry, allowing any party to operate unlicensed devices or
provide wireless broadband services.817 Finally, spectrum in the 600 MHz frequency range has excellent
propagation characteristics that allow signals to reach farther and penetrate walls and other structures,
thus making it well suited for a variety of unlicensed applications.818 Commenters have suggested that an
11 megahertz guard band, which we are adopting for the duplex gap (and the lower guard band under at
least one clearing scenario), would be usable for broadband unlicensed devices.819
272.
Qualcomm claims that allowing unlicensed operation in the guard bands or duplex gap at
the levels permitted under the TVWS rules (e.g., power limits, antenna height) would cause harmful
interference to licensed mobile LTE operations.820 Qualcomm’s analyses purport to demonstrate that
unlicensed and wireless operations would have to be separated by as much as 8.5 megahertz to avoid
harmful interference.821 Broadcom, on the other hand, argues that the assumptions in Qualcomm’s
analyses are unrealistic and that low power unlicensed devices can operate without causing harmful
interference to wireless LTE operations.822 We note that there are significant differences in the
assumptions underlying the Qualcomm and Broadcom analyses relative to factors such as the assumed
characteristics of the filters in the wireless broadband devices, propagation loss, and body loss. In
addition, the current rules for white space devices provide for different power levels under different
conditions and certain of Qualcomm’s analyses assumed that devices might operate in this spectrum at the
highest permissible power level of 4 Watts effective isotropic power level. We disagree with TIA that all
operation in the 600 MHz Band guard bands should be licensed to reduce the potential for harmful
interference.823 We note that licensed wireless service providers do not oppose unlicensed use of the
guard band spectrum provided that unlicensed devices do not interfere with and accept interference from
licensed wireless broadband operations.824
(Continued from previous page)
band of spectrum that can be used for innovative unlicensed applications.” 158 Cong. Rec. H915 (daily ed. Feb. 17,
2012) (remarks of Rep. Waxman).
816 Motorola Mobility Comments at 15-16.
817 Google/Microsoft Comments at 3.
818 Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands; Additional Spectrum for Unlicensed Devices Below 900 MHz
and in the 3 GHz Band
, ET Docket Nos. 04-186 and 02-380, Second Memorandum Opinion and Order¸ 25 FCC Rcd
at 18662, para. 1 (2010).
819 Broadcom Apr. 23, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at 2 (Wi-Fi devices can transmit at 40 milliwatts with a four megahertz
gap from LTE downlinks without causing harmful interference to licensed operations);
WISPA/CompTIA/CCIA/Free Press/Google/Public Knowledge/Microsoft/Broadcom Apr. 22, 2014 Ex Parte Letter
at 1; PISC/NAF/Public Knowledge/Free Press Apr. 21, 2014 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
820 See Qualcomm Ex Parte at 1 (filed May 8, 2014) (interference analyses for both fixed and personal portable
TVWS devices rely on various assumptions, such as the appropriate propagation model, signal path losses, receiver
filter characteristics and other technical characteristics). See also Qualcomm Ex Parte (filed April 3, 2014);
Qualcomm Ex Parte (filed Feb. 19, 2014).
821 Id. at 19.
822 See Broadcom Ex Parte at 4 (filed April 23, 2014).
823 TIA Comments at 10-13.
824 AT&T Reply at 35-36 (not opposing unlicensed use of the guard band spectrum provided that it does not
interfere with licensed wireless broadband operations and accepts interference from such operations); CTIA Reply at
25-26 (same); Verizon Reply at 8-9 (same).
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273.
While our Part 15 rules for unlicensed use provide an appropriate and reliable framework
for permitting low power uses on an unlicensed basis, 825 a further record is necessary to establish the
technical standards to govern such use. The appropriate assumptions for the technical analyses will be
considered in the forthcoming 600 MHz and TVWS Part 15 proceeding. 826 Consistent with the Spectrum
Act,827 unlicensed use of the guard bands will be subject to the Commission’s ultimate determination that
such use will not cause harmful interference to licensed services. At this juncture, we are confident that
unlicensed devices can operate in the duplex gap under existing TVWS rules without causing such
interference. We note, for example, that unlicensed devices are permitted to operate throughout the entire
10 megahertz duplex gap at 1920 – 1930 MHz for the personal communications service. 828 We
tentatively conclude that devices operating at a level of 40 mW and having a bandwidth of six megahertz
will be viable in this spectrum. We intend to adopt technical rules governing unlicensed use of the 600
MHz Band guard bands in the 600 MHz and TVWS Part 15 Proceeding prior to the incentive auction to
address concerns about the potential impact on auction bids.829
c.

Channel 37

274.
We also will permit unlicensed operations in channel 37, subject to the development of
the appropriate technical parameters for such operations as part of our 600 MHz and TVWS Part 15
Proceeding in order to protect the WMTS and RAS from harmful interference. Unlicensed operations on
channel 37 will be authorized in locations that are sufficiently removed from WMTS users and RAS sites
to protect those incumbent users from harmful interference.
275.
We recognize the importance of WMTS to patient care,830 and will remain mindful of this
critical function when developing these technical parameters. We also recognize the concerns of WMTS
equipment manufacturers and users about the potential for unlicensed operations on channel 37 to cause
harmful interference to the WMTS. Parties disagree on the appropriate interference analysis methodology
(e.g., I/N ratio and signal attenuation factors) as well as the ability of the TV bands databases to provide
adequate protection to the WMTS.831 We will consider these issues as part of our 600 MHz and TVWS
Part 15 Proceeding, with the objective of developing reliable technical requirements that will permit
unlicensed operations, while protecting the WMTS and RAS from harmful interference.832

825 We interpret section 6407(c) of the Spectrum Act as consistent with that view. Section 6407(c) grants the
Commission the discretion to permit “the use” of the 600 MHz Band guard bands “for unlicensed use.”
826 Spectrum Act § 6407(e).
827 See id.
828 For example, the Broadband Personal Communications Services (PCS) uplink and downlink bands are separated
by a ten megahertz duplex gap that is used by Unlicensed PCS devices, primarily cordless telephones. See 47
C.F.R. Part 15, subpart D (Unlicensed Personal Communications Service Devices).
829 See Sony Comments at 6; Qualcomm Comments at 23; TIA Comments at 11.
830 See para. 281.
831 GEHC Comments at 32-34, Reply at 4; Philips Healthcare Comments at 4; WMTS Coalition Reply at 12-13.
Broadcom disputes certain aspects of GEHC’s interference analysis and argues that GEHC understates the sharing
opportunities between the WMTS and unlicensed devices. Letter from Jennifer K. Bush, Associate General
Counsel, Broadcom Corp., to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 2-3 (filed Jan. 17,
2014) (Broadcom Jan. 17, 2014 Ex Parte Letter).
832 We intend to address in the future proceeding whether the concerns that WMTS location information in the
ASHE database may be imprecise or missing can be addressed by establishing conservative separation distances
from unlicensed devices and by reminding hospitals and other medical facilities of their obligation under the rules to
register and maintain current information in the database and notify the database administrator when any
information changes. See 47 C.F.R. § 95.1111(a) and (b). We also note that WMTS use at a medical campus such
as a hospital complex could be protected in the TV bands databases using a capability similar to the databases’
(continued….)
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276.
Subject to the adoption of appropriate technical rules, authorizing the use of channel 37
for unlicensed operations will make additional spectrum available for unlicensed devices on a nationwide
basis, thereby advancing our goal of promoting innovation in new unlicensed devices. This will make an
additional six megahertz of spectrum available for unlicensed devices in areas of the country that are not
in close proximity to hospitals or other medical facilities that use WMTS equipment, or to RAS sites. It is
appropriate to revisit the Commission’s previous decision to prohibit unlicensed operation on channel
37.833 The repurposing of spectrum for wireless services will reduce the number of channels available for
TVWS use, and channel 37 could provide additional spectrum for such use in those areas where it is not
used for the WMTS and RAS. Channel 37 spectrum could be combined with guard bands on one or both
sides of channel 37, if the amount of recovered spectrum requires the use of such guard bands, to provide
a larger band for unlicensed use.834 Also, since the time the Commission made its decision to prohibit
unlicensed use of channel 37, we have designated multiple TV bands database administrators, have had
extensive experience working with their databases, and have a high degree of confidence that they can
reliably protect fixed operations. The fixed locations where the WMTS is used are already registered in
the ASHE database, and these data could be added to the TV bands databases. WMTS operations could
then be protected by establishing minimum distance separations as is done to protect other fixed
operations, such as TV stations, wireless microphones and receive sites. The TV bands databases should
be capable of handling the large number of registered WMTS sites easily, and these data can be updated
on a frequent basis to ensure that new and changed WMTS registrations are quickly reflected in the TV
bands databases.
277.
As noted above, the Commission has extensive experience permitting unlicensed device
operation, while protecting authorized incumbent services from harmful interference. In particular, we
anticipate that we can provide reliable protection of the WMTS through the use of a database system like
the TV bands databases.835 If spectrum adjacent to channel 37 continues to be allocated for and used by
broadcast television services, this approach would also benefit TVWS equipment manufacturers and users
by allowing us to consider modification of the out-of-band emission limits on channels 36 through 38
that were designed to protect the WMTS.836 TVWS equipment manufacturers have had to avoid operation
(Continued from previous page)
current feature that restricts channel availability at the minimum distance from the boundary of an area (as defined
by four geographic points) in which low power auxiliary devices (wireless microphones) are used.
833 See Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands; Additional Spectrum for Unlicensed Devices Below 900
MHz and in the 3 GHz Band
, ET Docket Nos. 04-186 and 02-380, Second Report and Order and Memorandum
Opinion and Order¸ 23 FCC Rcd at 16186, para. 155 (2008).
834 Depending on the amount of spectrum recovered, a single guard band may be required above channel 37, or
guard bands may be required above and below channel 37.
835 For example, the database would contain the locations of WMTS installations that require protection, and
unlicensed device operators could access the database to determine whether channel 37 is available for their use at a
given location. The database would protect the WMTS by prohibiting operation of unlicensed devices on channel
37 within a specific distance that would be determined in a further rulemaking proceeding. Because WMTS
installations are registered in a private database supported by ASHE, the designated WMTS coordinator, see 47
C.F.R. § 95.1111(a), we will need to explore the issues regarding importing information from the current ASHE
database for use with the TV bands databases and whether any additional information needs to be collected.
836 See 47 C.F.R. § 15.709(c)(4). These limits were established based on the assumption that TVWS devices could
be used in close proximity with WMTS equipment operating on adjacent channels. They are significantly tighter
than the adjacent channel emission limits that apply on other channels and are difficult for manufacturers to meet.
Compliance with these limits can preclude white space operation on channels 35 and 39 due to the sharp filtering
required to meet the limit on channel 37. However, if the locations of WMTS operations are placed in a database,
we can protect these operations by ensuring that adjacent channel TVWS devices are at least a specified minimum
distance from their locations. This would eliminate the need for special, tighter emission limits to protect the
WMTS since the required minimum separation distance between white space devices and adjacent channel WMTS
equipment would offset higher out-of-band emission limits.
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on channels 35 and 39 to comply with the limits. However, if we modify these emission limits as part of
the 600 MHz and TVWS Part 15 Proceeding, TVWS devices may be able to operate on these channels.
278.
With regard to the RAS, there are a limited number of sites to protect, and their locations
could be included in a database in the same manner as the sites of other protected services, such as the
Offshore Radiotelephone Service, the Private Land Mobile Radio Service and Commercial Mobile Radio
Service (“PLMRS/CMRS”), and certain other receive-only sites.837 We intend to explore in the 600 MHz
and TVWS Part 15 Proceeding whether it would be appropriate to adopt rules to prohibit operation of
unlicensed devices within a certain distance from the sites and require unlicensed device operators to
access the database to determine whether channel 37 is available for their use at a given location. In
addition, we intend to seek comment on whether to adopt any other technical requirements necessary to
protect the RAS, such as power and antenna height limits.

D.

Other Services

1.

Channel 37 Services

279.
We decline to relocate WMTS stations or RAS observatories from channel 37. We
conclude that we cannot relocate these services in accordance with the provisions of the Spectrum Act.
Our 600 MHz Band Plan includes three megahertz guard bands between channel 37 and any adjacent
wireless broadband services. We will establish coordination zones around existing RAS facilities so that
any such wireless broadband services can be deployed to cover the broadest area possible with minimal
impact to RAS observatories.838
a.

Background

280.
Channel 37 (608-614 MHz) is allocated for both RAS and Land Mobile Service (the
latter being limited to WMTS).839 RAS is a receive-only service that uses highly sensitive receivers to
examine and study radio waves of cosmic origin. There are twelve RAS telescopes that have been using
channel 37 or plan to use channel 37 in the near future.840 Of these, ten comprise the National Radio
Astronomy Observatory’s (“NRAO’s”) Very Long Baseline Array (“VLBA”), which are distributed in
several locations in the United States and its territories, and collect simultaneous observations that are
combined to emulate a single telescope 5000 miles in diameter.841 The remaining two telescopes are
characterized as single dish instruments.842 The Commission protects RAS from in-band harmful
interference by imposing field strength limits on WMTS and requiring coordination of WMTS use within

837 See 47 C.F.R. § 15.712(d), (e) and (h).
838 As discussed in § III.C.2.c (Channel 37), we are not making channel 37 available for any new licensed uses, but
we will expand unlicensed use by allowing unlicensed devices to operate in channel 37 subject to our determination
in a future proceeding that we can impose technical parameters to prevent harmful interference to WMTS and RAS
services.
839 47 C.F.R. § 2.106.
840 Letter from Karl B. Nebbia, Associate Administrator to Julius Knapp, Chief, Office of Engineering and
Technology, GN Docket No. 12-268, App. A at 2 (filed May 6, 2014) (accompanying National Science Foundation
Comments) (hereinafter “NSF Comments”).
841 These stations operate together as a large interferometer. Detailed information on the VLBA is available at:
http://www.vlba.nrao.edu/astro/obstatus/current/node5.html. The VLBA telescopes are located in Mauna Kea,
Hawaii, Owens Valley, California, Brewster, Washington, Kitt Peak, Arizona, Pie Town, New Mexico, Fort Davis,
Texas, Los Alamos, New Mexico, North Liberty, Iowa, Hancock, New Hampshire, St. Croix, Virgin Islands.
842 Two large radio telescopes operate at Green Bank WV and Arecibo, PR. In addition, we note that the NPRM
considered thirteen observatories operating in channel 37 by including the Allen Telescope Array in Hat Creek, CA.
However, this facility cannot operate below 900 MHz and will therefore not be considered further for protection in
this band. NRAO Comments at 2.
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certain distances of RAS observatories.843 In addition, TVWS devices are prohibited from operating on
channel 37 and on any other channel within 2.4 kilometers of protected radio observatories.844
281.
WMTS is used for remote monitoring of patients’ vital signs and other important health
parameters (e.g., pulse and respiration rates) inside medical facilities. In addition, WMTS includes
devices that transport the data via a radio link to a remote location, such as a nurses’ station, which is
equipped with a specialized radio receiver. WMTS operates licensed stations on three bands, including
608-614 MHz (channel 37) in the UHF band. Health care institutions are required to register their
locations and coordinate the use of all three bands through the ASHE, the designated frequency
coordinator,845 prior to commencing operation.846 This process minimizes the potential of WMTS users
from causing interference to, and receiving interference from other WMTS devices.
282.
In the NPRM, the Commission invited comment on whether to relocate RAS, and if
relocated, whether the replacement spectrum should be a subset of the 500-700 MHz range for RAS’
continuum observations or in a different band.847 The NPRM also requested comments on the cost of
relocating RAS from channel 37 to another channel in the 500-700 MHz range, and whether it would be
more desirable to relocate RAS to either channel 32 or the low (channels 2-6) or high (channels 7-13)
VHF band.848 In response to the Commission’s request that commenters identify all current and planned
RAS observation sites within the United States,849 the National Science Foundation (“NSF”) provided a
list of thirteen sites where “radio astronomy observations are conducted, have been conducted or are
planned to be conducted.”850 Nickolaus Leggett states that in addition to these listed sites, there are
amateur radio astronomy operations within the United States in educational environments such as high
schools, junior colleges, colleges, and universities.851 However, Leggett does not provide any data
regarding actual number of facilities, their locations, or specific capabilities.
283.
The Commission also sought comment on whether or not to relocate WMTS users from
channel 37 to a nearby television channel or to other spectrum, whether such relocation, if necessary,
could be accomplished by retuning existing equipment or if new equipment would be required, and what
the estimated relocation costs would be.852 The NPRM also requested comments on the timeframe and
process for the possible relocation of WMTS, including the appropriate standard for relocation.853

843 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12428, para. 203 (citing 47 C.F.R. §§ 95.1115(a)(1), 95.1119, 95.1107). 47 C.F.R.§
95.1119 (WMTS devices are prohibited from operating within 80 kilometers distance from the three single-dish sites
and 32 kilometers from the ten VLBA sites. The rule also provides coordination requirements).
844 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12428, para. 203.
845 See Amendment of Parts 2 and 95 of the Commission's Rules to Create a Wireless Medical Telemetry Service, ET
Docket 99-255, Order, 16 FCC Rcd 4543 (2001) (WMTS R&O).
846 See WMTS R&O and Order, 16 FCC Rcd 4543 (2001).
847 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12429, para. 206.
848 Id. at para. 207.
849 Id. at 12428-29, para. 204.
850 NSF Comments at 2. Both CORF and NRAO commented that observations are made on channel 37 spectrum at
the ten VLBA sites and Green Bank, but neither stated that such observations are made at Arecibo. See CORF
Comments at 5-6; see also NRAO Comments at 1. NRAO further notes that other sites, such as Arecibo, have
observed on channel 37 in the past and are capable of doing so in the future; and that the Allen Telescope is not
capable of performing below 900 MHz. NRAO Comments at 2.
851 Leggett Comments at 3.
852 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12431, paras. 211–12.
853 Id. at para. 213.
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b.

Discussion

(i)

Statutory Limit on Relocation Costs

284.
We conclude that the Spectrum Act limits our authority to relocate incumbent RAS and
WMTS users from channel 37 because the total costs of relocating all such users would exceed $300
million. The Spectrum Act directs the FCC to “evaluate the broadcast television spectrum” and to “make
such reassignments of television channels as the Commission considers appropriate.”854 The Spectrum
Act also provides the Commission with authority to “implement and enforce” this provision of that Act
“as if . . . a part of the Communications Act.”855 However, section 6403(b)(4) of the Spectrum Act, which
is entitled “[p]ayment of relocation costs,” restricts that discretion in certain respects. Section
6403(b)(4)(A)(iii) requires the Commission to reimburse, from the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund,856
the costs reasonably incurred by “a channel 37 incumbent user, in order to relocate to other suitable
spectrum,” provided that “all such users can be relocated,” and that “the total relocation costs of such
users do not exceed $300,000,000.”857 We interpret “such users” to refer to all channel 37 users; that is,
all RAS and WMTS incumbents.858 We thus conclude that section 6403(b)(4) prohibits the Commission
from relocating any channel 37 incumbent user, unless the Commission can move all of the channel 37
incumbents (i.e., all of the RAS and WMTS incumbents) to suitable spectrum for $300 million or less.
285.
Examination of the record reflects that the cost of relocating all of the RAS and WMTS
incumbents from channel 37 would far exceed $300 million. NSF estimates that relocation costs for RAS
would likely not exceed $1 million per site to design, build, and implement new receivers and feed
horns859 or no more than $13 million total.860 However, commenters, including potential wireless service
providers and WMTS equipment manufacturers, agree that the relocation of all WMTS operations on
channel 37 would be well in excess of $300 million.861
286.
WMTS infrastructure is expensive, complex and integrated into the physical building of a
medical facility.862 Since 2000, when channel 37 was allocated for land mobile use and limited to the
WMTS, the healthcare industry has invested heavily in developing and deploying WMTS systems in that
band.863 Most WMTS devices manufactured since that time have been designed to operate only on
channel 37 to take advantage of specific filter designs that mitigate against potential adjacent channel

854 Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(1)(A). We note that, although “reserved exclusively” for RAS and WMTS, channel 37
is one of the “television channels” identified in the Commission’s rules. 47 C.F.R. § 73.603(a), (c). We also note
that the Spectrum Act provides the Commission with authority to “implement and enforce” its provisions, including
§ 6403(b)(1)(A), as if they were part of the Communications Act. Spectrum Act § 6003(a).
855 Spectrum Act § 6003(a).
856 See id. § 6403(d).
857 Id. § 6403(b)(4)(A)(iii).
858 Id.
859 A feed horn is a satellite dish component that distributes the signal from the dish to the receiver.
860 NSF Comments at 8-9. NSF states that estimated relocation costs would likely not exceed this amount regardless
of whether sites were required to move in-band within the UHF TV spectrum or to a completely new band such as
the VHF-TV spectrum.
861 See AT&T Comments at 39, GEHC Reply at 4, WMTS Coalition Comments at 16, Letter from Lawrence J.
Movshin, Counsel, WMTS Coalition, to Marlene H. Dotch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 (filed Jan. 15,
2014) (WMTS Coalition Jan. 15, 2014 Ex Parte)..
862 GEHC Comments at 7.
863 Id. at 6.
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interference from UHF digital TV stations.864 As of January 13, 2014, there were more than 121,000
registered WMTS devices in use at more than 2,300 locations.865
287.
Furthermore, most WMTS devices that operate on channel 37 are designed to operate
only within that spectrum and cannot simply be retuned. Thus, relocation to different spectrum would
require redesign and replacement of the equipment.866 The record reflects that the replacement costs of
WMTS devices, on average, are between $6,000 and $10,000 each.867 The WMTS Coalition states that a
conservative estimate of relocation costs, without factoring in additional costs such as for engineering and
installation, would be almost $2 billion.868 The consensus among commenters is that WMTS operations
would be too costly to relocate: no commenter has provided any estimate that places costs within the
$300,000,000 statutory limit.869 Considering the number of registered devices and the average cost
estimates provided for equipment replacement alone, the cost of WMTS relocation could easily approach
one billion dollars or more.870 We therefore conclude that WMTS cannot be relocated within the
constraints specified in the statute. Because the statute requires that both RAS and WMTS be relocated
from channel 37, and because the estimated costs of relocating WMTS far exceeds the statutory limit, we
conclude that none of the channel 37 incumbents will be relocated and both WMTS and RAS will
continue to operate on channel 37 following the incentive auction.
(ii)

Interference Protections for Incumbent Services

288.
The introduction of wireless broadband operations on adjacent channels could be
problematic for RAS and WMTS on channel 37 unless appropriate mitigation measures are taken.871 Both
GEHC and Philips Healthcare, two of the largest manufacturers of WMTS devices, argue that more
stringent OOBE limits on new commercial wireless systems are necessary to ensure safe operation of

864 WMTS Coalition Comments at 14.
865 WMTS Coalition Jan. 15, 2014 Ex Parte.
866 See GEHC Reply at 8-9. Replacement includes devices, antenna, cabling, and access points. See also Philips
Comments at 2.
867 See GEHC Reply at 8-9. The cost of a specific deployment would be based on the size and layout of the health
care institution, the amount of infrastructure needed (e.g., antennas, cabling, etc.), as well as monitoring stations.
Our understanding is that the estimated cost is an average per device for the entire system; see also Letter from Dale
Woodin, Executive Director, ASHE to Ira Keltz, Office of Engineering and Technology (May 20, 2013). (ASHE
estimates that WMTS devices cost in the range of $5,000 - $10,000 on a system-wide basis resulting in an estimated
investment in this band in the range of $0.7-$1.4 billion); see also WMTS Coalition Jan. 15, 2014 Ex Parte, Att. at 6
(claiming that there are a significant number of devices that have not been registered and estimating costs for a
replacement system to average almost $9,500 per transmitter, the WMTS Coalition claims that the total replacement
cost could exceed $2 billion for an estimated 212,000 installed transmitters).
868 GEHC Comments at 8. GEHC estimates the WMTS investment in channel 37 operations at between $0.7 and
$1.2 billion, exclusive of installation, testing, and training costs and increases in operating and maintenance
expenses that would be associated with the replacement of current equipment. GEHC states that this estimate does
not include administrative, engineering, or installation costs which would cause the total cost of relocation to
increase above this amount.
869 WMTS Coalition Comments at 13. Accord AT&T Comments at 39 (stating that it is “AT&T’s current
understanding is that it would likely be cost prohibitive to relocate wireless medical telemetry devices from Channel
37”).
870 Taking into account that there are a number of devices not registered, as well as additional labor and transactional
costs associated with relocation, it is more likely that costs would exceed one billion dollars.
871See, e.g., CTIA Reply at 31-32; see also NAS-CORF Comments at 6 (WMTS and RAS “both need strong
protection from interference ”); see also NRAO Comments at 6 (“conditions will change drastically after the UHF
rebanding plan is implemented as adjacent spectrum is repurposed and/or re-packed”).
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WMTS devices.872 In addition, the WMTS Coalition argues that a guard band between wireless systems
and channel 37 is needed to protect WMTS from adjacent channel interference.873 As the NRAO notes
“the worst possible outcome . . . would be to create or preserve an allocation to RAS that is rendered
unusable by RAS because it is not adequately supported.”874
289.
To address these concerns, we adopt certain interference protection measures. Under the
600 MHz Band Plan we adopt,875 operations adjacent to channel 37 will remain as television or be limited
to wireless downlink, or both, depending on the incentive auction outcome. Limiting new wireless
operations to downlink adjacent to channel 37 eliminates the possibility of mobile devices, which can
operate anywhere, transmitting on nearby frequencies in close proximity to RAS and WMTS installations.
This in turn reduces the potential of interference from mobile devices to the incumbent services.
290.
The 600 MHz Band Plan also incorporates guard bands to prevent harmful interference
between 600 MHz broadband wireless service and the licensed services on channel 37.876 Our decision to
incorporate guard bands into the 600 MHz Band Plan is discussed in detail above.877 The three megahertz
guard band in our Band Plan between WMTS on channel 37 and 600 MHz operations is supported by
examination of the record. Wireless broadband base stations operate at higher power than mobile devices
and pose a harmful interference risk if operated adjacent to channel 37 in locations near WMTS sites.878
A three megahertz guard band on either side of channel 37 is technically reasonable to provide protection
from OOBE and overload interference to WMTS from adjacent wireless broadband services.879 This
guard band will ensure that OOBE from nearby wireless base stations do not significantly raise the noise
floor in channel 37, which otherwise could impact a receiver’s ability to reliably detect and demodulate
desired signals. In addition, this guard band will prevent harmful interference caused by overload in the
adjacent channels. Such interference could force active components in WMTS receivers into
compression resulting in desensitization. The analysis in the attached Technical Appendix corroborates
our conclusion.880
291.
If the auction clears less than 84 megahertz of spectrum, the spectral environment around
channel 37 will remain the same, with channels 36 and 38 available for television operations. Consistent
with current rules, which do not provide any specific protections for channel 37 incumbents beyond the
DTV OOBE limits, we will not implement guard bands between channel 37 and adjacent television

872 Philips Healthcare Comments at 5; GEHC Comments at 24.
873 WMTS Coalition Jan. 15, 2014 Ex Parte.
874 NRAO Comments at 6.
875 See § III.A.2 (600 MHz Band Plan).
876 If 84 megahertz is repurposed, adjacent wireless broadband services will be placed above channel 37, requiring
only a single guard band between channel 37 and the wireless broadband services. If the auction clears more than
84 megahertz, two guard bands will be necessary, one above and one below channel 37.
877 See § III.A.2.e (Guard Bands).
878 See generally GEHC Comments at19. See also GEHC Reply at 30-31. Philips Healthcare also provided
interference threshold numbers that are not as conservative as those provided by GEHC. See Philips Healthcare
Comments at 5.
879 In light of this conclusion, our decision to establish three megahertz guard bands satisfies the requirements of §
6407(b) of the Spectrum Act.
880 See Technical Appendix § II.E.2 (Potential for Interference between 600 MHz Downlink and WMTS). This
analysis is based on the receive filter characteristics and the protection criteria used in an interference analysis
provided by GEHC. GEHC Comments at 46-51. We note that some commenters supported a band plan scenario
which provided a four megahertz guard band between WMTS and wireless broadband services. See GEHC Reply at
25. However, the support was based on spectrum recovery scenarios that we do not adopt in this Order. Further, no
technical information was provided in support of a four megahertz guard band.
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operations in that case. The WMTS community argues that an increased number of television stations
could be assigned to channels 36 and 38 in the repacking process,881 and that WMTS operations located
near a DTV transmitting antenna will experience a reduction in useable spectrum of more than 20 percent,
effectively reducing system capacity for WMTS operations.882 The need to relocate stations to channels
36 or 38 will depend on the results of the auction. If stations are relocated to these channels, the extent of
any potential interference to WMTS will depend in large part on the locations of the stations. Under
certain scenarios channels 36 or 38 would not be used at all for television service. Some stations
currently operating on channels 36 or 38 may choose to participate in the auction or be reassigned to other
channels in the repacking process, making channel 37 more usable for WMTS in some locations. While
we are sensitive to the desire to minimize any detrimental impact on WMTS, under the current
circumstances, WMTS will not receive enhanced protection if additional stations are added to channels 36
or 38 as a result of the repacking process.
292.
RAS poses different interference concerns than WMTS. Our current rules do not specify
protection levels for radio astronomy sites.883 The RAS has been able to function successfully on channel
37 due to the relatively stable spectral environment associated with television operations on adjacent
channels and the flexibility the Commission has had in locating television stations far away (both
geographically and spectrally) from RAS locations. Because of the extreme sensitivity of the RAS
receivers, wireless operations near channel 37 could cause harmful interference following the auction.884
However, a collateral benefit of our decision to establish guard bands to prevent harmful interference to
WMTS from adjacent wireless operations also provides protection to RAS. In other words, because the
guard bands for WMTS provide frequency separation from wireless services, the physical separation
necessary for wireless services to protect RAS from harmful interference decreases significantly.
293.
Recognizing the value of providing as much flexibility as possible to new 600 MHz Band
licensees, we are not adopting any specific constraints on wireless fixed and base station locations
operating in the 600 MHz downlink band, but instead will require any new 600 MHz licensee to
coordinate with NSF prior to commencing operations at permanent fixed locations near RAS
observatories.885 Requiring coordination will provide the necessary certainty to RAS observatories that
their sites will be protected. Specifically, we will require such coordination for stations within 25
kilometers of a VLBA installation.886 Staff analysis to support these separation distances is detailed in the

881 GEHC Reply at 26.
882 See WMTS Coalition Comments at 26-27; GEHC Comments at 7; GEHC Reply at 27; Philips Healthcare
Comments at 4.
883 See 47 C.F.R. § 2.106 FN US74 which states, “the radio astronomy service shall be protected from unwanted
emissions only to the extent that such radiation exceeds the level which would be present if the offending station
were operating in compliance with the technical standards or criteria applicable to the service in which it operates.”
884 See, e.g., Motorola Mobility Comments at 12 (“these services will find the operating environment far more
severe as they become sandwiched between advanced mobile networks and high-powered broadcast facilities”).
The emissions mask for commercial wireless systems would allow OOBE into channel 37 of -13dBm per 100 kHz,
regardless of power level; over 100 dBm higher than the level of protection recommended in ITU recommendation
RA.769 (“Protecting Criteria used for radio astronomical measurements”). See 47 C.F.R. §27.53(g).
885 We note that radio astronomy observations in channel 37 are conducted using two types of installations – single
dish and Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) – each of which have different protection requirements. VLBA
observations are less susceptible to interference than single dish observations because interfering signals do not
correlate across the multiple receivers that comprise the array. Also, we note that we are not limiting the notification
to a subset of the UHF band due to the extreme sensitivity of RAS receivers. Similarly, our rules for TV white
space devices prevent them from operating on any available TV channel within 2.4 kilometers of an RAS site (47
C.F.R. § 15.712(h)).
886 Our decision here is consistent with other Commission actions regarding coordination for sites near RAS
observatories. See, e.g., Amendment of Parts 2 and 25 of the Commission’s Rules to Allocate Spectrum and Adopt
(continued….)
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attached Technical Appendix.887 Because the RAS observatories are generally located in remote
locations, we do not expect dense wireless deployment near those sites. Thus, this requirement does not
present a significant burden to 600 MHz wireless licensees’ network because the number of necessary
coordinations is expected to be minimal. In addition, many observatories are also protected by terrain
features (e.g., nearby mountains) that block wireless signals, making coordination, in most cases, a
simpler process.
294.
We note that the only two single dish radio astronomy installations that operate in
channel 37 are the Green Bank, WV and Arecibo, PR observatories. Our rules already require specific
procedures for wireless operations near those locations.888 We also note that in many cases, geographic
features that protect RAS sites will block wireless system signals. Consistent with section 1.924, we will
require wireless licensees to provide the following information: identification of the geographical
coordinates of the antenna location (NAD-83 datum), the antenna height, antenna directivity (if any), type
of emission, and effective isotropic radiated power.889 We strongly encourage the parties to cooperate so
as not to unreasonably frustrate the operations of RAS or wireless operations.
2.

Television Fixed Broadcast Auxiliary Stations

295.
Background. Subpart F of the Commission’s Part 74 rules allows certain fixed broadcast
auxiliary service (“BAS”) operations on television channels 14-51 on a secondary basis.890 Because these
stations are secondary, they must not interfere with and must accept interference from current and future
full-power television stations, LPTV stations (including Class A stations) and TV translator stations.891
There are a relatively low number of fixed BAS stations operating in channels 14 to 51.892 In addition to
operating in the UHF band, fixed BAS operates in several other frequency bands on a primary basis.893
296.
In the NPRM, the Commission proposed to continue to allow fixed BAS on a secondary
basis in the UHF band spectrum that remains available for television services nationwide following the
incentive auction.894 It also proposed that fixed BAS stations be required to cease operating and relocate
at their own expense when a new 600 MHz wireless licensee intends to commence operations within
interference range.895 The Commission further proposed that broadcast television or new wireless
(Continued from previous page)
Service Rules and Procedures to Govern the Use of Vehicle-Mounted Earth Stations in Certain Frequency Bands
Allocated to the Fixed-Satellite Service, IB Dkt. No. 07-101, Report and Order, 24 FCC Rcd. 10414, 10431 (2009)
(the Commission adopted a 50 km coordination zone for vehicle mounted earth stations around VLBA sites).
887 See Technical Appendix § II.E.3 (Potential for Interference between 600 MHz Downlink and RAS).
888 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.924.
889 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.924(d).
890 See generally 47 C.F.R. §§ 74.600 et seq. (Subpart F – Television Broadcast Auxiliary Stations).
Specifically, § 74.602(h) permits TV studio transmitter links (STLs), TV relay stations, and TV translator relay
stations to operate fixed point-to-point service. Only licensees of a TV broadcast station, a Class A TV station, a TV
broadcast network entity, a low power TV station, or a TV translator station may hold fixed BAS licenses on TV
channels 14-51. See 47 C.F.R. §§ 74.600, 74.632(a).
891 47 C.F.R. § 74.602(h)(2). Fixed BAS in TV Channels 14-51 is also secondary to land mobile stations in areas
where land mobile sharing is currently permitted. Id.
892 The Commission’s Universal Licensing System (ULS) reflects 192 fixed BAS licensed in TV Channels 14
through 51 with 151 of these stations licensed on television channels 21 through 51.
893 Fixed BAS stations are also licensed in the non-TV UHF, 900 MHz, 2 GHz, 7 GHz, 13 GHz, and 18 GHz bands,
though new stations are no longer licensed in certain subbands. See 47 C.F.R. §§ 74.602(g), 74.602(h)(3)(4).
894 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12485, para. 217.
895 Id. at 12485, paras. 218, 220.
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licensees be required to provide 30 days’ notice to all incumbent fixed BAS operations within
interference range prior to commencing operations.896
297.
Discussion. We will continue to license fixed BAS on a secondary basis in the UHF
spectrum that remains allocated and assigned to full power television services nationwide. However, as
discussed in Section V.D.2 below, fixed BAS stations must cease operating and/or relocate out of the 600
MHz Band repurposed for wireless services, at their own expense, no later than the end of the Post-
Auction Transition Period; or, during the Post-Auction Transition Period, if a new 600 MHz wireless
licensee intends to commence operating and there is a likelihood of harmful interference from the fixed
BAS station.. The few commenters addressing fixed BAS relocation issues are supportive of this
approach.897 We discuss below the requirements relating to cessation of BAS operations in the
reorganized UHF band.898
298.
Fixed BAS licensees will not be entitled to compensation for relocating to other
frequencies.899 Fixed BAS is a secondary service,900 and the Spectrum Act does not provide for
reimbursement of any relocation costs through the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund.901
3.

