Rule Part

47 C.F.R, Part 27


Radio Service Code(s)

  • BR - Broadband Radio Service
  • ED - Educational Broadcast Service (EBS)

About

The Broadband Radio Service (BRS), formerly known as the Multipoint Distribution Service (MDS)/Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS), is a commercial service. The band is currently used to provide high-speed, high-capacity broadband service, including two-way Internet service via cellularized communication systems. Such services provide consumers integrated access to voice, high-speed data, video-on-demand, and interactive delivery services from a wireless device.

The Educational Broadband Service (EBS), formerly known as the Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS), is an educational service that has generally been used for the transmission of instructional material to accredited educational institutions.  Generally, only accredited educational institutions and nonprofit educational organizations can hold EBS licenses, although licensees can lease their excess capacity to commercial providers.  EBS allows educators to offer instructional services utilizing low-power broadband systems and high-speed internet access.

Transition to New Band Plan

The transition process for moving Educational Broadband Service (EBS) licensees and Broadband Radio Service (BRS) licensees from their current channel locations to their new spectrum blocks in the Lower Band Segment (LBS), Middle Band Segment (MBS), or Upper Band Segment (UBS) is complete, except in those markets where Multichannel Video Programming Distributors have received a waiver to “opt out” of the band plan transition.

New Technical Rules

Under the new rules, licensees will have the flexibility to use the technology of their choice for a wide variety of purposes. Until a market is transitioned, licensees may continue to operate in accordance with their currently licensed operations.

Data

The FCC maintains a number of reports and databases that compile data on licensees. This information may be used to research ownership, coverage/construction requirements, and, in many instances, financial operating results of licensees.

ULS License and Application Search Technical, geographical, and licensee/applicant data can be obtained using the
Universal Licensing System (ULS) search capabilities. ULS allows you to perform searches based on numerous criteria, including licensee/applicant name, call sign, radio service code, market area, channel block, FCC Registration Number (FRN), license or application status, and auction identification. Historic BLS Database Licensing data from the historic Broadband Licensing System (BLS) remains available.
ULS Database & Daily Transactions The Universal Licensing System (ULS) database downloads for specific wireless radio services are available as zip files and are updated weekly. To stay abreast of the daily changes to the databases, you may also download daily transaction files.
Ownership Search Ownership Search provides access to Ownership Disclosure Information that has been filed within the Universal Licensing System (ULS). You can search by filer information, such as licensee name, or by filing dates.
General Menu Reports Search General Menu Reports System is an alternative method which can be used for searching the ULS database for application and license information.
Electronic Document Management System (EDOCS) Search a database of Daily Digest entries for FCC documents posted to the FCC web site since March 1996.  
Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) Research any document in the Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) including non-electronic documents that have been scanned into the system from 1992 onward.

Band Plan

The BRS/EBS R&O & FNPRM created a new band plan for 2495-2690 MHz. The new band plan eliminates the use of interleaved channels by MDS and ITFS licensees and creates distinct band segments for high power operations, such as one-way video transmission, and low power operations, such as two-way fixed and mobile broadband applications. By grouping high and low power users into separate portions of the band, the new band plan reduces the likelihood of interference caused by incompatible uses and creates incentives for the development of low-power, cellularized broadband operations, which were inhibited by the prior band plan.

The BRS/EBS R&O & FNPRM also expands the original MDS-ITFS band by adding to it five megahertz of additional spectrum from below 2500 MHz, which increases the total size of the band to 194 megahertz. This will provide room for the future relocation of MDS Channels 1 and 2, which are presently located in the 2.1 GHz band.   The new band plan will enable BRS and EBS providers to use the 2495-2690 MHz spectrum in a more technologically and economically efficient manner. The new, more flexible rules will facilitate the growth of new and innovative wireless technologies and services, including wireless broadband services that have the potential to compete with cable and DSL broadband providers and to extend broadband service to rural and underserved areas. The rules adopted today also preserve operations of existing licensees, including educational institutions offering instructional television programming to their students. The new band plan includes a 1 MHz guard band at 2495-2496 MHz.

