September 12, 2014 - 8:03 am
By John Leibovitz | Deputy Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

Preparations for the AWS-3 auction are ramping up. Applications must be submitted before 6pm ET today. The auction begins on November 13.

Several government agencies have worked hard to make substantial information available to potential bidders in advance of this auction about the scope of coordination that will be required with these federal incumbent users of the band. Wednesday, we announced the release by NTIA of a new Workbook and Workbook Information File, prepared by the Department of Defense (DoD). DoD developed the Workbook to provide guidance to potential bidders about their obligation to coordinate with DoD systems in 1755-1780 MHz. This release is unprecedented in terms of the scope and granularity of government data provided to help applicants prepare for an auction. The Wireless Bureau strongly encourages all applicants to delve into this important resource.

Before I go farther, our lawyers remind me that I should provide the following caveat:

As stated in the Auction 97 Procedures Public Notice, an applicant should perform its due diligence research and analysis before proceeding, as it would with any new business venture. In particular, the Bureau strongly encourages each potential bidder to review all Commission orders and public notices establishing rules and policies for the AWS-3 bands, including incumbency issues for AWS-3 licensees, Federal and non-Federal relocation and sharing and cost sharing obligations, and protection of Federal and non-Federal incumbent operations. The Commission makes no representations or warranties about the use of this spectrum for particular services.

In other words, bidders shouldn't rely on a blog post to formulate a bidding strategy. Review all of the official information releases and do your own analysis!

Okay, with that out of the way, let's continue. The Wireless Bureau has analyzed the revised Workbook. I would like to share some initial insights about the paired portion of the AWS-3 band.

First, with all the talk about Federal sharing and relocation, it bears reminding that the downlink at 2155-2180 MHz is free of government users and is available for use after licenses are granted. (There are some coordination requirements with incumbent non-Federal users, as there were in the PCS and AWS-1 bands.) This is 25 megahertz of valuable downlink spectrum, generally available from day one.

Second, the need to coordinate with Federal incumbents prior to deployment in the uplink at 1755-1780 MHz largely goes away five and a half years after the auction. At that point, incumbent coordination zones contain only about 8% of the MHz-Pops in the uplink; 92% of the uplink is free and clear. (This analysis assumes that AWS-3 licensees avail themselves of the "Streamlined Coordination Option", described in the Joint Public Notice, with respect to 25 satellite stations in the uplink band.)

Third, for licensees that wish to deploy in the protection zones on an accelerated timeframe, the Workbook Information File contains important information explaining how DoD intends to go about the coordination analysis. For example, DoD explains that it plans to use "real-world assumptions about terrain, clutter, network loading, and other parameters to the maximum degree possible." As a result, DoD says that "commercial operations and federal operations will be able to more effectively share spectrum within much reduced coordination zones than those set forth in the Workbook, thus enabling greater access by commercial operations than that described in the Workbook for most geographic areas."

The bottom line is clear. AWS-3 represents an important and significant opportunity for expanding commercial wireless service in the United States. We reached this result through a lot of hard work and cooperation among all of the involved Federal agencies. We at the FCC thank them for all of these efforts.

Now we look forward to a successful auction!