Low Power Auxiliary Stations and Unlicensed Wireless Microphones

299.
Low power auxiliary station (“LPAS”) operations, which are currently authorized only
for broadcast and certain related entities,902 are intended for uses such as wireless microphones, cue and
control communications, and synchronization of TV camera signals (referenced collectively as “wireless
microphones”).903 The Commission’s rules provide for licensed LPAS operations on unused television
channels on a secondary, non-exclusive basis.904 The Commission also currently permits certain

896 Id. at 12485, para. 219. See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. § 101.103(d) (30-day coordination “notice and wait” requirement).
See also Amendment to the Commission’s Rules Regarding a Plan for Sharing the Costs of Microwave Relocation,
WT Docket No. 95-157, First Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 11 FCC Rcd 8825
(1996); Revisions to Broadcast Auxiliary Service Rules in Part 74 and Conforming Technical Rules for Broadcast
Auxiliary Service, Cable Television Relay Service and Fixed Services in Parts 74, 78 and 101 of the Commission’s
Rules
, ET Docket No. 01-75, Report and Order, 17 FCC Rcd 22979 (2002); Amendment of Part 101 of the
Commission’s Rules to Facilitate the Use of Microwave for Wireless Backhaul and Other Uses and to Provide
Additional Flexibility to Broadcast Auxiliary Service and Operational Fixed Microwave Licensees
, WT Docket No.
10-153, Report and Order, Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Memorandum Opinion and Order, 26 FCC
Rcd at 11628 (2011).
897 See, e.g., Affiliates Associations Comments at 41-42; CTIA Comments at 43; Verizon Reply Comments at 50.
898 See § V.D.2 (Television Fixed Broadcast Auxiliary Stations).
899 We note that the Commission did not provide for the reimbursement of secondary fixed BAS from TV channels
52-59 or from TV channels 60-69. Reallocation of Television Channels 60-69, the 746-806 MHz Band, Report and
Order, 12 FCC Rcd 22953 (1998).
900 Section 74.602(h) provides that TV STLs, TV relay stations, and TV translator relay stations may be authorized
“on a secondary basis and subject to the provisions of subpart G of [Part 74].” 47 C.F.R. § 74.602(h). Secondary
licensees must accept interference from and must not cause interference to primary services. See Amendment to the
Commission’s Rules Regarding a Plan for Sharing the Costs of Microwave Relocation
, WT Docket No. 95-157,
First Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 11 FCC Rcd 8825, 8869, para. 89 (1996).
901 See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(4)(A).
902 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12433, para. 221 & n.336; 47 C.F.R. § 74.832(a)(1)-(6) (specifying particular broadcast
and production entities eligible to hold LPAS licenses).
903 See generally 47 C.F.R. §§ 74.801 et seq. (Subpart H – Low Power Auxiliary Stations); NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at
12433-12434, para. 221. This Section does not address operations of wireless assist video devices, which are
authorized under Part 74, Subpart H rules on a licensed basis. 47 C.F.R. §§ 74.801; 74.870.
904 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12433, para. 221. See generally 47 C.F.R. §§ 74.801 et seq. (Subpart H – Low Power
Auxiliary Stations). The Commission’s rules provide that LPAS operations are limited to locations removed from
(continued….)
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unlicensed operations of wireless microphones (including related devices) in the television bands pursuant
to a limited waiver and Part 15 rules.905 In the NPRM, the Commission noted that the repacking process
may result in a reduced amount of spectrum available for use by wireless microphones, and sought
comment on how best to accommodate licensed and unlicensed wireless microphone operations, along
with the other uses, in the television bands and 600 MHz Band guard band spectrum to ensure that this
spectrum is used efficiently and effectively following the incentive auction.906
300.
Wireless microphones provide many important functions that serve the public interest,
and today operate throughout the television bands. They play an essential role in enabling broadcasters
and other video programming networks to serve consumers, including helping to cover breaking news and
broadcasting live sports events.907 They significantly enhance event productions in a variety of settings
(including theaters and music venues, film studios, conventions, corporate events, houses of worship, and
internet webcasts), often are integral to creating high quality content that consumers demand and value,
and contribute substantially to our economy.908 Below, we discuss wireless microphone operations in the
television bands, where we provide additional opportunities for access to available channels following the
incentive auction, and in the 600 MHz Band guard bands, where we will permit microphone users to
operate, subject to the forthcoming rules for low power operations in those bands. In addition, as
discussed in Section V.C.4, below, during the Post-Auction Transition Period we will allow wireless
microphone users to continue to operate in the repurposed spectrum pursuant to certain conditions.909
Recognizing the many important benefits provided by wireless microphones, we also will be initiating a
proceeding in the next few months to address the needs of wireless microphone users over the longer
term, both through revisions to our rules concerning use of the television bands and through promotion of
opportunities using spectrum outside of the television bands.
a.

Television Bands

301.
Background. The television channels available for wireless microphones currently
include two unused channels (when available) in the UHF band near channel 37, where unlicensed TVWS
(Continued from previous page)
existing co-channel TV broadcasting stations by not less than certain distances specified in the rules (unless
otherwise authorized), id. § 74.802(b), that LPAS licensees will not be granted exclusive frequency assignments, id.
§ 74.802(d), that selection of frequencies for operations shall be guided by the need to avoid interference with TV
broadcast reception, and that station usage is “secondary to TV broadcasting and land mobile stations” operating in
the spectrum allocated for TV broadcasting and “must not cause harmful interference.” Id. § 74.803(b).
905 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12434-12435, para. 222. As referenced in this Order, “unlicensed wireless
microphones” includes all LPAS devices that operate on an unlicensed basis in the television bands pursuant to this
waiver and certain Part 15 rules.
906 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12435-12436, paras. 224-225.
907 See, e.g., CBS et al Comments at 3-4; NAB Comments at 47-48 (importance for production of broadcast
programming and electronic news gathering (ENG)); NFL Comments at 3 (providing reliable and secure
communications that professional games require); SAG-AFTRA Comments at 1-2; Joint Reply of the Commissioner
of Baseball, NBA, NFL, NHL, NCAA, NASCAR at 2-5 (critical for capturing audio from in-game events and
enhancing viewers experience).
908 See, e.g., Broadway League Comments at 3-5 (enable world-class sound experiences for millions of Broadway
theater goers, contributing significantly to economy); Sennheiser Comments at 3-5 (ubiquity of microphones in all
aspects of entertainment business, in news reporting, in sports, and in commercial, civic, and religious life); Shure
Comments at 4-8 (organizations large and small rely on wireless microphones to deliver clear, real-time audio to
audiences, and significantly enhance the economic value of these enterprises).
909 See § V.D.4 (LPAS and Unlicensed Wireless Microphones). In § V.D.4, we also address operations of wireless
assist video devices during the Post-Auction Transition Period.
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device operations currently are prohibited,910 as well as any other channels available at locations that are
separated from television stations by specified separation distances.911 The number of these other
channels varies depending on location, and often may include channels that also can be used by
unlicensed TVWS devices.912 Licensed LPAS operators may obtain protection from interference from
TVWS devices on those channels by reserving them at specified locations and times of operation in the
broadcast TV bands databases.913 In addition, certain qualifying unlicensed operators also can obtain
interference protection from unlicensed TVWS devices at specified times by registering with the
Commission, enabling them to have their operations included within the broadcast TV bands databases.914
302.
To promote more efficient and effective wireless microphone operations in the television
bands following the incentive auction, the Commission sought comment in the NPRM on reducing the
current required separation distances between wireless microphones and television stations for co-channel
operations in the broadcast TV bands, as well as on permitting even closer wireless microphone
operations than provided for generally in the rules through a coordination process or use of a database.915
The Commission noted that, in a separate proceeding on wireless microphones, it sought comment on
other rule revisions, including expanding eligibility for certain unlicensed entities so that they could
operate on a licensed basis under the Part 74 LPAS rules in the television spectrum.916
303.
Discussion. We take several steps in this proceeding, and in the related wireless
microphones proceeding,917 to ensure that the reduced amount of television spectrum that remains
following the incentive auction can continue to accommodate wireless microphone operations, along with
other uses of this spectrum, in an efficient and effective manner. First, we are revising our rules for co-
channel operations to expand the areas where wireless microphones may be used in the television bands.
Second, in the related wireless microphones proceeding, we are concurrently extending to certain

910 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12434, para. 222; Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands; Additional Spectrum
for Unlicensed Devices Below 900 MHz and in the 3 GHz Band
, ET Docket Nos. 04-186 and 02-380, Second
Memorandum Opinion and Order¸ 25 FCC Rcd at 18671-18677, paras. 25-36 (2010) (TV White Spaces Second
MO&O
); 47 C.F.R. §15.707(a); see also id. § 15.712(f)(2).
911 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12434, para. 222. See 47 C.F.R. § 74.802(b).
912 In many areas, there may be more of these other channels available for wireless microphone operations than are
available for unlicensed white space devices. For instance, the Commission’s rules provide that only fixed white
space devices may operate below channel 21, and such devices are not permitted in any channel immediately
adjacent to occupied TV channels. See 47 C.F.R. §§ 15.703(c), 15.707, 15.711, and 15.712.
913 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12434, para. 222; TV White Spaces Second MO&O, 25 FCC Rcd at 18675-18676, para.
33; 47 C.F.R. § 15.712(f) and 713(h)(8).
914 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12434-12435, para. 222; TV White Spaces Second MO&O, 25 FCC Rcd at 18675-
18676, paras. 32-33; 47 C.F.R. § 15.713(h)(9). Wireless microphone use also is authorized on licensed and
unlicensed bases on frequencies outside of the core TV bands. See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12435, para. 222 n.348.
915 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12436, para. 225. Different separation distances apply in the VHF band. Id.
916 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12435-12436, para. 224 n.354.
917 In the NPRM, the Commission noted that, in a separate proceeding on wireless microphones, it was considering
whether to expand eligibility for certain entities to operate on a licensed basis under the Part 74 LPAS rules, and
would be issuing a public notice seeking to refresh the record in that proceeding. NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12435–36,
para. 224 n.354 (citing Revisions to Rules Authorizing the Operation of Low Power Auxiliary Stations in the 698-
806 MHz Band
, WT Docket No. 08-166, WT Docket No. 08-167, ET Docket No. 10-24, Report and Order and
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 25 FCC Rcd 643, 682-687 paras. 81-90 (2010) (Wireless Microphones
Order and Further Notice
)). On October 5, 2012, a Public Notice was issued to do so. See The Wireless Bureau
and the Office of Engineering and Technology Seek to Update and Refresh Record in the Wireless Microphones
Proceeding
, WT Docket Nos. 08-166, 08-167, ET Docket No. 10-24, Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 12067 (2012).
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unlicensed wireless microphone users the rights of licensed LPAS users to access television spectrum.918
Third, although there may no longer be two unused television channels available for wireless
microphones following the incentive auction, we intend to designate one television channel that is not
assigned to a television station in the repacking process for use by both wireless microphones and
unlicensed TVWS devices. In addition, we will take further steps in the near term in the 600 MHz and
TVWS Part 15 Proceeding to make improvements to the registration system in the TV bands databases.
These steps will provide licensed LPAS operators a more timely and effective means to obtain needed
protection from unlicensed TVWS device operations on any of the available television channels. On
balance, we conclude that the changes we are making best serve to address the important needs of
wireless microphone users as well as other users that seek access to the broadcast spectrum that remains
available for use following repacking.
304.
Co-channel Operations. To ensure that wireless microphones users have access to as
many television channels as possible following the repacking process, we are revising our rules for co-
channel operations in two ways. These revisions will provide wireless microphones with access to
additional television channels in particular locations without raising interference concerns to television
licensees. Such additional access may be particularly important in those locations where most television
channels are occupied by broadcasters and wireless microphone users seek access to several channels.
305.
First, we reduce the current co-channel separation distances applicable to wireless
microphone operations in the television bands. The current rule,919 which was adopted prior to the
transition to digital television, was designed to protect analog television reception and, therefore, is
outdated. Further, the distances the rule specifies in many cases may be greater than necessary to protect
against interference because it does not account for variations in power or antenna height that reduce the
size of some stations’ service areas. Consistent with Shure’s proposal to take into account the predicted
television station contour and the radiated power of the wireless microphone,920 we revise the rule to
permit wireless microphones to operate at distances as close as four kilometers from a television station’s
predicted service contour (including digital or analog full power, Class A, and LPTV stations).921 A
number of commenters support reducing the applicable separation distances for co-channel operations.922

918 Concurrent with our release of this Order, we will be releasing an order in the wireless microphones proceeding
that provides for limited expansion of Part 74 licensee eligibility for certain unlicensed wireless microphone users.
See Wireless Microphones Second Report and Order.
919 See 47 C.F.R. § 74.802(b) (specifying the applicable separation distances for VHF and UHF channels under
current rules).
920 Shure Comments at 25. See also, e.g., PISC Reply at 22-23 (proposing that wireless microphone users be
allowed to choose between relying on a geographic separation or on the actual signal strength received at a venue’s
location).
921 The contour values that the Commission used for protecting TV reception from TV white space devices are
specified in § 15.712(a)(1). In developing this rule, the Commission used the contour values in § 73.622(e) (for
digital TV stations) and § 73.683(a) (for analog TV stations).
922 See, e.g., Boeing Comments at 4; Google and Microsoft Comments at 52-53; PISC Comments at 37-39;
Sennheiser Comments at 10-11; WISPA Comments at 19-20; Sennheiser Reply at 18; Shure Reply at 20-21; WSA
Reply at 11-12; WISPA Reply at 9-11. Commenters argue that doing so would authorize wireless microphone use
on additional channels in more locations, channels which might otherwise go unused. See, e.g., PISC Comments at
34-35 (noting that reducing the co-channel separation distance potentially could make several additional channels
available for wireless microphone use in New York City, where availability of spectrum for wireless microphones is
limited). As detailed below, we reject NAB’s argument that any rule revision reducing the current co-channel
separation distance would unduly increase the risk of interference with TV reception.
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306.
Our action aligns the separation distance rules for wireless microphones with those for
unlicensed personal/portable TVWS devices,923 which operate at similar power levels. Personal/portable
TVWS devices are permitted to operate with a maximum power of 100 milliwatts and must operate at
least four kilometers outside the protected service contour of co-channel television stations (digital or
analog), a distance based on a power level of four watts (4,000 milliwatts).924 Most wireless microphones
typically operate at power levels of less than 50 milliwatts.925 For analog wireless microphones, even if
there were as many as 16 operating simultaneously in a six megahertz TV channel, more than the typical
six to eight microphone range for most existing technologies,926 the total transmitted power within a six
megahertz channel will not exceed 800 milliwatts, five times less than the power on which the four
kilometer separation distance required for personal/portable TVWS devices is based. Even were sixteen
wireless microphones on a six megahertz channel to operate at up to 250 milliwatts, as permitted for
licensed LPAS operators,927 the total transmitted power still would not exceed four watts (4,000
milliwatts). Thus, we disagree with commenters that express general opposition to any reduction of the
co-channel separation distance,928 and conclude based on our technical analysis that a four kilometer
separation distance between wireless microphones and a television station’s protected service contour will
protect television reception from interference.
307.
Second, to enable licensed LPAS operators to access additional co-channel spectrum, we
also will permit licensees to operate even closer to television stations than the revised separation
distances, provided that any such operations are coordinated with the television licensees. Several
commenters assert that wireless microphones can operate effectively on co-channels much closer to
television stations than currently allowed, and several point out that many already do so today.929 Many
commenters assert that such closer co-channel operations can be ideal for wireless microphones because

923 47 C.F.R § 15.712(a)(2) (required separation distance for personal/portable white space devices where antenna
height above average terrain is less than three meters).
924 The Commission derived the four kilometer separation distance based on a power level of 4,000 milliwatts (four
watts), concluding that it would protect television reception within a station’s service contour from a fixed co-
channel TVWS device operating with a power level of up to 4,000 milliwatts EIRP and an antenna height of three
meters HAAT. See Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands, ET Docket No. 04-186, Third Memorandum
Opinion and Order
, 27 FCC Rcd 3692, 3699-3700 paras. 17-18 (2012). The required separation distances from a
television station contour for Mode II personal/portable TVWS devices are the same as for four watt fixed devices
with an antenna height above average terrain of three meters. See 47 C.F.R. § 15.712(a)(2). The Commission
required that personal/portable TVWS devices also comply with this four kilometer co-channel separation distance.
925 See Wireless Microphones Order and Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 684-685, para. 86.
926 As a general matter, six to eight analog wireless microphones can operate on a six megahertz channel. See TV
White Spaces Second MO&O
, 25 FCC Rcd at 18676, para. 33. In recent years, some manufacturers have developed
equipment that permits as many as 16 microphones on a television channel under certain circumstances.
927 See 47 C.F.R. § 74.861(e)(1)(ii).
928 See, e.g., NAB Reply, WT Docket Nos. 08-166, 08-167, OET Docket No. 10-24 at 20 (filed Mar. 12, 2013)
(opposing, without technical analysis, any general rule revisions reducing co-channel separation distances for all
wireless microphone users because of concern that this could create a risk of interference to Part 74 operations and
to TV viewers).
929 See, e.g., Google and Microsoft Comments at 53-54; PISC Comments at 34-37; Shure Comments at 25; WSA
Comments at 34-35; PISC Reply at 20; WSA Reply at 12; Letter from Michael Calabrese, Director, Wireless Future
Project, New America Found., PISC, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 2-3 (filed
Aug. 19, 2013) (PISC Aug. 19, 2013 Ex Parte); cf. Spectrum Bridge Comments at 9. But see NFL Comments at 5
(revising the separation distance may not be helpful in providing more spectrum for wireless microphones because
NFL wireless microphones users already encounter interference from television stations under existing separation
rules).
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such operations would be free of unlicensed TVWS devices.930 Commenters propose various solutions to
allow for closer co-channel operations, including coordination with affected broadcasters.931 Based on the
record before us, we conclude that the best approach is to permit licensed LPAS users, including newly
eligible licensees (see discussion below), to obtain access to additional television channels at a given
location through the coordination process. Requiring coordination with broadcasters effectively addresses
the concerns of those commenters, including NAB, that oppose or express concern about revising the
rules to provide for closer co-channel operations, based on the potential for interference to television
operations.932 We note that many of the licensed LPAS operators, including both broadcasters and many
users that would now be eligible for licenses, already coordinate with each other to share spectrum.933
Several broadcasters state that they successfully coordinate the sharing of channels among broadcasters
and other wireless microphone users, including Broadway theaters in New York City, on a routine
basis.934
308.
Expanded License Eligibility for Certain Unlicensed Wireless Microphone Users. In the
Wireless Microphones Second Report and Order that we adopt concurrently with this Order, we expand
licensed LPAS eligibility to include professional sound companies and venues that use wireless
microphones in connection with major events/productions.935 These revised licensing rules will extend to
currently unlicensed wireless microphone users operating at specified locations the rights of licensed
LPAS operators to operate in television spectrum, including the same rights to access the TV bands
databases for interference protection from unlicensed TVWS devices.936

930 See, e.g., PISC Comments at 34-35; WSA Comments at 35; WISPA Reply at 10-11. But see CP Comm. Reply at
3 (arguing that wireless microphone users prefer interference-free channels but not necessarily co-channels).
931 See, e.g., Boeing Comments at 4-5 (wireless microphone users should be required to coordinate their operations
with broadcasters and to use a database that could account for the particular interference conditions at a location);
WSA Comments at 34 and Reply at 12 (advocating coordination); Sennheiser Comments at 11 and Reply at 18
(wireless microphone operations should be permitted where the TV signal falls below a specified threshold); PISC
Comments at 34-37 and Reply at 21-22 (wireless microphone operations should be permitted only where they may
be shielded from TV signals due to building attenuation); Shure Comments at 25 (same); WSA Reply at 12 (same);
PISC Comments at 21-22, 39-40 (database accounting for particular interference conditions); Shure Comments at 25
and Reply at 20-21 (same); WISPA Comments at 19-20 (same).
932 See, e.g., NAB Reply, WT Docket Nos. 08-166, 08-167, OET Docket No. 10-24 at 20 (filed Mar. 12, 2013)
(opposing general rule revisions reducing co-channel separation distances for all wireless microphone users because
of concern that this could create a risk of interference to Part 74 operations and to TV viewers, while stating that,
under 47 C.F.R. §§ 74.803 and 74.24, broadcast professionals using the frequency coordination process already are
permitted where necessary to operate wireless microphones at shorter co-channel distances at certain locations, such
as inside studios or buildings, where such operations would not create interference to other protected operations).
933 Under existing rules, LPAS licensees that seek to operate wireless microphones in the same area are required to
endeavor to select frequencies in such manner as to avoid mutual interference with each other and are guided by the
need to avoid interference to TV broadcast reception, and LPAS operations by Part 73 or broadcast auxiliary
licensees are permitted on a short term basis without prior Commission authorization, provided that they coordinate
with the broadcast station licensee. 47 C.F.R. §§ 74.803; 74.24. Unlicensed wireless microphone users that would
be newly eligible for licensing, such as various Broadway theaters, also have indicated that they are familiar with the
frequency coordination process. See, e.g., Broadway League Comments at 12 (noting that there are few available
channels than in the heart of the Broadway Theatre District, and “through skillful engineering and coordination,
Broadway theatres have extracted use from every available slice of spectrum without causing interference”).
934 Letter from Catherine Wang, Counsel for Shure Incorporation, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, Docket
No. 12-268 (filed Feb. 10, 2014) (Shure et. al. Feb. 10, 2014 Ex Parte Letter) (filed jointly by several broadcasters,
frequency coordinators, and wireless microphone manufacturers).
935 See generally Wireless Microphones Second Report and Order, __ FCC Rcd __.
936 Id.
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309.
Designating Channels for Wireless Microphones. As noted above, we anticipate that
there will be at least one television channel in all areas of the United States that is not assigned to a
television station in the repacking process.937 As is the case today, such “white space” channels will be
necessary to avoid interference between primary broadcast stations in the final channel assignment
process. Although we anticipate that there will be fewer such unused television channels in the repacked
television bands,938 we intend, after additional notice and an opportunity for comment, to designate one of
these television channels in each area for shared use by wireless microphone and unlicensed devices.939
We also agree with those commenters who argue that unused television channels that remain unused by
broadcast television stations after the incentive auction should not continue to be designated exclusively
for wireless microphone use and should be made available for potential use by unlicensed TVWS devices
as well.940 Accordingly, in addition to the channel designated for shared wireless microphone and
unlicensed TVWS device use as described above, we will make any other unused television channels
following the incentive auction available for shared wireless microphone and TVWS device use (to the
extent consistent with the applicable technical rules), except at those specified times and locations where
wireless microphone users have registered their operations for interference protection in the TV bands
databases.941
310.
We will not continue to designate any television channels unused by television stations
exclusively for the use of wireless microphones. We disagree with commenters who argue that we should
permanently reserve two channels for wireless microphones,942 as this would significantly reduce the
amount of spectrum available for auction and repurposing for wireless services, particularly in many of
the larger markets across the nation, and preclude any sharing of the limited television spectrum when it is
not being used for wireless microphone operations. The steps we are taking concerning wireless
microphone operations in the repacked television bands, taken together with other steps we discuss
elsewhere in the Order to accommodate wireless microphone uses, represent a balanced approach to
addressing the needs of wireless microphone users and the other users that seek access to the more limited
television spectrum that is likely to remain available for use following the incentive auction.943

937 See para. 265.
938 See n.807 and accompanying text.
939 See Letter from Austin Schlick, Director, Communications Law, Google Inc., to Gary Epstein, Chair of the
Incentive Auction Task Force, Federal Communications Commission, GN Docket No. 12-268 (filed Apr. 21, 2014)
(asking that the FCC preserve up to two vacant channels in each television market that are now being used by
wireless microphones and open such channels to use by unlicensed TVWS devices following the incentive auction).
940 See n.809.
941 See n.810.
942 See, e.g., Broadway League Comments at 12-23; Broadcast Network Comments at 10-11; Collective Wireless
Microphone Interests Comments at 5; CP Comm. Comments at 5-6; NAB Comments at 6-7, 47-48 (wireless
microphones are essential for broadcasters); NFL Comments at 2-5; Performing Arts Working Group Comments at
4; SAG-AFTRA Comments at 2; Shure Comments at 15; Disney Comments at 46-47; Comcast and NBC Universal
Reply at 24-25; Lectrosonics Reply at 4; NAB Reply at 56-57; Sennheiser Reply at 15-17; Shure Reply at 10-11;
Sports League Reply at 6-7; TV Programmers Reply at 9-12.
943 See, e.g., PISC Comments at 41; WSA Comments at 34-35; Google Reply at 13. In addition to the steps we are
taking here and in the Wireless Microphones Second Report and Order, we note that in many areas there may be
several channels available for use by wireless microphones that cannot be used by TVWS devices. See n.910. For
instance, in channels below channel 21, personal/portable TVWS devices are not permitted to operate. Moreover,
unlike wireless microphones, fixed TVWS devices may not operate on any channel immediately adjacent to
occupied TV channels. See 47 C.F.R. §§ 15.703(c), 15.707, 15.711, and 15.712. In addition, licensed LPAS
operators and qualifying unlicensed operators, which will now be eligible for licenses under revised rules, see
Wireless Microphones Second Report and Order
, can reserve the use of channels otherwise available for TVWS
devices by registering those needed channels in the TV bands databases for the dates and times that wireless
(continued….)
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311.
Improvements Relating to the TV Bands Databases. Given our decision to no longer
designate two unused television channels, where available, exclusively for wireless microphones, we
agree with commenters that we should take steps to improve the operation of the TV bands databases.944
Such improvements would enable licensed LPAS operations (including newly eligible licensees)945 to
obtain more immediate protection from interference from TVWS devices on any available television
channels at the times and locations that these wireless microphone users need. We plan to address how
best to make these improvements in the 600 MHz and TVWS Part 15 Proceeding that will address the TV
bands databases in the reorganized bands (along with related issues such as the rules for low power
operations in the guard bands), and we will take into account concerns and suggestions raised by the
commenters there.946
b.

Guard Bands

312.
Background. In the NPRM, the Commission also sought comment on the operation of
wireless microphones in spectrum established for 600 MHz Band guard bands.947 The Commission
proposed to make the guard bands available for unlicensed device use,948 and requested comment on
whether wireless microphone operations could co-exist with such unlicensed operations, as well as
whether to require wireless microphones to comply with the technical requirements established for
unlicensed operations in the guard bands, including the ability to access a database. The Commission also
asked whether wireless microphones should be permitted in the guard bands only on an unlicensed basis,
or whether those that qualify for registration in the TV bands databases should be able to protect their
operations against interference from unlicensed devices operating in these bands.949
313.
Discussion. We are allowing unlicensed devices to operate in the guard bands, including
the duplex gap.950 To make additional spectrum outside of the repacked television bands available for
wireless microphone uses, we also will permit wireless microphone devices to operate in the 600 MHz
Band guard bands on an unlicensed, unprotected basis provided that they comply with the technical
requirements we will adopt for low power device operations in these guard bands in our upcoming
(Continued from previous page)
microphones are needed. See, e.g., Google and Microsoft Comments at 51-52; Spectrum Bridge Comments at 9;
Google Reply at 12-14; PISC Reply at 16-19; WSA Reply at 13; WISPA Reply at 11-13.
944 NAB, for instance, argues that if two television channels are no longer designated for wireless microphones, the
Commission should take steps to improve protections for licensed LPAS operations by requiring database
administrators to exchange registrations and make changes in the database in real time with all updates made within
ten minutes of receipt, and should require unlicensed white space devices to check the database every 20 minutes
instead of every 24 hours. NAB Comments at 47-48; NAB Wireless Microphone Comments at 8-9; see also Shure
Comments at 26-27; Comcast and NBC Universal Reply at 25-26. In addition, several commenters representing
unlicensed wireless microphone users argue that the Commission’s rules for unlicensed wireless microphone
registration, including requiring authorization 30 days in advance of events, do not provide sufficient flexibility for
event planning for qualifying unlicensed users. See, e.g., Broadway League Comments at 7-10; Collective Wireless
Microphone Interests Comments at 4, CP Comm. Comments at 4, Shure Comments at 25-26; Thompson
Engineering Comments at 2; Sports Leagues Reply at 9.
945 See Wireless Microphones Second Report and Order, __ FCC Rcd __.
946 Based on the limited record before us, and because improvements would involve substantive revisions to the
current requirements pertaining to the broadcast TV bands databases, we decline to make these changes at this time.
947 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12435-12437, paras. 224, 226.
948 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12440, para. 234. The Spectrum Act authorizes the Commission to permit the use of
guard bands for unlicensed operations and provides that unlicensed use must rely on a database or other
methodology as determined by the Commission. Spectrum Act §§ 6407(c), (d).
949 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12435-12437, paras. 224, 226; 12439-12440, para. 234.
950 See § III.C (Unlicensed Operations).
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rulemaking. Most commenters support permitting wireless microphones to operate in the guard bands,951
although they disagree about the precise nature of such operations, including the technical rules that
should apply.952
314.
In addition to permitting unlicensed wireless microphone operations in the guard bands,
we will permit certain wireless microphones operations in a portion of the duplex gap on a licensed
basis.953 Broadcasters and cable programming networks contend that without the continued availability of
unused television channels for interference-free wireless microphone operations, they will have difficulty
providing certain programming, including emergency information, on which their ability to provide vital
information to first responders and the public depends.954 Without access to some guard band spectrum
for this purpose, there may be areas in the country where there would be little if any certain access to
UHF band spectrum for wireless microphone operations on a protected basis. Accordingly, we conclude
that the public interest will be served by allowing broadcasters and cable programming networks using
wireless microphones on a licensed basis in a portion of the duplex gap to obtain interference protection
from unlicensed devices at specified times and locations, on an as-needed basis. In the 600 MHz and
TVWS Part 15 Proceeding, we will examine how best to provide access to a portion of the duplex gap by

951 See, e.g., Boeing Comments at 5; Broadway League Comments at 12-13; CP Comm. at 2 n.5; NAB Comments,
WT Docket Nos. 08-166, 08-167, OET Docket No. 10-24 at 20 (filed Jan. 25, 2013) at 6; Disney Comments at 47;
PISC Comments at 43 (permit wireless microphones only if they conform with requirements for unlicensed device
operations); Sennheiser Comments at 11-12; SBE Comments at 13; Shure Comments at17-18; WSA Comments at
34; Ericsson Reply at 33; TV Programmers Reply at 13. Certain types of wireless microphone applications can be
effective when operating on an unlicensed basis, thus alleviating the need for television spectrum. See, e.g.,
Sennheiser Comments at 11-12 (the most promising applications for wireless microphones that operate on an
unlicensed basis in the guard bands may be those for “non-professional” use). Several commenters specifically
support wireless microphone operations in the duplex gap, depending on the band plan adopted. See, e.g., Broadcast
TV Affiliates Comments at 46; NAB Comments at 46; WSA Comments at 34; Comcast and NBCUniversal Reply at
24-25; Shure Reply at 9-10, 17.
952 Some commenters support wireless microphone operations in the guard bands only insofar as they would operate
on an unlicensed basis consistent with the rules applicable to unlicensed device operations in the guard bands. See,
e.g.
, PISC Comments at 43; Neul Comments at 5; Spectrum Bridge Comments at 8; WSA Comments at 34; Google
Reply Comments at 14. Some commenters support licensed wireless microphone operations in the bands. See, e.g.,
Broadway League Comments at 12-13 (supporting allowing both licensed and unlicensed wireless microphone
operations); NAB Comments, WT Docket Nos. 08-166, 08-167, OET Docket No. 10-24 at 20 (filed Jan. 25, 2013)
at 6 (requesting designating and reserving the guard bands only for licensed wireless microphone operations). Some
request that wireless microphone users should be permitted to register for interference protection from unlicensed
devices in the guard bands. See, e.g., Shure Comments at 17-18; Sennheiser Comments at 11-12; Shure Reply at 16.
953 With respect to the duplex gap, commenters disagree about the extent to which the spectrum should be made
available for wireless microphones and/or unlicensed device operations. Some support only unlicensed operations
in the duplex gap, see, e.g., New America/PISC Ex Parte at 2 (filed May 7, 2014); WSA Ex Parte at 5 (filed May 7,
2014), or request that 40 mW unlicensed operations be permitted in 6 megahertz of the duplex gap, see
Google/Microsoft Ex Parte at 1 (filed May 8, 2014). Others support use of the duplex gap for wireless
microphones, but not other unlicensed devices. See, e.g., Letter from Catherine Wang, Counsel, Bingham, to
Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 4 (filed May 8,
2014) (representing a group of broadcasters, wireless microphone manufacturers, and professional wireless
microphone users and frequency coordinators); Qualcomm Ex Parte at 1 (filed May 8, 2014) (allowing unlicensed
operation in the duplex gap at the levels permitted under the TVWS rules would cause harmful interference to
licensed mobile LTE operations).
954 See, e.g., Letter from Jared S. Sher, VP, Associate General Counsel, 21st Century Fox, Anne Lucey, Senior VP
for Regulatory Policy, CBS, Susan Mort, Assistant General Counsel, Time Warner, Kathleen Kirby, Counsel, Radio
Television Digital News Association, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 1-2 (filed
May 7, 2014) (representatives of news gathering organizations describing critical need of wireless microphones for
providing emergency information); Letter from Rick Kaplan, Executive Vice President, Strategic Planning, NAB, to
Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 4 (filed Apr. 28, 2014).
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licensed wireless microphone users, while also ensuring that unlicensed users of the duplex gap can make
use of this spectrum to provide broadband services as described above.955 We anticipate that the duplex
gap would be partitioned such that six megahertz would be available for unlicensed broadband devices to
operate under the existing TVWS rules for 40 mW personal/portable devices, and four megahertz
adjacent to the 600 MHz Band downlinks would be available for licensed wireless microphone
operations.
315.
In taking this approach in the guard bands, we seek to promote unlicensed operations
generally while also providing access to more spectrum for wireless microphone uses, consistent with the
requirement that operations in the guard bands do not cause interference to, and serve to prevent
interference to, licensed services outside of the guard bands.956
c.

Long-Term Needs of Wireless Microphone Users

316.
Through the actions described above, we seek to accommodate the needs of wireless
microphone users in the reorganized UHF spectrum that will continue to be available for their use. We
recognize, however, that much of the UHF spectrum that currently is unused and available for wireless
microphone operations may no longer be available following the incentive auction. As discussed in
Section V.D.4 below, we will allow wireless microphone users to continue to operate in the spectrum
repurposed for wireless service during a transition period following the incentive auction under specified
conditions, both to address near-term needs and to help facilitate their transition to spectrum that is
available for their use.957 Considering the important benefits of wireless microphone use, we plan to
initiate a proceeding in the near term to explore additional steps we can take, including the use of
additional frequency bands by wireless microphones.958 In that proceeding, we will work with wireless
microphone users, both licensed and unlicensed, to accommodate their long-term needs.959

E.

