Originally published: October 29, 2013
Last updated: October 29, 2013 - 5:35pm
On October 25, the Federal Communications Commission adopted an order that aims to bring a higher level of interoperability in the lower 700 MHz spectrum band – although it could take at least two to three years for key aspects of the order to be implemented. The new order provides additional details about the lower 700 MHz interoperability commitments that AT&T made last month. Those commitments were made in response to complaints from smaller wireless carriers with A-block licenses.
The FCC order attempts to address the small carrier concerns by specifying that:
- AT&T will modify its network so that it can accept Band 12 devices as well as current AT&T devices by September 30, 2015.
- Between September 30, 2015 and September 30, 2016, 50% of all new AT&T devices will be Band 12-capable.
- Between September 30, 2016 and September 30, 2017, 75% of new AT&T devices will be Band 12-capable.
- Beginning September 30, 2017, all new AT&T devices will be Band 12-capable.
- The FCC rejected AT&T’s concerns about Channel 51 interference with the B- and C-blocks.
- Interim and final build-out deadlines for A-block and B-block licensees are extended by two years, with construction to be completed by December 13, 2016.
- There is an exception to the above for A-block licensees whose coverage areas have a certain amount of overlap with Channel 51 broadcast markets. These licensees are exempt from the interim build-out deadline but also must meet the December 13, 2016 build-out deadline. The FCC notes that broadcasters using Channel 51 are expected to either relinquish spectrum or to get a new channel assignment in the upcoming voluntary auction of TV broadcast spectrum.
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