CTIA OK With Phased Post-Auction Transition

But says FCC should hold to 39-month deadline

CTIA, which represents wireless carriers trying to get their hands on broadcast spectrum, is calling for the FCC to "steadfastly attempt" to maintain the 39-month deadline for clearing stations off their current spectrum and repacking them into new space.

That came in comments to the FCC on its proposed repacking framework. It also came in stark contrast to broadcasters, which called that timeline unworkable.

"Forward auction license winners expect that the 600 MHz spectrum will clear rapidly and, in the worst case, no more than 39 months after the completion of the incentive auction," CTIA told the commission.  

While the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) said the FCC should be flexible and take into account all kinds of potential problems with that timeline, CTIA said the FCC should be flexible but apply a high bar for any delays or waivers.

Like the National Association of Broadcasters, CTIA said it supports the "phased" approach but with modifications.

CTIA also suggests that the FCC designate a full-time project manager for the repack—essentially someone responsible for keeping it on that 39-month schedule—and that CTIA members be kept informed—including through regular meetings with the project manager—about any potential delays in any phase of the transition—stations are being moved in 10 staggered phases.

While NAB says the repack should focus on not dislocating broadcast viewers, CTIA suggests it is the rapid deployment of wireless broadband for its customers that the FCC should keep top of mind.

CTIA also wants the FCC to consider various channel-sharing arrangements among stations if it will speed the transition, even if it means some stations may have to cut power or service areas.