1. For decades, public safety entities and other private land mobile radio service users have relied on spectrum associated with broadcast television channels 14-20 (470-512 MHz or T-Band) to help Federal Communications Commission FCC 20-89 2 meet their internal communications needs in eleven major urbanized areas across the United States. Nonetheless, Section 6103 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (T-Band Mandate) directs us to reallocate T-Band spectrum used by “public safety eligibles” and begin a system of competitive bidding to grant new initial licenses for the use of the spectrum by February 22, 2021, to relocate these public safety entities from the T-Band no later than two years after completion of the system of competitive bidding, and to make auction proceeds available to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to make grants as necessary to cover relocation costs for the public safety entities for which the statute requires relocation.
2. This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) is the commencement of the process to meet each of the statutory deadlines and directives. We seek comment on reallocating T-Band spectrum, assigning new licenses by auction for the 6 megahertz to 18 megahertz of spectrum that is potentially available in each of the eleven urbanized areas, and relocating “public safety eligibles” from the T-Band. Specifically, we propose rules that would allow for flexible use in the auctioned T-Band, including wireless (fixed or mobile) use. We also propose to permit broadcast operations and seek comment on how best to facilitate this and other potential uses. We seek comment on transition mechanisms and costs for relocating public safety eligibles from the T-Band, including whether to transition these licensees only where auction revenues exceed anticipated transition costs. We also propose an auction framework and licensing, operating, and technical rules for the reallocated spectrum that would preserve the current environment for incumbents remaining in the T-Band. Finally, we seek comment on how to best address the non-public safety operations in the T-Band to maximize opportunities for new entrants, including whether and how to transition non-public safety operations.