[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 168 (Wednesday, August 29, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 44128-44165]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-18288]



[[Page 44127]]

Vol. 83

Wednesday,

No. 168

August 29, 2018

Part II





 Federal Communications Commission





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47 CFR Parts 1, 2, et al.





 Expanding Flexible Use of the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz Band; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 83 , No. 168 / Wednesday, August 29, 2018 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 44128]]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Parts 1, 2, 25 and 27

[GN Docket No. 18-122; GN Docket No. 17-183; RM-11791; RM-11778; FCC 
18-91]


Expanding Flexible Use of the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz Band

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission 
(Commission or FCC) adopts a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to 
pursue the joint goals of making 3.7-4.2 GHz band spectrum available 
for new wireless uses while balancing desired speed to the market, 
efficiency of use, and effectively accommodating incumbent Fixed 
Satellite Service (FSS) and Fixed Service (FS) operations in the band. 
The Commission seeks comment on various proposals for transitioning all 
or part of the band for flexible use, terrestrial mobile spectrum, with 
clearing for flexible use beginning at 3.7 GHz and moving higher up in 
the band as more spectrum is cleared. The Commission also seeks comment 
on potential changes to its rules to promote more efficient and 
intensive fixed use of the band on a shared basis starting in the top 
segment of the band and moving down the band.

DATES: Comments are due on or before October 29, 2018; reply comments 
are due on or before November 27, 2018.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by GN Docket No. 18-122, 
by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Federal Communications Commission's website: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: FCC504@fcc.gov, phone: 202-418-0530 
or TTY: 202-418-0432.
    For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ariel Diamond of the Wireless 
Telecommunications Bureau, Broadband Division, at (202) 418-2803 or 
ariel.diamond@fcc.gov, Anna Gentry of the Wireless Telecommunication 
Bureau, Mobility Division, at 202-418-7769 or anna.gentry@fcc.gov, or 
Christopher Bair of the International Bureau, Satellite Division, at 
202-418-0945 or chistopher.bair@fcc.gov. For information regarding the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, contact Cathy Williams, Office of 
Managing Director, at (202) 418-2918 or cathy.williams@fcc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the NPRM portion of the 
Commission's Order and NPRM, GN Docket No. 18-122, FCC 18-91, adopted 
on July 12, 2018 and released on July 13, 2018. The complete text of 
this document, as well as comments, reply comments, and ex parte 
submissions, is available for public inspection and copying from 8 a.m. 
to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) Monday through Thursday or from 8 a.m. 
to 11:30 a.m. ET on Fridays in the FCC Reference Information Center, 
445 12th Street SW, Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. The complete 
text is available on the Commission's website at http://wireless.fcc.gov, or by using the search function on the ECFS web page 
at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/. Alternative formats are available to 
persons with disabilities by sending an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or by 
calling the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 
(voice), (202) 418-0432 (tty).
    Comment Filing Procedures:
    Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 
47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply 
comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this 
document. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic 
Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in 
Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
     Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the internet by accessing the ECFS: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings. Filers should follow the instructions provided on the website 
for submitting comments. In completing the transmittal screen, filers 
should include their full name, U.S. Postal Service mailing address, 
and the applicable docket number, GN Docket No. 18-122.
     Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must 
file an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket 
or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number. Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, 
by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. 
Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
     All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings 
for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 
445 12th St. SW, Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours 
are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together 
with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be 
disposed of before entering the building.
     Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9050 Junction Dr., 
Annapolis Junction, Annapolis MD 20701.
     U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority 
mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554.
    People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible 
formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic 
files, audio format), send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the 
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 888-
835-5322 (tty).

Ex Parte Rules--Permit-But-Disclose

    Pursuant to Sec.  1.1200(a) of the Commission's rules, this Order 
and NPRM shall be treated as a ``permit-but-disclose'' proceeding in 
accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules. Persons making ex 
parte presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or a 
memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days 
after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the 
Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations 
are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must (1) list 
all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at 
which the ex parte presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data 
presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the 
presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data 
or arguments already reflected in the presenter's written comments, 
memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide 
citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, 
memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or 
paragraph numbers where such data or arguments

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can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents 
shown or given to Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed 
to be written ex parte presentations and must be filed consistent with 
Sec.  1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by Sec.  1.49(f) or for which 
the Commission has made available a method of electronic filing, 
written ex parte presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte 
presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the 
electronic comment filing system available for that proceeding, and 
must be filed in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, 
searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should familiarize 
themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended 
(RFA), the Commission has prepared this present IRFA of the possible 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities 
by the policies and rules proposed in the attached FNPRM. Written 
public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified 
as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines specified 
in the FNPRM for comments. The Commission will send a copy of this 
FNPRM, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the 
Small Business Administration (SBA).

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The NPRM may result in new or revised information collection 
requirements. If the Commission adopts any new or revised information 
collection requirements, the Commission will publish a notice in the 
Federal Register inviting the public to comment on such requirements, 
as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. In addition, 
pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 
107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), the Commission seeks specific 
comment on how it might further reduce the information collection 
burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

Synopsis

I. Introduction

    1. In this proceeding, the Commission is pursuing the joint goals 
of making spectrum available for new wireless uses while balancing 
desired speed to the market, efficiency of use, and effectively 
accommodating incumbent Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) and Fixed Service 
(FS) operations in the band. To gain a clearer understanding of the 
operations of current users in the band, the Commission collects 
information on current FSS uses. The Commission then seeks comment on 
various proposals for transitioning all or part of the band for 
flexible use, terrestrial mobile spectrum, with clearing for flexible 
use beginning at 3.7 GHz and moving higher up in the band as more 
spectrum is cleared. The Commission also seeks comment on potential 
changes to the Commission's rules to promote more efficient and 
intensive fixed use of the band on a shared basis starting in the top 
segment of the band and moving down the band. To add a mobile, except 
aeronautical mobile, allocation and to develop rules that would enable 
the band to be transitioned for more intensive fixed and flexible uses, 
the Commission encourages commenters to discuss and quantify the costs 
and benefits associated with any proposed approach along with other 
helpful technical or procedural details.