Allocations

317.
Background. The radio spectrum is divided into separate frequency bands that are
allocated to various terrestrial or space radiocommunication services, such as broadcasting, fixed, mobile,
and fixed-satellite.960 These allocations are shown in the Table of Frequency Allocations (“Table of

955 See para. 273.
956 As discussed above, we will initiate a proceeding to establish technical parameters for low power operations in
the guard bands. In that proceeding, we will fully address concerns about low power operations within the guard
bands and the potential for interference from such operations to licensed services outside of the guard bands. See,
e.g.
, NFL Comments at 6; Qualcomm Comments at 22-24; SAG-AFTRA Comments at 3; Qualcomm Reply at 9.
957 We reject requests that we develop a mechanism for reimbursement of wireless microphone users’ relocation
costs, see, e.g., Sennheiser Reassignment Costs PN Comments at 5-11; CP Comm. Reassignment Costs PN
Comments at 1-3; but see CTIA Reassignment Costs PN Reply at 7-9 (opposing any reimbursement), as wireless
microphone users are not eligible for any such reimbursement. See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(4)(A); § V.C.5.a
(statutory reimbursement mandate applies only to full power and Class A television licensees that are involuntarily
reassigned to new channels in the repacking process pursuant to § 6403(b)(1)(B)(i)). Wireless microphone users
operate on a secondary or unlicensed basis.
958 We note that in recent years wireless microphone users have been turning increasingly to frequency bands
outside of the UHF band to address some types of their needs, including uses on a unlicensed basis in the 902-928
MHz and 2.3 GHz bands.
959 Several commenters request that the Commission initiate such a proceeding. See, e.g., Letter from Catherine
Wang, Counsel, Bingham, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, GN Docket No.
12-268 at 4 (filed May 8, 2014) (representing a group of broadcasters, wireless microphone manufacturers, and
professional wireless microphone users and frequency coordinators); Broadway League Ex Parte at 2 (filed May 8,
2014).
960 See 47 C.F.R. § 2.1. Some allocations identify a broad category for similar types of radiocommunications; for
example, a broadcasting allocation is used for transmission intended to be received directly by the general public
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Allocations”),961 which is, in effect, “the master zoning map for how different parts of the spectrum may
be used.”962 Each frequency band may be allocated for multiple services, with each service afforded
either primary or secondary interference rights.963 Although the assignment, licensing and use of a
frequency band must be in accordance with the Table of Allocations (except as otherwise provided in
section 2.102 of the Commission’s rules),964 service rules govern access to and use of the band within the
framework of the Table. The service rules provide for, among other things, the particular type of
operation permitted under each allocation in a frequency band and how it will be licensed.965
318.
Prior to the Spectrum Act’s enactment, the Commission proposed to add fixed and
mobile services to the Table of Allocations for all of the UHF and VHF broadcast television bands
(except for channel 37) on a co-primary basis with broadcast television, as a preliminary step towards
carrying out the goals of the National Broadband Plan.966 The FCC later deferred a decision on its
allocations proposal to this proceeding.967 In the NPRM, the Commission invited additional comment on
the same proposal in light of the Spectrum Act’s enactment and the views expressed by broadcasters in
the earlier proceeding.968 The Commission also proposed to modify the Table in the event of a decision to
relocate RAS and WMTS incumbents from Channel 37 (608-614 MHz).969
319.
Discussion. We adopt in part the Commission’s proposal to add fixed and mobile
allocations to the Table of Allocations on a co-primary basis with broadcast television. Specifically, we
will add fixed and mobile services to the Table of Allocations for UHF channels 21-36 (512-608 MHz)
and 38-51 (614-698 MHz), but not for UHF channels 14-20 (470-512 MHz) (also known as the “T-
Band”) or for VHF channels 2-13 (54-72, 76-88, and 174-216 MHz). We conclude that our action
addresses the practical requirements of the incentive auction and the concerns raised by broadcasters and
(Continued from previous page)
whether sound (e.g., AM or FM radio) or television. Id. Service rules determine which type of broadcasting service
is used in a specified frequency band. Other allocations are limited to certain types of uses; for example, satellite
allocations are specific as to type of use such as fixed, mobile, broadcasting or maritime mobile satellite.
961 47 C.F.R. § 2.106.
962 Fostering Innovation and Investment in the Wireless Communications Market, 24 FCC Rcd 11322, 11326 para.
21 (2009).
963 For example, the Commission has amended the Table of Allocations to establish co-primary fixed and mobile
allocations in frequency bands used by commercial mobile radio services (CMRS), thereby permitting these bands
to be used for fixed services, mobile services, or any combination of the two. Amendment of the Commission’s
Rules to Permit Flexible Service Offerings in the Commercial Mobile Radio Services
, 11 FCC Rcd 8965 paras. 32-
33 (1996). The FCC also has adopted flexible co-primary allocations in several frequency bands used by
Miscellaneous Wireless Communications services (Part 27). See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. § 27.2(a).
964 47 C.F.R. § 2.102(a).
965 CMRS service rules typically permit any type of fixed or mobile use, see, e.g., 47 C.F.R. § 24.3, but restrictions
apply in some cases. For example, cellular system architecture may not be used in the 775-776/805-806 MHz guard
bands under Part 27. 47 C.F.R. § 27.2(b).
966 See Innovation in the Broadcast Television Bands: Allocations, Channel Sharing and Improvements to VHF,
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 25 FCC Rcd 16498, 16504 para. 16 (2010).
967 See Innovation in the Broadcast Television Bands: Allocations, Channel Sharing and Improvements to VHF,
Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 4616, 4621 para. 10 (2012) (Channel Sharing Report and Order).
968 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12399-400, paras. 119, 121.
969 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12401, para. 121-122. The Commission asked about a range of possible frequencies to
relocate RAS, including channel 4 (66-72 MHz) in the VHF band. Id. at 12429, para. 207.
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other parties. We retain the allocations for Channel 37 for the RAS and the Land Mobile Service for
WMTS.970
320.
Adding fixed and mobile services to the Table of Allocations for UHF channels 21-36
and 38-51 is necessary to address the practical requirements of the incentive auction and the UHF band
transition that follows it. As stated above, the assignment, licensing and use of frequencies must be in
accordance with the Table,971 yet we cannot know in advance of the incentive auction which frequencies
will be repurposed for new uses in which geographic areas because that depends on the outcome of the
incentive auction.972 Further, by adding fixed and mobile services to the Table of Allocations for all of
the frequencies that could be repurposed prior to the incentive auction, we will assure forward auction
bidders that the frequencies on which they bid will be available for new, flexible uses without the need to
conduct additional allocation proceedings post-auction that could risk delaying the transition and the
introduction of new services.973 The Commission has taken similar allocation actions in advance of prior
spectrum auctions.974 Accordingly, we decline NAB’s request to defer any allocations decisions until
after the auction process is complete.975 In addition, we also find that, following the incentive auction, co-
primary fixed/mobile/broadcasting allocations in the Table also will be necessary to allow users that
currently operate on such frequencies on either a primary or secondary basis—including full power, Class
A and LPTV stations, TV translator stations, BAS stations, and LPAS—to continue operating for an
interim period on frequencies that will be repurposed during the course of the UHF band transition,976 as
well as to allow LPTV and TV translator stations to continue to operate on such frequencies during the
reorganization of the UHF band.977
321.
We believe that our action also addresses concerns raised by broadcasters.978 First, we
will not add fixed and mobile services to the Table of Allocations for VHF channels 2-13 or the T-Band,
as originally proposed, because doing so is unnecessary. The Commission did not propose to repurpose
any portion of the VHF band or the T-Band for fixed or mobile wireless use, and the 600 MHz Band Plan
that we adopt does not provide for the possibility of such repurposing.979 In addition, consistent with the

970 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12427, para. 199.
971 47 C.F.R. § 2.102(a).
972 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12401, para. 123. See CTIA Comments at 17; Verizon Comments at 59-60;; Motorola
Comments at 13-14.
973 See CEA Comments at 17.
974 For example, prior to auctioning both the upper and lower 700 MHz bands, the Commission added allocations for
fixed and mobile services on a co-primary basis with broadcasting. See Advanced Television Systems and Their
Impact Upon the Existing Television Broadcast Service
, Fifth Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 12809 (1997); recon.,
13 FCC Rcd 6860 (1998); Sixth Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 14588 (1997); see also Service Rules for the 746-
764 and 776-794 MHz Bands, and Revisions to Part 27 of the Commission’s Rules
, First Report and Order, 15 FCC
Rcd 476 (2000); Reallocation of Television Channels 60-69, the 746-806 MHz Band, Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd
22953 (1997); and Lower 700 MHz R&O, 17 FCC Rcd 1022.
975 See NAB Reply at 34-35; see also APTS Comments at 36-37.
976 The Commission took similar action in connection with the digital television transition. See Lower 700 MHz
R&O
, 17 FCC Rcd at 1029–30, para. 14 (retaining an allocation for broadcast television service in the Table for the
Lower 700 MHz Band in order to allow broadcasting during the digital television transition).
977 See § V.D.1 (LPTV and TV Translator Stations).
978 See NAB Reply at 34-35 (arguing that a pre-incentive auction allocation decision would signal that the FCC
seeks to repurpose all of the broadcast television bands).
979 Accordingly, we disagree with CTIA that the Commission would sacrifice necessary flexibility by not adding co-
primary allocations for fixed and mobile services to the Table of Allocations for all of the broadcast television
bands. See CTIA Comments at 17-18.
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provisions of the Spectrum Act, the Commission expects to act on the T-Band on a separate, later
timetable.980 Second, the service rules for the broadcast and wireless services, as modified in this Order,
will ensure that broadcast and mobile wireless operations in the 600 MHz Band do not interfere with or
otherwise disrupt one another. Third, to clearly identify where broadcast television and mobile wireless
services will be permitted, we will later modify the Table of Allocations promptly to reflect the outcome
of the incentive auction. Specifically, we hereby delegate authority to the Chief of the Office of
Engineering and Technology to take such actions as are necessary to modify the Table of Allocations to
be consistent with the outcome of the incentive auction—e.g., to remove the co-primary fixed and mobile
allocations from segments of the UHF band that will remain available only for television broadcast
service on a nationwide basis.981

IV.

THE INCENTIVE AUCTION PROCESS

322.
In this Section we discuss the incentive auction process that will determine the
availability of spectrum usage rights in the reorganized UHF band and assign rights. We adopt a
descending clock format for the reverse auction, which will simplify participation for broadcasters. For
the forward auction, we adopt an ascending clock format. As described below, we also adopt rules on
bidding procedures and other elements of the reverse and forward auctions. This Section also addresses
how the reverse and forward auctions, the spectrum clearing target and the forward auction band plan
determination, and the final stage rule will be integrated to determine the final incentive auction results.
323.
Consistent with the Commission’s practice in past spectrum license auctions, we adopt
rules in this Order that will allow subsequent determination of specific final auction procedures.982
Following this Order, a pre-auction process will precede the bidding process for the incentive auction.
This pre-auction process will determine both the specific final auction procedures, based on additional
public input, and the auction participants, through an application process. The process will be initiated by
the release of the Incentive Auction Comment PN, which will solicit public input on final incentive
auction procedures, and which will include specific proposals for crucial auction components such as
opening prices. Thereafter, the Incentive Auction Procedures PN will specify final procedures, including
dates, deadlines, and other final details of the application and bidding processes.983 The rules we adopt in

980 The Spectrum Act provides for the future relocation of public safety licensees from the T-Band and auctioning of
T-Band spectrum separately from the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction, see Spectrum Act §§ 6103,
6403, and the Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau issued a Public Notice inviting comment
on T-Band issues. See Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Seek
Comment on Options for 470-512 MHz (T-Band Spectrum)
, PS Docket No. 13-42, Public Notice, 28 FCC Rcd 1130
(2013). Because the Commission will act separately on the T-Band, we also conclude that expanding the existing
land mobile allocation for the T-Band is unwarranted at this time. See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12401, para. 122.
981 In other portions of the UHF bands, the Table of Allocations will continue to reflect co-primary allocations for
broadcasting, fixed and mobile services. Although we anticipate that portions of the UHF bands will be cleared of
full power and Class A broadcast television stations nationwide or only in certain geographic areas, low power and
TV translator stations will continue to operate in these bands with secondary status until they are notified by a new
wireless licensee that it is ready to begin operations. See § V.D.1 (LPTV and TV Translator Stations). Our
foregoing delegation to OET also includes authority to modify the Table to add a footnote indicating that fixed and
mobile services are authorized only in band segments and in geographic areas specified in Part 27.
982 See § I (Introduction). For the reverse auction, we adopt new rules that will enable implementation of final,
specific auction bidding procedures through the pre-auction process. For the forward auction, we describe existing
spectrum license auction rules that permit implementation of specific forward auction procedures, and modify the
existing rules or otherwise clarify them so that they can accommodate potentially novel features of the forward
auction.
983 The Procedures PN will be released well in advance of the application process for the incentive auction. As
noted above, separate public notices may be released to seek comment on and/or to establish final auction
procedures if that would more efficiently and effectively dispatch our business and fulfill our goals for the incentive
auction. See § I (Introduction).
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this Order provide for the ability to refine aspects of the reverse and forward auctions if the record
developed in response to the Comment PN during the pre-auction process reflects the need to do so.
324.
Although we concur with Verizon that the incentive auction presents complex auction
design issues and that all parties will be best served if the Commission can resolve as many issues as
possible sooner rather than later and well in advance of the auction,984 we disagree that auction procedures
need to be finalized in this Order. The Commission’s practice of finalizing auction procedures in the pre-
auction process provides adequate time for participants to both comment on the final procedures and to
develop business plans in advance of the auction.985 This approach has worked well, and a similar one is
all the more necessary for the incentive auction due to its novelty and complexity. Maintaining flexibility
in the implementation of final procedures is a prudent approach to assuring that the incentive auction will
take place in a timely manner and fulfill the goals we have established by this Order.

A.

Overview and Integration of the Reverse and Forward Auctions

325.
The incentive auction will consist of a reverse and a forward auction. The reverse
auction portion of the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction will collect information about the
price at which broadcast television licensees would be willing to voluntarily relinquish some or all of their
spectrum usage rights. The forward auction portion of the incentive auction will identify the prices that
potential users of repurposed broadcast television spectrum would pay for new licenses to use the
spectrum. This information, together with information from the reverse auction and subject to meeting
the requirements for repurposing spectrum through the incentive auction, will determine the winning
bidders for new flexible use licenses and the prices those bidders will pay for the spectrum licenses.
326.
The reverse and forward auctions will be integrated in a series of stages. Each stage will
consist of a reverse auction and a forward auction bidding process, and stages will be run until it becomes
clear that the overall proceeds requirements for the incentive auction can be satisfied. Prior to the first
stage, the initial spectrum clearing target will be determined. Then the first stage of the reverse auction
will be run to determine the total amount of incentive payments to broadcasters required to meet that
spectrum target. The first stage of the forward auction bidding process will follow the reverse auction
bidding process for the first stage. If the proceeds of the forward auction are sufficient to satisfy the final
stage rule during the first stage, the forward auction bidding process will continue until there is no excess
demand for licenses, and then the incentive auction will close. If the rule is not satisfied, however, a
second stage of the incentive auction will be run with a smaller spectrum clearing target in the reverse
auction and fewer spectrum licenses available in the forward auction. If the final stage rule again is not
met during the second stage, additional stages will be run, with progressively smaller spectrum clearing
targets in the reverse auction and fewer licenses available in the forward auction, until the requirements of
the rule are satisfied.
327.
Here, we address how the reverse and forward auction bidding processes will be
integrated through the spectrum clearing target, the stage structure, and the final stage rule. As with other
components of the incentive auction, we adopt rules here to enable us to implement these components,
and will establish final, specific procedures based on more public input during the pre-auction process.
328.
Initial Spectrum Clearing Target. The initial clearing target—the maximum amount of
spectrum sought to be cleared of television stations and repurposed through the incentive auction—will be
determined before commencement of the reverse and forward auction bidding processes.986 In this

984 Verizon Comments at 24. But see PTV Comments at iii (“PTV also applauds the Commission for recognizing
that this NPRM is just the first of many steps in ensuring a successful incentive auction and subsequent
repacking. The Commission can help ensure that the process is transparent and fair by developing more detailed
proposals through a series of public notices and providing the public additional opportunities to comment . . . .”).
985 See 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(3)(E). Moreover, the transparency of this pre-auction process should reinforce the
confidence of potential participants, furthering our goal of facilitating participation to the fullest extent possible.
986 A similar process was described in Appendix C of the NPRM. See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12571.
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“initialization step,” each participating broadcaster will indicate its willingness to accept the opening price
for various bid options.987 The opening price will be the highest price offer that the broadcaster could
receive for a bidding option. The initial clearing target will correspond to one of the spectrum recovery
scenarios in our 600 MHz Band Plan.988 The initial clearing target will be as high as possible given the
number of broadcasters participating in the reverse auction and their willingness to bid at their opening
prices, considering the parameters established for the repacking process and the amount of market
variation to be accommodated.989
329.
Commenters generally support rules designed to maximize the amount of repurposed
spectrum.990 A few commenters, however, encourage the Commission to establish a specific initial
clearing target goal of 120 megahertz.991 Consistent with our goal of allowing market forces to determine
the highest and best use of spectrum, we choose instead to determine the initial clearing target based on
information provided to the Commission by broadcast television licensees in the initialization step.
330.
Broadcast television licensees’ responses to opening prices will determine which
licensees participate in the reverse auction for which bid options. A licensee entitled to protection in the
repacking process that does not file an application to participate in the reverse auction, as well as any
applicant declining to accept an opening price for any option—that is, declining to participate in the
reverse auction—will be designated for assignment of a television channel in its pre-auction or home
band.992 Thus, at the conclusion of the initialization step, the Commission will know, at a minimum,
which television stations need to be assigned channels in their home bands in the repacking process, and
can set the initial spectrum clearing target accordingly. The Commission will use optimization techniques
to determine the amount of spectrum that can be cleared or repurposed based on the feasibility of
assigning channels to non-participating stations that are entitled to protection in the repacking process, as
well as to participating stations that are willing only to move to a lower band.993
331.
Stage Structure. The incentive auction will be conducted in a series of stages.994 Each
stage will be associated with a spectrum clearing target for bidding in the reverse auction and a
corresponding license inventory for bidding in the forward auction. The clearing target and license
inventory will be reduced from stage to stage, if the final stage rule is not satisfied. We adopt this
structure in large part to facilitate bidder participation. Unlike alternatives in which the reverse auction
bidding process would be run for all possible clearing targets before the forward auction bidding process,
or vice versa, the stage structure does not require bidders in either side of the auction to provide more bid

987 A bidder that accepts a price for a relinquishment option, whether the opening price or any other price offer in the
reverse auction, makes a binding commitment to accept the relinquishment option if the auction system selects that
bid as a winning bid. See § IV.B.2.d (Reverse Auction – Additional Bidding Procedures). See also § IV.B.1.b (Bid
Options) (describing bid options for license relinquishment or license modification).
988 See § III.A (600 MHz Band Plan); Technical Appendix.
989 See §§ III.A.2.d (Market Variation), III.B.2 (Implementing the Statutory Preservation Mandate).
990 For instance, Motorola Mobility states that the Commission should implement an auction process that maximizes
the amount of spectrum that can be repurposed for wireless broadband services, and that the Commission should
“adopt flexible policies that support spectrum clearing.” Motorola Mobility Comments at 2. Likewise, Verizon
notes that commenters broadly agree the auction design should maximize the amount of repurposed spectrum, and
maximize broadcaster participation. Verizon Reply at vi.
991 See e.g., Cisco Comments at 9; EOBC Reply at 14; HTSC Comments at 6; Verizon Comments at 22. But see
NTA Comments at 13–14; NTA Reply at 4 (stating that the goal of repurposing 120 megahertz seems arbitrary).
992 See § III.B.1 (Repacking Process Overview).
993 See § IV.B.2.b (Reverse Auction Bid Assignment Procedures).
994 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12379, para. 67; see also id. at 12579 (Appendix C) (referring to an interleaved
approach).
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information than is needed for the auction to close. Further, bidders in each side of the auction will
receive some information about conditions on the other side, facilitating their bidding decisions.995 In
addition, stopping the incentive auction at the earliest stage in which the final stage rule is met avoids
prolonging the bidding processes unnecessarily, consistent with our recognition that speed is important to
a successful auction outcome. The stage structure also provides a workable framework for determining
the greatest amount of spectrum that can be cleared while satisfying the final stage rule.996
332.
Commenters agree that the stage structure we adopt will facilitate and encourage auction
participation by broadcast television licensees.997 They note the informational advantages of a staged
approach, including the importance of price discovery to participants.998 We disagree with AT&T that
running the reverse auction in full for all clearing targets (a “single-pass”) before the forward auction
commences would simplify participation for reverse auction bidders.999 On the contrary, we agree with
EOBC that the single-pass proposal would deprive broadcast television licensees of any information
about the forward auction and require them to reveal more information than necessary during the reverse
auction bidding.1000 Nor are we persuaded by AT&T’s claim that the need to conduct forward auction
bidding between the reverse auction bidding process in each stage would impose a significant burden on
participating broadcasters, particularly given that the stage structure might avoid the need for multiple
stages, thereby concluding the entire auction more quickly.1001
333.
Some wireless carriers contend that the single-pass approach would provide the greatest
level of certainty for forward auction participants, thereby enhancing participation in the forward
auction.1002 We recognize that wireless carriers need time for planning and information regarding auction
inventories in order to assess auction strategies and obtain financing.1003 We note, however, that
uncertainty about the number of spectrum licenses that will be available is inherent in the incentive
auction, and affects parties on both sides of the auction process. We have sought to address this
uncertainty in the 600 MHz Band Plan by establishing a set number of potential spectrum recovery

995 In that regard, we note that the 600 MHz Band Plan is designed to provide potential forward auction participants
with as much information as possible prior to the incentive auction so that they may prepare for the various
contingencies that may unfold during the bidding.
996 Because the reverse and forward auction bidding processes will be conducted for a common benchmark amount
of cleared spectrum in each stage, the auction mechanism will be able to compare the incentive payments required to
clear a given amount of spectrum to the forward auction proceeds available to pay for such clearing.
997 See EOBC Comments at 11; Verizon Comments at 25; see also T-Mobile Reply at 72–75 (suggesting that the
reverse auction should run for more than one clearing target at a time, but less than all possible targets).
998 See e.g., EOBC Comments at 11 (supporting a stage structure to “enhance the information available to
participants about the supply and demand on each side of the incentive auction”); EOBC Reply, Eisenach Reply
Declaration at 15–16; T-Mobile Reply at 74.
999 See generally AT&T Comments at 63.
1000 EOBC Reply, Eisenach Declaration at 15–16; see also Verizon Comments at 26.
1001 Compare AT&T Reply, Che & Haile Reply Analysis at 13 (suggesting that a “single-pass” auction would create
less of a burden on broadcasters’ time), with Verizon Comments at 27 (arguing that a staged approach actually limits
the duration of the auction for broadcasters because they are able to drop out of the auction at various incremental
stages), and T-Mobile Reply at 74 (stating that a “single pass” auction would take considerably more time to
complete than a staged auction).
1002 See, e.g., Sprint Comments at 6; see also US Cellular Comments at 20; MetroPCS Comments at 8. Both US
Cellular and MetroPCS support auction designs that differ from our chosen approach in other significant ways, with
US Cellular opposing bidding for generic licenses in the forward auction and MetroPCS advocating an ascending
clock reverse auction. Thus, their arguments regarding stage structure have less force. See §§ IV.B.2.a (Reverse
Auction Bid Collection Procedures), IV.C.2.a (Forward Auction Bid Collection Procedures).
1003 See Leap Reply at 4; MetroPCS at 8; Sprint Comments at 6.
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scenarios, limiting the number of contingencies for which potential forward auction participants must
plan.1004 We conclude that the stage structure, which shares information about supply and demand with
forward and reverse auction participants at the same time, is the optimal integration method for this
incentive auction because it will facilitate broadcaster participation and serve as an effective means of
determining whether the final stage rule can be satisfied at various spectrum clearing target levels.
334.
Once the initial spectrum clearing target is determined, establishing a benchmark for the
first stage of the incentive auction, the reverse auction bidding process will begin.1005 In that process,
reverse auction bidders will be asked, in a series of bidding rounds, whether they are willing to accept
progressively lower prices for the bid options. This bidding process will determine the total amount of
the incentive payments that broadcast television licensees will require in order to voluntarily relinquish
spectrum usage rights that will permit clearing of enough television channels to meet the initial clearing
target. Generally, the prices for a bid option will descend from round to round until a station’s voluntary
relinquishment of rights becomes necessary to meet the spectrum clearing target.1006
335.
Although each stage generally will be associated with a single clearing target, during the
first stage of the auction the target may be reduced or modified in certain areas if we implement a
“dynamic reserve price,” under which bidders would be asked if they are willing to accept lower prices in
areas without bidding competition (that is, areas where there is not active bidding by more stations than
needed to meet the initial clearing target). If stations in such areas do not accept reduced prices and
cannot be assigned a channel in the television bands, then they may be assigned a channel in the
repurposed spectrum. Alternatively, the clearing target may have to be adjusted to make channels
available for those stations.1007 Details of the operation of the dynamic reserve price rule will be
established in the Incentive Auction Procedures PN after an opportunity for comment.
336.
Once the reverse auction bidding process has ended, the amount of the incentive
payments required to achieve the spectrum clearing target will be known, as will any impairments to that
target, and the auction system will announce the inventory of licenses available for bidding in the forward
auction. Then the forward auction bidding process will be conducted to determine how much bidders are
willing to pay for the inventory of licenses corresponding to the initial clearing target. The final stage
rule for the incentive auction (addressed below) will be continuously evaluated during the forward auction
bidding process.1008 If the final stage rule is satisfied, then the incentive auction will end with the first
stage. Bidding will continue in the forward auction, however, until there is no excess demand for
licenses. If the final stage rule is not satisfied, the incentive auction will proceed to a second stage.1009

1004 We note that the 600 MHz Band Plan we adopt is consistent with different spectrum clearing targets, which
targets will determine the scope of potential options for forward auction bidders. See generally § III.A (Band Plan
for the New 600 MHz Band); Technical Appendix. With respect to specific concerns about time available to
prepare for the auction, we further note that we will establish the specific timing, including the lag, if any, between
auction stages and between the reverse and forward auction bidding processes within a stage, in the pre-auction
process.
1005 The reverse auction bidding process is addressed in more detail in the next Section. See § IV.B.2 (Reverse
Auction – Bidding Process).
1006 See §§ III.B.1 (Repacking Process Overview), IV.B.2 (Reverse Auction Bidding Process).
1007 We will determine whether and how to “impair” spectrum in the pre-auction process. See § III.A.2.d (Market
Variation).
1008 See § IV.C.2 (Forward Auction Bidding Process). Stopping procedures that specifically define when the bidding
in the forward and reverse clock auctions ends will be discussed and established in the pre-auction process.
1009 See § IV.C.2.a (Forward Auction Bid Collection Procedures) (noting the possibility of using extended rounds in
some circumstances).
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337.
In a second stage, the spectrum clearing target in the reverse auction would be smaller
than in the first stage. Likewise, the license inventory in the forward auction would be smaller than in the
first stage. Reducing the spectrum clearing target will increase the likelihood of satisfying the final stage
rule because less spectrum will need to be cleared and, therefore, fewer broadcasters will require
incentive payments and prices in the reverse auction will generally fall. If the final stage rule is not
satisfied in the second stage, then additional stages would be run with smaller clearing targets in the
reverse auction and license inventories in the forward auction, until the final stage rule is satisfied.1010
338.
Final Stage Rule. The earliest auction stage that meets the “final stage rule” will be the
final stage of the auction.1011 The final stage rule is a reserve price with two components. The current
auction stage (and associated clearing target) will be designated as the final stage if the requirements of
both components are met. In the pre-auction process, we will consider whether to apply the final stage
rule solely to “major markets” and, if so, how to identify such markets. This approach could significantly
speed up the determination of whether the final stage rule is satisfied.
339.
The first component of the rule will be satisfied by the average price per MHz-pop1012 for
licenses in the forward auction or the total proceeds associated with those licenses, depending on the
amount of spectrum cleared in that stage.
340.
Specifically, the first component of the reserve price will be satisfied if, for a given stage
of the auction:
 the average price per MHz-pop for licenses in the forward auction meets a price
benchmark that will be set by the Commission in the pre-auction process,1013 or
 the total proceeds associated with licenses in the forward auction exceed the product of
the price benchmark, the spectrum clearing benchmark, and the total number of pops for
those licenses.1014
The price and spectrum clearing benchmarks will be established by the Commission in the Procedures
PN
, after an opportunity for additional comment.
341.
The second component of the final stage rule requires that, under either of the prongs of
the first component above, the proceeds of the forward auction also must be sufficient to meet the clearing
costs identified in the reverse auction, the other expenses set forth in section 6403(c)(2) of the Spectrum
Act,1015 and any Public Safety Trust Fund amounts still needed in connection with FirstNet after the close

1010 See § III.A.2 (600 MHz Band Plan). The Procedures PN will determine, after additional opportunity for
comment, how clearing targets for any subsequent stages will be established.
1011 As noted above, after the final stage rule is satisfied, bidding will continue in the forward auction until there is
no excess demand for licenses.
1012 The term “MHz-pop” is defined as the product derived from multiplying the number of megahertz associated
with a license by the population (“pop” or “pops”) of the license’s service area.
1013 This version of the first component will apply when the clearing target for the given stage of the auction is at or
below the Commission’s specified spectrum clearing benchmark.
1014 That is, if $p is the benchmark average price per MHz-pop, and Q is the spectrum clearing benchmark, the
alternative version of the first component will be satisfied if the total proceeds from the licenses are at least $p times
Q times the total pops in those licenses. The alternative version of the first component will apply only when the
spectrum clearing target for a given stage of the auction is above the Commission’s spectrum clearing benchmark.
1015 The Spectrum Act requires that the forward auction generate proceeds sufficient to pay winning bidders in the
reverse auction and cover relevant administrative costs of the auction and an estimate of relocation costs subject to
reimbursement. See Spectrum Act § 6403(c)(2).
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of the H Block and AWS-3 auctions.1016 If the requirements of both components are met, then the final
stage rule is satisfied.
342.
The final stage rule advances our goal of allowing market forces to determine the highest
and best use of spectrum. The approach described above will allow the incentive auction to determine the
best balance of spectrum cleared and spectrum license prices attained through competition, while ensuring
that the auction meets the statutory requirements. The first component’s alternative conditions are
designed to address the unique nature of the incentive auction, in particular the fact that we will not know
how much spectrum will be available for the forward auction when establishing the price and spectrum
benchmarks before the auction. This approach recognizes that if the incentive auction repurposes a
relatively large amount of spectrum for flexible uses, per-unit market prices may be expected to decline
consistent with the increase in available supply. The alternative formulation allows the first component to
be satisfied in a stage with a high spectrum clearing target based on the total proceeds of the forward
auction, even if the per-MHz-pop price is less than the benchmark price.
343.
We establish the final stage rule pursuant to the underlying auction provisions in the
Communications Act, which direct the Commission to establish methods for requiring a reserve price
unless it determines that it is not in the public interest to do so.1017 An objective common to all FCC
auctions of spectrum licenses is that auction prices generally reflect competitive market values for
comparable spectrum licenses.1018 The reserve price approach described above will serve the public
interest and this goal. The first component of the final stage rule’s reserve price ensures that the forward
auction recovers “a portion of the value of the public spectrum resource,” as required by the
Communications Act.1019 Our approach based on the specific price and spectrum clearing benchmarks
aims to assure that prices for licenses in the forward auction reflect competitive values without reducing
the amount of spectrum repurposed for new, flexible-use licenses.
344.
The second component of the final stage rule’s reserve price ensures that the forward
auction recovers the clearing costs and other expenses identified by the Spectrum Act.1020 We also

1016 The Spectrum Act establishes the priority for making payments or deposits from the Public Safety Trust Fund as
amounts are deposited into the Fund, including to fund FirstNet, but does not mandate additional deposits. See
Spectrum Act § 6413(b). Section 6413(b) specifies that the first $7.135 billion of the proceeds from auctions
authorized under the Spectrum Act and deposited into the Fund will be used for FirstNet-related purposes.
1017 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(4)(F). In our spectrum license auctions, a reserve price establishes the price below which a
license or licenses subject to auction will not be awarded. See 47 C.F.R. § 1.2104(c). The Commission has, in
recent auctions, established a reserve price in order to help ensure that auction prices reflected competitive market
values for spectrum licenses. Typically, the amount of a reserve price(s) and the way in which it will be applied
during the auction are established in the pre-auction process. See, e.g., Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and
777-792 MHz Bands
, WT Docket No. 06-150, Second Report and Order, 22 FCC Rcd 15289, 15400-01, para. 304
(2007) (directing the Wireless Bureau to adopt aggregate reserve prices reflecting the potential market value of the
700 MHz Band spectrum based on a variety of factors); see also Auction of H Block Licenses in the 1915-1920 MHz
and 1995-2000 MHz Bands Scheduled for January 14, 2014; Notice and Filing Requirements, Reserve Price,
Minimum Opening Bids, Upfront Payments, and Other Procedures for Auction 96
, AU Docket No. 13-178, Public
Notice, 28 FCC Rcd 13019, 13063–64, paras. 169–74 (2013) (setting a reserve price to recover for the public a
portion of the value of the spectrum), recon. denied, 28 FCC Rcd 16108 (2013).
1018 We will base the benchmark average per-unit price on factors including, but not limited to, prices received in
auctions of comparable spectrum licenses. As stated above, the Procedures PN will determine the specific
parameters of the final stage rule after further notice and comment in the pre-auction process.
1019 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(3)(C).
1020 We will assess the satisfaction of these statutory expenses in the aggregate. See, e.g., Anon. Broadcaster 2
Comments at ii, 8–10; EOBC Comments at 12–13; EOBC Reply at 23 (arguing that a national measure will provide
the Commission with “the greatest flexibility to utilize spectrum in the largest markets to unlock the value of
spectrum in smaller markets throughout the country”). We reject Sinclair’s contention that an allocated share of
these expenses should be satisfied independently in each license area. Sinclair Comments at 14.
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include FirstNet funding in the second component of the reserve price, consistent with section 309(j)(3)’s
express command that in designing our auction rules we “seek to promote the purposes specified in
[section 1 of the Communications Act].”1021 Those purposes include “promoting safety of life and
property through the use of . . . radio communications.”1022 Among the funding priorities identified in the
Spectrum Act, including other public safety-related priorities, ensuring the build-out of FirstNet uniquely
clearly furthers this purpose, as confirmed by examination of the public safety provisions of the Spectrum
Act, which is part of the same “overall statutory scheme.”1023 Congress specifically directed the
Commission to reallocate spectrum to and license FirstNet, instructed the Commission to “take all actions
necessary to facilitate the transition of the existing public safety broadband spectrum to [FirstNet],” and
authorized the Commission to “take any action necessary to assist [FirstNet] in effectuating its duties and
responsibilities” under the Spectrum Act.1024
345.
We also note that the auctions authorized by the Spectrum Act, including incentive
auctions, are the sole source of federal funding identified by Congress for FirstNet.1025 At this time, there
are no additional incentive auctions planned prior to the end of fiscal year 2022. Thus, unless FirstNet
funding is part of the final stage rule for the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction, full funding
of the Public Safety Trust Fund (“PSTF”) for FirstNet may be deferred indefinitely. We are optimistic
that the proceeds from the H Block and AWS-3 auctions will be sufficient to fully fund amounts for
FirstNet. Nonetheless, we include PSTF funding for FirstNet as part of the final stage rule to address the
possibility that such amounts will not be fully funded from the proceeds of those earlier auctions, and
pursuant to the explicit public safety goals set forth above. For the reasons explained above, we disagree
with commenters that contend the Commission should not apply a final stage rule or conditions beyond
the expenses enumerated in the Spectrum Act.1026
346.
Once the final stage rule is satisfied, and bidding has continued in the forward auction
until there is no excess demand for licenses, winners of generic licenses in the forward auction will
participate in an assignment round for specific frequency assignment.1027 Final prices for forward auction
licenses will be set in the assignment round.1028 Results of the final stage of the reverse auction will
determine which broadcasters will relinquish which spectrum usage rights and how much of the auction

1021 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(3).
1022 47 U.S.C. § 151. See also Nuvio Corp. v. FCC, 473 F.3d 302, 312 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (Kavanaugh, J., concurring)
(“broad public safety and [9-1-1] authority Congress has granted the FCC”).
1023 See FDA v. Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp., 529 U.S. 120, 132—33 (2000). See also Maricich v. Spears,
133 S. Ct. 2191, 2203 (2013) (“[I]n expounding a statute, we . . . look to the provisions of the whole law, and to its
object and policy[.]”) (quoting U.S. Nat’l Bank of Ore v. Indep. Ins. Agents of America, Inc., 508 U.S. 439, 455
(1993)).
1024 Spectrum Act §§ 6201(a), 6201(c), 6213.
1025 See 47 U.S.C. §§ 309(j)(8)(D)(ii), 309(j)(8)(F), 309(j)(8)(G)(iii)(II)(aa) (added by the Spectrum Act) (directing
that proceeds from the auctions required by the Spectrum Act and incentive auctions held prior to the end of fiscal
year 2022 be deposited in the Public Safety Trust Fund).
1026 See, e.g., Verizon Comments at 55–56; Anon. Broadcaster 2 Comments at 8; EOBC Comments at 12–13. We
read § 6403(c)(2) of the Spectrum Act as simply requiring that the incentive auction recover the expenses specified
therein, i.e., payments to the reverse auction winning bidders, the Commission’s administrative expenses, and the
estimated costs of relocation. We do not construe the Spectrum Act to repeal the Commission’s broad authority
under § 309(j)(3) to promote the public safety goals outlined in § 1 of the Communications Act, which is the basis
for our inclusion of FirstNet support in the final stage rule.
1027 See § IV.C.2.b (Forward Auction Bid Assignment Procedures).
1028 See id.; see also § IV.C.2.c (Forward Auction Procedures to Determine Payments).
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proceeds they will receive in exchange.1029 Stations that will remain on the air will proceed to the final
channel assignment process.1030

B.

Reverse Auction

347.
The reverse auction portion of the incentive auction will collect information about the
price at which broadcast television licensees would be willing to voluntarily relinquish some or all of their
spectrum usage rights. We describe below the pre-auction and bidding processes for the reverse auction.
1.

Pre-Auction Process

348.
We adopt a pre-auction application filing process for reverse auction participants, similar
to that used in spectrum license auctions. The process will, among other things, require broadcast
television licensees to make disclosures and certifications establishing their eligibility to participate in the
reverse auction. Such an approach will ensure serious participation without being unduly burdensome.
Below, we discuss these eligibility requirements and what information a broadcast television licensee
must provide to the Commission to demonstrate its eligibility to participate in the reverse auction.
349.
We also discuss the Commission’s obligation to keep confidential the participation of
broadcasters in the reverse auction. In addition, we address the adoption of a rule prohibiting full power
and Class A television licensees from communicating with each other or with forward auction applicants
about bids or bidding strategies for a specified period of time. Further, we discuss the statutory
requirement for two participants to compete in the reverse auction and the processing of pre-auction
applications to participate in the reverse auction.
a.