BRS EBS BandPlan

Licensing

As of July 11, 2005 the Universal Licensing System (ULS) has been changed to accommodate geographic licensing of these services. See Public Notice DA 05-1818 (pdf) for a detailed description of the changes. Geographic licenses are listed on ULS under the radio service code BR for Broadband Radio Service licenses and ED for Educational Broadband Radio Service licenses. The licenses for Geographic Service Areas (GSA) on ULS for BRS and EBS radio services are designated as either a P35 or BTA service area:

  • The GSA of a P35 license generally consists of the station’s 35 mile radius around the protected service area coordinates. In those instances where two GSA stations have overlapping protected, service areas, the GSA of each license may be reduced due to the “splitting the football” approach used to divide the overlap area between the licensees (see Section 27.1206). ULS does not reflect any GSA modifications that are based on service area overlap.
  • The GSA of a BRS BTA license consists of those portions of the BTA that are not occupied by the GSA’s of other stations. The BTA license do not indicate what, if any, portions of the BTA are occupied by the GSA’s of other stations.

Historical site-based licenses with the MD and VX radio service codes can be viewed using the ULS Archive Search. Licensing data from the historic Broadband Licensing System (BLS) remains available. All applications, except for requests for Special Temporary Authority, are in the Commission’s Universal Licensing System (ULS) and are available for query and download.  

Forms

ULS
Applicants are required to file their applications electronically via ULS except that applications for Special Temporary Authority, applications and notifications of sublease arrangements, and notifications of private commons arrangements must be filed manually. Any applications filed manually, other than the three exceptions above, will be dismissed. The following ULS forms apply to BRS and EBS for all purposes:

  • FCC Form 601, Application for Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Radio Service
  • FCC Form 602, FCC Ownership Disclosure Information for the Wireless Telecommunications
  • FCC Form 603, FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Application for Assignments of Authorization and Transfers of Control
  • FCC Form 608, FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Application or Notification for Spectrum Leasing Arrangement or Private Commons Arrangements.

Applications for Special Temporary Authority must be filed manually using the most current version of FCC Form 601. Applications and Notifications for sublease arrangements and notifications of private commons agreements must be filed manually using the most current version of FCC Form 608.


Spectrum Leasing

EBS licensees are permitted to lease their excess capacity spectrum, subject to the rules adopted in the Secondary Markets Report and Order. In the Secondary Markets Report and Order, the Commission took important first steps to facilitate significantly broader access to valuable spectrum resources by enabling a wide array of facilities-based providers of broadband and other communications services to enter into spectrum leasing arrangements with Wireless Radio Service licensees. These flexible policies continue our evolution toward greater reliance on the marketplace to expand the scope of available wireless services and devices, leading to more efficient and dynamic use of the important spectrum resource to the ultimate benefit of consumers throughout the country. Our Secondary Market rules limit spectrum leasing arrangements to the length of the license term. However, EBS leases entered into under our pre-existing ITFS leasing framework have been grandfathered and may remain in effect for up to fifteen years, so long as such leases are not materially changed. EBS licensees must adhere to the following substantive use requirements, which are designed to maintain the traditional educational purposes of ITFS:

  • There must be a minimum of 20 hours per 6 MHz channel per week of educational use of EBS spectrum.
  • For analog facilities, EBS licensees must retain a right to recapture an additional amount of 20 more hours per channel per week capacity for educational purposes.
  • For digital facilities, the EBS licensee must reserve at least 5% of its transmission capacity for educational purposes.
  • The EBS licensee must retain responsibility for compliance with FCC rules regarding station construction and operation.
  • Only the EBS licensee can file FCC applications for modifications to its station’s facilities.
  • The EBS licensee must retain some right to acquire the EBS transmission equipment, or comparable equipment, upon termination of the lease agreement.


Transition Plan

The transition plan creates a process for relocating Educational Broadband Service (EBS) licensees and Broadband Radio Service (BRS) licensees from their current channel locations to their new spectrum blocks in the Lower Band Segment (LBS), Middle band Segment (MBS), or Upper Band Segment (UBS). The transition occurs by Major Economic Area (MEA) and is undertaken by a proponent or multiple proponents. A proponent(s) must pay the cost of transitioning EBS licensees. The transition occurs in the following three phases: the Initiation Phase, the Transition Planning Phase, and the Transition Completion Phase. IMPORTANT UPDATE: See FCC's April 2006 decision in the BRS/EBS Proceeding (pdf).
 

