Thursday, September 7, 2006

FCC Considers Changes to 700 MHz Guard Band Licenses

The FCC is considering possible changes to the rules governing the licensees in the Guard Band portions of the 700 MHz spectrum band.

Although the main purpose of the Guard Bands is to protect public safety from adjacent commercial operations, the FCC has also permitted operations in the Guard Bands in order to allow for effective and valuable use of the spectrum. The Guard Band licensees, or Guard Band Managers, make the 700 MHz Guard Bands spectrum available either to system operators or directly to end users in varying degrees of quantity, geographic areas, and duration through private, written contracts known as "spectrum user agreements."

In 2000 and 2001, the FCC completed two auctions of Guard Band licenses. According to existing Guard Band licensees, only a handful of systems have been deployed since the completion of the auctions.

The FCC said it is now is seeking to promote more efficient and effective use of this spectrum.

"I am pleased that we are seizing this opportunity to simultaneously consider allowing more flexible operations for existing services while ensuring that public safety users have access to adequate spectrum. As we move forward in this proceeding, however, we must not overlook the digital television transition and our statutory mandate to soon commence an auction of 700 MHz spectrum," said Kevin Martin, FCC Chairman.