Eligibility

350.
We identify which broadcast television licensees will be eligible to participate in the
reverse auction and the spectrum usage rights eligible for relinquishment by those licensees. We limit
reverse auction participation to the licensees of full power and Class A television stations that we will
protect in the repacking process.1031 For each station, the rights eligible for voluntary relinquishment will
be the same as those associated with the facilities that we will protect in the repacking process absent
relinquishment of those rights.
(i)

Licensees Eligible to Participate

351.
Background. In the NPRM, the Commission tentatively concluded that the Spectrum Act
limits reverse auction participation to full power and Class A licensees.1032 It also tentatively decided that
stations operating on a noncommercial educational (“NCE”)-reserved channel or with NCE status on a
non-reserved channel will be eligible to participate in the reverse auction.1033 Although the Spectrum Act
requires all reasonable efforts to preserve a full power or Class A licensee’s coverage area and population
served as of February 22, 2012,1034 it does not establish an analogous date for reverse auction eligibility.

1029 See §§ IV.B.2.b (Reverse Auction Bid Assignment Procedures), IV.B.2.c (Reverse Auction Procedures to
Determine Payments).
1030 See § III.B.1 (Repacking Process Overview).
1031 See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2) (mandating the Commission to “make all reasonable efforts to preserve, as of the
date of the enactment of this Act, the coverage area and population served of each broadcast television licensee”);
see also § III.B.3 (Facilities to Be Protected).
1032 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12380–81, para. 74.
1033 Id. at 12381, para. 76. We do not designate Class A television station licenses as NCE, although a Class A
licensee may operate its station on a noncommercial educational basis.
1034 See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2).
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In the NPRM, the Commission proposed to create parity between repacking protection and reverse
auction eligibility by limiting eligibility to stations that would be protected in the repacking process.1035
352.
Discussion. We adopt the proposal to limit reverse auction participation to licensees of
commercial and NCE full power and Class A stations.1036 Limiting reverse auction eligibility in this
manner comports with the plain language of the Spectrum Act as well as the policies underlying it.
Section 6403(a)(1) directs the Commission to conduct “a reverse auction to determine the amount of
compensation that each broadcast television licensee would accept in return for voluntarily relinquishing
some or all of its broadcast television spectrum usage rights.” The Spectrum Act defines “broadcast
television licensee” as “the licensee of (A) a full-power television station; or (B) a low-power television
station that has been accorded primary status as a Class A television licensee.”1037 Because this definition
does not exclude NCE licensees, we find that the Spectrum Act extends reverse auction eligibility to NCE
licensees of full power and Class A stations.1038 The definition of “broadcast television licensee” does not
include LPTV and TV translator stations, however. 1039 Accordingly, licensees of such stations will not be
eligible to participate in the reverse auction.1040 Our decision to limit reverse auction eligibility to
licensees of commercial and NCE full power and Class A stations is consistent with our mandate to make
all reasonable efforts to preserve the coverage area and population served of only these stations in the
repacking process.1041 It also comports with our decision not to exercise our discretionary authority to
extend repacking protection to LPTV and TV translator stations. As discussed below in connection with
spectrum usage rights, harmonizing qualifications for reverse auction eligibility with those for repacking
protection will further the goals of the Spectrum Act.
353.
Although the Spectrum Act does not define the term “licensee,” we interpret “licensee” to
mean “the holder of a . . . station license,” as it is defined in the Communications Act.1042 We therefore

1035 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12382–83, para. 79.
1036 Id. at 12380–81, paras. 73–74.
1037 Spectrum Act §§ 6001(6)(A)–(B).
1038 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12381, para. 76; see also Spectrum Act § 6001(6)(A). Furthermore, the statute protects
the cable and satellite carriage rights of channel sharing NCE stations, implying the eligibility of NCEs to participate
in the reverse auction. Section 6403(a)(4) protects the “carriage rights under section . . . 615 of the Communications
Act” of licensees that relinquish spectrum usage rights in order to share a channel. Section 615 of the
Communications Act applies only to NCE stations. See 47 U.S.C. § 535. The Communications Act exempts NCE
stations from the FCC’s general authority to grant “initial licenses or construction permits” through competitive
bidding. Id. § 309(j)(2)(C); see NPR v. FCC, 254 F.3d 226, 228—229 (D.C. Cir. 2001) (“[T]he [Communications]
Act unambiguously forbids the Commission from requiring NCEs to participate in auctions to obtain licenses for
any channel, reserved or unreserved.”). That exemption, however, does not apply to the voluntary relinquishment of
spectrum usage rights pursuant to § 6403(a) of the Spectrum Act. Some commenters specifically support the
conclusion that NCE stations are eligible to participate in the reverse auction. See EOBC Comments at 15; T-
Mobile Comments at 37. Although commenters do not contest our tentative decision to permit NCE stations to
participate in the reverse auction, some express concern about the impact of reverse auction participation on NCE
coverage. See § IV.B.1.b (Reverse Auction Bid Options).
1039 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12380, para. 73.
1040 Several commenters note that LPTV stations are excluded from reverse auction eligibility. See CTIA Comments
at 33; Spectrum Bridge Comments at 7; MSGPR Comments at 5; NRB Comments at 5; TechAmerica Reply at 5–6;
cf. M. Gravino Comments at 2 (requesting that Congress allow reverse auction participation by LPTV stations). We
note that, as with TV translators, digital replacement translators (DRTs) will not be reverse auction eligible.
1041 See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2) (requiring the Commission to make “all reasonable efforts” to preserve the
coverage area and population served of full power and Class A television licensees only); id. § 6403(b)(4)(A)(i)
(requiring reimbursement of certain “broadcast television licensee[s]”).
1042 47 U.S.C. § 153(30).
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conclude that to be a “licensee” of a full power or Class A station eligible to participate in the reverse
auction, a broadcaster must hold a license for the station it wishes to offer.1043 Because the Spectrum Act
does not mandate a time by which a license must be obtained to be a “licensee,” we have discretion to
adopt a licensing deadline. We conclude that, in order for a broadcaster to be a reverse auction eligible
“licensee,” it must hold a license for the full power or Class A station it wishes to offer at auction on or
before the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline.1044 Thus, the small number of entities that held construction
permits but not licenses for new full power television stations as of February 22, 2012 must obtain
licenses for these stations on or before the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline in order to be eligible to
participate in the reverse auction. In addition to being consistent with the statutory language, this
approach creates consistency between reverse auction eligibility and repacking protections.1045
(ii)

Spectrum Usage Rights That Will Be Eligible for
Relinquishment

354.
Background. While the Spectrum Act identifies who can participate in the reverse
auction (i.e., a full power or Class A “broadcast television licensee”1046), it does not describe which
“spectrum usage rights”1047 are eligible for relinquishment. Nor does it establish a date by which a station
must secure such rights in order to relinquish them in the reverse auction.1048 In the NPRM, the
Commission linked the proposals regarding the spectrum usage rights it would recognize for bidding
purposes with the facilities being protected in the repacking process. 1049 Consistent with its proposals for
repacking protections, the Commission proposed to limit eligible relinquishment to licensed facilities.1050

1043 An entity building a new broadcast station first receives a construction permit authorizing construction of the
facility, at which point the entity becomes a “permittee.” It does not become a “licensee,” however, until the
Commission grants the entity its initial license after the facility has been constructed.
1044 See § III.B.3 (Facilities to Be Protected) (delegating authority to the Media Bureau to issue a Public Notice
specifying the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline). This subsection addresses only who may participate in the reverse
auction. We address what rights may be relinquished in the next subsection. For example, licensees authorized to
change channels or communities of license and Class A licensees authorized to convert to digital are reverse-
auction-eligible “licensees” even if they do not obtain a license for their authorized modification by the Pre-Auction
Licensing Deadline. With limited exceptions, however, such licensees must at least have a license-to-cover
application for their modified facility on file by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline in order for the spectrum usage
rights covered by such facility to be recognized for relinquishment. See § IV.B.1.a.ii (Spectrum Usage Rights That
Will Be Eligible for Relinquishment).
1045 This consistency will further the statutory goal of making spectrum available for the forward auction. Denying
reverse auction eligibility to a licensee whose station we will make all reasonable efforts to preserve in repacking
would make it impossible to reclaim this spectrum through the mechanism established in the Spectrum Act, thereby
undermining the goal of using market forces to repurpose UHF spectrum for new uses. Conversely, allowing the
licensee of a non-protected station to participate in the reverse auction could undermine the success of the auction
since such facilities may be displaced in the repacking process without compensation. See §§ III.B.3.d.iii (LPTV
and TV Translator Stations), V.D.1 (Transition Procedures for LPTV and TV Translator Stations).
1046 Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(1).
1047 Id.
1048 Id.
1049 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12382, para. 77 n.110 (proposing parity between a full power station’s spectrum
usage rights protected in the repacking process and recognized for relinquishment) and 12383, para. 80 n.120
(proposing parity between a Class A station’s spectrum usage rights protected in the repacking process and
recognized for relinquishment).
1050 In the NPRM, the Commission proposed to entertain bids to relinquish spectrum usage rights associated with:
(1) full power licenses held as of February 22, 2012; (2) the original license for new stations granted construction
permits by February 22, 2012, if licensed by the date of submission of the pre-auction application; (3) the initial
digital license of a digitally transitioning Class A station regardless of whether the Commission granted it before or
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It also proposed not to entertain bids to relinquish spectrum usage rights associated with construction
permits or pending applications for construction permits for which a license was not granted as of
February 22, 2012.1051
355.
Discussion. We will recognize for voluntary relinquishment in the reverse auction those
spectrum usage rights associated with facilities entitled to repacking protection, including those that we
must protect under the Spectrum Act and those that we will afford discretionary protection. As discussed
earlier, we conclude that a facility must be licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline in all but a
few cases in order to be protected in the repacking process.1052 We reach the same conclusion here: in all
but the same few cases, a facility must be licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline in order for the
spectrum usage rights covered by that facility to be recognized for relinquishment.1053
356.
As stated above, although section 6403(a)(1) requires a reverse auction in which
broadcasters may accept compensation for “voluntarily relinquishing some or all of [their] broadcast
television spectrum usage rights,”1054 the Spectrum Act does not define the term spectrum usage rights.
Under the Communications Act, however, only a station license confers on the holder the right to “use”
the station to transmit signals.1055 We similarly interpret the term “spectrum usage rights” in the Spectrum
Act to mean the rights of a broadcaster to use spectrum pursuant to a station’s license.1056 Under our
interpretation, spectrum usage rights may include a licensee’s existing or prospective licensed rights to
use spectrum.1057
(Continued from previous page)
after February 22, 2012; and (4) the analog license of a Class A station that has not received a digital license prior to
the auction. NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12381–83, para. 77–80.
1051 Id. at 12382–83, para. 79.
1052 As discussed in § III.B.3 (Facilities to Be Protected), “licensed” facilities for purposes of protection in the
repacking process include those subject to a license-to-cover application. Facilities subject to a license-to-cover
application that will be protected in the repacking process also will be eligible for relinquishment in the reverse
auction.
1053 As discussed above, with one exception, we will not protect LPTV stations that were eligible for a Class A
license but that did not file an application for such license until after February 22, 2012. See § III.B.3.d.ii (Out-of-
Core Class A Eligible LPTV Stations). Although such entities may hold Class A licenses before the Pre-Auction
Licensing Deadline, their facilities will not be protected in the repacking process, and thus the spectrum usage rights
covered by such facilities will not be recognized for relinquishment.
1054 Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(1). Section 6403 of the Spectrum Act references “spectrum usage rights” or simply
“usage rights.” See Spectrum Act §§ 6403(a)(1) (“broadcast television spectrum usage rights”), 6403(a)(2)(A)–(C)
(“usage rights”), 6403(a)(4) (“spectrum usage rights”), 6403(b)(4)(A)(ii)(II)-(III) (“spectrum usage rights”), and
6403(g)(1)(A) (“spectrum usage rights”); see also Spectrum Act § 6001(30) (“broadcast television spectrum usage
rights”). Section 6402 refers to “licensed spectrum usage rights,” as well as “spectrum usage rights.” Compare
Spectrum Act § 6402, adding 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(8)(G)(i) (referring to “licensed spectrum usage rights”) with id. §
309(j)(8)(G)(i)–(ii) (referring to “spectrum usage rights”). Because we are conducting the broadcast television
spectrum incentive auction under § 6403, we need not address the meaning of “licensed spectrum usage rights” in §
6402.
1055 See 47 U.S.C. § 153(49) (defining “license” as an “instrument of authorization . . . for the use or operation of
apparatus for transmission of energy, or communications, or signals by radio”). A construction permit merely
authorizes the “construction of a station” for the transmission of signals. 47 U.S.C. § 153(13).
1056 We conclude that STAs and experimental licenses do not qualify as “spectrum usage rights” for purposes of §
6403(a)(1) for the same reasons discussed above with respect to protection in the repacking process. See §
III.B.3.d.iv (Special Temporary and Experimental Authorizations).
1057 The Spectrum Act does not specify a date by which a broadcaster must secure its spectrum usage rights in order
to be able to relinquish them at auction, and we do not believe the statute requires that these rights be licensed by a
specific date. To maintain consistency with our repacking approach, we will recognize for relinquishment, even if
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357.
Parity between repacking protections and reverse auction eligibility will further the goals
of the incentive auction.1058 If the Commission protected rights in the repacking process that a broadcaster
could not be compensated for relinquishing in the reverse auction, broadcasters’ incentive to bid in the
reverse auction would be reduced because they would not be eligible for compensation for the full value
of their rights. This, in turn, could undermine Congress’s goals for the incentive auction.1059 At the same
time, it would be meaningless for us to recognize for relinquishment broader rights than those which we
would protect in the repacking process. Unprotected usage rights will not affect our repacking flexibility
or our ability to repurpose spectrum and thus will have no value in the reverse auction.
(iii)

Pending Renewal and Enforcement Proceedings

358.
Background. In the NPRM, the Commission sought comment on how to treat a station
offered in a license relinquishment bid in the reverse auction that is the subject of a pending renewal
application or enforcement matter.1060 The Commission has a longstanding policy restricting the sale of
stations in these situations.1061 While noting the importance of preventing a licensee from evading the
consequences of wrongdoing through a station sale, thus undermining the deterrent effect of our rules, the
Commission stated that the public interest in maximizing participation in the reverse auction may justify
permitting license relinquishment bids in such situations.1062 It also noted that, although it generally does
not permit the sale of a broadcast license in the face of unresolved complaints involving the license,
(Continued from previous page)
they are not licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline, the facilities authorized in a construction permit to
modify the existing licenses of stations affected by the destruction of the World Trade Center that seek to relocate to
the new 1 World Trade Center site if they elect to have such facility protected in the repacking process and a
construction permit for a new full power stationon channel 3 at Middletown Township, New Jersey that was allotted
pursuant to a court order. See § III.B.3.b.v (Additional Cases). All other facilities must be licensed by the Pre-
Auction Licensing Deadline for the usage rights covered by that facility to be recognized for relinquishment. Some
commenters assert that they should not have to expend funds to construct a facility that they will offer in the reverse
auction. See Vision Comments at 8. We reject this argument for the same reasons that we generally decline to
protect facilities in the repacking process that are not licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline.
1058 Consistent with our repacking approach, the rights eligible for relinquishment will include those reflected in
permits granted by the April 5, 2013 issuance of the Media Bureau’s Freeze PN, so long as the relevant facilities are
licensed by the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline. Class A licensees that received initial authorizations for their
digital facilities prior to April 5, 2013 are subject to the Freeze PN, while such licensees obtaining initial digital
authorizations after this date are not. See § III.B.3.b.iii (Facility Modifications). Contrary to the arguments of some
commenters, this approach does not impermissibly provide disparate treatment to similarly situated entities. See
Polnet Reply at 1–3; Local Media Reply at 2–4 (citing Melody Music, Inc. v. FCC, 345 F.2d 730, 733 (D.C. Cir.
1965)). Rather, our approach ensures that all initial Class A digital conversion applications will be processed
consistently, using the same standards and procedures regardless of the timing of the application, so long as the
application complies with our existing rules.
1059 See Morton v. Ruiz, 415 U.S. 199, 237 (1974) (“In order for an agency interpretation to be granted deference, it
must be consistent with the congressional purpose.”) (citation omitted).
1060 This issue is not relevant for winning UHF-to-VHF, high-VHF-to-low-VHF, or channel sharing bidders because
they will remain Commission licensees after the reverse auction and, therefore, would remain subject to a pending
license renewal or enforcement proceeding regardless of the outcome of the reverse auction.
1061 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12383–84, paras. 81–82; see also Questions Concerning Basic Qualifications of
Broadcast Applicants
, Public Notice, 28 R.R.2d (P&F) 705, 706 (1973) (providing for “deferral of action on transfer
applications, where the prospective seller is involved in a pending renewal, revocation or investigative proceeding
regarding the particular station to be sold”); Jefferson Radio Co. v. FCC, 340 F.2d 781 (D.C. Cir. 1964) (resolution
of outstanding question concerning the seller’s qualifications is a condition precedent to consideration of a transfer
application).
1062 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12383–84, paras. 81–82.
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exceptions have been made to this practice in order to serve competing public objectives.1063 When it has
permitted such exceptions, the Commission often has placed conditions on grant of the transaction. For
example, if the seller will hold other broadcast licenses after a sale, the Commission has conditioned its
grant on the seller’s agreement to remain liable for the outcome of a renewal proceeding or enforcement
action involving the station sold.1064 If the seller no longer will hold any broadcast licenses upon
consummation of the sale, the Commission has required the seller to place funds into escrow pending the
outcome of the proceeding.1065
359.
Discussion. We will allow a broadcaster with a pending enforcement matter or a pending
license renewal application that raises an enforcement issue to participate in the reverse auction,1066 on
condition that such a broadcaster who no longer would hold any broadcast licenses upon acceptance of a
license relinquishment bid agrees that a share of its reverse auction proceeds be placed by the
Commission in escrow to cover potential forfeiture costs.1067 This escrow approach is based on
procedures already familiar to broadcasters in the sales context. It also will streamline reverse auction
participation by allowing broadcasters to participate without first fully resolving license renewal or
enforcement matters. Furthermore, as indicated below, this approach will provide certainty concerning
maximum enforcement liability, allowing the potential bidder to factor this potential liability into its bid
amount. Finally, consistent with longstanding Commission policy, holding a license relinquishment
bidder liable for the outcome of an enforcement issue even if it sells its last broadcast license ensures that
a broadcaster cannot evade the consequence of its wrongdoing by reverse auction participation.
360.
To implement this policy, if a broadcaster indicates in its pre-auction application that (1)
it might place one or more license relinquishment bids, and (2) it would not control any other broadcast
stations if its bid or bids were accepted, then we will review our records to determine whether any
outstanding enforcement matters exist pertaining to the broadcaster’s stations, including complaints for
which a proceeding has not yet been initiated and violations disclosed during the license renewal
process.1068 If appropriate and feasible under the circumstances, we will dispose of pending enforcement

1063 For example, the Commission has permitted a bankrupt licensee to sell a station involved in an enforcement
proceeding in order to protect creditors, provided the seller does not retain the proceeds of the sale. See, e.g.,
Second Thursday Corp.,
25 F.C.C.2d 112, 113–115, paras. 1–7 (1970). Similarly, the Commission has permitted the
sale of stations to protect innocent stockholders even outside the context of bankruptcy on condition that the
malefactor will receive no benefit from the sale and will not hold other licenses. Mountain View Communications,
Inc.
, 24 FCC Rcd 13516, 13521, para. 18 (2009).
1064 See, e.g., Applications of Comcast Corp., General Electric Co., and NBC Universal, Inc., MB Docket No. 10-56,
Memorandum Opinion and Order,, 26 FCC Rcd 4238, 4349, para. 275 nn.701, 702 (2011).
1065 See, e.g., Bela TV, LLC, Consent Decree, 25 FCC Rcd 400, para. 1 n.3 (2010) (noting that prior to grant of
television station assignment, Commission required seller to enter into agreement to place funds in escrow in order
to cover potential liability for alleged indecency violation in 2006).
1066 License renewal applications are subject to a three-month petition to deny period. See 47 C.F.R. § 73.3516(e).
Other than in unique circumstances, if a renewal application is uncontested and does not raise enforcement issues,
the Media Bureau will grant it shortly after the end of this period. Given the unique circumstances involving the
incentive auction, we will permit stations to be offered in the reverse auction even if they are subject to a pending
renewal application for which the petition to deny period has not yet expired at the commencement of the auction.
Any special procedures needed to address stations in this situation will be addressed in the Procedures PN.
1067 Verizon and Entravision support allowing such broadcasters to participate in the reverse auction. Verizon
Comments at 35; Entravision Comments at 5–6. We received no comments opposing participation by such stations.
As noted above, reverse auction bidders that hold multiple broadcast licenses and will continue to hold at least one
Commission license upon acceptance of their bids will remain subject to any pending license renewal, as well as any
enforcement action against the station offered at auction. Such participants will be required to acknowledge this
continuing liability in their pre-auction application.
1068 This includes matters pending in the Media Bureau, such as violations revealed during the license renewal
process, as well as complaints being addressed in the Enforcement Bureau.
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matters prior to the reverse auction, such as in cases that do not require further inquiry and can be
dismissed or resolved with the issuance of an admonishment or the execution of a consent decree.1069
361.
We delegate authority to the Wireless Telecommunications, Media, and Enforcement
Bureaus to include information about any pending enforcement matters against a reverse auction
applicant that cannot be resolved before the reverse auction when notifying an applicant of its eligibility
to participate in the auction. Along with that notice, the Bureaus will indicate the amount of reverse
auction proceeds that will be placed in escrow should the broadcaster submit a winning license
relinquishment bid. This sum will represent the maximum amount necessary to cover a potential
forfeiture based on enforcement matters existing at that time.1070 The escrow agreement will terminate:
(1) at the later of (i) two years after the date on which the licensee relinquishes the station’s license, or (ii)
after the resolution of a complaint filed to collect a forfeiture;1071 or (2) when all of the escrow funds are
distributed.1072 At termination of the escrow agreement, any funds remaining in the account will be
remitted to the reverse auction winner. The broadcaster must agree to the escrow arrangement in order to
participate in the reverse auction. More detailed procedures and the exact form of the escrow agreement
will be discussed in the Procedures PN. This procedure will streamline the process of handling
outstanding enforcement matters and provide a measure of certainty to license relinquishment bidders. It
therefore will help us facilitate broadcaster participation, while still ensuring that a licensee cannot avoid
the consequences of violations through reverse auction participation.1073
(iv)

Relinquishment of Expired or Revoked Licenses and
Downgraded Class A Licenses

362.
Background. In the NPRM, the Commission invited comment on how we should treat
stations in the reverse auction if a question exists concerning the validity of a license because it has
expired,1074 has been revoked in an enforcement proceeding,1075 or has been modified from Class A to

1069 See, e.g., Letter from Barbara A. Kreisman, Chief, Video Division to Atlanta Television Station WUPA, Inc.,
2013 WL 2146010 (dated May 17, 2013) (admonishing licensee for the station’s isolated violation of the children’s
television commercial limits as reported in station’s license renewal application).
1070 In the rare event that an enforcement matter raises an issue for which license revocation would be the likely
outcome of the proceeding, or in a situation where the proceeding likely would result in the modification of a Class
A station license to low power status, then the Bureau handling the matter may, at its discretion, require the entire
amount of the reverse auction proceeds to be placed in escrow and the procedures outlined in the next subsection for
stations involved in such enforcement matters would be followed.
1071 To the extent necessary, the two-year term of the escrow agreement also will extend the Statute of Limitations
applicable to the FCC and to collection actions by the Department of Justice (DOJ). See 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(6); 28
U.S.C. § 2462. This limited extension will provide certainty to potential bidders by assuring that the Commission
must complete any enforcement action within two years and any collections action by DOJ also must be filed within
the two-year period. It also will protect the FCC by allowing the judicial collections process, once started, to
continue to completion, thus preventing intentional delay by the subject of an enforcement action in an attempt to
avoid payment through expiration of the escrow agreement during the pendency of an action to collect a forfeiture.
1072 Escrow funds may be distributed to satisfy a forfeiture or a voluntary contribution in connection with a Consent
Decree and Order, or may be returned to the former licensee if the pending matters are closed without an
enforcement action.
1073 Few commenters respond to the questions raised in the NPRM about pending enforcement matters, other than to
advocate adoption of a streamlined approach for handling these matters. See Verizon Comments at 35. Verizon
supports settlement of pending enforcement proceedings at a fixed amount based on the nature of the alleged
violation in order to provide broadcasters with certainty for bid valuation purposes. Id. We conclude, however, that
the procedure outlined above provides sufficient information to broadcasters for bid valuation purposes.
1074 A license expires as a matter of law when the station ceases operations for any consecutive 12-month period. 47
U.S.C. § 312(g). It also expires when a licensee fails to file a license renewal application for its station prior to the
license expiration date. See 47 U.S.C. § 307(c)(1) (requiring the filing of a license renewal application); id. §
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LPTV status. To prevent a broadcaster from receiving payment for relinquishing spectrum to which it no
longer has usage rights, or in connection with a Class A station which has been reclassified to LPTV
status, the NPRM proposed that such licenses could not be offered in the reverse auction whether or not
the expiration, revocation, or downgrade determination has become final and unappealable.1076
363.
Discussion. We will not allow a station to participate in the reverse auction if its license
has expired,1077 is subject to a revocation order (collectively a “license validity proceeding”), or is for a
Class A station that is subject to a downgrade order, provided the license validity proceeding or Class A
downgrade order has become final and non-reviewable by a date prior to commencement of the auction
that will be specified in the Procedures PN.1078 If such a proceeding or order has not become final and
non-reviewable by that date, we will allow the licensee to voluntarily relinquish its spectrum usage rights
in the reverse auction.1079 Should the licensee submit a winning bid, we will place its reverse auction
proceeds in escrow using the procedures outlined above pending the final outcome of the proceeding or
order. If the decision becomes final and non-reviewable, then the money held in escrow will be deposited
with the other incentive auction proceeds.1080 In the event that a winning bidder subject to a pending
license validity proceeding or Class A downgrade order prevails in its appeal, we will release from
escrow to the licensee its reverse auction payment less any forfeiture that may result.1081
364.
Adopting this approach ensures that we do not unfairly deny reverse auction eligibility to
a broadcaster that might prevail in its challenge of a license validity proceeding or Class A downgrade
decision.1082 Additionally, it ensures that spectrum usage rights that otherwise would be protected in the
(Continued from previous page)
307(c)(3) (noting that the filing of a license renewal application continues the effectiveness of the existing license
beyond its expiration date).
1075 Although an exceedingly rare occurrence, the Commission has revoked a television license where the licensee
displayed “an egregious lack of candor.” See RKO General, Inc. v. FCC, 670 F.2d 215, 235 (D.C. Cir. 1981), cert.
denied
, 456 U.S. 927 (1982)..
1076 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12381, para. 75 & n.105 (Class A downgrade) and 12382, para. 78 & n.112 (license
expired, canceled or revoked).
1077 If the Media Bureau cancels a license because the licensee has failed to file a renewal application or the station
has been off the air for more than 12 consecutive months, the licensee has 30 days to file a petition for
reconsideration or an application for review requesting reinstatement of the license. See 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.106(b),
1.115(d); see also ETC Communications, Inc., 24 FCC Rcd 3021, 3022 (2009) (staff letter determining that
television station’s license had expired pursuant to § 312(g), and dismissing as moot application to assign that
license).
1078 If the license invalidity determination becomes final between the time a broadcaster is found to be qualified to
participate in the reverse auction and commencement of reverse auction bidding, the broadcaster will be excluded
from participating in the reverse auction.
1079 NRPM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12382, para. 78 n.112.
1080 See Spectrum Act § 6402.
1081 Any forfeiture amount will remain in escrow pending finality of the forfeiture proceeding.
1082 Several broadcasters assert that precluding reverse auction participation by a Class A station that is downgraded
to LPTV status before the modification order becomes final and non-reviewable would effectively cut off a
downgraded Class A station’s appeal rights. Entravision Comments at 6–7; UVM Reply at 18–20.
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repacking process can be relinquished at auction.1083 Finally, it is consistent with our longstanding policy
of preventing a station from avoiding the consequences of its misdeeds through a station sale.1084
b.

Bid Options

365.
Section 6403(a)(2) of the Spectrum Act requires the Commission to make available three
voluntary relinquishment options to eligible full power and Class A broadcast television licensees: (1) “all
usage rights with respect to a particular television channel without receiving in return any usage rights
with respect to another television channel” (“license relinquishment bid”); (2) “all usage rights with
respect to an ultra-high frequency television channel in return for receiving usage rights with respect to a
very high frequency television channel” (“UHF-to-VHF bid”); and (3) “usage rights in order to share a
television channel with another licensee” (“channel sharing bid”).1085 We address these three options
below, as well as additional bid options on which the Commission sought comment in the NPRM.
(i)

License Relinquishment Bid

366.
Background. In the NPRM, the Commission recognized the statutory mandate to offer a
license relinquishment bid option.1086 It also inquired about whether and how it should address the
potential loss of service by broadcast television stations as a result of the acceptance of license
relinquishment bids in light of section 307(b) of the Communications Act, which requires the
Commission to make a “fair, efficient, and equitable” distribution of television service when considering
applications for licenses.1087 The Commission also sought comment on the practical obstacles to factoring
into the reverse auction bidding and repacking processes consideration of whether a given broadcaster
going off the air would lead to loss of service.1088
367.
Discussion. We will offer a license relinquishment bid option as required by the statute
regardless of whether it may lead to a loss of service.1089 We decline to restrict acceptance of such bids
based on the potential loss of television service or specific programming. Any such restrictions could
reduce the amount of spectrum available to carry out the forward auction, and undermine our goal of

1083 We will protect in the repacking process a station involved in a license validity or Class A downgrade
proceeding until the determination becomes final and non-reviewable. See § III.B.3.c (Non-Final License
Revocation or Downgrade Proceedings).
1084 See M&M Broadcasting, Ltd., 25 FCC Rcd 4942, 4945 (2010); see also Cellular System One of Tulsa, Inc.,
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 102 F.C.C.2d 86, 90, para. 7 (1985) (“To permit a licensee to sell out from under
a potential disqualification would significantly impair the Commission’s ability to police and deter licensee
misconduct.”); Jefferson Radio, 340 F.2d at 783 (“It is the recognized policy of the Commission that assignment of
broadcast authorization will not be considered until the Commission has determined that the assignor has not
forfeited the authorization.).
1085 Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(2).
1086 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12385, para. 84.
1087 See 47 U.S.C. § 307(b) (“In considering applications for licenses, and modifications and renewals thereof, when
and insofar as there is demand for the same, the Commission shall make such distribution of licenses, frequencies,
hours of operation, and of power among the several States and communities as to provide a fair, efficient, and
equitable distribution of radio service to each of the same.”). Pursuant to this mandate, the Commission has strongly
disfavored modification of a station’s facilities that would create a “white” or “gray” area (an area where the
population does not receive any over-the-air television service or only one over-the-air service, respectively), or an
“underserved” area (where the population in the loss area would receive fewer than five over-the-air television
signals). See Channel Sharing NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 16507, para. 26.
1088 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12375–76, para. 48.
1089 See Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(2)(A).
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allowing market forces to determine the highest and best use of spectrum.1090 Any such restrictions would
also be inconsistent with the statutory mandate to offer a license relinquishment bid option. The decision
whether to participate in the reverse auction and to submit a license relinquishment bid is a voluntary,
market-based decision left to broadcast stations under the Spectrum Act. Declining to consider a station’s
license relinquishment bid because of a potential loss of service would force that station to involuntarily
forgo this opportunity. In mandating that the Commission accept license relinquishment bids, Congress
adopted no restrictions on such bids, thus recognizing that loss of service might be a potential outcome of
the reverse auction.1091 Moreover, neither section 307(b) nor our policies disfavoring loss of service
require us to restrict bids based on loss of service.1092
368.
Accordingly, we reject the proposal to consider on a case-by-case basis the extent to
which acceptance of a license relinquishment bid would create loss of service, including whether the loss
involves specialized programming.1093 Likewise, we disagree that we should reject a bid if it would leave
a DMA unserved by any NCE stations eligible to receive a community service grant from the CPB.1094

1090 In addition, any such restrictions would undermine the speed and certainty that are critical to the success of the
incentive auction. See § III.B (Repacking the Broadcast Television Bands). Consideration of service losses during
the reverse auction bidding would slow the auction and the repacking process by complicating the feasibility check.
See § III.B.1 (Repacking Process Overview). For example, under APTS’s proposal that we reject bids that would
leave a DMA unserved by any NCE stations eligible to receive a community service grant from the Corporation for
Public Broadcasting (CPB) (see Letter from Lonna Thompson, Association of Public Television Stations, to
Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 2–3 (filed Jan. 23, 2014)), the feasibility check
would have to take into account whether acceptance of a license relinquishment bid would cause another
participating station to be the only “qualified NCE station” in a DMA. On the other hand, consideration of service
losses after the bidding is complete would undermine the certainty of the reverse auction outcome.
1091 See Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(2)(A). See Anon. Broadcaster 3 Comments at 4 (“While the Commission has
previously disfavored loss of service in city of license change proceedings, Congress has determined that service
losses, which are an inescapable byproduct of the incentive auction, are required to address a critical national need
for alternative communications services.”).
1092 As an initial matter, § 6403 of the Spectrum Act contains no reference to § 307(b). Moreover, § 307(b) applies
only when the Commission is “considering applications for licenses, and modifications and renewals thereof,”
which are not presented during the reverse auction and repacking process. 47 U.S.C. § 307(b). In addition, neither
§ 307(b), nor our implementing policies that have disfavored service losses, are inflexible mandates. As the courts
have explained, the Commission “has a broad measure of discretion in dealing with the many and complicated
problems of allocation and distribution of service.” Television Corp. of Michigan v. FCC, 294 F.2d 730, 733 (1961)
(“Neither [§ 307(b)] nor the [allotment priorities] express rigid and inflexible standards.”). On balance, the public
interest benefits of allowing stations to submit license relinquishment bids, thereby utilizing market forces to
repurpose spectrum for new, flexible use, outweigh the detriments of potential service losses. We also note that, in
addition to the goals of the Spectrum Act and § 307(b), we are obligated under § 303(g) to “generally encourage the
larger and more effective use of radio in the public interest,” which will be furthered by the incentive auction. 47
U.S.C. § 303(g); Loyola University v. FCC, 670 F.2d 1222, 1226 (D.C. Cir. 1982) (rejecting claim that Commission
decision to allow additional sharing of clear channels rather than allowing higher power and exclusivity on existing
channels violated § 307(b); stating that “this is precisely the sort of determination Congress intended, through §§
307(b) and 303(g), to leave to the broad discretion of the Commission”).
1093 NRB Comments at 11–12. Examining potential loss of specific programming formats as a factor in bid
acceptance could run afoul of the long-standing policy of not considering formats in the analogous context of
reviewing an assignment application. WDCU(FM), 12 FCC Rcd 15242 (1997); see also Changes in the
Entertainment Formats of Broadcast Stations
, 60 FCC 2d 858, 865, para. 21 (1976), recon. denied, 66 FCC 2d 78
(1977), rev'd sub nom. WNCN Listeners Guild v. FCC, 610 F.2d 838 (D.C. Cir 1970), rev’d, 450 U.S. 582 (1981)
(regulation of entertainment formats as an aspect of the public interest consideration of a sales application would
produce an unnecessary and menacing entanglement in matters that Congress meant to leave to private discretion).
1094 PTV Comments at 6–7. PTV suggests that, because the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 that created the CPB
notes the importance of ubiquitous access to public telecommunications services, the Commission has a duty to
(continued….)
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Nevertheless, we remain committed to the goals of section 307(b). To the extent that any loss in service
results from the reverse auction, we will consider appropriate actions to address such losses, such as by
inviting applications to serve areas that have lost service.1095
(ii)