II. Background

A. 5G Leadership and Closing the Digital Divide

    2. America's appetite for wireless broadband service is surging. 
And while mobile traffic is surging in sections of the United States, 
many communities still lack access to meaningful broadband 
connectivity. More intensive use of spectrum can allow wireless 
operators to fill in gaps in the current broadband landscape. 
Additional spectrum must be identified, however, if the Commission is 
to seize the 5G future and meet the connectivity needs of all 
Americans.
    3. Enabling next generation wireless networks and closing the 
digital divide will require efficient utilization of the low-, mid-, 
and high-bands. In recent years, the Commission has taken several steps 
to use low-band spectrum below 3.7 GHz more efficiently and intensely, 
and it has paved the way for new opportunities in high-band spectrum 
above 24 GHz. Having identified additional spectrum in low- and high-
bands, the Commission now seeks to identify mid-band spectrum for 
wireless broadband services. Mid-band spectrum is well-suited for next 
generation wireless broadband services due to the combination of 
favorable propagation characteristics (compared to high bands) and the 
opportunity for additional channel re-use (as compared to low bands).
    4. Congress recently addressed the pressing need for additional 
spectrum for wireless broadband, including both mobile and fixed 
services, in the FY 2018 omnibus spending bill, which includes the 
MOBILE NOW Act under Title VI of RAY BAUM'S Act. The MOBILE NOW Act 
directs that spectrum be made available for new technologies and to 
maintain America's leadership in the future of communications 
technology. Section 603(a)(1) of the MOBILE NOW Act requires that no 
later than December 31, 2022, the Secretary of Commerce, working 
through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration 
(NTIA), and the Commission ``shall identify a total of at least 255 
megahertz of Federal and non-Federal spectrum for mobile and fixed 
wireless broadband use.'' In making 255 megahertz available, 100 
megahertz below 8000 MHz shall be identified for unlicensed use, 100 
megahertz below 6000 MHz shall be identified for use on exclusive, 
licensed basis for commercial mobile use, pursuant to the Commission's 
authority to implement such licensing in a flexible manner, and 55 
megahertz below 8000 MHz shall be identified for licensed, unlicensed, 
or a combination of uses.
    5. Additionally, Sec.  605(b) of the MOBILE NOW Act specifically 
requires the Commission to evaluate ``the feasibility of allowing 
commercial wireless services, licensed or unlicensed, to use or share 
use of the frequencies between 3700 megahertz and 4200 megahertz,'' 
which the Commission sought comment on in May 1, 2018 Public Notice. 
The Commission notes that there is no federal allocation for the 3.7-
4.2 GHz band. The Commission intends to consult with NTIA and the heads 
of each affected Federal agency, as required by the Act, regarding the 
Federal entities, stations, and operations in the band, and the 
required issues and assessments for the report under Sec.  605(b). This 
NPRM, in conjunction with the report under Sec.  605(b), furthers the 
Commission's evaluation of mid-band spectrum to meet Sec.  603's 
statutory mandate as well as to accommodate projected future demand.

B. 2017 Mid-Band Notice of Inquiry

    6. In the 2017 Mid-Band NOI, the Commission began an evaluation of 
whether spectrum in-between 3.7 GHz and 24 GHz can be made available 
for flexible use--particularly for wireless broadband services. The 
Mid-Band NOI sought comment in particular on three mid-range bands that 
have garnered interest from stakeholders for expanded flexible use 
(3.7-4.2 GHz, 5.925-6.425 GHz, and 6.425-7.125 GHz), and it asked 
commenters to identify other mid-

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range frequencies that may be suitable for expanded flexible use. In 
the interest of clarity and expeditiously making spectrum available for 
wireless broadband use, this NPRM will evaluate the 3.7-4.2 GHz band 
individually, and the Commission may address other mid-band spectrum 
bands, including the 5.925-6.425 and 6.425-7.125 GHz bands, in 
subsequent item(s).

III. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

A. The Future of Incumbent Usage of 3.7-4.2 GHz

1. Protecting Incumbent Earth Stations
    7. The Commission proposes to protect incumbent earth stations from 
harmful interference as the Commission increases the intensity of 
terrestrial use in the band. The Commission seeks comment on how to 
define the appropriate class of incumbents for protection. For FSS 
earth station licensees and registrants, the Commission proposes to 
define incumbent stations as earth stations that: (1) Were operational 
as of April 19, 2018; (2) are licensed or registered (or had a pending 
application for license or registration) in the IBFS database as of 
October 17, 2018; and (3) have timely certified the accuracy of 
information on file with the Commission to the extent required by the 
Order. Although earth stations that have not filed an exhibit 
demonstrating coordination with terrestrial FS stations are unprotected 
from interference by FS links, that requirement is of less relevance 
today given the minimal FS usage in the band, as well as the fact that 
the Commission proposes new terrestrial uses for which coordination 
with existing FS users will have little value. Accordingly, the 
Commission proposes to protect even such earth stations so long as they 
meet the criteria described above.\1\
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    \1\ The Commission notes that the International Bureau waived 
the coordination requirement for the duration of the freeze for 
applications filed during the filing window (April 19, 2018 to 
October 17, 2018). Freeze and 90-Day Earth Station Filing Window 
Public Notice at 3-4.
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    8. The Commission proposes to exclude from the definition of 
incumbents any earth stations that are not licensed or registered in 
IBFS, or that are licensed or registered in IBFS, but for which the 
licensee/registrant does not timely file the certification required in 
the Order. The Commission further proposes that unregistered FSS earth 
stations could continue to receive transmissions lawfully, but would 
operate on an unprotected basis as to any licensed operations in the 
band. The Commission also seeks comment on whether incumbents that are 
small entities face any special or unique issues with respect to the 
transition such that they should be defined differently or have 
different obligations.
    9. The Commission asks that commenters be specific in defining a 
protected incumbent and in explaining the relative obligations and/or 
rights that protected incumbents may have under each approach for more 
intense terrestrial use of the band. Which categories of incumbents 
must new flexible use licensees relocate under each approach, what 
would be the standard for determining the need to relocate each 
category of incumbents, and what are the terms or rules pursuant to 
which these relocations will occur? The Commission seeks comment on 
specific relief that should be provided to each class of incumbents. 
For example, should incumbent earth station operators be provided with 
filters to block transmissions from flexible use operations, should 
they receive filters and the technical assistance necessary to install 
them or repoint earth station antennas as necessary, or should earth 
station operators be provided with a lump sum to be used at their own 
discretion, either to upgrade existing facilities or to enable the 
switch to other means of transmission? Who would be responsible for 
reimbursing incumbent earth station operators and C-band customers for 
costs incurred in any transition, and how would such cost reimbursement 
be accomplished? How would disputes relating to cost reimbursement be 
resolved? What would be the basis for establishing reasonable cost 
reimbursements? For example, would it take into account any required 
improvements or replacement to an existing antenna or its supporting 
structure? Would it cover any required technological assistance? How 
should satellite news gathering vehicles or other temporary-fixed earth 
stations be addressed?
a. Limiting New Earth Stations
    10. On April 19, 2018, the staff released the Freeze and 90-Day 
Earth Station Filing Window Public Notice, which froze applications for 
new or modified earth stations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band to preserve the 
current landscape of authorized operations pending action as part of 
the Commission's ongoing inquiry into the possibility of permitting 
mobile broadband use and more intensive fixed use of the band through 
this proceeding. The Commission now seeks comment on revising the Part 
25 rules to permanently limit eligibility to file applications for 
earth station licenses or registrations to incumbent earth stations. 
This would mean that earth station operators that register or license 
their existing stations by October 17, 2018, would be able to modify 
these stations at the registered location but not add new stations in 
new locations, and applications for new earth station registrations 
would not be allowed. Limiting new earth stations in this manner would 
provide a stable spectral environment for more intensive terrestrial 
use.
b. Removing Uncertified Earth Stations
    11. In response to the Mid-band NOI, the Commission received 
comments from a variety of stakeholders, many of which addressed 
whether the Commission's IBFS data about current operations in the band 
is complete and up to date. Some commenters stressed the importance of 
identifying existing unregistered earth stations before the Commission 
makes any substantial changes to the operations permitted in the band, 
while other commenters contend that there may be earth stations in the 
database that are no longer in operation.\2\
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    \2\ Registrants are required to notify the Commission when a 
receive-only earth station is no longer operational or when it has 
not been used to provide any service during any 6-month period. 47 
CFR 25.131(i).
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    12. Regarding the first concern, in the Freeze and 90-Day Earth 
Station Filing Window Public Notice, the International Bureau announced 
as an exception to the freeze, a 90-day window for earth stations to 
register in IBFS. Also, to obtain the best information possible on 
existing earth stations in this band in furtherance of the Commission's 
ongoing inquiry without imposing a potentially unnecessary economic 
burden on eligible FSS earth station applicants in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band 
filing within the 90-day window, the International Bureau granted a 
temporary waiver of the frequency coordination requirement. 
Subsequently, the International Bureau extended the filing window by 90 
days until October 17, 2018, waived additional provisions of the rules, 
clarified that multiple antennas located at the same address or 
geographic location may be filed under a single registration 
application and pay a single filing fee, and announced the availability 
of an additional option to facilitate the registration of large numbers 
of geographically diverse earth stations under a single ``network'' 
license and single fee.
    13. Regarding the second concern, the staff noted that ``after the 
90-day window closes, the Commission may determine to require all 
licensees,

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registrants, and operators with pending applications for license or 
registration of FSS earth stations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band to file a 
certification that the earth station was operational as of the start of 
the freeze and remains operational at the time of the certification 
along with additional technical details regarding their operations to 
inform the Commission's resolution of issues raised in the inquiry.'' 
\3\ In the Order, the Commission requires operators of earth stations 
licensed or registered in IBFS (except those that file new or modified 
registrations between April 19, 2018, and October 17, 2018, under the 
modified registration process outlined in the Freeze and 90-Day Earth 
Station Filing Window Public Notice) to file certifications as to the 
accuracy of all information in IBFS concerning their existing FSS earth 
station operations.\4\
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    \3\ Freeze and 90-Day Earth Station Filing Window Public Notice 
at 5. The staff also advised all potential applicants that ``the 
Commission may, for purposes of further action following the NOI, 
choose to take into consideration only those earth stations that are 
licensed, registered, or have pending applications for license or 
registration on file in IBFS as of [the close of the filing 
window].'' Id at 5.
    \4\ Above, the Commission proposes to limit the definition of 
incumbent earth stations to licensed or registered stations for 
which the operator timely files the required certification, or for 
which the operators timely filed for new or modified registrations 
between April 19, 2018 and October 17, 2018 pursuant to the Earth 
Station Filing Window Public Notices.
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    14. To ensure that the Commission has the best information possible 
on existing earth stations in this band, the Commission proposes to 
update IBFS to remove 3.7-4.2 GHz band earth station licenses or 
registrations for which the licensee or registrant does not file the 
certifications required in the Order (to the extent they were licensed 
or registered before April 19, 2018). The Commission specifically 
proposes that an earth station registered in IBFS be automatically 
terminated unless the registrant timely files the certification 
required by the Order (to the extent they were licensed or registered 
before April 19, 2018). The Commission seeks comment on this proposal.
c. Maintenance of IBFS Data Accuracy
    15. The Commission seeks comment on how--once the accuracy of 3.7-
4.2 GHz band earth station data has improved--to ensure that earth 
station data remains accurate to facilitate frequency coordination and 
maximize efficient use of the spectrum. How often do the frequencies 
received by a given earth station change? The Commission seeks comment 
on whether, for a constructed and operational earth station,\5\ any 
combination of frequency, azimuth, and elevation listed in the license 
or registration that is unused for more than, e.g., 180 days, should be 
deleted from the license or registration to minimize unnecessary 
constraints on successful frequency coordination of new operations.
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    \5\ The Commission notes that under Part 25, a station 
authorization shall be automatically terminated in whole or in part 
without further notice to the licensee upon the removal or 
modification of the facilities which renders the station not 
operational for more than 90 days, unless specific authority is 
requested. Id. Sec.  25.161(c).
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    16. In addition, the Commission asks for parties to comment on 
whether to require an earth station licensee or registrant in the 3.7-
4.2 GHz band to certify periodically, e.g., annually, the continued 
accuracy of the information on file with the Commission. Should any 
requirements that the Commission adopts to help ensure that IBFS data 
remains accurate become effective after a transition period?
d. Revising the Coordination Policy
    17. Receive-only earth stations cannot cause interference, but 
under the Commission's current rules they can be coordinated and 
licensed or registered with the Commission to protect them from 
terrestrial microwave stations in bands shared co-equally with the FS. 
Section 25.203 requires FSS applicants to coordinate their proposed 
frequency use prior to filing their license applications with the 
Commission. Earth station applicants, to the extent practicable, must 
select sites and frequencies in areas where the surrounding terrain and 
existing frequency use will minimize the possibility of harmful 
interference between the sharing services. An earth station applicant, 
prior to filing an application to register or license with the 
Commission, must coordinate its proposed frequency usage with existing 
terrestrial users and with applicants that have filed for terrestrial 
station authorizations. The purpose of this coordination requirement is 
to establish the baseline level of interference that an earth station 
must accept in frequency bands shared by the FS and FSS on a co-primary 
basis. The coordination results entitle the FSS earth station to the 
interference protection levels agreed to during coordination, including 
against subsequent FS licensees. Currently, registered or licensed 
earth stations in the C-band are generally coordinated and authorized 
to use the entire band across the full geostationary arc, a policy 
known as full-band, full-arc.
    18. A reexamination of the full-band, full-arc coordination policy 
is appropriate in light of the Commission's goal to maximize spectrum 
efficiency and use in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band including more intensive 
terrestrial use of the band. Accordingly, the Commission proposes that 
for purposes of interference protection, earth station operators will 
be entitled to protection only for those frequencies, azimuths, and 
elevation angles and other parameters reported as in regular use (i.e., 
at least daily) in response to future information collections, until 
the incumbent starts the coordination process for an application to 
modify its license or registration in IBFS for its earth station. The 
Commission further proposes that such modification applications 
identify and include a coordination report for the specific 
combinations of frequency, azimuth, and elevation angle that the 
incumbent intends to use and that such technical information be 
reflected on the earth station application and authorization. The 
Commission seeks comment on this proposal.
    19. At the same time, the Commission acknowledges that the full-
band, full-arc policy has certain advantages, e.g., it affords FSS 
operational flexibility, and the Commission seeks comment about the 
consequences of eliminating the policy. Specifically, how would this 
policy alter current business models and operations of C-band licensees 
and registrants? Are there alternatives to eliminating this policy that 
would have less of an impact on the current C-band business models and 
operations without sacrificing the efficiency maximizing goals of the 
Commission's proposal?
e. Information on Incumbent FSS Operations
    20. In the Order, the Commission directs incumbent FSS earth 
station operators to certify as to the accuracy of existing information 
in IBFS, and require incumbent FSS space station operators to provide 
additional information. To develop a more complete record on existing 
FSS operations in this band, the Commission proposes to require earth 
station operators to file additional information on their existing 
facilities. To the extent that the information requested would 
duplicate information already available in IBFS, the Commission will 
direct the International Bureau to permit operators to certify that the 
information in IBFS remains accurate in lieu of providing the 
information again. Specifically, the Commission proposes and seeks 
comment on requiring authorized earth station operators (including 
operators

