With publication in the Federal Register on Friday (April 3), commenters have until May 18 to weigh in on the FCC's proposal for when low power and translator stations have to give up spectrum after the incentive auction, which the FCC proposes could be before commercial wireless operations begin.
In its incentive auction rules, the FCC said it would allow broadcast operations until a wireless licensee "commences operations," but did not define the term.
The March 26 proposal was to seek comment on what that should mean, while proposing that it means when a wireless carrier begins testing its equipment, rather than when it begins to offer commercial service.
Full powers and Class A low powers have 39 months after the auction to vacate their channels. But low powers and translators do not get to participate in the auction and any that are operating in the spectrum being auctioned to wireless carriers must cease operations on a phased-out scheduled triggered by when wireless service commences, which the FCC is proposing begins with testing rather than service.
"Under the Commission's proposed definition, a 600 MHz Band wireless licensee's operations would be deemed to 'commence' prior to the licensee's launch of commercial services in an area, specifically when the licensee begins site commissioning tests. These site commissioning tests ordinarily take place in the late stages of a deployment, after the wireless licensee has completed construction of physical network infrastructure that will provide commercial service in the area."