UHF-to-VHF Bid

369.
Background. In the NPRM, the Commission recognized the statutory mandate to offer a
UHF-to-VHF bid option, and invited comment on whether to refine the option to allow bidders to limit
their bids to a “high VHF channel” (channels 7-13).1096 The Commission stated that doing so might
encourage UHF-to-VHF bids because broadcasting on “low VHF channels” (channels 2-6) is often
difficult due to increased signal interference caused by the higher levels of ambient noise from electronic
devices operating on or near the low VHF frequency range.1097 To make this bid option more attractive,
the Commission also proposed to favor grant of post-incentive auction requests for waivers of the VHF
power and height limits for winning UHF-to-VHF bidders that experience unusual coverage problems on
their new VHF channels.
370.
Discussion. In addition to allowing bids to move from a UHF to a VHF channel as
required by the Spectrum Act, we adopt refinements to the UHF-to-VHF bid option that will allow
bidders to limit their bid to the high VHF band or the low VHF band. In order to preserve needed
flexibility in the repacking process, however, a bidder will not be able to specify the exact channel in the
high- or low-VHF band to which it will be reassigned. Allowing licensees to specify the upper VHF band
or lower VHF band will not unduly constrain our repacking flexibility. A number of commenters agree
that offering the option to specify the low VHF band or the high VHF band would make it more attractive
to submit a UHF-to-VHF bid.1098 Although some commenters express concern that additional bid options
would introduce unwanted complexity to the reverse auction,1099 we conclude that this option is simple
enough to avoid undue complexity. Allowing broadcasters to select either the high VHF band or the low
VHF band will encourage reverse auction participation by granting potential bidders greater control over
the channels to which we ultimately reassign them.1100 We conclude that this option strikes the correct
balance between providing flexibility in the reverse auction process for broadcasters and avoiding
unnecessary complexity.
371.
In addition, we adopt the proposal to afford favorable consideration to post-incentive
auction requests for waivers of the VHF power and height limits for winning UHF-to-VHF bidders that
(Continued from previous page)
prevent loss of such service through reverse auction relinquishments. This reading incorrectly elevates the Public
Broadcasting Act’s declaration of policy into a binding mandate. See id. (citing 47 U.S.C. § 396(a)(5), (a)(7)).
Moreover, because Congress designed the laws governing the CPB to provide financial and developmental
assistance for public broadcasting free from government control, reading those laws as dictating Commission policy
with respect to public broadcasting stations would frustrate this purpose. Revision of Programming Policies and
Reporting Requirements Related to Public Broadcasting Licensees
, BC Docket No. 81-496, Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 87 FCC 2d 716, 730–31, para. 34 (1981); Report and Order, 98 FCC 2d 746 (1984); see also 47 U.S.C.
§ 398(a) (expressing intent of Congress that the Commission shall have no direct jurisdiction over the CPB).
1095 As discussed in § V.D.1 (Transition Procedures for LPTV and TV Translator Stations), because we recognize
the importance of minimizing service disruption to viewers, we adopt expedited processing standards for displaced
LPTV and TV translator stations as part of the post-auction band transition.
1096 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12385, paras. 84–85. See Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(2)(B).
1097 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12385, paras. 84–85 (citing Channel Sharing NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 16512, para. 43).
1098 PTV Comments at 35; PTV Reply at 11–12; R. Brey Comments at 4; Entravision Comments at 9; Mobile Future
Reply at 11; US Cellular Comments at 6; Verizon Comments at 32.
1099 EOBC Comments at 17 (adopting additional bid options risks overcomplicating the reverse auction and
undermining its purposes).
1100 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12385, paras. 84–85.
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may be necessary to resolve coverage problems on their new channels.1101 We decline, however, to
establish a rebuttable presumption that such waivers are in the public interest, as Entravision requests.1102
As NPR argues, this type of presumption would not be appropriate because such waivers are granted only
when they will not cause interference to adjacent channel services, including NCE FM radio stations that
operate adjacent to low VHF channel 6.1103 Thus, we will consider such waiver requests on a case-by-
case basis after the winning bidder has completed construction of its VHF facilities and determined that
its viewers are experiencing reception problems. We will afford such requests favorable consideration
and grant them where possible.
(iii)

Channel Sharing Bid

372.
Background. The final bid option identified in the Spectrum Act allows broadcasters to
relinquish “usage rights in order to share a television channel with another licensee.”1104 The Commission
proposed to allow channel sharing bids provided that they would not require changes in a station’s
community of license or Designated Market Area (DMA).1105 Under the Commission’s rules, a full power
television station must locate its transmitter at a site from which it can place a principal community
contour over its entire community of license.1106 Thus, the proposal in the NPRM would limit a
broadcaster to partnering with a host station from which it could deliver a principal community contour to
its community of license.
373.
The Commission anticipated that this limitation would not unduly constrain the ability of
stations to find a channel sharing partner because the size of the area served by a broadcast signal would
allow stations to move their transmission facilities several miles in order to collocate with a channel
sharing partner while still placing the requisite signal over their licensed communities.1107 The
Commission further suggested that, before accepting a bid that proposed a community of license change,
it would have to consider whether the change would result in a “fair, efficient and equitable distribution”
of television service under section 307(b) of the Communications Act, and that such consideration could

1101 Several commenters support the adoption of such a waiver policy. PTV Comments at 35; Verizon Comments at
32–33; US Cellular Comments at 7; Qualcomm Comments at 25; Motorola Mobility Comments at 7. We granted
similar waivers in some circumstances following the conclusion of the DTV transition to assist stations on post-
transition VHF channels in resolving reception issues. See, e.g., Letter from Barbara A. Kreisman, Chief, Video
Division, Media Bureau, to ABC, Inc. and Freedom Broadcasting of New York Licensee, LLC (dated Mar. 16,
2011) (http://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/getimportletter_exh.cgi?import_letter_id=24963).
1102 Entravision Comments at 10. Also, we will not adopt WLFM, LLC’s request that a licensee which agrees to
surrender a UHF channel in return for operation on VHF channel 6 be given additional flexibility to use Axcera’s
Bandwidth Enhancement Technology (Axcera BET). WLFM Reply at 1. Such a waiver of the Advanced
Television Systems Committee (ATSC) transmission standard is beyond the scope of this proceeding other than in
the context of a request for a service rule waiver in lieu of reimbursement, as provided in § 6403(b)(4)(B) of the
Spectrum Act. See § V.C.5.e (Service Rule Waiver in Lieu of Reimbursement); see also Letter from Hossein
Hashemzadeh, Deputy Chief, Video Division, Media Bureau to Venture Technologies Group, LLC (Aug. 2, 2012)
(rejecting request by party to use the Axcera BET because the television signal would not comply with the standards
for such transmissions set forth by ATSC in violation of § 73.682(d) of the Commission’s rules)
(http://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/getimportletter_exh.cgi?import_letter_id=35147).
1103 NPR Reply at 2–3.
1104 Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(2)(C).
1105 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12386–87, para. 89. A DMA is composed of groups of counties whose largest share
of television viewing belongs to stations located in that market area.
1106 See 47 C.F.R. § 73.625 (defining the principal community contour of a full power television station). Class A
television stations do not have a contour coverage requirement.
1107 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12386–87, para 89.
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complicate bid acceptance.1108 In addition, the Commission stated that disallowing DMA changes would
minimize the potential impact of channel sharing on MVPDs because carriage rights on a particular
MVPD system generally depend on the station’s DMA.1109
374.
Discussion. We will allow a channel sharing bidder (i.e., a “sharee”) to change its
community of license in cases where it cannot satisfy the community of license signal requirement
operating from the host (i.e., the “sharer”) transmission site, provided that the sharee chooses a new
community of license that, at a minimum, meets the same allotment priorities as its current
community.1110 We will not, however, allow a bidder to make a community of license change that will
change its DMA.1111
375.
Neither the Spectrum Act nor the Communications Act requires us to restrict community
of license changes in the channel sharing context.1112 Moreover, an absolute prohibition on changes in
communities of license would undermine the goals of the reverse auction. Although a sharee station
could move its transmission facility several miles in some cases in order to channel share while still
serving its original community of license,1113 several commenters express concern that as a practical
matter a broadcaster’s ability to find a channel sharing partner would be severely constrained under this
prohibition.1114 Indeed, one anonymous broadcaster operating on the outskirts of a top market points out
that it would have only one potential channel sharing partner absent the flexibility to change its
community of license.1115 Allowing a community of license change likely will help facilitate channel
sharing arrangements, thus facilitating broadcaster auction participation.
376.
Although an absolute prohibition on changes in communities of license would undermine
the goals of the reverse auction, we are imposing reasonable restrictions on such changes in order to
promote the goals underlying section 307(b) while at the same time avoiding any detrimental impact on
the speed and certainty of the auction or discouraging reverse auction participation. First, a bidder may
not make a community of license change that will result in a change in its DMA.1116 Second, a sharee

1108 Id.
1109 Id.; see also 47 U.S.C. §§ 325(b), 338, 534(h).
1110 These allotment priorities are to: (1) provide at least one television service to all parts of the country; (2) provide
each community with at least one television broadcast station; (3) provide a choice of at least two television services
to all parts of the country; (4) provide each community with at least two television broadcast stations; and (5) assign
any remaining channels to communities based on population, geographic location, and the number of television
services available to the community from stations located in other communities. Amendment of Section 3.606 of the
Commission’s Rules and Regulations
, Sixth Report and Order, 41 F.C.C. 148, 167 (1952).
1111 Thus, to prevent a DMA change, a channel sharee may not select a community of license located in another
DMA. Moreover, as discussed § VI.A.1.a (Media Ownership Rules), absent a waiver of the rules, we will not
accept a channel sharing bid in the reverse auction that would cause a media ownership rule violation by a party to
the channel sharing arrangement based on the rules and facts as they exist at the time of filing of the pre-auction
application.
1112 See Spectrum Act § 6403(i) (stating that nothing in § 6403(b) “shall be construed to expand or contract the
authority of the Commission, except as otherwise expressly provided”); see also n.1092 (explaining the relationship
between the Spectrum Act and §§ 307(b) and 303(g) of the Communications Act). On balance, the public interest
benefits from allowing stations to submit channel sharing bids that would result in a change in community of license
subject to the conditions we describe outweigh the detriments of potential service losses.
1113 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12386–87, para 89.
1114 See Anon. Broadcaster 3 Comments at 3–5; Entravision Comments at 10–12; EOBC Comments at 20–22.
1115 See Anon. Broadcaster 3 Comments at 3–4.
1116 We received no comments asserting the need to allow DMA changes in order to increase the likelihood of a
broadcaster availing itself of the channel sharing bid option. We note, however, that the Spectrum Act does not
restrict us from allowing DMA changes in the channel sharing context.
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may change its current community of license only in cases where it cannot satisfy the community of
license signal requirement operating from the host (i.e., the “sharer”) transmitter site. A channel sharee
will be asked to indicate in its pre-auction application whether it can meet its community of license
requirements from the proposed sharer’s site. An applicant that indicates its inability to do so must
provide the name of the new community of license it proposes to select if its channel sharing bid is
accepted, and certify in the application that the new community meets the same, or a higher, allotment
priority as its current community.1117 This approach will take account of our allotment policies under
section 307(b) in advance of the auction while providing flexibility and certainty to channel sharing
bidders. This approach may result in service loss in some areas, but the public interest benefits that will
stem from maximizing broadcasters’ participation in the reverse auction through channel sharing
outweighs the detriment of potential service losses.1118
377.
In addition, the record does not support the argument made by some MVPDs that
allowing community of license changes will cause capacity problems and increased carriage costs.1119
The impact on MVPDs resulting from community of license moves in limited circumstances will be
minimal due to our requirement that sharee stations remain within their existing DMAs.1120 Because
satellite and cable carriage rights on a particular MVPD system generally depend on the station’s
DMA,1121 prohibiting moves that would result in a change of DMA will minimize the potential impact of
channel sharing on MVPDs.1122 Moreover, MVPDs will be eligible for reimbursement from the
Reimbursement Fund for any reasonably incurred costs associated with implementing carriage changes

1117 For example, if a sharee is serving community of license X prior to the auction, to which it provides a second
local television service (allotment priority 4), and it proposes a channel sharing arrangement with a sharer from
whose transmission site it can no longer meet the community of license coverage requirements over X, then the
sharee must choose a new community of license to which it will provide a second local television service, or which
meets a higher allotment priority (such as the provision of a first local service, priority 2). In the unlikely event that
the sharee cannot identify any community that meets the same or a higher allotment priority at its new shared site, it
must choose a new community of license to which it will provide the next highest priority. Thus, if a sharee serving
a community to which it provides allotment priority 2 moves to a channel sharing site from which it cannot meet the
community of license coverage requirements over any allotment priority 1 or 2 communities, then it must choose an
allotment priority 3 community.
1118 In the case of channel sharing, we note that service loss to one area (i.e., all or a portion of the area previously
served by the sharee) necessarily will result in a gain in service to a different area (i.e., that served by the sharer).
1119 NCTA Reply at 16. We note that DIRECTV/DISH assert that “any change to a station’s DMA would also have
substantial costly consequences for DBS operators,” but make no such similar assertion for a community of license
change. DIRECTV/DISH Comments at 4.
1120 In § VI.A.2 (Channel Sharing Operating Rules), we discuss in more detail the impact that station relocations
made to implement a channel sharing arrangement may have on a station’s MVPD carriage rights.
1121 See 47 U.S.C. §§ 534 (cable carriage of a commercial station), 338 (satellite carriage of a commercial or NCE
station). As implemented, the references to local markets in these provisions are defined as a station’s DMA. 47
C.F.R. §§ 76.66(e), 76.55(e)(2). Cable carriage of NCE and “qualified low power stations” does not depend on
DMA; rather, it depends on, among other things, the distance between the cable headend and either the station’s
community of license or transmission facility. See 47 U.S.C. §§ 534(h)(2) (cable carriage of qualified low power
stations), 535(l)(2) (cable carriage of NCE stations).
1122 In some instances, an NCE or a Class A station may gain carriage on some cable systems, but lose carriage on
other systems, as a result of a change of location within a DMA. Likewise, a full power commercial station that
moves within its DMA may gain or lose carriage on a cable system as a result of a market modification request. See
§ VI.A.2 (Channel Sharing Operating Rules). Whether a channel sharing station will be able to exercise its carriage
rights also will depend on whether it can meet the relevant Part 76 requirements, including the provision from its
channel sharing site of a good quality signal to the cable operator’s principal headend or the satellite provider’s
receive facility. See 47 C.F.R. §§ 76.55(c)(3) & 76.66(g), respectively.
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resulting from channel sharing.1123 We also note that any concerns about capacity problems arising from
new carriage obligations occurring as a result of channel sharing could be more than offset by license
relinquishment bidders going off air and vacating their space on the satellite transponders or cable
systems.1124 Thus, allowing certain community of license changes, while precluding DMA changes,
strikes an appropriate balance between enabling broadcasters to take advantage of the opportunity to
channel share and limiting the impact of channel sharing on MVPDs.
378.
Finally, we clarify that we will allow VHF-to-UHF channel sharing bids.1125 Neither the
Spectrum Act’s channel sharing provision, nor any other statutory provision, precludes such a bid.1126
This option is consistent with our goal of allowing market forces to determine the highest and best use of
spectrum. Allowing a UHF station that does not wish otherwise to participate in the reverse auction to be
a channel sharer by hosting a VHF station that is willing to vacate its existing spectrum will also facilitate
the clearing of additional spectrum by creating an opportunity for another UHF station to submit a UHF-
to-VHF bid.1127
(iv)

Additional Bid Options

379.
Background. In the NPRM, the Commission sought comment on additional bid options
not specified in the Spectrum Act.1128 We already have discussed our decision to enable a bidder opting
to move from UHF to VHF, as provided in the Spectrum Act, to specify that it will move only to either a
high VHF channel or a low VHF channel. In addition, the Commission asked in the NPRM whether to
offer reverse auction participants other possibilities. Specifically, the Commission asked for comment on
enabling high VHF stations to move to a low VHF channel.1129 The Commission also asked more broadly
for comment on potential ways to incorporate bidding in exchange for accepting such broadcast
limitations as additional interference or a smaller service area.1130
380.
Discussion. We will offer an option for high VHF stations to move to low VHF
channels.1131 This option does not create any new complexity from the perspective of auction participants.
Rather, it simply expands the set of stations that will have the option of moving to a low VHF station, and

1123 See § V.C.5 (Reimbursement of Relocation Costs).
1124 DIRECTV/DISH express concern about the impact of market moves given the lack of excess satellite
transponder capacity in “virtually all markets,” as well as the cost of switching a station from one market to another.
DIRECTV/DISH Comments at 4–5.
1125 See PTV Comments at 35 (supporting VHF-to-UHF channel sharing bids).
1126 Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(2)(C). The NPRM did not suggest foreclosing this option. NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at
12385–87, paras. 84–90.
1127 The Commission will not develop a confidential program for matching stations interested in channel sharing
arrangements, as suggested by one commenter. See Anon. Broadcaster 4 Comments at 5. First, it would be difficult
for the Commission to devise a system to help pair broadcasters interested in placing channel sharing bids given the
Spectrum Act mandate that the Commission withhold the identity of licensees participating in the reverse auction.
Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(3). Beyond this impediment, we do not believe it would be practical or prudent for the
Commission to become involved in establishing complex and long-term private business relationships.
1128 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12385–86, paras. 85–88.
1129 Id. at 12386, para. 86.
1130 Id. at 12386, paras. 87–88.
1131 As with UHF-to-VHF bids, we will afford favorable consideration to post-incentive auction requests for waivers
of the VHF power and height limits for winning high-VHF-to-low-VHF bidders that may be necessary to resolve
coverage problems on their new channels. See § IV.B.1.b.ii (UHF-to-VHF Bid).
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in so doing, may facilitate greater efficiency in repacking existing VHF stations and repurposing 600
MHz spectrum.1132
381.
Harris Broadcast opposes making this option available, based on its alternative proposal
for different uses of the low VHF band, which is premised on its view of the best use of the relevant
frequencies.1133 We need not resolve here Harris Broadcast’s claims regarding the most effective use of
low VHF channels. We concur with Verizon’s view that Harris Broadcast’s vision for low VHF channels
would unduly restrict our ability to use market forces to repurpose 600 MHz spectrum for new uses.1134
382.
With respect to any additional bid options beyond going off the air, channel sharing, or
moving to a lower band, we conclude that, whatever merits any particular option might have for any
particular licensee, the complexity created for auction participants would outweigh potential benefits.
The record as a whole supports our conclusion. While parties voice support for various options, such as
agreeing to accept additional interference, a smaller service area, or reduced population coverage,1135
almost all agree on the overriding importance of auction simplicity in order to facilitate broadcaster
participation.1136 Almost all commenters are in agreement that additional options must not be offered if
they will result in excessive complexity. T-Mobile asserts that allowing broadcasters to have additional
bidding options would complicate the auction process, introduce uncertainty that could chill broadcaster
participation in the auction, and make it difficult for forward auction participants to understand what
items are available for bid.1137 Others note the difficulty in making sufficiently accurate forecasts of
interference environments to enable offering detailed levels of additional interference as a meaningful
option.1138
383.
The reverse auction bidding options afforded by the Spectrum Act, together with
allowing broadcasters moving from a UHF channel to specify a high or low VHF channel and allowing
broadcasters to move from a high to a low VHF channel, provide meaningful options for broadcasters that
will achieve the goals of the auction. We conclude that the complexity and cost of introducing additional
bid options would outweigh any benefits.
c.

Confidentiality and Prohibition of Certain Communications

(i)

Confidentiality

384.
Background. Section 6403(a)(3) of the Spectrum Act requires the Commission to “take
all reasonable steps necessary to protect the confidentiality of Commission-held data of a licensee
participating in the reverse auction . . . including withholding the identity of such licensee until the
[spectrum] reassignments and reallocations (if any) . . . become effective, as described in subsection

1132 As noted in the NPRM, we are expressly prohibited by the Spectrum Act from involuntarily reassigning a station
from a high to a low VHF channel as part of the repacking process. See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12386, para. 86;
Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(3)(B). By offering this bid option, we create a mechanism by which high VHF stations
may volunteer to be reassigned, as well as an incentive for doing so. Although the Spectrum Act does not
specifically list high-VHF-to-low-VHF bids as one of the reverse auction bid options, it does not preclude the
Commission from adopting this additional bid option pursuant to its broad spectrum management authority.
1133 See Harris Broadcast Comments at 23–24, 27–29; Harris Broadcast Reply at 12.
1134 See Verizon Reply at 37.
1135 See, e.g., Tribune Comments at 4 (listing various options). See also Entravision Comments at 13; Harris
Broadcast Comments at 23; Mobile Future Comments at 8; Mobile Future Reply at 11–12; Qualcomm Comments at
24–25; TIA Comments at 14; US Cellular Reply at 11–12.
1136 See, e.g., TIA Comments at 15; Verizon Reply at 35–37 (citing additional comments).
1137 T-Mobile Reply at 75–77. See also Sprint Comments at 6 (arguing that additional bidding options would make
the auction more confusing for forward auction participants).
1138 EOBC Comments at 17–18.
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(f)(2).”1139 That subsection provides that these reassignments and reallocations may not become effective
“until the completion” of both the reverse and forward auctions.1140
385.
In the NPRM, the Commission proposed to incorporate the confidentiality requirement
into the competitive bidding rules for the broadcast television spectrum reverse auction and sought
comment on the parameters of such a rule,1141 including what types of information the Commission should
withhold from public disclosure in order to protect the identities of participating licensees; what
“reasonable steps” the Commission should take to protect confidentiality and for how long; whether any
exemptions from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) would apply; whether
applicants should be prohibited from disclosing information regarding their own or other licensees’
participation in the reverse auction; and whether participants may have any legal reporting obligations,
such as the disclosure requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), that would
create any conflict with the Commission’s confidentiality obligations under the Spectrum Act.1142
386.
Discussion. We will take all reasonable steps necessary to protect the confidentiality of
Commission-held data of broadcast television licensees participating in the reverse auction. The
Spectrum Act provides that at a minimum, the Commission must withhold the identities of participating
broadcast television licensees until the spectrum reassignments and reallocations (if any) become
effective.1143 We will protect the confidential information of all reverse auction applicants, whether or not
the Commission determines that their applications are complete and in compliance with our rules. In
addition, we will continue to protect confidential information pertaining to unsuccessful bids until two
years after the effective date.1144 We also amend the Commission’s FOIA disclosure rules to
accommodate the confidentiality rules that we adopt today. We note that the Commission may disclose
confidential information if it is required to do so by law, such as by court order.
387.
Consistent with PTV’s suggestion, we will protect the confidential information of all
reverse auction applicants, whether or not the Commission determines that their applications are complete
and in compliance with our rules.1145 We note that, as described below, for the purpose of the statutory
requirement that at least two competing licensees “participate” in the reverse auction,1146 we will consider
a broadcast television licensee to be a participant only if its application is found to be complete and in
compliance with our application rules.1147 However, for the purpose of the statutory confidentiality
requirement, we interpret the protections afforded to broadcast television licensees “participating” in the
reverse auction more broadly in order to facilitate broadcaster participation. The difference in our
interpretation of the terms “participate” (section 6402) and “participating” (section 6403(a)(3)) arises

1139 Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(3).
1140 Id. § 6403(f)(2). In addition, no reassignments or reallocations of broadcast television spectrum may become
effective unless the proceeds of the forward auction exceed the sum specified in Spectrum Act § 6403(c)(2).
1141 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12446, para. 258.
1142 Id. at 12446–48, paras. 258–63.
1143 Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(3).
1144 In the event that there is no effective date, see id. § 6403(c)(2), we will continue to protect confidential
information pertaining to the reverse auction until two years after the completion of the reverse auction.
1145 See PTV Comments at 20; see also NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12445, para. 253 (asking whether broadcast
television licensees whose pre-auction applications are dismissed should be considered “participants” for purposes
of the proposed confidentiality rule).
1146 See Spectrum Act § 6402 (adopting 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(8)(G)(ii)).
1147 See § IV.B.1.d (Two Competing Participants Requirement).
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from the difference between the underlying purpose of each provision.1148 Whereas section 6402 ensures
a minimum level of competition in the reverse auction, a purpose which weighs in favor of including only
those applicants that will be permitted to submit bids in the reverse auction, section 6403(a)(3) promotes
broadcaster participation by ensuring that licensees’ identities will not be revealed until after the auction,
a purpose which weighs in favor of protecting any applicant whether or not it is permitted to submit bids
in the auction. In any event, we exercise our discretion to treat such information as confidential
consistent with the principle that disclosure of this information would likely “cause substantial harm to
the competitive position of the person from whom the information was obtained.”1149
388.
From the time a broadcast television licensee applies to participate in the reverse auction
until the spectrum reassignments and reallocations become effective,1150 we will deem the following
information confidential and subject to protection by the Commission: the name of the applicant licensee;
the licensee’s channel number, call sign, facility identification number, and network affiliation; and any
other information that may reasonably be withheld to protect the identity of the licensee, as determined by
the Commission.1151 When the spectrum reassignments and reallocations become effective, the
Commission will disclose the identities of the winning bidders and their winning bid amounts. Until two
years after the effective date,1152 the Commission will continue to protect the above-referenced
confidential information pertaining to any unsuccessful bid.
389.
As noted above, the Spectrum Act provides that at a minimum, the necessary,
“reasonable steps” the Commission must take to protect the confidentiality of licensee data include
withholding the identities of participating broadcast television licensees until the spectrum reassignments
and reallocations become effective.1153 The additional steps set forth here are necessary and are
reasonable under the circumstances to protect the confidentiality of licensee data.1154 Participants in the
reverse auction will submit bids to exit an ongoing business, or to make significant changes to that

1148 See, e.g., Gen. Dynamics Land Sys., Inc. v. Cline, 540 U.S. 581, 595 (2004) (explaining that the presumption that
identical words used in different parts of same statute are intended to be read the same way “readily yields whenever
there is such variation in the connection in which the words are used as reasonably to warrant the conclusion that
they were employed in different parts of the act with different intent”) (quoting Atl. Cleaners & Dyers, Inc. v. United
States
, 286 U.S. 427, 433 (1932)).
1149 Examination of Current Policy Concerning the Treatment of Confidential Information Submitted to the
Commission
, GC Docket No. 96-55, Report and Order, 13 FCC Rcd 24816, 24819, para. 4 (1998) (quoting Nat’l
Parks and Conservation Ass’n v. Morton
, 498 F.2d 765, 770 (D.C. Cir. 1974)).
1150 See § V.A (Auction Completion and Effective Date of the Repacking Process).
1151 See, e.g., Tribune Comments at 6–7 (listing types of broadcaster information that should be withheld from public
disclosure). We note that other than a broadcast television licensee’s actual identity, any particular information
about an individual characteristic of a licensee may or may not facilitate identification of the licensee. Some
commenters request that we protect non-identifying information about licensees in addition to clearly identifying
information. See, e.g., Anon. Broadcaster 4 Comments at 4; Entravision Comments at 7; PTV Comments at 20
(advocating protection of any information that does not directly identify the licensee’s identity but could lead to
disclosure of its identity). We will protect non-identifying information to the extent that it may reasonably be
withheld to protect the identity of the licensee, as determined by the Commission.
1152 As we noted above, in the event that there is no effective date, see Spectrum Act § 6403(c)(2), we will continue
to protect confidential information pertaining to the reverse auction until two years after the completion of the
reverse auction. In that event, the Commission may release data aggregating confidential information if needed to
explain the outcome of the auction—e.g., the aggregate share of proceeds unsuccessfully sought by reverse auction
bidders.
1153 Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(3).
1154 See § III.B.2.a (“All Reasonable Efforts”).
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business (e.g., by changing the channels on which they operate or agreeing to share a channel).1155
Section 6403(a)(3) of the Spectrum Act recognizes the potential competitive sensitivities of the
information that such existing licensee bidders provide to the Commission in this context.1156
390.
Although the Spectrum Act requires that we protect the identities of participating
broadcasters only until the spectrum reassignments and reallocations become effective, several
commenters argue in favor of maintaining confidentiality beyond the effective date, particularly for
unsuccessful bidders.1157 Broadcasters point out that if an unsuccessful bidder’s participation were made
public, it could be construed by competitors, investors, advertisers, employees, viewers, and others as a
statement by the licensee that it is no longer committed to investing in the station’s programming and
operations going forward.1158 PTV argues that disclosure of reverse auction applicants’ information could
be particularly harmful immediately after the incentive auction is complete and reassignments and
reallocations are effective, as unsuccessful bidders are working diligently to continue their businesses
while they adjust their facilities for new channel assignments, if necessary.1159 Several commenters
suggest that concern about this eventual, potentially harmful disclosure could ultimately discourage
broadcasters from participating in the reverse auction.1160 State Broadcaster Associations argue that in the
event that a broadcaster is unsuccessful in its bid to relinquish its spectrum usage rights, the Commission
must ensure that its decision to participate in the reverse auction process will remain confidential in
perpetuity unless the licensee self-discloses its participation or otherwise authorizes the Commission to
disclose its identity.1161
391.
Delaying the release of confidential information regarding unsuccessful bids until two
years after the effective date will permit sufficient time to pass to ameliorate the potential competitive
harms identified by commenters. Two years after the incentive auction, after substantial market changes
have occurred and as the post-auction relocation process nears completion, competitors, investors, and
others will be less likely to make assumptions based solely on a particular broadcast television licensee’s
participation in the reverse auction or the bid amounts that it submitted at that time. For example, if the
information released two years after the auction indicates that a currently operating broadcaster
participated in the auction two years previously and submitted a license relinquishment bid, it is unlikely
that third parties would presume that the station is no longer committed to investing in the station’s
programming and operations going forward, and it is unlikely that potential investors would find the
amount of the losing bid to be particularly relevant to the station’s current value. Moreover, the record
contains no evidence contradicting this conclusion. By providing confidentiality protection regarding

1155 A broadcaster that opts to participate in the forward auction will not be subject to the same competitive
sensitivities. Thus, we decline to adopt a confidentiality provision that would apply to broadcasters participating in
the forward auction. See Tribune Comments at 6–7 & n.12 (requesting some similar accommodation for
broadcasters seeking to participate as bidders in the forward auction).
1156 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12446, para. 257.
1157 PTV Comments at 20–21; see also CCA Reply at 17 (arguing that the Commission should take steps to protect
the identities of reverse auction bidders and their bid amounts, both during and after the incentive auction); Verizon
Comments at 29 (arguing that the identity of reverse auction bidders and their bids should be exempt from public
disclosure both during and after the incentive auction); Belo Comments at 21–22 (stating that once a bid is accepted,
the terms of such bid may be appropriately considered public information, but noting that public disclosure of bids
submitted by unsuccessful bidders could create unintended negative consequences).
1158 See, e.g., State Broadcaster Associations Comments at 16; Tribune Comments at 7.
1159 PTV Comments at 20–21.
1160 See, e.g., EOBC Comments at 22; PTV Comments at 19, 21; Verizon Comments at 29; Verizon Reply at 30 &
n.99 (listing commenters that support broad confidentiality protections in order to encourage broadcaster
participation).
1161 State Broadcaster Associations Comments at 16.
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unsuccessful bids beyond the effective date, we hope to facilitate participation by broadcast television
licensees that are eligible to participate in the reverse auction but that may be concerned about the
consequences of public disclosure of their participation.
392.
We will not keep confidential the identities of unsuccessful reverse auction participants in
perpetuity, as State Broadcaster Associations suggest.1162 Protecting the identities of unsuccessful bidders
in perpetuity would not be a “reasonable step[]” necessary to protect the confidentiality of participating
broadcasters’ data.1163 Protecting confidentiality is an important statutory objective that will facilitate
broadcaster participation and promote the success of the incentive auction. But in determining what steps
to protect participants’ information are “reasonable” to take, we also consider the other objectives of the
Spectrum Act, including the goal of using market forces to repurpose spectrum for mobile broadband—an
objective that requires public trust in the auction process, and therefore militates in favor of transparency
into the process.1164 As Anon. Citizen argues, particularly given the novelty and complexity of this new
system of competitive bidding, it is imperative that we eventually release as much information as possible
about the bids and the bidding process.1165 The bidding information that we release will allow winning
bidders, unsuccessful bidders, and other interested third parties to review and test the auction results bid-
by-bid. By committing to releasing this information in the future, we hope to facilitate participation in the
auction by providing assurance that the process will be fair and in accordance with Commission rules.1166
Although it is appropriate to delay the opportunity for such analysis given the unique circumstances here,
it would not be reasonable to prevent this analysis entirely.1167 Further, the full transparency of the
auction process should not be delayed for a lengthier period of time given the public interest in
transparency and public trust and confidence in the auction system. Delaying the availability of specific
bidding information for two years is a reasonable step necessary to protect participants’ confidentiality in
light of the circumstances, including our interest in promoting broadcaster participation in the reverse
auction and the public interest in transparency.
393.
We amend our FOIA disclosure rules to accommodate the confidentiality rules that we
adopt in this Order. Specifically, the information that is protected by the confidentiality rules described
above will be added to the list of materials accepted by the Commission on a confidential basis.1168 Thus,
if reverse auction applicants are satisfied with the scope of the protection afforded by these confidentiality
rules, it will be unnecessary for them to submit a request for non-disclosure.1169 We also amend section
0.457(d) of our rules to include such records in the list of those not routinely available for public
inspection. Because FOIA exemption three is inapplicable to such records,1170 we will permit disclosure

1162 Id.
1163 See § III.B.2.a (“All Reasonable Efforts”).
1164 See id.
1165 Anon. Citizen Comments at 3–4, 8.
1166 The Commission routinely releases bidding information after auctions to allow for such analyses to take place.
See, e.g., Auction of 700 MHz Band Licenses Closes; Winning Bidders Announced for Auction 73, Public Notice, 23
FCC Rcd 4572, 4573–74, para. 5 (2008) (announcing availability of auction results files including the identities of
bidders and the net amounts of bids); see also FCC, Round Results for Auctions Held From July 2005–Present,
http://wireless.fcc.gov/auctions/default.htm?job=round_results_all (last visited Apr. 3, 2014) (providing bidding
results for each round of FCC spectrum license auctions).
1167 See, e.g., Anon. Citizen Comments at 3–4, 8 (emphasizing the importance of transparency).
1168 See 47 C.F.R. § 0.457(d)(1).
1169 Id.
1170 FOIA exemption three permits agencies to withhold “matters that are . . . specifically exempted from disclosure
by [a] statute” other than FOIA itself. 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(3). However, for statutes such as the Spectrum Act
enacted after the OPEN FOIA Act of 2009, exemption three applies only if the statute specifically cites to the
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of such records under FOIA only pursuant to a “persuasive showing” under section 0.457(d), and note
that in this context any response by a reverse auction participant within the relevant time period will be
exempted from our ex parte rules to the extent necessary to protect the licensee’s confidentiality.1171
Given the legislative judgment reflected in the Spectrum Act, we would not expect such a showing to
succeed unless it included a demonstration either that the relevant time period for protection of the
confidential information has passed or that nondisclosure of the particular data sought is otherwise
beyond the “reasonable steps necessary” to protect the confidentiality of Commission-held data of a
reverse auction participant.1172
394.
We note that the confidentiality rules that we adopt impose restrictions on the
Commission’s disclosure of certain information during certain time periods. We decline to extend the
confidentiality requirements that we adopt here beyond the Commission to applicants and parties to the
auction.1173 The Commission’s confidentiality obligations, along with the rule prohibiting certain
communications and auction procedures regarding available information, will provide ample protection to
the identities and other confidential information of reverse auction participants. We do not wish to
burden auction participants with additional communications prohibitions or other confidentiality
requirements after the spectrum reassignments and reallocations (if any) become effective, particularly
given that any such restrictions would provide only a minimal benefit to the unsuccessful reverse auction
participants—namely, protection from the educated guesses of other auction participants.
395.
The confidentiality rules do not prohibit a broadcast television licensee from disclosing
before the auction the mere fact that it intends to participate in the auction, or, after the auction, the results
of its participation. However, other rules independently may prohibit certain communications relating to
auction participation. In particular, pursuant to the rule prohibiting certain communications described
below, beginning on the reverse auction application filing deadline and until a public notice announces
the results of the incentive auction, all full power and Class A broadcast television licensees are
prohibited from directly or indirectly disclosing incentive auction applicants’ bids or bidding strategies to
any forward auction applicant or to any other full power or Class A broadcast television licensee, subject
to certain specific exceptions.1174
(Continued from previous page)
relevant paragraph of FOIA. 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(3)(B); Newport Aeronautical Sales v. Dep’t of the Air Force, 684
F.3d 160, 165 n.2 (D.C. Cir. 2012).
1171 Ordinarily, FOIA request proceedings are subject to our permit-but-disclose procedures. 47 C.F.R.
§ 1.1206(a)(7). However, we may modify the applicable ex parte rules by order, letter, or public notice. Id.
§ 1.1200(a). In this unique context, where the party’s identity itself has been treated as confidential, such a
modification is warranted. See also Media Bureau Issues Limited Modification to Ex Parte Requirements for
Broadcasters Filing Notices in the Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through
Incentive Auctions Proceeding
, GN Docket No. 12-268, Public Notice, 29 FCC Rcd 2002 (2014).
1172 We agree with PTV that it is appropriate to adopt a rule to implement FOIA’s exemption for confidential trade
secrets and commercial or financial information for the purposes of the reverse auction; however, we tailor the
amendment to the Commission’s FOIA disclosure rules to conform to the scope of the confidentiality rules that we
adopt here. See PTV Comments at 23 (encouraging the Commission to add to the list of materials in 47 C.F.R.
§ 0.457(d)(1) of its rules as automatically accepted by the Commission on a confidential basis “the identities of
participants (non-qualifying and qualifying) who do not submit winning bids in the 600 MHz Reverse Auction . . . ,
as well as all identifying and non-identifying information provided therein”).
1173 See, e.g., J. Pratt Comments at 24–25 (“Reverse auction participants should not have to adopt burdensome
confidentiality processes in order to avoid disclosing their own participation in the reverse auction unless they desire
anonymity.”); but see Entravision Comments at 7–8 (supporting restrictions on applicants and parties to the auction
prohibiting disclosure of any confidential identifying information that could reveal the confidential information and
identities of other applicants participating in the auction); Anon. Broadcaster 4 Comments at 4.
1174 See § IV.B.1.c.ii (Reverse Auction Prohibition of Certain Communications). Given the importance of the
confidentiality protections to promote broadcaster participation in the reverse auction, we decline to adopt the
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396.
As the Commission noted in the NPRM, participants in the reverse auction may have
legal obligations to disclose information that the Commission may be required to keep confidential.1175
For example, the SEC requires that a public company disclose on Form 8-K any “Material Definitive
Agreement.”1176 We decline to design the competitive bidding rules solely to avoid disclosure obligations
imposed by other governmental entities. Tribune argues that the Commission could eliminate the need
for broadcasters to report auction-related contracts on SEC Form 8-K by ruling that no bid, channel
sharing agreement, or other auction-related contract shall be binding on, or enforceable against, a
broadcaster until the Commission has accepted the bid by paying the compensation due to a broadcaster
for its winning bid.1177 Rather, we agree with T-Mobile and CTIA that we should treat reverse auction
bids as irrevocable, binding offers to relinquish spectrum usage rights in order to ensure that broadcasters
will bid truthfully in the reverse auction and to provide certainty to forward auction bidders.1178
Furthermore, we note that notwithstanding the irrevocable nature of a broadcaster’s offer, the offer has no
consequence unless the Commission accepts it.1179 But neither we, nor the commenters, have the power to
determine parties’ precise obligations under rules enforced by other agencies.
(ii)