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that file new or modified registrations between April 19, 2018, and 
October 17, 2018) to provide the following information for each antenna 
under each call sign: \6\
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    \6\ To reduce the burden on FSS earth station operators and 
ensure the accuracy of data obtained during the information 
collection process, IB would release a public notice that will 
provide guidance about how to obtain or calculate the information.
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     Earth station call sign;
     geographic location;
     licensee and point of contact information;
     antenna gain;
     azimuth and elevation gain pattern;
     antenna azimuth relative to true north;
     antenna elevation angle;
     satellite(s) at which the earth station is pointed;
     transponder number(s) and how often each transponder is 
used: Regularly (i.e., at least daily); infrequently; or backup 
capacity;
     antenna site elevation and height above ground.
    21. The Commission's consideration of some transition options may 
also benefit from additional, more granular information on FSS earth 
station and space station operations in the band. For example, 
information on the type of content (i.e., audio or video feeds), the 
total bandwidth occupied by particular users or content feeds, and the 
identity of the content provider could provide additional clarity on 
the actual usage of the band. In addition, more granular information on 
the nature of any periodic usage of transponder capacity (i.e., daily, 
weekly or once a year) could provide additional clarity on the 
availability of spectrum in the band. The Commission seeks comment on 
whether to seek additional information from incumbent FSS earth station 
or space station operators beyond what is included in the list above. 
Should the Commission seek additional information on transponder 
loading, content type, content provider information, periodic usage, or 
other data that would provide a more detailed picture of the actual 
usage of the band? Should the Commission collect other information to 
more fully assess spectrum utilization in the band?
    22. In the Order, the Commission requires operators of temporary 
fixed or transportable earth stations to file information concerning 
their existing operations, including the area within which the 
equipment is typically used and the frequency and duration of such use. 
Consistent with the Commission's proposal to collect additional 
information from fixed FSS earth stations, the Commission seeks comment 
on whether and to what extent the Commission should collect additional 
information specifically with respect to temporary fixed or 
transportable earth stations. The Commission also seeks comment on 
whether the categories of information proposed above for fixed FSS 
earth stations would need to be modified or supplemented with respect 
to temporary fixed or transportable earth stations.\7\ For example, 
would it be useful to further quantify the frequency or extent of use 
for these operations and, if so, how should they be quantified? 
Commenters should provide a clear rationale for any additional 
information collection along with an analysis of the costs and benefits 
of such additional collections.
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    \7\ SES and Intelsat provided many questions that could be asked 
about the nature of such earth stations and their patterns of use, 
but it may be difficult to quantify deployments for these earth 
stations other than typical capacity used when they are deployed and 
perhaps the area or areas within which they are typically used. 
Intelsat, SES July 3, 2018 Ex Parte Letter (GN Docket Nos. 17-183, 
18-122).
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    23. The Commission also seeks comment on whether to collect the 
information described above on a nationwide basis or whether it may be 
appropriate to conduct an initial information collection for an initial 
sample of areas. For example, should the Commission collects 
information from entities based on a representative sampling of 
different types of areas, such as urban, suburban, and rural areas? If 
so, how should the sample be determined? The Commission seeks comment 
on this and any other methodology that will effectively balance the 
potential burden that an information collection may impose against the 
need to evaluate the feasibility of clearing more spectrum in this 
band. The Commission also seeks comment on whether small entities and 
entities operating in rural areas face any special or unique issues 
with respect to the information collection such that they would require 
certain accommodations or additional time to comply. The Commission 
also seeks comment on the costs and benefits of an additional 
information collection on this band.
    24. Commenters should describe, with specificity, how any 
additional information collection would support a given transition 
proposal and should provide a detailed assessment of the costs and 
benefits of such additional collections. The Commission also encourages 
commenters to submit any information that could inform the Commission's 
consideration of specific transition proposals, including the types of 
information described in this section.
2. Limiting New Space Station Operators
    25. On June 21, 2018, the International Bureau released the Space 
Station Freeze Public Notice, which froze the filing of certain space-
station applications in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. To limit speculative 
applications for satellite usage of the band in light of this 
proceeding, the Commission proposes to revise the rules to similarly 
bar new applications for space station licenses and new petitions for 
market access concerning space-to-Earth operations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz 
band. These revisions would not extend to applications for extension, 
cancellation, replacement or modification of existing authorizations. 
Additionally, the Commission proposes that this freeze would not bar 
operators with existing space station authorizations in the band as of 
June 21, 2018, from filing applications for additional space stations, 
if authorization of such space stations would promote more efficient 
use of the band. The Commission seeks comment on the Commission's 
proposal.
3. Sunsetting Incumbent Point-to-Point Fixed Services
    26. Due to the declining use of the band for fixed point-to-point 
FS links as well as the availability of other spectrum options for 
point-to-point links, the Commission proposes to sunset point-to-point 
FS use in the band. In addition, the Commission seeks comment on 
whether existing fixed links should be grandfathered or transitioned 
out of the band over some time period, after which all licenses would 
either be cancelled or modified to operate on a secondary, non-
interference basis. If the latter, how long would incumbent users have 
to transition from the band? Three years? Five years? And should the 
Commission differentiate in treatment between those with permanent 
licenses and those with temporary licenses? Or those that have or are 
willing to relocate to the upper portion of the band?