The Initiation Phase

The Initiation Phase begins on January 10, 2005. For a particular MEA, the Initiation Phase ends when the proponent files the Initiation Plan with the Commission, which can be no later than January 10, 2008. When an Initiation Plan is not filed for a particular MEA by or on January 10, 2008, the Commission will use another method of transitioning it, which the Commission will adopt in the future as a result of the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released in conjunction with the Report and Order. A potential proponent is required to send all BRS and EBS licensees within a given MEA a Pre-Transition Data Request, which enables the potential proponent(s) to assess, based on the information that it receives, whether to undertake the responsibilities to transition a particular MEA (see Section 27.1231 (f)). Once a proponent(s) has decided to transition a particular MEA, it must send a Transition Notice to all BRS and EBS licensees in the MEA. In the Transition Notice, the proponent(s) identifies itself and indicates that it intends to transition the MEA (see Section 27.1231 (g)). The Initiation Phase is completed when the proponent(s) files an Initiation Plan with the Commission at the Office of the Secretary, Washington D.C. (see Section 27.1231 (d)). A proponent(s) may withdraw an Initiation Plan by formally informing the Commission and all of the BRS and EBS licensees that are included in the Transition Notice that the proponent will no longer transition the MEA. Once a proponent(s) withdraws from transitioning an MEA it may not then seek to transition that MEA at a future time. If no other proponent(s) files an Initiation Plan for this MEA on or before January 10, 2008, the Commission will use another method to transition it.  

The Transition Planning Phase

The Transition Planning Phase is the ninety-day period that starts on the day after the proponent(s) files the Initiation Plan with the Commission. Within sixty days of the start of the Transition Planning Phase, the proponent(s) must send a Transition Plan to all BRS and EBS licensees within the MEA. The Transition Plan specifies who will be transitioned, identifies the channels each licensee will receive as a result of the transition, and specifies technical information for those licensees receiving replacement downconverters and video programming and replacement tracks (see Section 27.1231 (b)). A BRS or EBS licensee may accept the Transition Plan or submit a counteroffer to the Transition Plan. If a licensee wishes to counteroffer, it must do so at least ten days before the end of the Transition Planning Period. A licensee may not, however, object to any part of the Transition Plan that falls within the two safe harbors adopted by the Commission (see Section 27.1232 (d) (1) & (2)). A proponent may accept the counter proposal and amend the Transition Plan accordingly or seek dispute resolution. If a proponent accepts the counter proposal and amends the Transition Plan, it must send the amended Transition Plan to all BRS and EBS licensees in the MEA. If a proponent seeks dispute resolution, the proponent(s) may continue with the transition or stay the ninety-day Transition Planning Period until the resolution of the dispute.  

The Transition Completion Phase

Eighteen months after the Transition Planning Period ends, the transition must be completed. During this phase, the proponent(s) must replace downconverters and migrate video programming tracks for eligible EBS licensees.(see Section 27.1233). At the end of this phase, the proponent(s) and the BRS and EBS licensees must jointly file with a Post-Transition Notice that indicates that the MEA has been transitioned and the licensees are operating according to the new rules. The Post-Transition Notice must be filed with the Commission at the Office of the Secretary, Washington, D.C. (see Section 27.1235).

Operations

Under the new rules, licensees will have the flexibility to use the technology of their choice for a wide variety of purposes. Until a market is transitioned, licensees may continue to operate in accordance with their currently licensed operations.

Geographic Service Area

The new rules provide each licensee with a geographic service area. For EBS and site-based BRS authorizations, the geographic service area generally consists of the station's 35-mile protected service area (PSA). In those instances where two stations have overlapping PSAs, the rules use a "splitting a football" approach to divide the overlap area between the licensees. For BRS BTA authorization holders, the geographic service area consists of those portions of the BTA not occupied by the GSAs of other stations. Licensees may, in most cases, modify their facilities, consistent with the new technical rules, without prior Commission approval. With geographic area licensing, licensees may also add additional facilities (such as hubs and boosters) within their GSA without prior Commission approval, so long as the facilities comply with the technical rules.

Licensees must file applications and be granted specific licenses for individual facilities within their GSAs if: (1) international agreements require coordination; (2) submission of an environmental assessment is required; or (3) the station would affect the radio quiet zones.

Antenna Registration. Any antenna structure that requires notification to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must be registered with the Commission prior to construction.

Bureau/Office: 

Updated: 
Wednesday, April 19, 2017