Prohibition of Certain Communications

397.
Background. The Commission’s existing rule prohibiting certain communications in
spectrum license auctions is intended to reinforce existing antitrust laws, facilitate detection of collusive
conduct, and deter anticompetitive behavior, without being so strict as to discourage pro-competitive
arrangements between auction participants.1180 The rule attempts to avoid harms that antitrust
enforcement may only address in retrospect. It also helps assure participants that the auction process will
be fair and objective, and not subject to collusion.
398.
In the NPRM, the Commission proposed to prohibit applicants in the reverse auction from
directly or indirectly disclosing to one another the substance of their bids or bidding strategies during a
time period commencing on or after the pre-auction application deadline and ending on a date specified
(Continued from previous page)
proposal to render information publicly released by a licensee about its participation in the reverse auction no longer
confidential and therefore no longer subject to protection by the Commission. See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12447,
para. 262. However, we caution licensees that although the confidential information that they file with the
Commission in their pre-auction applications will not be made available publicly while the confidentiality rule
applies, documents that are filed through the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) and other
FCC databases are publicly available.
1175 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12447–48, para. 263; see also PTV Comments at 19 n.43 (“Of course, stations should be
permitted to waive these [confidentiality] protections where, for example, they are required to disclose such
information under law, including state open records laws and laws governing the disposition of station assets.”).
1176 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12447–48, para. 263; see SEC, Form 8-K, http://www.sec.gov/about/forms/form8-k.pdf
(last visited Apr. 3, 2014).
1177 Tribune Comments at 8–9. But see NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12444, 12452, paras. 249, 282 (proposing that all
bids submitted in the reverse auction are irrevocable, binding offers to relinquish spectrum usage rights, and that
reverse auction applicants must certify acknowledgement of this in the pre-auction application).
1178 See § IV.B.2.d (Additional Reverse Auction Bidding Procedures); T-Mobile Reply at 84–85; CTIA Reply at 53;
see also Verizon Comments at 68 (supporting the Commission’s proposal that all reverse auction bids be deemed
irrevocable, binding offers).
1179 In addition, even if the Commission accepts a broadcaster’s irrevocable, binding offer, this offer has no
consequence unless the final stage rule is satisfied and the reallocations and reassignments based on the bidding
become effective.
1180 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.2105(c); Implementation of Section 309(j) of the Communications Act – Competitive Bidding,
PP Docket No. 93-253, Second Report and Order, 9 FCC Rcd 2348, 2386–88, paras. 221, 225 (1994) (Competitive
Bidding Second R&O
).
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by public notice.1181 The Commission sought comment on how to define “applicant” for these purposes;
whether to limit the prohibition to applicants within the same geographic region and, if so, how to define
such regions; whether to adopt any specific exceptions where an applicant has attributable and/or
controlling interests in, or cooperative arrangements with, other stations, or a more general exception
allowing parties to communicate about bids and bidding strategies so long as they disclose to the
Commission the existence of any relevant agreements between them; how the rule should address channel
sharing relationships; whether and how any applicable antitrust laws should affect the prohibition;
whether to apply the prohibition to communications by reverse auction applicants with applicants in the
forward auction; and the effect of the Commission’s obligation to maintain the confidentiality of reverse
auction participants’ identities.1182
399.
Discussion. Beginning at the deadline for submitting applications to participate in the
reverse auction and until the results of the incentive auction have been announced by public notice,1183 all
full power and Class A broadcast television licensees (collectively “covered television licensees”) are
prohibited from communicating directly or indirectly any incentive auction applicant’s bids or bidding
strategies to any other covered television licensee or to any forward auction applicant,1184 subject to
certain exceptions described below.1185 The rule that we adopt here is intended to reinforce existing
antitrust laws, facilitate detection of collusive conduct, and assure incentive auction participants that the
auction process will be fair and objective.1186 The rule applies solely to communications that directly or
indirectly disclose an incentive auction applicant’s bids or bidding strategies to any covered television
licensee or to any forward auction applicant. Business discussions and negotiations that are unrelated to
bids and bidding strategies or to post-auction market structure are not prohibited by the rule.1187 The
prohibition applies during a limited period of time, which we expect will be only a matter of months. We
anticipate that the rule will serve our purposes with minimal intrusion into broadcasters’ routine business
practices, since covered television licensees may structure their business practices as needed to avoid
violations, such as by instituting internal controls with respect to any information about incentive auction
applicants’ bids and bidding strategies.1188

1181 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12448, para. 264.
1182 Id. at 12448–50, paras. 264–70.
1183 See § V.A (Auction Completion and Effective Date of the Repacking Process).
1184 For the purposes of the rule that we adopt here, we will apply the same definition of forward auction “applicant”
that applies to the rule for spectrum license auctions generally. See 47 C.F.R. § 1.2105(c)(7)(i); see also § IV.C.1.c
(Forward Auction Prohibition of Certain Communications).
1185 “Covered television licensees” include all broadcast television licensees that are or could become eligible to
participate in the reverse auction, see § IV.B.1.a (Eligibility), as well as all channel sharers.
1186 See Competitive Bidding Second R&O, 9 FCC Rcd at 2386–88, paras. 221, 225.
1187 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12448, para. 264 & n.405; see also § IV.C.1.c (Forward Auction Prohibition of
Certain Communications) (discussing Commission precedent regarding the scope of the prohibition). Cf. Verizon
Comments at 51 (suggesting with respect to analogous forward auction rule that there is “uncertainty as to whether
discussions not related to bids or bidding strategies or post-auction market structure could violate the rule”).
1188 See Verizon Comments at 52–53; see also Application of Nevada Wireless for a License to Provide 800 MHz
Specialized Mobile Radio Service in the Farmington, NM-CO Economic Area (EA-155) Frequency Band A
,
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 13 FCC Rcd 11973, 11977–78, paras. 11–13 (1998) (Nevada Wireless MO&O)
(strongly recommending that where competing applicants’ authorized bidders are different individuals employed by
the same organization—e.g., the same law firm—those applicants each certify in their applications what measures
have been taken to prevent communications between authorized bidders, but cautioning that merely filing a
certifying statement as part of an application will not outweigh specific evidence that collusive behavior has
occurred nor will it preclude the initiation of an investigation when warranted).
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400.
This provision prohibits certain communications between covered television licensees,
not just reverse auction applicants. Given the Commission’s statutory obligation to protect the identities
of reverse auction participants, it is not practicable to limit the prohibition to communications between
reverse auction applicants, since doing so would require disclosing their identities.1189 Nor is the rule
limited to communications between covered television licensees within the same geographic area.1190
Reverse auction participants will compete on a national basis for the limited funds that forward auction
participants will contribute for new flexible-use licenses, and, due in part to the consequences that the
repacking of broadcast television licensees may have across multiple geographic areas, all reverse auction
participants will compete with each other for the auction system to accept their offers to relinquish
spectrum usage rights.1191 Thus, it is appropriate to limit communications between covered television
licensees on a national level.1192
401.
The rule also prohibits specified communications between a covered television licensee
and a forward auction applicant. Verizon asserts that there is “no reason why discussions between reverse
and forward auction applicants could make either auction less competitive.”1193 However, we agree with
Sprint that “any information that reache[s] forward auction participants could create dangerous and anti-
competitive informational asymmetries among bidders.”1194 And as T-Mobile points out, “allowing
unfettered communications between forward and reverse auction participants could generate opportunities
for inequitable gaming of the auction framework.”1195 To promote a fair and competitive auction, the
prohibition against communicating information regarding incentive auction applicants’ bids and bidding
strategies will apply across the reverse and forward auctions.1196
402.
This prohibition across the reverse and forward auctions applies regardless of the
geographic license areas where forward auction applicants intend to bid. As noted above, the results of
the reverse auction for one participant may have effects across multiple geographic areas. This restriction
will inhibit the ability of covered television licensees and forward auction applicants to form side
agreements which could have anticompetitive effects and could alter the outcome of the incentive auction.
403.
With respect to covered television licensees, the prohibition includes all controlling
interests in the licensee,1197 and all directors, officers, and governing board members of the licensee.1198

1189 Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(3).
1190 See, e.g., Anon. Broadcaster 4 Comments at 4–5; Entravision Comments at 7–8 (supporting a prohibition of
communications between reverse auction applicants located within the same DMA).
1191 See § IV.B.1.d (Two Competing Participants Requirement).
1192 Cf. Mobility Fund Phase I Auction Scheduled for September 27, 2012; Notice and Filing Requirements and
Other Procedures for Auction 901
, AU Docket No. 12-25, Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 4725, 4742, para. 49 (2012)
(applying a similar rule prohibiting certain communications to all bidders, regardless of the geographic areas where
they sought support, because all bidders were competing with all other bidders for support from limited funds).
1193 Verizon Comments at 54; see also Verizon Reply at 29.
1194 Sprint Comments at 5–6 n.11.
1195 Letter from Trey Hanbury, Counsel for T-Mobile, to Marlene Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at
1 (filed Apr. 23, 2013) (T-Mobile Apr. 23, 2013 Ex Parte Letter).
1196 In the NPRM, the Commission sought comment on whether to require reverse auction applicants to identify in
their pre-auction applications any relationships with wireless companies. NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12449, para. 269.
The rules that we adopt below regarding the ownership disclosures required in the pre-auction application to
participate in the reverse auction include disclosures regarding certain relationships with other FCC-regulated
entities. See § IV.B.1.e.iii (Information and Certifications Required in Application to Participate in Reverse
Auction); see also 47 C.F.R. § 1.2112(a)(7).
1197 Controlling interests include individuals or entities with positive or negative de jure or de facto control of the
licensee. De jure control includes holding 50 percent or more of the voting stock of a corporation or holding a
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That is, for purposes of this rule, such parties will be considered to be the covered television licensee
based on their relationship with such a licensee.1199 Members of the licensee’s governing board are
included in recognition that NCE stations and certain other stations may be operated by non-profit
entities.1200 There is not a sufficient justification for excluding governing board members from the
prohibition. The prohibition that we adopt is narrowly tailored in that it is limited in time and applies
only to communications that may disclose incentive auction applicants’ bids and bidding strategies.
Contrary to PTV’s view, we do not anticipate that the prohibition will be so burdensome as to prevent
volunteer board members from continuing to serve on the board solely to avoid being subject to the
rule.1201 Members of a governing board may be apprised of incentive auction applicants’ bids and bidding
strategies, and they should not be permitted to communicate such information to other covered television
licensees or to forward auction applicants unless an exception to the prohibition applies.
404.
We note that the list of parties deemed to be the covered television licensee is not an
exclusive list of parties that might engage in prohibited communications on behalf of a licensee. While
communications by a listed party will necessarily be attributed to the associated covered television
licensee, whether any potentially prohibited communications by other associated parties (or employees)
are attributed to a licensee would be a fact-based determination. Specifically, a covered television
licensee may not use agents or other conduits to convey information to any other covered television
licensee or to any forward auction applicant that would otherwise be prohibited if communicated by the
covered television licensee.1202 For example, an employee who is involved in the bidding process and
who is acting with the authority of a covered television licensee may not communicate any incentive
auction applicant’s bids or bidding strategies to another covered television licensee or to a forward
auction applicant during the auction process unless an exception to the prohibition applies.
405.
We adopt two exceptions to this rule prohibiting certain communications. First, covered
television licensees that share a common controlling interest, director, officer, or governing board
member as of the deadline for submitting applications to participate in the reverse auction may
(Continued from previous page)
general partnership interest in a partnership. Ownership interests that are held indirectly by any party through one or
more intervening corporations may be determined by successive multiplication of the ownership percentages for
each link in the vertical ownership chain and application of the relevant attribution benchmark to the resulting
product, except that if the ownership percentage for an interest in any link in the chain meets or exceeds 50 percent
or represents actual control, it may be treated as if it were a 100 percent interest. De facto control is determined on a
case-by-case basis. Examples of de facto control include constituting or appointing 50 percent or more of the board
of directors or management committee; having authority to appoint, promote, demote, and fire senior executives that
control the day-to-day activities of the licensee; or playing an integral role in management decisions.
1198 This approach is analogous to the definition of “applicant” that applies to spectrum license auctions and that was
proposed for purposes of the rule prohibiting certain communications in the reverse auction. See 47 C.F.R.
§ 1.2105(c)(7)(i); see also NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12448, para. 265. We note that broadcast television licensees are
required to electronically file Ownership Reports (Form 323) with the Commission. See 47 C.F.R. § 73.3615.
1199 This includes the controlling interests, directors, officers, and governing board members of a covered television
licensee as of the deadline for submitting applications to participate in the reverse auction, and any additional such
parties at any subsequent point prior to the date when the prohibition ends. For example, if a covered television
licensee appoints a new officer after the application deadline, that new officer would be subject to the prohibition.
1200 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12448, para. 265.
1201 See PTV Comments at 33–34; Public TV Licensees Reply at 7.
1202 See, e.g., Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Responds to Questions About the Local Multipoint Distribution
Service Auction
, Public Notice, 13 FCC Rcd 341, 347–48 (1998) (explaining that public statements may give rise to
collusion concerns, and that a violation of the anti-collusion rule could also occur if an individual acts as the
authorized bidder for two or more competing applicants); see also Nevada Wireless MO&O, 13 FCC Rcd at 11976–
81, paras. 8–19 (assessing facts regarding alleged improper communications where different individuals from the
same law firm were listed as authorized bidders for two auction applicants).
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communicate with each other regarding incentive auction applicants’ bids and bidding strategies without
violating the prohibition. Similarly, if a controlling interest, director, officer, or governing board member
of a covered television licensee is also a controlling interest, director, officer, or holder of any 10 percent
or greater ownership interest in a forward auction applicant, communications between the covered
television licensee and the forward auction applicant will qualify for this exception.1203 An overly broad
prohibition restricting communications between a broadcast television licensee and its controlling
interests during the reverse auction could unduly restrict bidders’ flexibility.1204 This exception to the
prohibition recognizes various interrelationships that may exist between covered television licensees and
permits communications between such licensees that will facilitate strategic decisions regarding multiple
licensees in real time as various contingencies unfold during the auction. Thus, the exception will allow
such licensees to participate more fully, particularly in a multiple-round auction, such as a descending
clock auction.
406.
Second, all parties to a channel sharing agreement disclosed on a reverse auction
application may communicate with each other about reverse auction applicants’ (but not any forward
auction applicants’) bids and bidding strategies. Allowing such communications will encourage channel
sharing relationships, allowing potential channel sharers to fully engage as various options are presented
during the auction process.1205 Our exception takes into account EOBC’s point that once a station has
entered into a channel sharing agreement, it should be permitted to communicate with parties to that
agreement about auction strategy in preparation for and throughout the course of the reverse auction.1206
However, allowing channel sharing negotiations to commence during the auction, as PTV requests,
presents too high of a risk of agreements to reduce competition in response to auction conditions.1207
Thus, the exception to the prohibition for parties to a channel sharing agreement will apply only if the
agreement has been executed prior to the reverse auction application filing deadline and has been
disclosed on the application.
407.
We decline to adopt any exceptions based on the existence of other particular types of
agreements or arrangements between covered television licensees, such as local marketing agreements
(“LMAs”), joint sales agreements (“JSAs”), shared services agreements (“SSAs”), network affiliation
agreements, or any other similar cooperative arrangements.1208 As described above, covered television
licensees with such agreements may continue to communicate during the relevant time period so long as

1203 This exception only applies to controlling interests, directors, officers, and governing board members of a
covered television licensee as of the deadline for submitting applications to participate in the reverse auction, and to
controlling interests, directors, officers, and holders of any 10 percent or greater ownership interest in a forward
auction applicant as of the deadline for submitting short-form applications to participate in the forward auction.
Consequently, if a covered television licensee appoints a new officer after the application deadline, that new officer
would be subject to the rule and not included within the exception.
1204 Cf. EOBC Comments at 24 (arguing that the prohibition should account for the myriad broadcast ownership and
management structures that may require communications regarding auction strategy, such as communications
between licensees and their investors or other commercial partners).
1205 See Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(2)(C) (permitting broadcasters to relinquish spectrum usage rights in order to share
a television channel with another licensee); see also Channel Sharing Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 4622, para.
12 (describing potential benefits of channel sharing for participating broadcasters).
1206 EOBC Comments at 24; see also PTV Comments at 32–33 (cautioning the Commission to avoid chilling good
faith discussions regarding channel sharing arrangements); Sprint Comments at 5 & n.11 (supporting a carefully
targeted relaxation of the rule prohibiting certain communications to facilitate productive communications between
channel sharing partners).
1207 PTV Comments at 34; see also Public TV Licensees Reply at 7.
1208 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12448, para. 266.
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their communications do not directly or indirectly disclose incentive auction applicants’ bids or bidding
strategies.1209
408.
We also decline to adopt an exception based on any pre-auction agreement, other than a
channel sharing agreement, disclosed on an application to participate in the reverse auction. Although, as
PTV points out,1210 the Commission’s rules apply an exception for disclosed agreements in our typical
spectrum license auctions,1211 the reverse auction warrants a different approach. The purpose of this
exception in the spectrum license auction context is to permit the formation of legitimate efficiency-
enhancing bidding consortia, which reduce entry barriers for smaller firms and improve their ability to
compete in the auction process and in the provision of service.1212 But in the reverse auction, participants
are relinquishing spectrum usage rights, not seeking licenses, and there is not the same need for
agreements to promote competition. Accordingly, and in light of the exceptions discussed above, a
general exception for other disclosed agreements is not warranted in the reverse auction.
409.
We disagree with EOBC that the NPRM “does not include sufficient information to allow
for comment on how to apply the Commission’s anti-collusion rules to the reverse auction context.”1213
The Commission both discussed the proposed prohibition at length and included the language of a
proposed rule in the NPRM.1214 Furthermore, the proposed rule and the associated discussion in the
NPRM were based on the Commission’s existing rule for spectrum license auctions, with respect to which
there is ample precedent.1215 As noted above, the NPRM also explicitly asked how the rule might be
adjusted in light of the specific features unique to the reverse auction, including the geographic scope of
the rule and its application to channel sharing and other cooperative arrangements with other stations.
The purpose of the NPRM was precisely to solicit comment on whether the reverse auction context
warrants any changes to the Commission’s established rule.
410.
Any party that makes or receives a communication regarding an incentive auction
applicant’s bids or bidding strategies that may violate this rule must report such communication in writing
to the Commission immediately, and in no case later than five business days after the communication
occurs. The obligation to make a report continues until the report is made and a failure to make a timely
report constitutes a continuing violation.1216 Parties must adhere to any applicable antitrust laws,
including any additional communications restrictions. Where specific instances of collusion in the
competitive bidding process are alleged, the Commission may conduct an investigation or refer such
complaints to DOJ for investigation.1217 Parties who are found to have violated the antitrust laws or the

1209 We did not receive any comments specifically supporting an exception based on the existence of an LMA, JSA,
SSA, network affiliation agreement, or other similar cooperative arrangement, or addressing why broadcasters with
these sorts of arrangements would need to discuss bidding information during the reverse auction.
1210 PTV Comments at 33; see also Anon. Broadcaster 4 Comments at 4–5; Entravision Comments at 7–8; Public
TV Licensees Reply at 7.
1211 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.2105(c)(1) (exempting members of a bidding consortium or other joint bidding arrangement
identified on the bidder’s short-form application from the rule prohibiting certain communications).
1212 See Competitive Bidding Second R&O, 9 FCC Rcd at 2387, para. 223.
1213 EOBC Comments at 23; see also PTV Comments at 34–35 (encouraging the Commission to issue a further
notice of proposed rulemaking that proposes specific language for the rule prohibiting certain communications and
provides clearer guidance on how the rule might be applied).
1214 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12448–50, paras. 264–70; id. at 12507 (proposed rule 47 C.F.R. § 1.22005).
1215 See § IV.C.1.c (Forward Auction Prohibition of Certain Communications).
1216 Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and 777-792 MHz Bands, WT Docket No. 06-150, Second Report and
Order, 22 FCC Rcd 15289, 15403–04, paras. 285–86 (2007).
1217 See Competitive Bidding Second R&O, 9 FCC Rcd at 2388, para. 226; see also Press Release, DOJ, Justice
Department Sues Three Firms Over FCC Auction Practices: Coded Bids Used to Signal Competitors
(Nov. 10,
(continued….)
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Commission’s rules in connection with participation in the auction process may, among other things, be
subject to forfeiture of their winning bid incentive payments and revocation of their licenses, where
applicable, and may be prohibited from participating in any other auctions.1218
411.
We recognize that many broadcasters are new to auction processes, and that all are new
to the reverse auction process.1219 We have conducted and will continue to conduct extensive efforts to
educate broadcasters about important aspects of the auction process, including the prohibition of certain
communications we adopt here.
d.

Two Competing Participants Requirement

412.
Background. Pursuant to the Spectrum Act, the Commission cannot accept the
relinquishment of spectrum usage rights unless at least two competing licensees participate in the reverse
auction. Specifically, section 6402 of the Spectrum Act provides that “[t]he Commission may not enter
into an agreement for a licensee to relinquish spectrum usage rights in exchange for a share of auction
proceeds . . . unless . . . at least two competing licensees participate in the reverse auction.”1220 In the
NPRM, the Commission proposed to incorporate this requirement into the competitive bidding rules for
the broadcast television spectrum reverse auction and sought comment on the parameters of the rule,
including what should constitute “participation” and “competing” for the purposes of this requirement.1221
413.
Discussion. We conclude that “two competing licensees participate” in the reverse
auction portion of the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction if more than one broadcast
television licensee’s pre-auction application is found to be complete and in compliance with the
application rules, and if at least two such licensees are not commonly controlled. Our conclusion is based
on two supporting conclusions. First, we conclude that a broadcast television licensee will be a
“participant” if it has submitted a pre-auction application to be able to bid in the reverse auction that is
found to be complete and in compliance with the application rules.1222 The fact that an applicant has the
ability to submit a bid in the reverse auction as designed under our rules, regardless of whether it
ultimately chooses to do so, is sufficient to satisfy the “participation” component of this statutory
requirement.1223 As discussed below, the knowledge that another party might bid will create competitive
pressure for a second bidder to accept lower incentive payments than it would absent any competition.
414.
Second, we conclude that any broadcast television licensees that participate in the reverse
auction and that are not commonly controlled will “compete” with one another. Under our auction design
(Continued from previous page)
1998), available at http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/1998/November/536at.htm (announcing lawsuits against bidders
that allegedly agreed not to bid against each other and used coded bids to communicate during the auction).
1218 See Competitive Bidding Second R&O, 9 FCC Rcd at 2388, para. 226.
1219 See PTV Comments at 35 (asking the Commission to work closely with DOJ to issue guidance on how the
antitrust laws will apply in the context of the incentive auction).
1220 See 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(8)(G)(ii).
1221 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12446, para. 256.
1222 For the purpose of the competing participants requirement, we decline to consider applicants whose applications
are found incomplete as “participants” because they will not be permitted to submit bids during the reverse auction
and, thus, cannot “participate.” But see Vision Comments at 9–10 (arguing that the two competing participants
requirement should be satisfied “if there are at least two broadcasters nationwide that elect to participate in the
reverse auction”) (emphasis added). Cf. § IV.B.1.c.i (Confidentiality) (interpreting statutory confidentiality
protections afforded to “participating” licensees more broadly in order to facilitate broadcaster participation).
1223 We agree with Anon. Broadcaster 2 that applicants who submit applications that are deemed complete need not
place bids to be considered participants for the purpose of this requirement. See Anon. Broadcaster 2 Comments at
11 (supporting the approach to define a “participant” as “any licensee that submits an application to participate in
the reverse auction and is deemed qualified to bid”).
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framework, regardless of their pre-auction geographic or channel location, all participants in the reverse
auction will compete to receive incentive payments from the same limited source—the aggregate
proceeds of the forward auction.1224 Bidders in the reverse auction would prevent the incentive auction
from closing if together they were to request compensation exceeding amounts available from the forward
auction proceeds. Hence, one bidder’s request for compensation affects what other bidders can be paid
and, indeed, whether the final stage rule can be satisfied. Moreover, the interdependent nature of the
repacking process, where repacking one station may have widespread effects across geographic areas with
possible nationwide band plan implications, means that participants will be affecting, and competing with,
licensees far beyond their contour, DMA, or channel. This competition for the forward auction proceeds
satisfies the Spectrum Act’s requirement that “at least two competing licensees participate in the reverse
auction.”1225
415.
The comments submitted in the record support our interpretation. For example, Anon.
Broadcaster 2, T-Mobile, and Vision all agree that the Commission should construe the participation
requirement broadly by requiring at least two competing licensees across all markets to participate in the
reverse auction, and reject a reading of the statute that would define competing licensees by reference to
their competition in the provision of television service, such as operating in the same DMA, rather than
their competition in the reverse auction.1226 Further, we agree with T-Mobile that a rule requiring at least
two bidders to participate in the same market, however defined, could mean that an otherwise willing and
eligible broadcast television licensee would not be allowed to bid in the reverse auction if it is the only
participant in its DMA.1227 Such an approach would limit the Commission’s ability to allow market forces
to determine the highest and best use of spectrum, and to satisfy the final stage rule. Sinclair nevertheless
argues in favor of a narrower interpretation of the statute, asserting that “licensees ‘compete’ only when
they have substantially overlapping contours.”1228 The competition among broadcast television licensees
to which Sinclair apparently refers is not relevant to how participants will compete in the reverse auction,
and therefore the Spectrum Act does not require such a construction of the participation requirement.1229

1224 See Spectrum Act § 6403(c)(2). We note that the two competing participants requirement applies to any reverse
auction component of an incentive auction conducted under § 6402 of the Spectrum Act, including the broadcast
television spectrum incentive auction. See Spectrum Act § 6402. It was therefore not crafted with specific reference
to the design of the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction, much less to the reverse auction design
framework adopted by the Commission here. The above analysis is based on the statutory conditions applicable to
the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction and, thus, may not apply to different incentive auctions. See
Spectrum Act § 6403. As the two competing participants requirement is a “generic” provision applicable to any
incentive auction conducted under § 6402 of the Spectrum Act, the Commission may apply this requirement
differently in other reverse auctions, depending upon the particular eligibility criteria, auction design, and other
circumstances involved in such reverse auctions.
1225 See Anon. Broadcaster 2 Comments at 11 (explaining that “[a]s long as multiple licensees are bidding for
payments from the same source of funds, no single licensee can unilaterally dictate the amount of money to which it
is entitled”).
1226 T-Mobile Comments at 37–38; Vision Comments at 9–10; Anon. Broadcaster 2 Comments at 10–11.
1227 See T-Mobile Comments at 37–38.
1228 Sinclair Comments at 14.
1229 See Spectrum Act § 6402 (adopting 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(8)(G)(ii)). See also Anon. Broadcaster 2 Comments at
11 (“A narrower interpretation, such as requiring multiple licensees in the same market, is not supported by the
language of the statute and would unnecessarily restrict the FCC’s ability to maximize the amount of spectrum
auctioned.”); T-Mobile Comments at 37 (explaining that same-market competition is not essential for determining
the amount of compensation owed to a broadcaster for voluntarily relinquishing its spectrum); Vision Comments at
9–10 (“The legislative history of the Spectrum Act is silent on this provision. . . . [T]here does not appear to have
been any Congressional deliberation on whether the intent was to withhold payment if only one broadcaster in a
market participates in the reverse auction . . . . In the absence of a clear directive from Congress, the Commission is
free to interpret intent.”).
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e.

Information and Certifications Required in Application to
Participate

416.
Background. In the NPRM, the Commission proposed to require submission of a pre-
auction application by entities interested in participating in the reverse auction, explaining that
information provided on the pre-auction application would allow it to evaluate whether the parties are
qualified to participate in accordance with the auction rules.1230 The Commission sought comment on
proposed rules regarding the contents of the pre-auction application for the reverse auction, such as the
appropriate party to consider as the applicant.1231 In addition, the Commission sought comment on what
information applicants should be required to provide and what certifications they should be required to
make regarding their qualifications to participate.1232
417.
Discussion. We adopt the proposal to require potential bidders to submit a pre-auction
application to establish their eligibility to participate in the reverse auction. This requirement will provide
an appropriate screen to ensure serious participation without being unduly burdensome. Based on our
experience with spectrum license auctions, such a requirement balances the need to collect essential
information with administrative efficiency. We envision that the pre-auction application would be due on
the dates specified by the Procedures PN and would be filed electronically as in Commission spectrum
license auctions.
418.
In addition, we adopt the proposals regarding the types of information broadcast
television licensees should be required to disclose in the pre-auction application. Thus, as discussed in
more detail below, we will require that each auction applicant submit information to establish its identity,
information concerning the relevant license(s) and associated spectrum usage rights, and information
regarding the parties with ownership interest in the applicant. Additionally, an applicant that is proposing
to share a channel with another station must confirm that the proposed arrangement will not violate the
Commission’s media ownership rules1233 and provide information concerning the channel sharing
arrangement, including a copy of the executed channel sharing agreement. Based on our experience with
spectrum license auctions, such information is needed to determine whether an applicant is qualified to
participate and to implement rules that are fundamental to the auction, such as the prohibition of certain
communications. And the information relied upon for the auction must be up-to-date, making it
appropriate to require submission in the period leading up to the auction.
419.
We emphasize that we seek to make participation in the reverse auction as easy as
possible for broadcasters. However, the need for sufficient and up-to-date information regarding
broadcast television licensees that may make binding bids to relinquish spectrum usage rights leads us to
decline various suggestions to further streamline or simplify the pre-auction application process.1234 As
US Cellular notes, applicants to participate in the reverse auction already have certain information on file
because they hold Commission-issued authorizations.1235 Nevertheless, as noted below, information
required by the Commission for other purposes is not necessarily sufficient for the reverse auction.
Moreover, significant changes may have taken place in the applicant, or in the parties with ownership

1230 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12442, para. 242.
1231 Id. at 12442, paras. 242, 244–45.
1232 Id. at 12443–45, paras. 246–52.
1233 See § VI.A.1.a (Post-Transition Media Ownership Rules).
1234 See, e.g., CTIA Comments at 32–33 (suggesting that the Commission consider whether any “application”
process is necessary at all for the reverse auction and, instead, only require “the filing of any agreements by reverse
auction participants”); Motorola Mobility Comments at 7 (arguing that preparation of the pre-auction application
package would be costly and time consuming and could deter some participation, and that simplified certifications
and notifications should suffice); TechAmerica Reply at 5; US Cellular Comments at 10; US Cellular Reply at 10.
1235 See US Cellular Comments at 10.
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interests in the applicant, since the most recent submission of such information to the Commission. Any
attempt to rely on other filings would necessitate requiring potential participants to confirm that all
information on file with the Commission is current and, if necessary, update any information that is
outdated. Even then, such updates may not obviate the need for an auction application. Consequently,
requiring parties to file an application to participate in the reverse auction that is focused on the relevant
information is more efficient and less burdensome for potential participants.
420.
Commission experience with spectrum license auctions indicates that a pre-auction
application process is critical to ensuring the success of the incentive auction. Completing an application
helps an applicant focus on the significance of any actions it may take should it choose to bid. Similarly,
requiring a potential bidder to submit an application and to affirmatively make the various certifications
required helps to ensure that the applicant is sincere about its intent to participate.
421.
We decline to require applicants to provide a two year program history log in order to
help the Commission consider the ramifications of accepting a particular relinquishment bid.1236 We will
not consider whether acceptance of such bids will result in loss of service for the reasons discussed above
in the License Relinquishment Bid Section.1237 Therefore, a bidder’s two-year program history log will be
irrelevant.
422.
We also decline to adopt NHMC and the Leadership Conference’s suggestion to require
applicants to provide additional information about their ownership interests for the purpose of
determining the potential impact of the incentive auction on broadcast ownership diversity.1238 We
recognize the importance of diversity in broadcast ownership and support efforts to maintain such
diversity. The suggested requirement, however, would go beyond the scope of information necessary to
determine whether an applicant is qualified to participate in the reverse auction or to implement the
Commission’s auction rules. Our interest in simplifying and thereby facilitating participation and
reducing burdens associated with the application process militates against imposing broader information
collection requirements than are necessary for the purposes of such a collection. In addition, these
proposals would not provide a complete or reliable picture of broadcast ownership diversity, even for
television, because they would not include any broadcast station electing not to participate in the reverse
auction. For a more detailed discussion concerning public interest and diversity considerations, see the
Diversity of Media Ownership Section below.1239
423.
We will require an applicant to make certain certifications on its pre-auction application
as to its legal, technical, and other qualifications and eligibility to participate in the reverse auction,
including a certification as to the applicant’s compliance with the national security restriction in section
6004 of the Spectrum Act. Requiring a certification of an applicant’s qualifications will help to ensure
that applicants submit accurate information.1240 Applicants making false certifications to the Commission
expose themselves to liability. Applicants should take care to review their licenses and the information in
their pre-auction applications before making the required certifications and be prepared to document their
review confirming that they meet the applicable requirements, if necessary.