B. Increasing the Intensity of Terrestrial Use

    27. The Commission describes several potential approaches for 
repurposing the band and the Commission encourages commenters in 
discussing their proposals to consider the economic tradeoffs described 
herein. Figure 1 below demonstrates the current

[[Page 44133]]

and proposed future allocations and potential uses of the band.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29AU18.001

    28. The Commission recognizes that co-channel sharing of spectrum 
between the FSS and more intensive terrestrial wireless use in the same 
geographic area may be difficult. For example, frequency coordination 
allows FSS and terrestrial fixed microwave to share the band on a co-
primary basis, but coordination of mobile systems would be more 
complicated because the movement of the devices would require analyses 
and interference mitigation to FSS earth stations in this band spread 
over many locations within any given geographic area. In addition, 
because the C-band satellites are in geostationary orbit approximately 
36,000 km above the equator, the signals received at the earth stations 
are extremely weak. This means that terrestrial mobile operations could 
cause harmful interference to the earth station receivers over large 
distances absent adequate protection.
    29. Geographic sharing may be similarly difficult. Current 
Commission policy permits earth stations to coordinate reception across 
the entire GSO arc and over the entire 3.7-4.2 GHz band, which would 
exclude mobile wireless operations from transmitting across the entire 
band in a wide area around each earth station. For purposes of 
illustration, Figure 2 below shows a hypothetical 20 km exclusion zone 
around each earth station in the continental United States in the 
International Bureau Filing System (IBFS) database as of early May 
2018.\8\ These exclusion zones would cover 83.25% of the United States 
population.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ The Commission notes that commenters in this proceeding have 
argued that IBFS significantly undercounts the number of existing, 
but unregistered, earth stations. For purposes of this study the 
Commission used earth stations currently licensed or registered in 
IBFS.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 44134]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29AU18.002

    30. The Commission was able to establish the Citizens Broadband 
Radio Service in the 3550-3700 MHz despite the presence of FSS 
receivers because there are only FSS earth stations in 35 cities and 
two MSS gateways in the 3600-3700 MHz band. This is unlike the current 
incumbent earth station environment in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. Therefore, 
subject to confirming the landscape of existing earth stations through 
the certifications required by the Order, co-channel sharing between 
FSS and mobile wireless could exclude a majority of the population from 
receiving flexible fixed and mobile broadband service in the 3.7-4.2 
GHz band unless FSS use of the band is modified or FSS protection 
criteria are significantly relaxed. The Commission recognizes that the 
affected population would likely be less if the Commission was to only 
protect the earth stations based on the transponder frequencies 
received at each site and actual antenna azimuth and elevation, but the 
overall assessment that mobile service would not be viable for much of 
the population would remain the same. The Commission seeks comment on 
this assessment.
    31. Notably, the Commission believes that increased terrestrial use 
of the band is ripe to meet the Commission's mandate under the MOBILE 
NOW Act to identify (with NTIA) 255 megahertz of spectrum for mobile 
and fixed wireless broadband use. For purposes of meeting Sec.  
603(a)(1), Sec.  603(a)(3)(E) states ``[s]pectrum that the Commission 
determines had more than de minimis mobile or fixed wireless broadband 
operations within the band on the day before the date of enactment of 
this Act'' is non-eligible for purposes of satisfying the 255 megahertz 
requirement. The Commission believes that there was no more than a de 
minimis amount of mobile or fixed wireless broadband operations in the 
3.7-4.2 GHz band on March 22, 2018 (the day before the date of 
enactment of the MOBILE NOW Act) for purposes of fulfilling Sec.  603. 
Specifically, since FSS is neither an ``unlicensed use'' nor an 
``exclusive, licensed basis for commercial mobile use,'' FSS services 
are not included in the de minimis exception under Sec.  603(a)(3)(E). 
Additionally, FSS in the band is predominantly used for the delivery of 
video programming with only a de minimis portion of the satellite 
capacity used to provide data services. The Commission notes that there 
is no mobile allocation in the band and the Commission's licensing 
database indicates that there are only 115 fixed point-to-point 
licenses in the band. Thus, any portion of this band made available for 
flexible terrestrial or more intensive fixed use would help satisfy the 
requirement of Sec.  603(a)(1) to identify a total of at least 255 
megahertz of spectrum for ``mobile and fixed wireless broadband use.'' 
The Commission seeks comment on these findings.
    32. The Commission seeks comment on approaches for expanding 
flexible and more intensive fixed use of the band without causing 
harmful interference to incumbent operations. In discussing how much of 
the band should be made available for flexible use, more intensive 
fixed use, or maintained just for incumbent uses, the Commission asks 
commenters to address the relative present and future economic value of 
each of these services to individuals and businesses in the United 
States. What are the tradeoffs in accommodating one type of use instead 
of another? And what are the costs associated with accommodating new 
uses? Commenters should provide a detailed cost-benefit analysis in 
their proposal and address the relative economic values of alternative 
uses and the implementation costs of their specific proposal vis-
[agrave]-vis other possible approaches to the band. The Commission also 
asks commenters to address the economic impact of the implementation 
time frame associated with their chosen approach.
    33. The Commission proposes to add a non-federal mobile, except 
aeronautical mobile, service allocation to the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, and 
given the Commission's conclusion that co-channel sharing is not 
feasible, seek comment on several proposals below to clear all or part 
of the band for flexible use. In particular, the Commission seeks 
comment on the economic benefits of introducing a new allocation for 
mobile, except aeronautical mobile, and flexible use relative to the 
introduction of point-to-multipoint FS, perhaps shared with FSS, in all 
or part of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. Commenters should consider the 
economic value of current and future use cases for each type of 
service, including benefits and opportunity costs to consumers and the 
Nation's economy overall, as well as to unserved or underserved areas 
and specialized market segments (e.g., education, telemedicine, and 
manufacturing).

