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
Band Plan Transition
The transition process for moving EBS licensees and BRS licensees from previous 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.
Under the new rules, licensees have the flexibility to use the technology of their choice for a wide variety of purposes.
On May 10, 2018, the Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 18-59 (pdf), in which it requested public input on possible revisions to the EBS rules, including licensing of vacant EBS spectrum, potential rationalization of incumbent EBS licenses and clean-up of existing rules.
ULS License and Application Search Spectrum, geographic/market, 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.
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.
The BRS/EBS R&O & FNPRM created a new band plan for 2495-2690 MHz. The new band plan eliminated the use of interleaved channels by MDS and ITFS licensees and created 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 expanded the original MDS-ITFS band by adding to it five megahertz of additional spectrum from below 2500 MHz, which increased the total size of the band to 194 megahertz. This provided room for the relocation of the previous MDS Channels 1 and 2 allocations, which were previously located in the 2.1 GHz band. The current band plan enables BRS and EBS providers to use the 2495-2690 MHz spectrum in a more technologically and economically efficient manner. The current, more flexible rules 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 also preserved operations of legacy 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.
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) in 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 GSA of a BTA license does 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. 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.
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.
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.
Geographic Service Area
Licensee’s operate under the authority of a geographic service area (GSA) authorization. For EBS and incumbent 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 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.