1236 See Anon. Citizen Comments at 8–9 (arguing that this information will be helpful to consider if any stations face
local backlash for voluntary relinquishment of rights).
1237 See § IV.B.1.b.i (Reverse Auction License Relinquishment Bid).
1238 See NHMC Comments at 5–6; NHMC Reply at 2–3; Leadership Conference Comments at 1, 5 (urging the
Commission to collect data that track ownership diversity in broadcasting now and after the auction).
1239 See § VI.A.1.b (Post-Transition Diversity of Media Ownership).
1240 See Amendment of Part 1 of the Commission’s Rules – Competitive Bidding Procedures, WT Docket No. 97-82,
Allocation of Spectrum Below 5 GHz Transferred from Federal Government Use, ET Docket No. 94-32, Third
Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, 13 FCC Rcd 374, 391, para. 24 (1997) (Part
I Third Report and Order
).
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424.
We note that for spectrum license auctions, the Commission typically releases an
interactive auction tutorial. The tutorial typically demonstrates the Commission’s web-based auction
application. Consistent with prior practice, we anticipate offering a similar type of tutorial for the
incentive auction so that potential participants have the opportunity to become familiar with the auction
application system prior to the pre-auction application deadline.
(i)

Applicant

425.
Background. The Commission proposed that the applicant identified on the pre-auction
application for the reverse auction must be the licensee.1241 As the Commission explained in the NPRM,
under this approach, a corporate parent would not be able to file one application for licenses held by
different licensee subsidiaries; however, a licensee holding multiple licenses would only be required to
file one application for all such licenses for which it wishes to submit bids in the reverse auction.1242
426.
For broadcast television licensees that would relinquish spectrum usage rights in
exchange for an incentive payment and subsequently share a channel with another broadcaster, the
Commission proposed that only the sharee(s)—the station(s) that would relinquish their frequencies in
order to move to the sharers’ frequencies—must apply to participate in the reverse auction.1243
427.
Discussion. We adopt the above proposals as set forth in the NPRM. Requiring the
applicant to be the licensee will promote accountability and transparency since the licensee is the entity
that holds the spectrum usage rights that may be relinquished in the reverse auction.1244 This decision is
consistent with the Spectrum Act’s use of the term “broadcast television licensee.”1245
428.
With respect to channel sharers, since the sharer station will not change channels as part
of the channel sharing arrangement,1246 it is unnecessary for the sharer to submit an application to
participate in the reverse auction with respect to the shared station unless it intends to submit its own
bid.1247 We will, however, require prospective sharers to provide any necessary certifications with respect
to the channel sharing agreement in addition to sharees.1248 It is reasonable and not unduly burdensome to
require sharers to make such certifications because, as Commission licensees, they are required to comply

1241 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12442, para. 244.
1242 Id.
1243 Id. at 12442, para. 245. More than two stations may share a channel. Thus, although there would be only one
sharer in each channel sharing relationship, there could be multiple sharees.
1244 No commenter addressed this issue directly. EOBC proposes volume credits to encourage multi-station owners
to participate in the auction and submit bids for stations in several highly-desirable markets. See EOBC Reply at 21,
Eisenach Declaration at paras. 21–24. EOBC does not explain how the proposed volume credits would work,
however, or address how the credits would affect the pre-auction application process, including whether the multi-
station owner would be the licensee (i.e., the applicant) or the licensee’s parent company or affiliate. Thus, it is
unclear what type of information the Commission would need to request from an applicant during the pre-auction
application process to implement EOBC’s proposal.
1245 See, e.g., Spectrum Act §§ 6001(6) (defining “broadcast television licensee” as “the licensee” of the relevant
station), 6403(a)(1) (directing the Commission to conduct a reverse auction to determine the amount of
compensation that each “broadcast television licensee” would accept in return for voluntarily relinquishing some or
all of its broadcast television spectrum usage rights).
1246 We note that a sharer station may be reassigned a new channel during the repacking process. See § III.B
(Repacking the Broadcast Television Bands).
1247 The limited comment we received on this issue supports our decision. See, e.g., ITI Comments at 6 (arguing
that the Commission should not require both parties to file pre-auction applications).
1248 See §§ IV.B.1.b.iii (Reverse Auction Channel Sharing Bid), IV.B.1.e.iv (Channel Sharing Agreement)
(identifying specific certifications required with respect to channel sharing agreements).
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with all applicable Commission rules and regulations, including the rules we adopt in this Order
concerning channel sharing arrangements. Further, as a sharer voluntarily enters into a channel sharing
arrangement, it is reasonable to require a sharer to make certifications in exchange for the ability to share
a channel with another broadcaster. We acknowledge ITI’s concern that overly burdensome certifications
relating to channel sharing agreements could have a negative effect on participation in the reverse
auction.1249 We do not anticipate, however, that requiring a sharer to make basic certifications about a
channel sharing agreement that it voluntarily negotiated and entered into will be overly burdensome to the
sharer or to any sharees that are parties to the agreement. Moreover, the benefit of requiring a sharer to
make certifications that are designed to ensure compliance with the Commission’s rules and regulations
concerning channel sharing arrangements outweighs the unlikely risk of potentially deterring broadcaster
participation in the reverse auction.
(ii)

Spectrum Usage Rights to Be Offered

429.
Background. In the NPRM, the Commission proposed to require information in the pre-
auction application concerning the license(s) and associated spectrum usage rights that may be offered in
the reverse auction, including station and channel information, full power or Class A status, and NCE
status, and whether the applicant intends to bid to relinquish all of its spectrum usage rights, to channel
share, to move from UHF to VHF frequencies, and/or to offer any other permissible relinquishments.1250
430.
Discussion. We adopt the proposal to require reverse auction applicants to specify which
license(s) and associated spectrum usage rights they might offer in the reverse auction. We further
require that a reverse auction applicant shall provide any information needed to assure that the offered
relinquishment pursuant to the application is consistent with any applicable Commission rules or action to
enforce its rules.1251 The Commission needs this information in order to evaluate bids and run the various
repacking algorithms. In addition, the Commission can utilize the information to assist in identifying
auction participants offering spectrum usage rights subject to a pending license renewal application or an
enforcement action, which may subject participants to liabilities that will have to be addressed before
such participants can relinquish their licenses in exchange for an incentive payment.1252
(iii)

Ownership Information

431.
Background. The Commission proposed to require a potential bidder to include in its
pre-auction application its ownership information as set forth in section 1.2112(a) of the rules, and for
NCE stations, information regarding the licensee’s governing board and any educational institution or
governmental entity with a controlling interest in the station, if applicable.1253 The Commission also
asked whether, in lieu of the information set forth in section 1.2112(a), it should require reverse auction
applicants to provide different ownership information.1254 In particular, the Commission asked if it should
request ownership information based on the attribution rules for broadcast television licensees, or whether
it should require applicants to provide updated information to supplement existing disclosures on file with
the Commission, such as the information contained in the licensee’s most recently filed Biennial
Ownership Report Forms 323 or 323-E.1255

1249 See ITI Comments at 6.
1250 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12443, para. 247.
1251 Such information may include but is not limited to anything related to ownership of, or an enforcement action
concerning, the license(s) identified in the application to participate.
1252 See § IV.B.1.a.iii (Pending Renewal and Enforcement Proceedings).
1253 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12443, para. 247.
1254 Id.
1255 Id.
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432.
Discussion. We adopt the proposed rule requiring a reverse auction applicant to include
in its pre-auction application its ownership information as set forth in section 1.2112(a) of the
Commission’s rules. In recognition that NCE stations and certain other stations may be operated by non-
profit entities, we will require a non-profit licensee to submit information regarding its governing board
and to identify any educational institution or governmental entity with a controlling interest in the
applicant, if applicable. For the purpose of the incentive auction, the Commission needs to be informed
of an applicant’s ownership structure for several reasons, including: (1) to confirm that the applicant is
who it claims to be and actually has rights to the license(s) it may offer to relinquish; and (2) to
implement the prohibition of certain communications adopted above.1256 Thus, the integrity and success
of the auction require that reverse auction applicants submit current ownership information in their pre-
auction applications.1257
433.
The ownership information we currently have on file under our existing broadcast
television rules is inadequate for the purposes of evaluating an applicant’s eligibility to participate in the
broadcast television spectrum reverse auction and for implementing the competitive bidding rules.
Broadcasters file existing Forms 323 and 323-E only biennially, and thus are required to update
ownership information in the event of a license assignment or transfer of control.1258 The existing rules
governing competitive bidding participants and the new rules we adopt in this proceeding similarly
require current information regarding any ownership interests in an applicant, in this case for the purposes
of conducting the reverse auction and enforcing the rules associated therewith.1259 Consequently, we
cannot utilize information on file in an applicant’s most recent Form 323 or 323-E without, at a minimum,
requiring the applicant to review and update the information. Moreover, as those forms were not
designed to collect information for competitive bidding purposes, the forms may be over- and/or under-
inclusive for auction purposes, even if an applicant’s form is up-to-date.
434.
We also decline to adopt NHMC’s proposal to collect the same ownership information
required by Forms 323 and 323-E.1260 While we appreciate that broadcast television licensees are familiar
with these forms and the information required, more streamlined ownership information is warranted
solely for the purpose of the reverse auction. For further discussion regarding ownership diversity issues,
see the Diversity of Media Ownership Section below.1261
(iv)

Channel Sharing Agreement

435.
Background. In the NPRM, the Commission sought comment on what information
regarding channel sharing agreements it should require in order to assess an applicant’s eligibility to
participate in the reverse auction, including whether to require submission of the channel sharing
agreement with the pre-auction application.1262
436.
Discussion. We will require a channel sharing applicant to provide sufficient information
and certifications to enable the Commission to evaluate and accept a channel-sharing bid. For example, a

1256 See § IV.B.1.c.ii (Reverse Auction Prohibition of Certain Communications).
1257 Accordingly, we reject CTIA’s assertion that there is no need to collect an applicant’s ownership information
since it is already a Commission licensee. See CTIA Comments at 32–33.
1258 47 C.F.R. § 73.3615(c).
1259 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.2105(a), (c), 1.2112(a).
1260 See NHMC Comments at 5–6 (arguing that the data obtained through this type of collection will allow the
Commission to analyze ownership information in a manner consistent with established practices and make trend
analysis possible).
1261 See § VI.A.1.b (Post-Transition Diversity of Media Ownership).
1262 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12444, para. 248.
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channel sharing applicant must submit an executed copy of the channel sharing agreement.1263 It also
must certify whether it can meet its community of license requirements from the proposed sharer’s site,
and if not, that the new community of license proposed meets the same, or a higher, allotment priority as
its current community.1264 As discussed in the Channel Sharing Operating Rules Section,1265 and as noted
by PTV, public interest considerations demand that the Commission impose certain basic requirements on
the terms and conditions of channel sharing agreements.1266 Therefore, we will require a channel sharing
applicant to certify that the channel sharing agreement is consistent with all relevant Commission rules
and policies, and that the applicant accepts any risk that the implementation of the channel sharing
agreement may not be feasible for any reason, including any conflict with requirements for operation on
the shared channel.
437.
We disagree with ITI’s unsupported assertion that requiring parties to produce
information relating to channel sharing agreements could have a negative effect on participation in the
reverse auction.1267 As channel sharing agreements will contain information that identifies broadcast
television licensees participating in the reverse auction, the Commission will take all reasonable steps
necessary to maintain the confidentiality of such agreements in accordance with section 6403(a)(3) of the
Spectrum Act and the rules adopted in this proceeding.1268 Thus, we do not anticipate that parties will be
discouraged from participating in the reverse auction by the requirements we adopt in this Order. Further,
it is reasonable to require a channel sharing applicant to submit an executed copy of its channel sharing
agreement as an indication of its good faith and intent to follow through with the channel sharing
arrangement in the event the Commission accepts its channel sharing bid.
(v)

National Security Certification

438.
Background. To implement the national security restriction in section 6004 of the
Spectrum Act,1269 the Commission proposed that a reverse auction applicant be required to certify, under
penalty of perjury, that it and all of the related individuals and entities required to be disclosed on the pre-
auction application are not persons who have “been, for reasons of national security, barred by any

1263 See § VI.A.2 (Channel Sharing Operating Rules). We note that several commenters supported this requirement.
See, e.g., Anon. Citizen Comments at 9 (urging the Commission to require applicants to provide their channel
sharing agreement with their pre-auction application and arguing that proof of such agreements will provide greater
assurance in the repacking and forward auction process); CTIA Comments at 32 (supporting a requirement for
applicants to file channel sharing agreements with the Commission one or two weeks prior to the start of the
auction). As already discussed, though we will not require prospective channel sharers to apply to participate in the
reverse auction, we will require such parties to provide any certifications that are necessary with respect to the
channel sharing agreement. See § IV.B.1.e.i (Applicant).
1264 See § IV.B.1.b.iii (Reverse Auction Channel Sharing Bid).
1265 See § VI.A.2 (Post-Transition Channel Sharing Operating Rules).
1266 See PTV Comments at 18 (noting that public interest considerations may require some baseline requirements for
channel sharing so that one sharing participant’s actions would not unduly disrupt the other participant’s broadcast
services). See also § VI.A.2 (Post-Transition Channel Sharing Operating Rules). Ordinarily, the Commission does
not involve itself in private contractual agreements between stations, and we agree with ITI that channel sharing
agreements should be developed through private negotiations. See ITI Comments at 6.
1267 ITI Comments at 6.
1268 See § IV.B.1.c.i (Confidentiality).
1269 The Spectrum Act specifies that “a person who has been, for reasons of national security, barred by any agency
of the Federal Government from bidding on a contract, participating in an auction, or receiving a grant” may not
participate in a system of competitive bidding that is required to be conducted by Title VI of the Spectrum Act.
Spectrum Act § 6004. This national security restriction applies to the broadcast television spectrum reverse and
forward auctions since Title VI requires the Commission to conduct both auctions. See Spectrum Act §§ 6403(a),
(c). See also NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12444–45, para. 251.
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agency of the Federal Government from bidding on a contract, participating in an auction, or receiving a
grant.”1270 For purposes of this certification, the Commission proposed to define “person” as an
individual, partnership, association, joint-stock company, trust, or corporation.1271 It also proposed to
define “reasons of national security” to mean matters relating to the national defense and foreign relations
of the United States.1272
439.
Discussion. No commenters address our proposals for implementing section 6004, and
we adopt them.1273 Requiring potential bidders to make this certification is a reasonable way to
implement this statutory restriction. In the context of spectrum license auctions, the Commission has
relied successfully on certifications to ensure certain regulatory and legal obligations have been met by
the applicants. Such an approach is appropriate here as well. Further, the definitions of “person” and
“reasons of national security” we adopt are consistent with how those terms are used in other federal
programs and are a reasonable interpretation of those terms in section 6004.1274
440.
All of the related individuals and entities required to be disclosed on a potential bidder’s
pre-auction application are “persons” subject to this statutory participation restriction. Where the
applicant is a legal entity rather than an individual, it has been the Commission’s practice to consider the
legal entity’s controlling interests, holders of partnership and ownership interests, certain shareholders,
and officers and directors to be applicants by extension.1275 Including these related individuals and
entities within the definition of “person” is entirely consistent with the intent of the national security
restriction. Indeed, if such related individuals and entities were not considered “persons,” parties that are
statutorily prohibited from participating in the reverse auction could circumvent the national security
restriction simply through the creation of a separate entity to act as the “applicant.”1276
441.
As with other required certifications, a reverse auction applicant’s failure to include the
required national security certification by the applicable filing deadline would render its pre-auction
application unacceptable for filing, and its application to participate in the reverse auction would be
dismissed with prejudice.1277

1270 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12445, para. 252. See Spectrum Act § 6004.
1271 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12445, para. 252.
1272 Id.
1273 We note that in the recent H Block proceeding, the Commission adopted a nearly identical requirement in Part 1
of our rules to implement the national security restriction as required by § 6004 of the Spectrum Act. See H Block
Report and Order
, 28 FCC Rcd at 9578, para. 254. Specifically, the Commission added the new certification to the
various other certifications that a party must make in any application to participate in certain statutorily-specified
systems of competitive bidding as required under our existing Part 1 rules. Id. Thus, as discussed in § IV.C.1.d
(National Security Certification), forward auction applicants must certify as to their compliance with the national
security restriction in accordance with the Commission’s recently adopted certification rule in 47 C.F.R.
§1.2105(a)(2)(xii), as amended in this proceeding.
1274 See, e.g., 47 U.S.C. § 153(39) (“The term ‘person’ includes an individual, partnership, association, joint-stock
company trust or corporation.”); 18 U.S.C. App. 3 § 1(b) (defining “national security” as “the national defense and
foreign relations of the United States”).
1275 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.2002(b), 1.2105(c)(7)(i).
1276 See, e.g., Implementation of Section 309(j) of the Communications Act — Competitive Bidding, PP Docket No.
93-253, Fifth Memorandum Opinion and Order, 10 FCC Rcd 403, 453—54, para. 90 (1994).
1277 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.2105(b)(1). As discussed in the following Section, changes to the required certifications are
considered to be major amendments to the pre-auction application and, thus, would not be permitted.
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f.

Procedures for Processing Pre-Auction Application

442.
Background. In the NPRM, the Commission proposed to process applications to
participate in the reverse auction in a manner similar to the processing of applications to participate in
spectrum license auctions. More specifically, the Commission proposed that no application would be
accepted if, by the initial deadline, the applicant had failed to make the required certifications.1278
Applicants would be afforded an opportunity to cure defects identified by the Commission after an initial
review of the application to participate.1279 If an applicant fails to make necessary corrections before a
resubmission deadline, its application would be dismissed.1280
443.
The Commission further proposed that the applicant must amend or modify the
application as promptly as possible, and in any event within five business days, whenever the information
furnished in a pending pre-auction application is no longer substantially accurate and complete in all
significant respects.1281 Certain minor changes would be permitted subject to a deadline specified by
public notice, but major changes to the pre-auction application would not be permitted.1282 Major
amendments would include, but would not be limited to, changes in ownership of the applicant or the
licensee that would constitute a substantial assignment or transfer of control.1283 In addition, major
amendments would include changes to any of the required certifications and the addition or removal of
licenses or authorizations identified on the pre-auction application for which the applicant intends to
submit bids.1284 Minor amendments would include any changes that are not major, such as correcting
typographical errors and supplying or correcting information requested by the Commission to support the
certifications made in the application.1285 Finally, to protect the confidentiality of the identities of all
reverse auction participants,1286 the Commission proposed to notify the applicants individually as to the
status of their applications and whether they are qualified bidders, i.e., are qualified to participate in the
reverse auction.1287
444.
Discussion. We adopt the proposals in the NPRM. The process we adopt has proven
effective in the Commission’s experience with spectrum license auctions. Pre-auction application
processing provides an opportunity to address concerns regarding information provided by applicants, and
helps to assure their eligibility to participate, without unduly limiting participation by qualified parties.
Only a few commenters addressed this aspect of the reverse auction. These commenters made
suggestions intended to facilitate participation in the reverse auction.1288 We concur in the purpose behind

1278 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12445, para. 253.
1279 Id.
1280 Id.
1281 Id. at 12445, para. 254.
1282 Id.
1283 Id. Precluding such changes in ownership after the submission of the application would ensure that all of the
relevant parties are clearly identified for the purposes of applying the reverse auction rules. Id.
1284 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12445, para. 254.
1285 Id. See also 47 C.F.R. § 1.2105(b)(2).
1286 See Spectrum Act § 6403(a)(3).
1287 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12446, para. 255. See also Entravision Comments at 7.
1288 CTIA suggests that the Commission’s information on file regarding broadcast television licensees might obviate
the need for any application process. CTIA Comments at 32–33. CIT, a source of financing for broadcast television
licensees, suggests eliminating any restrictions on changes in ownership during the course of the auction. CIT
Comments at 7. And MetroPCS, as part of its larger proposal to conduct an ascending price reverse auction, urges
the FCC to adopt procedures that would allow broadcasters that previously opted not to participate to jump into the
auction as it is ongoing, in the event that prices rise above pre-auction expectations. MetroPCS Comments at 8.
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these suggestions—facilitating to the greatest extent possible participation in the reverse auction
consistent with the Commission’s polices—and our action serves this purpose. We decline, however, to
adopt the specific suggestions. As discussed above, based on our experience with spectrum license
auctions, requiring the submission of an application to participate is important for a number of reasons,
including ensuring that the information the Commission relies on is up-to-date. Limiting permissible
changes in the ownership of auction applicants likewise assures that the Commission’s review of
applicant qualifications remains valid over the course of the auction.
445.
Finally, we decline to adopt one commenter’s suggestion that any otherwise-eligible
broadcast television licensee who initially opted not to participate in the reverse auction ought to be able
to enter the “ongoing” reverse auction without first applying to participate.1289 As discussed above, the
application process is critical to determining whether a broadcast television licensee is both technically
and legally qualified to participate in the reverse auction. Allowing broadcast television licensees who
have not applied to participate in the reverse auction, and thus have not been vetted by Commission staff,
to enter the “ongoing” auction presents an unwarranted risk that ineligible parties might bid in the auction
and would add unnecessary complexity to the reverse auction design.
2.

Bidding Process

446.
Here, we address the reverse auction bidding process and adopt rules to provide for the
necessary bidding procedures. The reverse auction will use a descending clock auction format. The
record to date demonstrates several important advantages of a descending clock auction format. Most
importantly, it facilitates broadcaster participation by presenting the bidder with a series of simple
decisions, rather than requiring a more complicated bidding strategy. The descending clock format makes
it easy for bidders to choose among multiple bid options. And the format allows pricing procedures that
give the bidder strong incentives to bid straightforwardly, regardless of what other bidders may choose to
do. We will discuss these benefits in more detail below.
447.
We address the basic structure of our chosen descending clock auction design in terms of
three basic elements: (i) bid collection procedures that determine how bids are gathered using a
descending clock auction format; (ii) assignment procedures that evaluate bids sequentially, taking into
account interference potential, to determine which bids for relinquishment are accepted; and (iii) pricing
procedures that determine the payment that a broadcaster relinquishing spectrum usage rights will
receive.1290 Below, we address these three elements from the perspective of a single television station
bidding in a single stage of the auction.1291 The format for reverse auction bidding in each stage will be a
descending clock auction incorporating multiple bidding rounds.
a.

Bid Collection Procedures: Descending Clock Format

448.
Background. In the NPRM, the Commission discussed two basic reverse auction bid
collection procedures.1292 The first was a single round mechanism, in which a bidder would specify the
minimum payment it would be willing to accept in exchange for relinquishing various spectrum usage
rights. The second was a multiple round procedure—a descending clock auction—in which the bid
collection process would take place in a series of bidding rounds. In each round, a bidder would have a
set period of time to indicate whether it would be willing to accept a specific payment amount in
exchange for relinquishing rights. The payment amounts generally would decline with each round, or

1289 MetroPCS Comments at 8.
1290 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12372–77, paras. 35–53. Appendix C describes in more detail than the NPRM how
some of the auction design options could be implemented. Id. at 12563–65, 12568–74.
1291 The incentive auction may include multiple stages, with reverse and forward auction bidding in each stage. See
§ IV.A. (Overview and Integration of the Reverse and Forward Auctions).
1292 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12373, paras. 38–40; see also id. at 12450, para. 272.
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each “tick” of the descending clock.1293 The NPRM also discussed an additional bid collection
procedure—“intra-round bidding”—that would enable bidders to indicate a specific price, between the
opening and closing prices in a round, below which a bid option would not be acceptable.1294
449.
Discussion. The reverse auction will collect bids using a descending clock auction
format, and bidders will have the option of making intra-round bids.1295 We adopt this format because of
its advantages for participating bidders. In each round, bidders will be faced with relatively simple
choices of determining whether or not they are still willing to accept the current prices for bid options.
Observing the sequence of prices over multiple rounds will give bidders an indication of relative values
for the different bid options, which will help them refine and feel more confident in their bidding
decisions. This process of price discovery will be particularly helpful in the context of this first-time-ever
incentive auction, in which there will be no historical results to guide bidder expectations. In contrast, a
single round sealed-bid format would require bidders to make price commitments in advance of any
information revealed through the auction process. Commenters generally agree with this choice.1296
Moreover, some commenters favor the multiple round approach because the bidder may never have to
reveal its lowest acceptable price, unlike in a single round auction in which a bidder would indicate, at
one time, the lowest prices at which it would accept various bid options.1297
450.
Under the descending clock format, in each round a participating broadcaster will be
presented a price for a bid option and will indicate whether it is willing to accept the option at that
price.1298 As explained below, each station will see a price that takes into account objective factors, such
as location and potential for interference with other stations, that affect the availability of channels in the
repacking process and, therefore, the value of a station’s bid to voluntarily relinquish spectrum usage
rights.1299 Thus, a station with a high potential for interference will be offered a price that is higher than a
station with less potential for interference to other stations. Setting prices in this manner will encourage
stations with more interference potential to remain active in the reverse auction bidding longer, increasing

1293 Appendix C describes in more detail a descending clock auction in which prices for bidding options—for
example, to relinquish all spectrum usage rights or to move to a lower band—would start high and decline during
subsequent rounds. See id. at 12568.
1294 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12572 (Appendix C); see also id. at 12378, para. 60 (discussing intra-round bidding
in the context of the forward auction).
1295 As discussed above, the rules we adopt provide the necessary flexibility to vary aspects of the reverse auction
bidding process, including the format we now adopt, if circumstances or the record developed in the pre-auction
process reflect the need to do so. Again, however, we fully intend to implement the choices we make in this Order.
1296 See Anon. Broadcaster 2 Comments at 5; CEA Comments at 30; EOBC Comments at 6; EOBC Reply at 9;
Local Media Reply at 5; Mobile Future Comments at 9–10; TIA Comments at 13–14; Verizon Comments at 28;
Vision Comments at 2; see also T-Mobile Comments at 39–41 (advocating for a multiple round reverse auction with
sealed bidding for each phase). But see MetroPCS Comments at 6–7 (suggesting an ascending clock reverse auction
where broadcasters choose a reserve price at which they are willing to relinquish spectrum); NRB Comments at 14–
15 (recommending that broadcasters submit confidential non-binding bids to supply the Commission with the
information necessary to engage in a separate rulemaking once the amount of available spectrum in known).
Examination of the record adequately rebuts proposed alternatives to a descending clock auction. See EOBC Reply
at 8 (explaining that the multi-round ascending reverse auction proposed by MetroPCS would not offer a high initial
starting price to attract broadcasters, would make it difficult for broadcasters to determine the price at which to enter
the auction, and would not be conducive to meeting the goal of repurposing the maximum amount of spectrum); see
id.
(stating that NRB’s suggestion that broadcasters submit confidential, non-binding bids before the repacking
process would delay the auction unnecessarily and decrease broadcaster participation).
1297 See, e.g., EOBC Reply at 9.
1298 A bidder may see a price for more than one option. See § IV.B.1.b (Reverse Auction Bid Options). Whether a
bidder can accept a price for more than one option at a time will be determined in the Procedures PN.
1299 See § IV.B.2.b (Reverse Auction Bid Assignment Procedures).
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the efficiency of the repacking process by reducing the likelihood that such stations will have to be
assigned channels, thereby blocking other stations with less interference potential. This, in turn, will
reduce the overall cost of clearing spectrum and increase the likelihood of a successful auction.1300
451.
We will determine the factors to be used in setting prices in the Procedures PN based on
additional, more focused public input.1301 We will also determine in the Procedures PN the mechanism
for applying such factors.1302 We emphasize that we do not intend to set prices to reflect the potential
market or enterprise value of stations, as opposed to their impact on the repacking process. Possible
factors include the number of stations that a station would interfere with and block from being assigned
channels, the population the station covers,1303 or a combination of such factors.1304
452.
We disagree with arguments that using such factors is unnecessary to account for the
value of a station’s voluntary relinquishment of rights in the reverse auction.1305 For the reasons
explained above, we conclude that such factors will significantly improve the likelihood of a successful
auction.1306 We also disagree with suggestions that using such factors will overly complicate the reverse
auction process.1307 This approach will not be difficult to implement from an auction design perspective,
nor will it alter the bidding experience. In each round, each reverse auction bidder will be presented with
a price offer that takes into account these factors. As described below, a bidder will be able to indicate
whether it is still willing to accept a bid option at the current price. In addition, we are not persuaded that

1300 For example, suppose station A with an interference potential or “volume” of 10 would relinquish rights for a
price of 15, and station B with a volume of 20 would relinquish rights for a price of 20. Without considering
volume, station B would drop out first (to assure it receives at least 20), even though assigning a channel to station B
would foreclose more channels for other stations than assigning a channel to station A, or impair more spectrum in
the wireless band. With the use of volume as a factor, however, when the price per unit of volume drops below
1.50, station A would drop out since it would not accept an incentive payment of less than 15, while station B would
remain active until the price per unit of volume falls below 1.00, to assure that it receives an incentive payment of at
least 20.
1301 See Select Spectrum Comments at 5–6 (encouraging the Commission to develop any scoring mechanism with a
high degree of transparency and some form of dialogue). See also CCA Reply at 16; LIN Comments at 2.
1302 In making this determination we will consider, among other things, whether to utilize optimization techniques.
1303 We must make all reasonable efforts to preserve the population served of protected stations that will remain on
the air, making population served one of the major constraints on the availability of channels in the repacking
process. See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2); § III.B.2 (Implementing the Statutory Preservation Mandate).
1304 We recognize that some commenters strongly oppose using population served as a factor in setting prices. See,
e.g.
EOBC Comments at 19; Vision Comments at 3; Letter from Ari Meltzer, Counsel for EOBC, to Marlene H.
Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268, Scoring in Reverse Auction Attachment at 2, 19 (filed Dec. 6,
2013) (EOBC Dec. 6, 2013 Cramton Slides) (suggesting that if a scoring mechanism is used, that it should be based
on a station’s preclusive effect on repacking other stations rather than population coverage or other measures of
enterprise value).
1305 See Vision Comments at 3–4; EOBC Dec. 6, 2013 Cramton Slides. See also Joint Letter from Julie Kearney,
CEA, & Preston Padden, EOBC, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268, Maximizing the
Success of the Incentive Auction Attachment at 12 (filed Nov. 6, 2013) (CEA-EOBC Nov. 6, 2013 Maximizing
Success Slides). But see Letter from Trey Hanbury, Counsel for T-Mobile, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC,
GN Docket No. 12-268, Exhibit dated Dec. 13, 2013 at 10 (filed Dec. 17, 2013) (T-Mobile Dec. 17, 2013 Ex Parte
Exhibit) (arguing that using such factors will increase the amount of repurposed spectrum, accelerate the bidding
process, raise more revenue, and help broadcasters by better distributing funds in the reverse auction).
1306 See, e.g., T-Mobile Dec. 17, 2013 Ex Parte Exhibit; Select Spectrum Comments at 5–6.
1307 See EOBC Comments at 18–19; EOBC Reply at 18; Vision Comments at 3.
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using such factors will deter broadcasters from participating in the reverse auction.1308 No station will be
compensated less than the total price that it indicates it is willing to accept.1309
453.
Generally, the prices for bid options will start high and descend for each station, as long
as the station’s acceptance of a chosen bid option is not needed to meet the current spectrum clearing
target.1310 Each round will last for a pre-set period of time. The Procedures PN will address the timing of
rounds and how price decrements will be determined after an opportunity for comment.
454.
To illustrate the bidding process under the descending clock auction format we adopt
today, consider a participating broadcaster that is willing to relinquish all of its licensed spectrum usage
rights if it will receive a sufficiently high incentive payment. In each round in which the offered price is
above what the broadcaster considers high enough, the broadcaster will indicate that it is still willing to
accept the license relinquishment option at the current price. Once the price becomes too low, the
broadcaster will indicate that it is no longer willing to accept the offer and that, at that price, it wishes to
drop out of the reverse auction bidding and be assigned a channel in the repacking process. For example,
if the bidder’s price ticks down from ten to eight between one round and the next, and the bidder is
willing to accept a price of ten but not eight, it will indicate that at the new price of eight, it wishes to
drop out of the auction and continue broadcasting.
455.
We will also provide participating broadcasters with the optional flexibility of “intra-
round bidding.” Several commenters support this choice.1311 With intra-round bidding, a bidder will be
able to indicate the lowest price at which it is willing to accept an option. Continuing the example from
the preceding paragraph, if the price of going off the air ticks down from ten to eight between one round
and the next, and the bidder is willing to accept a price of nine but not eight, it can make an intra-round
bid of nine, indicating that at a price below nine, it wishes to drop out of the bidding. In addition to
giving bidders more control over the bidding process, intra-round bidding will speed the pace of the
reverse auction, consistent with our auction design goals, by allowing relatively large round-to-round
reductions in prices, but also allowing bidders to identify the precise points at which they want to change
bid options or drop out of the auction.
b.

Bid Assignment Procedures: Determining Which Bids Are Accepted

456.
Background. Bid assignment procedures determine which stations receive payments in
exchange for relinquishing rights. In addition to considering price information, the bid assignment
procedures in the reverse auction must ensure that the stations that drop out of the bidding can feasibly be
assigned channels in the repacking process. The NPRM identified two general approaches to bid
assignment. The first approach would consider all the relevant information at once and try to find the

1308 See e.g., CEA-EOBC Nov. 6, 2013 Maximizing Success Slides at 18–19; Vision Comments at 4. See also Letter
from Peter Tannenwald, Counsel for WatchTV, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 6
(filed Oct. 29, 2013) (agreeing that scoring can act as a disincentive to broadcaster participation); Letter from Leora
Hochstein, Counsel for Verizon, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 2 (filed Feb. 26,
2014) (Verizon Feb. 26, 2014 Ex Parte Letter).
1309 For this reason, we also reject any suggestion that using such factors in setting price offers is contrary to the
Spectrum Act. See CEA-EOBC Nov. 6, 2013 Maximizing Success Slides at 10. As required by statute, the reverse
auction will “determine the amount of compensation that each broadcast television licensee would accept in return
for voluntarily relinquishing some or all of its broadcast television spectrum usage rights[.]” Spectrum Act
§ 6403(a)(1).
1310 See § IV.A (Overview and Integration of the Reverse and Forward Auctions).
1311 See, e.g., CEA Reply at 6; EOBC Comments at 7 (noting that through intra-round bidding the Commission will
be able to offer high initial prices, but will be able to decrease the number of rounds efficiently because it will have
access to not only the rejected price, but also a price that the broadcaster would accept); see also T-Mobile
Comments at 43 (noting that, in the context of the forward auction, intra-round bidding may be a way to balance the
simplicity and efficiency of a static auction with the price discovery benefits of a dynamic auction).
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optimal solution.1312 Rather than considering all aspects of the problem at one time, the second option
would use an iterative or “sequential” approach.1313 Under the latter approach, when a station decides the
price offered for a given bid option is too low and it wishes to drop out of the bidding for that option, the
auction system would evaluate the impact of that station’s decision, and would determine how assigning
that station a channel in a band it considers acceptable would affect the feasibility of assigning channels
to the stations that remain active in the bidding at the current prices. Based on that evaluation,
determinations would be made as to which bids to accept provisionally at the current prices.
457.
Discussion. The bid assignment procedures we adopt will evaluate the feasibility of
assigning television channels to stations generally using a sequential approach. We adopt the sequential
approach because it comports well with the descending clock auction format.1314 The descending clock
auction format, because it has multiple rounds, requires that bid assignment procedures be run in every
round, and run quickly, so as not to unduly prolong the auction. Timeliness is especially important in the
incentive auction context, where there may be multiple stages, with reverse and forward bidding run in
each stage. The sequential approach using a feasibility checker in each round can be run very quickly.1315
The Procedures PN may incorporate some optimization methods into the sequential process after
additional public comment, if doing so would improve performance of the feasibility checker and not
unduly slow the reverse auction bidding process.1316
458.
Under the sequential approach, at each point in the bidding process at which a station
drops out and must be assigned a channel in its home band, the repacking methodology will determine
whether doing so precludes assigning a channel to any of the stations that remain active in the bidding.1317
If so, the station for which no channel is available will be provisionally selected to receive a payment in
exchange for relinquishing rights. Only stations that can still feasibly be assigned a channel in their home

1312 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12374–75, para. 45 (referring to this concept as “integer programing”).
1313 Id. at 12375, para. 46.
1314 The limited comments directly addressing the choice between the integer programming and sequential
approaches dwell on the characteristics of the different approaches without advocating a clear choice between them.
For example, NRB states its opposition to the use of integer programming, arguing that this approach lacks
transparency, but reserves its opinion with respect to the sequential approach on the grounds that too many
uncertainties remain about its implementation. NRB Comments at 9–11. Verizon comments that on balance, the
sequential approach may be preferable because it would provide more certainty to broadcasters, but suggests
running both methods in parallel, or utilizing different methods during different auction stages, to try to find an
optimal solution within a reasonable amount of time. Verizon Comments at 30–31; see also AT&T Comments at
68–70 (emphasizing importance of optimizing efficiency of the repacking process and questioning whether a
sequential approach could avoid substantial losses in efficiency). As Verizon suggests, we will optimize television
channel assignments during a different portion of the incentive auction process. Verizon Comments at 30–31.
1315 Feasibility checking can produce accurate results in a short amount of time. See Incentive Auction Task Force
Releases Information Related to Repacking; Announces Workshop/Webinar to Provide Additional Detail,
Public
Notice, 29 FCC Rcd 47, 47, para. 2 (2013); see also FCC, LEARN Workshop on Feasibility Checking During
Repacking Process, Feb. 21, 2014, http://www.fcc.gov/events/learn-workshop-feasibility-checking-during-
repacking-process (last visited Apr. 10, 2014).
1316 As discussed above, the repacking methodology will use an integer programming optimization process at
various other points in the auction process. See § III.B.1 (Repacking Process Overview).
1317 The methodology for checking the feasibility of assigning channels to television stations during the bidding
process is also addressed in § III.B.1 (Repacking Process Overview). When considering channel assignment, the
repacking methodology will take into account that a station that drops out of bidding for one relinquishment option
may still be bidding to accept another option.
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bands will remain active in the bidding as prices decline.1318 The bidding rounds will continue until every
station has dropped out of the bidding and been provisionally assigned a channel in its home band or has
been selected to receive a payment to relinquish its rights because no feasible channel could be found for
it in the reorganized band.1319
c.