[[Page 44135]]

Commenters should also address the benefits of international 
harmonization both in terms of devices and network deployments. In 
addition, the Commission encourages commenters to consider the economic 
impact on consumers and businesses in rural communities and areas that 
are unserved or underserved by current broadband providers, as well as 
any economic impact on small businesses. The Commission also asks 
commenters to address how long it will take to transition various 
amounts of this band to flexible use or to point-to-multipoint FS use, 
how much such a transition will cost for each 100 megahertz that is 
transitioned, and how expeditiously the transition can be completed.
    34. The Commission also seeks comment on the current and future 
economic value of FSS in the band. How intensively is this spectrum 
used by existing FSS licensees and how intensely will it be utilized in 
the future? Is spectrum in the band allocated to FSS currently being 
used efficiently and are there technologies that may facilitate more 
efficient use of spectrum in the band by FSS licensees without 
significant disruption to consumers and businesses that rely on these 
services? Are there alternative technologies available that could 
wholly or partially replace the services provided by FSS without 
significant disruption to existing customers? How long would it take 
and how much would it cost to transition existing customers to these 
alternative technologies? How may the cost-benefit analysis shift 
depending on how much spectrum is transitioned at particular times? Are 
there other considerations that the Commission should consider when 
assessing the most economically efficient allocation of the band 
between services? And would such considerations differ depending on 
when and how much spectrum is ultimately transitioned to flexible use?
1. Mechanisms for Expanding Flexible Use
    35. Repurposing of the 3.7-4.2 GHz spectrum bands allocated to FSS 
raises at least three economic problems, some of which have not arisen 
in previous spectrum auctions. The first two problems are direct 
consequences of the C-band licensing structure, while the last is 
common to all spectrum reallocations. First, because all FSS licensees 
have equal, nonexclusive rights to the entire band under part 25 of the 
Commission's rules, they cannot compete in the same way that broadcast 
television licensees did in the broadcast incentive auction. Second, 
this nonexclusive licensing problem creates an incentive for an FSS 
licensee to overstate the value it assigns to the spectrum in order to 
increase the share of auction revenue it may receive. The Commission 
will refer to this as the ``holdout'' problem. Third, repurposing some 
of the 3.7-4.2 GHz spectrum band will reduce the amount of spectrum 
available for FSS, which lowers industry capacity and could lead to 
higher prices for downstream services, such as the transmission of 
video to cable head ends. The Commission notes that the first and last 
problems create opposite incentives for FSS licensees. The first 
provides an incentive to repurpose less than the efficient amount of 
spectrum while the last may create an incentive to repurpose more than 
the efficient amount.
    36. The broadcast incentive auction relied on competition among 
licensees to induce broadcast incumbents to reveal the least amount 
they must be paid to relinquish their spectrum rights. Many broadcast 
licenses were substitutes because if one licensee bid to relinquish its 
spectrum usage rights this could make spectrum available to repack 
other broadcast stations and free spectrum for flexible use. In the 
3.7-4.2 GHz FSS, all licensees must agree to relinquish their spectrum 
rights in a given geographic area in order to reassign spectrum and 
therefore licenses are not substitutes and competition is limited.
    37. In addition to the problem that satellite licensees will not be 
competing to supply spectrum in the same way that television licensees 
did in the broadband incentive auction, there is an additional problem 
concerning how the satellite licensees will split any revenues from 
repurposing. In order to increase its share of auction revenues, a FSS 
licensee may have an incentive to overstate the value it assigns to the 
spectrum or to withhold its consent to repurpose. The holdout problem 
is the inverse of a public goods problem. The 500 megahertz of spectrum 
allocated for FSS is a public good, in that several distinct companies 
make non-exclusive, non-rivalrous use of the spectrum within a 
geographic area.\9\ Were the spectrum unallocated, the FSS providers 
would face a classic public goods problem since the total value of the 
spectrum is the sum of the values of the FSS operators. With property 
rights assigned to FSS operators, the Commission faces a reverse public 
goods problem: How to recover an efficient amount of a public good 
which is no longer efficiently allocated? In the classic public goods 
problem, if individuals are asked to pay for the public good based on 
their valuation of that good, they will have an incentive to understate 
their value for the public good to lower their payment. In the reverse 
problem, however, each FSS licensee has an incentive to overstate its 
value of the spectrum in order to increase its payment.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \9\ The Commission notes, however, that orbital slots are 
rivalrous.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    38. Several mechanisms have been developed to generate an efficient 
allocation of public goods, including one proposed by Hal Varian. In 
the standard public goods case, Varian proposed that individuals have 
the opportunity to subsidize the contributions of others towards the 
public good in a first-stage and then decide how much to contribute in 
a second-stage. Can such mechanisms be adapted to solve the holdout 
problem under consideration here? For example, in the first stage might 
each party announce the share of the payment it receives that it will 
give to each other party and in the second stage nominate how much 
spectrum to clear? Can such a mechanism be modified to mitigate the 
incentive to clear less than the efficient amount of spectrum? Some 
commenters suggest having the FSS providers meet, privately negotiate, 
and agree to put spectrum up for auction. The Commission seeks comment 
on the relative merits of FSS provider cooperation versus a more 
formal, non-cooperative mechanism, especially with regard to the three 
economic problems.
    39. FSS operators currently compete to provide communication 
services (for example, to deliver programming content to rural cable 
companies). For the efficient allocation of spectrum, the social value 
of these services needs to be balanced against the social value of 
alternative services that could be provided by that spectrum, such as 
mobile data. Several commenters, such as the American Cable 
Association, contend that earth stations can and do switch providers, 
suggesting that competition currently exists in the C-band. Since a 
reduction in industry capacity generally leads to higher prices, 
reducing the spectrum associated with FSS may have the unintended 
consequence of increasing the price of FSS services and consequently of 
downstream services. Conversely, such a reduction should correspond 
with an increase in industry capacity for high-speed wireless broadband 
services, which would tend to lead to lower prices. How should the 
Commission evaluate proposed mechanisms with regard to their effect on 
downstream users of FSS and wireless broadband