Procedures to Determine Payments

459.
Background. The NPRM addressed ways of determining the payments that broadcasters
would receive in exchange for relinquishing rights under various bid options, including a methodology
that the NPRM referred to as “threshold” pricing,1320 which would determine the payment to a winning
bidder based on the price at the point the repacking methodology determined that it could no longer find a
feasible channel for the bidder’s station in its home band because another station had dropped out of the
bidding and had to be assigned a channel. By analogy to a simple auction with two bidders in which the
winning bidder’s price is set when the other bidder drops out, this pricing approach would set the
payment for the winning bidder based on the price when the other bidder’s decision to drop out leads to
the winning bidder’s selection.
460.
Discussion. We will determine payments in the descending clock auction using a
threshold pricing approach. Under this pricing approach, a bidder’s payment for a relinquishment option
generally will be based on the price for the option when another bidder—whose exit from the auction
triggers acceptance of the winning bidder’s bid, as described above—drops out of the bidding. This
payment will be at least as high as the last price the winning bidder agreed to accept for the
relinquishment option.
461.
We adopt this threshold pricing approach because it will simplify bidding strategy,
facilitating broadcaster participation. Under this approach, payments are based on the actions of
competing bidders, discouraging bidders from strategically distorting their own bids in an effort to
increase their payments. Instead, it encourages a straightforward bidding strategy, in which a bidder
indicates that it is willing to accept a price as long as the price is at least as great as the value the bidder
ascribes to the bid option. If the bidder drops out before the price reaches its value, the bidder may pass
up an opportunity to relinquish rights at a profitable price. If the bidder continues to bid after the price
passes its value, it may be selected as a winning bidder, but receive a payment below its value. Since a
bidder’s drop-out price determines the point at which it exits the auction, but not its payment amount if it
wins, the bidder cannot gain by strategically distorting its drop-out price in order to affect its winning
payment, as it might with a pay-as-bid approach. The general principle of basing payments on the drop-
out behavior of competing bidders is frequently used in auctions because of the strong incentives the
approach gives bidders to bid straightforwardly.1321 Commenters generally support this choice.1322

1318 The statutory mandate to “make all reasonable efforts to preserve . . . the coverage area and population served of
each broadcast television licensee” will be incorporated into this feasibility analysis. See § III.B.2 (Implementing
the Statutory Preservation Mandate); Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(2).
1319 All assignments will be provisional until the final stage of the auction, when the final stage rule is satisfied. See
§ IV.A (Overview and Integration of the Reverse and Forward Auctions). At that point, final channel assignments
will be established through the use of optimization techniques. See § III.B.1 (Repacking Process Overview).
1320 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12376, paras. 51–52; see also id. at 12450, para. 272.
1321 This pricing approach is a variation of a well-known principle known generally as “second-pricing” in auction
theory, and first described by William Vickery. See William Vickrey, Counterspeculation, Auctions, and
Competitive Sealed Tenders
, 16 J. OF FIN. 8 (1961).
1322 Commenters addressing the issue support threshold pricing rather than pay-as-bid pricing. AT&T Reply, Che &
Haile Reply Attachment at 13 (opposing pay-as-bid approach); EOBC Comments at 10; Local Media Reply at 6;
Select Spectrum Comments at 6; T-Mobile Comments at 44; US Cellular Reply at 13; Vision Comments at 2.
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d.

Additional Bidding Procedures

462.
In addition to bid collection, bid assignment, and bid payment procedures, we adopt rules
proposed in the NPRM for additional reverse auction bidding procedures.1323 The Procedures PN will
announce final decisions on the reverse auction bidding procedures, following further consideration of the
record, including public input received in response to an additional opportunity for comment.
Accordingly, we do not address debates within the record to date regarding decisions that will be made in
the Procedures PN.
463.
Among the rules we adopt is a rule that provides for opening or reserve prices.1324 Before
any party applies to participate in the auction, the Comment PN will seek comment on the methodology
for determining opening prices—the maximum amounts that will be offered to each potentially eligible
broadcast licensee for each bidding option in the reverse auction—and the Procedures PN will announce
this methodology. We also adopt a dynamic version of reserve prices, a variation on reserve prices that
would set dynamic maximum prices based on bidding in the auction.1325 Under this rule, the amounts
offered will be calculated for each licensee based on specific factors that affect the value of its voluntary
relinquishment of spectrum usage rights as discussed above.1326 Thereafter, a licensee interested in
potentially exercising any of the bid options will file a pre-auction application to participate in the reverse
auction.1327 Qualified applicants for the reverse auction will then indicate, in the initialization step, the
relinquishment options they would be willing to accept at the opening prices.1328 The record supports
adoption of these rules. Parties addressing opening and reserve prices generally express concern that
prices be high enough to attract broadcaster participation, and these rules will facilitate the Commission’s
ability to do so.1329 In particular, the dynamic reserve price addresses the risk that setting the opening
prices too high will prevent the auction from repurposing spectrum by establishing a mechanism that will
allow price offers to be reduced in non-competitive areas based on bids in other areas.
464.
We also adopt a rule expressly providing that a bid in the reverse auction is an
unconditional, irrevocable offer by the bidder to fulfill the terms of the bid. That is, a bidder that
indicates it is willing to accept a price for a bid option is obligated to relinquish those rights at that price,
if the bid is selected by the auction system as a winning bid. As several commenters note, such a
provision is fundamental to the incentive auction process in order to ensure that broadcasters will bid
truthfully in the reverse auction and to provide certainty to forward auction bidders.1330 We decline to
adopt opposing proposals that would allow reverse auction bidders to revoke bids after making them.1331
Accordingly, a bidder will have a binding obligation to fulfill the terms of a winning bid.

1323 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12450, para. 272.
1324 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12377, para. 53.
1325 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12574 (Appendix C). See also § IV.A (Overview and Integration of the Reverse and
Forward Auctions).
1326 See § IV.B.2.a (Reverse Auction Bid Collection Procedures); see also § IV.B.2.b (Reverse Auction Bid
Assignment Procedures).
1327 See § IV.B.1 (Reverse Auction Pre-Auction Process).
1328 See § IV.A (Overview and Integration of the Reverse and Forward Auctions)
1329 See, e.g., Verizon Comments at 28; US Cellular Comments at 9; T-Mobile Comments at 46.
1330 T-Mobile Reply at 84–85; CTIA Reply at 53; see also Verizon Comments at 68 (supporting the Commission’s
proposal that all reverse auction bids be deemed irrevocable, binding offers).
1331 See, e.g., Tribune Comments at 8.
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C.

Forward Auction

465.
The forward auction portion of the incentive auction will identify the prices that potential
users of repurposed broadcast television spectrum would pay for new licenses to use the spectrum. This
information and the information from the reverse auction will determine the winning bidders for new
flexible use licenses and the prices those bidders will pay for the spectrum licenses, provided the
requirements of the final stage rule are met. In the first two Sections below, we describe the pre-auction
and bidding processes for the forward auction. In a subsequent Section, we address the deletion of a
prior, now outdated, auction rule, section 1.2102(c).
1.

Pre-Auction Process

466.
In this Section, we address a number of issues related to the pre-auction process, some of
which we face for the first time in preparing for the forward auction portion of the incentive auction. In
particular, we describe how, in this context, we interpret the Commission’s authority to conduct
competitive bidding in the forward auction of 600 MHz licenses. In addition, we adopt small business
size standards consistent with those applicable for 700 MHz licenses and apply the associated size-based
bidding credits in our Part 1 competitive bidding rules, which may be utilized by eligible applicants in
bidding for 600 MHz licenses. We also adopt modifications to the existing Part 1 competitive bidding
rules discussed below to facilitate the forward auction, such as a modification of the prohibition of certain
communications among forward auction applicants so that it will also apply to communications by
forward auction applicants with potential reverse auction applicants. Finally, we modify the recently
adopted national security certification designed to ensure compliance with section 6004 of the Spectrum
Act. In all other respects, we will utilize our existing Part 1 rules to govern the pre-auction and post-
auction application and payment requirements and processes of the forward auction.1332
a.

Competitive Bidding Authority

467.
Background. The Spectrum Act mandates that the Commission shall conduct a forward
auction to assign licenses to authorize the use of repurposed spectrum as part of an incentive auction of
broadcast television spectrum.1333 The Spectrum Act did not revise section 309(j)(1) of the
Communications Act, which requires the Commission to use competitive bidding to assign licenses when
“mutually exclusive applications are accepted for any initial license,” subject to the Commission’s
obligation in the public interest to avoid mutual exclusivity in application and licensing proceedings and
subject to specified exemptions not applicable here.1334
468.
When interpreting section 309(j)(1), the Commission has found—and courts have
affirmed—that the Commission has authority to conduct competitive bidding when all applicants to
participate in bidding on particular licenses cannot be granted the subject licenses because the applicants
seek the same license or different licenses that would interfere with each other,1335 or when the requests
for interchangeable channels exceed the available supply.1336 The Commission has such authority

1332 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.2101–1.2114.
1333 Spectrum Act § 6403(c)(1); see also Channel Sharing Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 4620, para. 8 (noting
that the Spectrum Act requires the Commission to conduct an incentive auction to recover a portion of the broadcast
television spectrum while preserving that service as a healthy, viable medium).
1334 47 U.S.C. §§ 309(j)(1)–(2), (j)(6)(E). These sections and their requirements are distinct from the requirement
that at least two competing licensees participate in the reverse auction. See § IV.B.1.d. (Two Competing
Participants Requirement).
1335 Benkelman Tel. Co. v. FCC, 220 F.3d 601, 603 n.2 (D.C. Cir. 2000).
1336 DIRECTV v. FCC, 110 F.3d 816, 822 (D.C. Cir. 1997).
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irrespective of whether each of the parties applying to bid for a license subsequently bids for the subject
license.1337
469.
In the NPRM, the Commission sought comment on how to apply the section 309(j)(1)
requirement of mutual exclusivity in the context of the broadcast television spectrum forward auction.1338
Inherent in the forward auction are a number of features that distinguish it from past spectrum license
auctions. First, the Spectrum Act expressly ties the success of the reverse auction to generation of
specified “minimum proceeds” from the forward auction.1339 As a result, forward auction bids cannot be
used to assign flexible-use wireless licenses unless the sum of all forward auction bids is sufficient to
meet the costs and expenses identified by the Spectrum Act, as determined in part by the reverse auction.
Second, at the outset of the reverse and forward auctions, there is a conflict between the current use of
UHF band spectrum by reverse auction bidders (existing broadcast television licensees) and the future use
of any portion of the spectrum by forward auction bidders (new flexible-use licensees), which only the
conduct of both the reverse and the forward auctions can resolve. These interdependencies make it
unclear at the outset of the forward auction exactly how many (if any) blocks of repurposed spectrum will
ultimately be made available in any given market.1340
470.
Discussion. We interpret our competitive bidding authority under section 309(j)(1) in
light of these features of the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction mandated by the Spectrum
Act, and in a manner that is consistent with, and that will give full effect to, that mandate.1341
Accordingly, we conclude that the Commission has authority in the section 6403 forward auction to
conduct competitive bidding if it accepts any application(s) seeking to bid on initial 600 MHz flexible-use
licenses, and any application(s) seeking to bid in the reverse auction.1342 We reject the suggestion that
more than one forward auction bidder must make a bid on specific available reallocated spectrum to
satisfy section 309(j)(1).1343 We conclude that our interpretation best accords with canons of statutory
construction requiring that statutes be read in light of their purpose,1344 and that “normally the specific
governs the general.”1345

1337 See Benkelman Tel. Co., 220 F.3d at 605–06 (upholding the Commission’s finding of mutual exclusivity where
applicants merely reserved the option to bid on all available licenses, where “necessary to effectively implement the
new [license by auction] scheme”); see also DIRECTV, 110 F.3d at 827–28. If only one party applies to bid for a
particular license offered in competitive bidding, and that application is not mutually exclusive with any other
application, that license is removed from the competitive bidding process and the Commission considers that party’s
non-mutually exclusive application for the license through a process separate from the competitive bidding. 47
C.F.R. § 1.2102(a); see Competitive Bidding Second R&O, 9 FCC Rcd at 2376, para. 165.
1338 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12454, para. 292; 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(1).
1339 Spectrum Act § 6403(c)(2).
1340 See Verizon Comments at 48. Further, the Spectrum Act permits the conduct of reverse and forward auctions
“on a contemporaneous basis.” Spectrum Act § 6403(f)(1). Pursuant to that authority, the Commission has
integrated these two auctions in a series of stages, further illustrating the interdependencies between the forward and
reverse auctions.
1341 Cf. Verizon Comments at 48. Our determination does not preclude finding other bases for our competitive
bidding authority under § 309(j)(1).
1342 The Spectrum Act requires that “at least two competing licensees participate in the reverse auction.” Spectrum
Act § 6402 (adopting 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(8)(G)(ii)). As we discuss above in § IV.B.1.d (Two Competing
Participants Requirement), we find that this additional requirement will be satisfied if more than one broadcast
television licensee’s pre-auction application is found to be complete and in compliance with the application rules,
and if at least two such licensees are not commonly controlled.
1343 See Anon. Citizen Comments at 2.
1344 See, e.g., Zuni Pub. Sch. Dist. No. 89 v. Dep’t of Educ., 550 U.S. 81, 93 (2007); Pub. Citizen v. U.S. Dep’t of
Justice
, 491 U.S. 440, 454–55 (1989) (“[S]tatutes always have some purpose or object to accomplish, whose
(continued….)
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471.
In section 6403, Congress directed in plain language that the Commission “shall conduct
a forward auction” for spectrum reallocated from broadcast use.1346 With respect to other frequency bands
specifically subject to auction pursuant to the Spectrum Act, Congress referred more generally to the use
of “a system of competitive bidding under section 309(j).”1347 We need not address here how to apply
section 309(j)(1) in those or other contexts, but the intention of Congress in section 6403 is clear. We
also construe that mandate as reflecting a recognition of the features of the incentive auction described
above. These include the interdependence of the reverse and forward auctions and our resulting inability
to make determinations at the outset about whether and in what markets requests for interchangeable
channels exceed supply, due to the mutually exclusive uses of the spectrum presented by existing
licensees and any parties licensed based on the forward auction; and the contingency of the success of the
reverse auction on the proceeds to be derived from permitting the forward auction to proceed, making our
acceptance of forward auction bids dependent on the sum of all forward auction bids. We thus also
conclude that our interpretation of the statutory scheme is “necessary to effectively implement” the
incentive auction mandate established by Congress.1348
b.

Bidding Credits

472.
Background. Section 309(j)(4) of the Communications Act requires that when the
Commission prescribes regulations to establish a methodology for the grant of licenses through the use of
competitive bidding, it must “ensure that small businesses, rural telephone companies, and businesses
owned by members of minority groups and women are given the opportunity to participate in the
provision of spectrum-based services, and, for such purposes, consider the use of . . . bidding
preferences.”1349 In addition, section 309(j)(3)(B) provides that in establishing eligibility criteria and
bidding methodologies, the Commission shall promote “economic opportunity and competition . . . by
avoiding excessive concentration of licenses and by disseminating licenses among a wide variety of
applicants, including small businesses, rural telephone companies, and businesses owned by members of
minority groups and women.”1350 One of the principal means by which the Commission fulfills this
mandate is through “bidding preferences” in the form of bidding credits to small businesses. The
Commission defines eligibility requirements for small businesses on a service-specific basis, taking into
account the capital requirements and other characteristics of each particular service in establishing the
appropriate threshold.1351
473.
The Commission proposed in the NPRM to adopt the same small business size standards
for the forward auction component of the incentive auction as it adopted for the adjacent 700 MHz
Band.1352 The Commission specifically sought comment on whether these small business provisions are
(Continued from previous page)
sympathetic and imaginative discovery is the surest guide to their meaning.”) (quoting Cabell v. Markham, 148 F.2d
737, 739 (2d Cir. 1945) (Hand, J.), aff’d, 326 U.S. 404 (1945)).
1345 See, e.g, Long Island Care at Home, Ltd. v. Coke, 551 U.S. 158, 170 (2007).
1346 Spectrum Act § 6403(c)(1).
1347 Id. § 6103(a)(2). See also id. § 6401(b)(1)(B) (“a system of competitive bidding under such section”).
1348 See Benkelman Tel. Co., 220 F.3d at 605–06.
1349 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(4)(D); see NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12454, para. 293.
1350 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(3)(B); see NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12454, para. 293.
1351 Implementation of Section 309(j) of the Communications Act – Competitive Bidding, PP Docket No. 93-253,
Second Memorandum Opinion and Order, 9 FCC Rcd 7245, 7269, para. 145 (1994); 47 C.F.R. § 1.2110(c)(1). See
Part I Third Report and Order
, 13 FCC Rcd at 388, para. 18 (continuing a service-by-service approach to defining
the eligibility requirements for small businesses).
1352 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12455, para. 295. Specifically, the Commission proposed to define a small business as
an entity with average annual gross revenues for the preceding three years not exceeding $40 million, and a very
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sufficient to promote participation by businesses owned by minorities and women, as well as rural
telephone companies.1353 The Commission also proposed to extend any rules and policies adopted in the
spectrum over Tribal lands proceeding, including those related to Tribal land bidding credits, to any
licenses that may be issued through competitive bidding in the forward auction.1354
474.
Discussion. Certain commenters requested that we modify our existing rules regarding
bidding credits specifically for the incentive auction.1355 As our designated entity rules include generally
applicable provisions regarding size-based eligibility and corresponding bidding preference, we decline to
adopt modifications specific to the incentive auction. Instead, we will initiate a separate proceeding to
examine our designated entity (“DE”) program generally. Our goal is to resolve that DE proceeding early
enough to allow all parties to account for any changes to the DE rules while planning for the incentive
auction.
475.
Pending the outcome of the DE proceeding, which will allow the Commission to develop
a more complete record, we today adopt the same business size standards and associated bidding credits
for small businesses as the Commission did for the 700 MHz Band. In the DE proceeding, we will revisit
and consider changing these business size standards and bidding credits. Specifically, for the purpose of
the forward auction, we will define a small business as an entity with average annual gross revenues for
the preceding three years not exceeding $40 million, and a very small business as an entity with average
annual gross revenues for the preceding three years not exceeding $15 million. For the 600 MHz Band,
small businesses will be provided with a bidding credit of 15 percent and very small businesses with a
bidding credit of 25 percent, consistent with the standardized schedule in Part 1 of our rules. We adopt
these size standards and associated bidding credits in light of the similarities with wireless licenses
already assigned in the 700 MHz Band, based on the record established to date and our existing
designated entity rules. Due to their proximity, these bands have similar propagation characteristics. In
addition, the technical rules we adopt for the 600 MHz Band are based on the rules for 700 MHz
spectrum, with specific additions or modifications designed to protect certain incumbent licensees and
unlicensed users.1356 In light of these similarities, licensees utilizing the 600 MHz Band may face issues
and costs similar to licensees utilizing the 700 MHz Band, including issues and costs related to
(Continued from previous page)
small business as an entity with average annual gross revenues for the preceding three years not exceeding $15
million. The Commission also proposed to provide small businesses with a bidding credit of 15 percent and very
small businesses with a bidding credit of 25 percent, consistent with the standardized schedule in Part 1 of our rules.
Id.
1353 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12456, para. 296. The Commission instructed that to the extent commenters propose
additional provisions to ensure participation by minority-owned or women-owned businesses, they should address
how such provisions should be crafted to meet the relevant standards of judicial review. Id. See also Adarand
Constructors, Inc. v. Peña,
515 U.S. 200 (1995) (requiring a strict scrutiny standard of review for Congressionally
mandated race-conscious measures); United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996) (applying an intermediate
standard of review to a state program based on gender classification).
1354 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 12456, para. 297.
1355 See, e.g., RTG Comments at 8 (“Though RTG generally supports the adoption of bidding credits as it has in
prior spectrum auctions, RTG urges the Commission to promote participation by rural telephone companies in the
Incentive Auction by adopting revised and additional bidding credits.”); McBride Band Plan PN Reply at 6
(advocating to “[m]aximize the number of small carriers that take part in the [incentive] auction by arming them
with generous bidding credits as much as 50 [percent]”). See also IAA Comments at 6–7 (noting that “this spectrum
incentive auction may be the last opportunity for new entrants in communications to secure spectrum and provide
competition to incumbent providers” and arguing that to ensure DEs are able to fully participate in the incentive
auction the “Commission should consider a DE plan that restores bidding credits to the 40 [percent] levels used in
pre-2006 auctions”).
1356 See § VI.B (600 MHz Band Technical and Service Rules).
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developing markets, technologies, and services.1357 Accordingly, at this time it is appropriate to adopt the
same size standards and associated bidding credits for the 600 MHz Band as the Commission adopted for
the 700 MHz Band.
476.
Based on the Commission’s prior experience with the use of bidding credits in spectrum
license auctions, the use of bidding credits is an effective tool in achieving the statutory objective of
offering opportunities for participation by designated entities in the provision of spectrum-based
services.1358 In the absence of small business size standards and bidding credits, designated entities might
have less opportunity to obtain spectrum in the 600 MHz Band. Continuing to extend such benefits to
forward auction participants would be consistent with the statutory mandate. Moreover, use of the small
business size standards and credits set forth in the Part 1 schedule provides consistency and predictability
for small businesses.1359 Commenters, including wireless carriers and trade groups, generally support
implementing a system of bidding credits and recognize the related pro-competitive benefits for smaller
carriers.1360
477.
We decline to adopt at this time additional tiers or larger bidding credits than those
proposed in the NPRM. Several commenters propose adopting additional tiers or increasing the size of
bidding credits available to participants in the forward auction.1361 Commenters in this proceeding have
not presented specific and data supported grounds to warrant adopting for the 600 MHz Band additional
tiers or larger bidding credits than those adopted for the 700 MHz Band.1362 As with licenses offered
recently in AWS and the 700 MHz Band, a significant number of licenses offered in the forward auction
will be for small geographic areas and will provide small businesses with ample opportunities to win

1357 Cf. H Block Report and Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 9579, 9581, paras. 258, 262 (indicating that similar expectations
regarding services to be offered in a band support offering similar bidding credits).
1358 See e.g., AWS-1 R&O, 18 FCC Rcd at 25219–20, para. 148.
1359 See 47 C.F.R. §1.2110(f)(2).
1360 See, e.g., CCA Comments at 12; CCA Reply at 8; C Spire Comments at 5 n.11; Leadership Conference
Comments at 1, 5–6; Leap Comments at 6; Leap Reply at 3; RTG Comments at 8; Verizon Reply at 27. But see
NHMC Comments at 8–9 (noting that while bidding credits could increase participation of small competitors and
increase competition in the market, it is less clear whether they will lead to increased ownership opportunities for
women and people of color).
1361 For example, KSW and WISPA argue that the Commission should reinstate the 35 percent bidding credit
previously available to applicants with average gross revenues of $3 million or less for the last three years. See, e.g.,
KSW Reply at 7; WISPA Comments at 32–33. Similarly, IAA, MMTC, and Council Tree recommend that the
Commission increase bidding credits to 40 percent. See IAA Comments at 7; S. Jenell Trigg & Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt
for MMTC, Digital Déjà Vu: A Road Map for Promoting Minority Ownership in the Wireless Industry, GN Docket
No. 12-268 at 32 (filed Feb. 27, 2014) (Digital Déjà Vu); Council Tree Comments at 3; but see Letter from S. Jenell
Trigg, Counsel to Council Tree, to Marlene Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WT Docket No. 13-135, GN Docket No. 12-
268 at 1 (filed July 29, 2013) (Trigg July 29, 2013 Ex Parte Letter) (advocating for a 45 percent designated entity
bidding credit for all future auctions); Council Tree Comments, WT Docket No. 13-135, GN Docket No. 12-268 at
14 (filed July 27, 2013) (advocating for a 25 percent bidding credit to businesses with average annual gross revenues
not exceeding $40 million, a 35 percent bidding credit to businesses with average annual gross revenues not
exceeding $25 million, and a 45 percent bidding credit to businesses with average annual gross revenues not
exceeding $15 million). See also RTG Comments at 8 (supporting a 10 percent bidding credit for businesses with
average gross revenues not exceeding $75 million for the preceding three years); McBride Comments at 2; McBride
Band Plan PN Reply at 20–21 (supporting a 50 percent bidding credit for “nano businesses” and a 25 percent
bidding credit for “micro businesses”); Leadership Conference at 6 (urging the Commission to consider increasing
the bidding credit for small and very small businesses).
1362 See, e.g., WISPA PEAs PN Comments at 6–8 (arguing that the Commission should adopt a third tier of bidding
credits as it did for portions of the Lower 700 MHz Band in spectrum license auctions in 2003 and 2005).
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licenses with the two bidding credits (i.e., 15 percent and 25 percent) we adopt in this Order.1363 Due to
the similar physical characteristics and similar regulatory treatment of the 600 MHz and 700 MHz Bands,
we expect the capital requirements for services in the 600 MHz Band to be very similar to those for 700
MHz services. Accordingly, at this time, we set the revenue threshold (i.e., bidding credit eligibility) at
$40 million for small businesses and $15 million for very small businesses.
478.
We also decline to adopt at this time proposals to adopt a scale of bidding credits for the
600 MHz Band based on an entity’s spectrum holdings in a particular geographic area in lieu of credits
based on small business size.1364 DISH similarly proposes that eligibility for bidding credits in the
forward auction could be determined based on either a modified spectrum screen, giving greater weight to
spectrum below 1 GHz, or through a standalone spectrum limit applicable below 1 GHz.1365 These
proposals fundamentally involve issues of spectrum aggregation policy because the commenters advocate
them to achieve the same purposes as the Commission traditionally has sought to achieve through
spectrum aggregation policies. Spectrum aggregation issues are addressed in the separate MSH Report
and Order
.1366
479.
We also decline to adopt at this time new rural bidding credits for the 600 MHz Band as
proposed by RTG and Blooston Rural.1367 The Commission has previously considered and declined like
proposals,1368 observing that proponents of this type of credit had been unable “to demonstrate a historical
lack of access to capital that was the basis for according bidding credits to small businesses, minorities
and women,”1369 and that “large rural telcos have failed to demonstrate any barriers to capital formation

1363 See, e.g., Service Rules for Advanced Wireless Services in the 1.7 GHz and 2.1 GHz Bands, WT Docket No. 02-
353, Order on Reconsideration, 20 FCC Rcd 14058, 14075–77, paras. 32–36 (2005); Service Rules for the 698-746,
747-762 and 777-792 MHz Bands
, WT Docket No. 06-150, Revision of the Commission’s Rules to Ensure
Compatibility with Enhanced 911 Emergency Calling Systems
, CC Docket No. 94-102, Section 68.4(a) of the
Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Telephones
, WT Docket No. 01-309, Biennial Regulatory
Review – Amendment of Parts 1, 22, 24, 27, and 90 to Streamline and Harmonize Various Rules Affecting Wireless
Radio Services
, WT Docket 03-264, Former Nextel Communications, Inc. Upper 700 MHz Guard Band Licenses
and Revisions to Part 27 of the Commission’s Rules
, WT Docket No. 06-169, Implementing a Nationwide,
Broadband, Interoperable Public Safety Network in the 700 MHz Band
, PS Docket No. 06-229, Development of
Operational, Technical and Spectrum Requirements for Meeting Federal, State and Local Public Safety
Communications Requirements Through the Year 2010
, WT Docket No. 96-86, Report and Order and Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 22 FCC Rcd 8064, 8088–90, paras. 59–65 (2007).
1364 See, e.g., Leap Comments at 6; CCA Comments at 12 n.28; MetroPCS Comments at 26–27. AT&T and Verizon
call on the Commission to reject these alternative bidding credit plans. See AT&T Reply at 50–52, Katz et al. Reply
Declaration at paras. 43–52; Verizon Reply at 27–28.
1365 DISH Reply at 3, 12–13. DISH suggests that spectrum screen bidding credits could be smaller than those
available to other designated entities (i.e., five percent). Id. at 13.
1366 See MSH Report and Order. See also Leap Reply at 2 (noting that the Commission should move forward with
its parallel spectrum aggregation proceeding so it can apply more accurate and more functional eligibility criteria to
the auction process).
1367 RTG Comments at 8 (urging the Commission to adopt additional rural service bidding credits for carriers that
currently provide mobile wireless service to rural areas, have a history of offering telecommunications services to
rural markets, or are now seeking to serve unserved areas); Blooston Rural PEAs PN Comments at 9 (urging the
Commission to adopt small business and rural bidding credits for any auction of 600 MHz spectrum).
1368 See, e.g., Lower 700 MHz R&O, 17 FCC Rcd at 1089–91, paras. 175–76 (declining to “adopt a bidding credit or
other auction incentive for rural telephone companies, irrespective of how large or well-financed these entities may
be”). See also H Block Report and Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 9580–81, para. 260; AWS-3 Report and Orderat 70, para.
187.
1369 See Lower 700 MHz R&O, 17 FCC Rcd at 1090–91, para. 176 (citing Implementation of Section 309(j) of the
Communications Act – Competitive Bidding
, PP Docket No. 93-253, Fifth Memorandum Opinion and Order, 10
FCC Rcd 403, 457–58, para. 100 (1994)).
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similar to those faced by other designated entities.”1370 The record in this proceeding does not provide a
sufficient basis to revisit these prior determinations. Further, the record does not support at this time
adopting new bidding credits based on past service to rural areas, as proposed by RTG,1371 which has not
demonstrated how such bidding credits would directly serve the forward-looking goals of bidding
preferences, or help to avoid excessive concentration of licenses by disseminating licenses among a wide
variety of applicants.1372 Accordingly, we decline at this time to adopt a rural bidding credit in addition to
the small business bidding credits for the 600 MHz Band.
480.
Further, we decline IAA’s request to issue a Further NPRM in this proceeding regarding
an Overcoming Disadvantages Preference.1373 On October 14, 2010, the Advisory Committee on
Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age formally recommended that the Commission undertake
a notice of proposed rulemaking to consider how to “design, adopt, and implement an additional new
preference program in its competitive bidding process.”1374 Under the proposed preference, persons or
entities who have overcome substantial disadvantage would be eligible for a bidding credit.1375 The
Media and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus subsequently issued a Public Notice seeking
information to assist the Commission in considering whether to launch a proceeding to further examine
the components of the recommended preference.1376 As acknowledged by the Advisory Committee,1377
there are “a number of issues concerning the design and implementation of its proposal [that] need to be
refined and resolved.”1378 As the proceeding initiated by the Bureaus’ Public Notice has not yet resulted
in an implementable proposal, we expect that the Commission may consider a new preference for

1370 See Lower 700 MHz R&O, 17 FCC Rcd at 1091–92, para. 176 (citing Amendment of Part 1 of the Commission’s
Rules – Competitive Bidding Procedures
, WT Docket No. 97-82, Order on Reconsideration of the Third Report and
Order, Fifth Report and Order, and Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, 15 FCC Rcd 15293, 15320–21,
para. 52 (2000)); Revision of Part 22 and Part 90 of the Commission’s Rules to Facilitate Future Development of
Paging Systems
, WT Docket No. 96-18, Implementation of Section 309(j) of the Communications Act – Competitive
Bidding
, PR Docket No. 93-253, Memorandum Opinion and Order on Reconsideration and Third Report and Order,
14 FCC Rcd 10030, 10091–92, para. 114 (1999); Amendment of the Commission’s Rules to Establish New Personal
Communications Services, Narrowband PCS
, GN Docket No. 90-314, ET Docket No. 92-100, Implementation of
Section 309(j) of the Communications Act – Competitive Bidding, Narrowband PCS
, PP Docket No. 93-253, Second
Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, 15 FCC Rcd 10456, 10476–77, para. 41
(2000); Amendment to Parts 1, 2, 87 and 101 of the Commission’s Rules to License Fixed Services at 24 GHz, WT
Docket No. 99-327, Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd 16934, 16968–69, para. 81 (2000). The Commission pointed
out that, due to certain financing programs, “rural telephone companies may have greater ability than other
designated entities to attract capital.” Lower 700 MHz R&O, 17 FCC Rcd at 1090-91, para. 176.
1371 RTG Comments at 8.
1372 See 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(3)(B). We note that, like other applicants, rural telephone companies may qualify for
bidding credits based upon their business size.
1373 See IAA Comments at 8.
1374 Media and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus Seek Comment on Recommendation of the Advisory
Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age for a New Auction Preference for Overcoming
Disadvantage
, GN Docket No. 10-244, Public Notice, 25 FCC Rcd 16854 (2010) (Overcoming Disadvantage
Preference PN
). See also Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age,
Recommendations to Federal Communications Commission: Preference for Overcoming Disadvantage, Oct. 14,
2010, http://www.fcc.gov/DiversityFAC/meeting101410.html (Recommendation).
1375 See Overcoming Disadvantage Preference PN, 25 FCC Rcd at 16854.
1376 See id.
1377 See Recommendation at 7 (“An FCC rulemaking should flesh out similarities and differences and would refine
and resolve some of the issues identified below.”).
1378 See Overcoming Disadvantage Preference PN, 25 FCC Rcd at 16854.
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overcoming disadvantages in the DE proceeding.1379 As part of that proceeding, the Commission will
consider whether any revisions made to the designated entity rules, including any preference for
overcoming disadvantages, should apply to auctions, including the broadcast television spectrum
incentive auction.
481.
We will implement the bidding credit preference we adopt in accordance with Part 1 of
our rules and decline at this time to modify other aspects of the Commission’s bidding credit program as
suggested by T-Mobile.1380 Based on examination of the current record in this proceeding, we are not
persuaded at this time that the additional measures T-Mobile advocates are needed in order to
successfully implement the adopted bidding preference for the 600 MHz Band, or that the existing
bidding credit rules are insufficient.
482.
At the time, we decline to grant the proposals by MMTC,1381 Council Tree,1382 and Grain
Management to act in this proceeding to modify or eliminate the attributable material relationship
(“AMR”) rule, in this Order.1383 The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau recently released a Public
Notice seeking comment on Grain Management’s request for clarification or waiver of the Commission’s
AMR rule.1384 We intend to act on that request in the near term. As discussed above, we expect to

1379 For the same reason, we disagree with MMTC’s assertion that the NPRM is deficient because it failed to solicit
comment and provide adequate notice of the Diversity Committee’s proposal regarding an Overcoming
Disadvantage Preference. See, e.g., Letter from David Honig, President and Executive Director, MMTC, to Marlene
Dortch, Secretary, FCC, MB Docket Nos. 09-182, 07-294, IB Docket No. 11-133, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 1–2
(filed Jan. 10, 2013); Letter from David Honig, President, MMTC, to Marlene Dortch, Secretary, FCC, MB Docket
Nos. 09-182, 07-294, IB Docket No. 11-133, GN Docket No. 12-268 at 4 (filed Dec. 5, 2012).
1380 Specifically, T-Mobile argues that if the Commission adopts bidding credits for the 600 MHz Band, it must also
adopt detailed eligibility requirements, exhaustive limitations on license transfers, and robust compliance audits, and
must swiftly apply meaningful sanctions in the event of non-compliance. T-Mobile Reply at 67.
1381 See, e.g., Digital Déjà Vu at 32 (advocating that the Commission eliminate the attributable material relationship
rule because wholesaling and leasing arrangements have become standard and important industry practices).
1382 In its initial comments, Council Tree proposes to modify the “25 [percent] Wholesale Rule,” which prescribes
when the revenues of an entity which leases spectrum from an auction applicant are attributed to the applicant in
implementing the Part 1 small business bidding credits. Council Tree Comments at 4–5 (arguing that the rule should
only apply to “wholesaling transactions” by an applicant “with the top two US [w]ireless carriers” (i.e., AT&T and
Verizon)). See also 47 C.F.R. § 1.2110(b)(3)(iv)(A). In subsequent Ex Partes, Council Tree proposes to waive or
eliminate the attributable material relationship rule. See, e.g., Trigg July 29, 2013 Ex Parte Letter at 1.
1383 Letter from Patrick S. Campbell, Counsel for Grain Management, to Marlene Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WT
Docket No. 05-211, GN Docket Nos. 12-268, 13-185 at 3–4 (filed March 13, 2014) (arguing that, as written, the
attributable material relationship rule is overly broad and advocating that the Commission clarify that the rule does
not apply to leasing transactions between designated entities and non-designated entities where “(1) the licenses
involved in the transaction were not acquired through the use of [designated entity] benefits and, instead, such
licenses were acquired on the secondary market; and (2) the transaction does not involve a structure permitting a
non-[designated entity] to exercise undue influence over a [designated entity’s] activities or decision making”). See
also Implementation of the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act and Modernization of the Commission’s
Competitive Bidding Rules and Procedures
, WT Docket No. 05-211, Expanding the Economic and Innovation
Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions
, GN Docket No. 12-268, Amendment of the Commission’s
Rules with Regard to Commercial Operations in the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, and 2155-2180 MHz Bands
,
GN Docket No. 13-185, Grain Management, LLC’s Request for Clarification or Waiver of the Commission’s
“Attributable Material Relationship” Rule (filed Mar. 4, 2014). But see T-Mobile Reply at 67 (arguing that the
spectrum acquired using bidding credits should be fully attributed to the party who actually uses it whether that
spectrum or spectrum capacity is acquired through lease, option, joint venture or any other form of ownership or
collaboration).
1384 Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Seeks Comment on Request for Clarification or Waiver of the
Commission’s “Attributable Material Relationship” Rule
, WT Docket No. 05-211, GN Docket Nos. 12-268, 13-
(continued….)
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generally re-examine the AMR rule, as well as other potential changes to the designated entity