[[Page 44136]]

services? How should the Commission take into account other 
opportunities to deliver these services--such as other means of 
transmitting programming data like alternative satellite bands \10\ or 
fiber and other means of transmitting high-speed broadband like other 
mid-band spectrum or fiber--in evaluating these effects?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \10\ The Commission recognizes that other transmission methods 
may also compete against satellite transmission via C-band spectrum. 
For example, in certain urban and suburban areas where fiber is 
widely deployed, fiber may be a cost-effective alternative. And 
there may be other radio spectrum that can deliver video 
transmission, such as the Ku band.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    40. In addition, the value of spectrum in alternative uses like 
mobile data is likely highest in dense urban areas. When the Commission 
has sold spectrum by geographic region, the prices obtained have been 
positively correlated with population density. FSS substitutes, 
particularly fiber, are most prevalent in urban areas while in rural 
areas there are fewer FSS substitutes. Thus, in rural areas, typically 
the value of the spectrum remaining in FSS is relatively high while the 
opportunity cost of clearing less flexible-use spectrum is relatively 
low, suggesting that the amount of spectrum repurposed should vary 
across geographic areas. The Commission therefore seeks comment on 
whether the Commission should repurpose a minimum amount of spectrum 
nationwide, and make additional fully unencumbered spectrum available 
in any areas where it is less costly to transition earth stations to 
other forms of transmission. Under this approach, the Commission also 
seeks comment on the appropriate size of such regions. If the regions 
are too small, this could make mobile data use impractical because it 
would not give wireless providers sufficient flexibility to scale their 
networks using this band, while if the regions are too large, this 
could threaten rural services because those regions would not be 
attractive to small and rural wireless providers. Is it practical to 
create regions based on the existence of alternatives to FSS like 
fiber? The Commission seeks comment on whether any flexible use 
licenses should also be overlay licenses, for which the terrestrial 
licensee is obligated to protect licensed or registered earth stations 
and can use any spectrum that becomes available by clearing earth 
stations.
    41. Another consideration in the geographical division of spectrum 
involves the parties to compensate. Instead of paying FSS operators for 
relinquishing spectrum usage rights nationwide or in specific 
geographic regions a mechanism instead might pay earth stations for 
relinquishing access to C-band spectrum in specific geographic areas. 
Such earth stations might discontinue use in these areas by 
discontinuing receiving content or by receiving it by alternative 
transmission infrastructure like fiber, where the content might be 
delivered to the fiber from C-band earth stations in rural areas. Would 
such a mechanism present an alternative supplier of spectrum--with 
either the FSS operators or the earth stations effectively releasing 
spectrum rights? The Commission notes, however, that the holdout 
problem for licensed earth stations is likely more severe because there 
are more such earth stations that are independently owned than 
satellite operators. The Commission seeks comment on the practicality 
and social value of compensating licensed earth stations in exchange 
for agreeing to no longer be licensed to receive in the 3.7-4.2 GHz 
band. In particular, would such a mechanism protect those earth 
stations but not unlicensed earth stations? Also, how would satellite 
operators be compensated for loss of revenues after the expiration of 
their contracts with content providers serving the licensed earth 
stations that discontinued their reliance on satellite delivery of 
content?
a. A Market-Based Mechanism
    42. The commission seeks comment on whether the Commission should 
adopt rules that would facilitate a market-based approach to 
transitioning incumbents from some or all of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. 
Under such an approach, the Commission would authorize incumbent FSS 
operators to voluntarily clear all or part of the band. Satellite 
operators in the band could choose to make some or all of their 
spectrum available to terrestrial operators on the secondary market in 
exchange for compensation. Under such an approach, satellite operators 
could be responsible for clearing the portion of the band that would be 
made available for flexible use, including notifying earth stations of 
the need to modify their operations and compensating them for any costs 
associated with that transition.
    43. A secondary market approach might make spectrum available more 
quickly than other available mechanisms, such as an FCC auction, and 
thus could facilitate rapid deployment of next generation wireless 
broadband networks. In addition, such an approach could leverage the 
technical and operational knowledge of satellite space station 
operators while relying on market incentives to promote economic 
efficiency. The Commission seeks comment on whether a market-based 
approach could effectively and rapidly facilitate new terrestrial 
deployments in the band. The Commission also seeks comment on whether a 
market-based approach that allows FSS licensees to coordinate their 
capacity would raise any antitrust concerns.
    44. The Commission seeks comment on the efficacy of using a market-
based approach to transition some or all of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band to 
flexible terrestrial use. The Commission observes, and some commenters 
in the record maintain, that a significant benefit of a market-based 
approach may be a more rapid introduction of C-band spectrum to the 
market. For example, Intel, Intelsat, and SES claim that their 
consortium approach would result in licensed mobile services within 18-
36 months of a Commission order. Commenters also should address the 
costs and benefits of this approach vis-[agrave]-vis the alternative 
proposals set forth in this section.
    45. The Commission seeks comment on using a market-based approach 
through a Transition Facilitator, a cooperative entity created by 
relevant satellite operators to coordinate negotiations, clearing, and 
repacking the band. The Commission notes that because of the holdout 
problem, a market-based approach in which FSS licensees act 
independently is unlikely to succeed. Consequently, should the 
Commission allow, encourage, or require satellite operators to 
cooperate in negotiating with potential terrestrial mobile licensees 
and in clearing an agreed amount of spectrum? A market-based approach 
that uses a Transition Facilitator would enable the satellite operators 
to use private negotiations to obtain participation and agreement from 
the relevant satellite operators, rather than requiring the Commission 
to address holdouts using more regulatory mechanisms.
    46. The Commission seeks comment on whether using a market-based 
approach in which FSS operators form a Transition Facilitator would 
produce an economically efficient outcome. Specifically, would allowing 
all potential sellers to agree on the amount and price of the spectrum 
that will be repurposed result in a situation in which those sellers 
offer a lower quantity than is socially efficient? Is that concern 
mitigated by the fact that the market for spectrum for high-speed 
broadband services is much broader than just the 3.7-4.2 GHz band? The 
Commission seeks comment regarding some of these concerns about the 
potential effects of allowing collective

[[Page 44137]]

action by C-band satellite operators below. The Commission also seeks 
comment on whether a Transition Facilitator raises any particular 
antitrust concerns.
    47. A transition under a market-based approach could be undertaken 
in a four-step process. The first step would involve the industry 
voluntarily forming a Transition Facilitator composed of eligible C-
band satellite operators.\11\ In the second step, the Transition 
Facilitator would negotiate with any interested terrestrial operators 
and incumbent users. In the third step, the Commission would review the 
Transition Facilitator's plan and conditionally authorize terrestrial 
licenses in the band. And in step four, the Transition Facilitator 
would clear the negotiated-for spectrum, making it available for 
flexible use while protecting incumbent earth stations through a 
variety of potential means. The Commission notes as well that a market-
based process need not be a one-time event--a Transition Facilitator 
could negotiate with parties for compensation and protection, seek 
Commission review and conditional authorization, and clear new spectrum 
multiple times to ensure the total spectrum dedicated to flexible use 
meets market demands. The Commission seeks comment on the effectiveness 
of such a four-step process. In addition, the Commission invites 
commenters supporting a market-based approach to suggest additional 
details to the steps described below or other specific approaches for 
implementation.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ In this context, clearing refers to relinquishing 
interference protection. Satellite transmissions that do not cause 
interference to terrestrial operations would not necessarily have to 
be cleared.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    48. Step 1: Formation of a Transition Facilitator.--The first step 
in the process would be for the industry to form a Transition 
Facilitator. Once the Transition Facilitator is formed and ready to 
begin negotiations with potential licensees, the Transition Facilitator 
would notify the Commission of its membership, its charter, i.e., its 
structure, objectives, and planned operation, and its compliance with 
any rules adopted as a result of this proceeding. Once the Transition 
Facilitator has filed its notification, the Commission would have 60 
days to review the filing and formally object to its creation through 
an order. The Commission seeks comment on this process. What additional 
information might the Commission need to conduct such a review? Should 
any parties have the opportunity to formally object? Should the 
Commission be required to affirmatively approve or reject the formation 
of a Transition Facilitator, and if so on what timeline?
    49. There is record support for a centralized facilitator. Intelsat 
and SES--the two largest incumbent satellite operators in the 3.7-4.2 
GHz band--support a consortium-based facilitator. While Eutelsat raises 
concerns regarding how satellite operators eligible to participate in a 
market-based approach would be defined it has stated publicly that it 
wants to participate. In considering such an approach, the Commission 
thus asks commenters to address how to define eligibility to 
participate in the Transition Facilitator. The Commission seeks comment 
on opening eligibility to participate in the Transition Facilitator to 
all C-band satellite operators providing service to any part of the 
United States pursuant to an FCC-issued license or grant of market 
access. Should the Commission limit eligibility in any way, such as 
requiring service throughout the lower 48 states?
    50. Given the holdout problem, the Commission does not propose to 
require that all eligible satellite operators agree to a Transition 
Facilitator before it can take effect. Instead, the Commission seeks 
comment on the appropriate number of satellite spectrum interests in 
the band--a majority? all but one?--that should be represented by the 
Transition Facilitator to effectuate a successful transition. Are a 
minimum number of operators required to participate in the Transition 
Facilitator for this approach to work? If this number is not met, 
should the Transition Facilitator be approved by the Commission?
    51. The Commission also seeks comment on what the Transition 
Facilitator should do if one or more eligible C-band satellite 
operators choose not to participate in the Transition Facilitator. Are 
any Commission actions necessary if one or more eligible C-band 
satellite operators do not join the Transition Facilitator? The 
Commission notes that Intelsat and SES propose that eligible C-band 
satellite operators that do not join a centralized facilitator would 
nonetheless have their ``reconfiguration and relocation costs 
covered.'' How would such a process work? Should the Transition 
Facilitator, or members of the Transition Facilitator, negotiate with 
non-participating satellite companies to ensure the spectrum is 
successfully repurposed? Or should non-participating satellite 
companies be bound by the decisions of the Transition Facilitator? If 
the latter, would a non-participating satellite company be limited to 
recouping its costs? Or would it be even eligible to recoup costs so 
long as the Transition Facilitator adequately protects its associated 
incumbent earth stations?
    52. If there are earth station registrants or licensees that have 
no contractual relationship with any of the members of the Transition 
Facilitator or any FSS space station operators, will that create 
difficulties in clearing the band during later steps in the process? If 
so, how can those difficulties be addressed? Is there any reason that 
the Transition Facilitator would not able to negotiate with earth 
stations that don't have contractual relationships with any of the 
Transition Facilitator's members? Should there be a requirement that 
the C-band operators participating in the Transition Facilitator have 
contractual relationships with a minimum percentage of protected 
incumbent earth stations to avoid these potential difficulties? Should 
the Transition Facilitator be required to work with non-participating 
satellite companies to protect incumbent earth stations, or should the 
Transition Facilitator be free to work directly with those entities?
    53. To ensure that the transition process proceeds expeditiously, 
should the Commission establish a benchmark for the Transition 
Facilitator filing of six months after Federal Register publication of 
an order in this proceeding? \12\ What if a Transition Facilitator is 
not created within the specified timeframe? Should the Commission have 
in place other means of reassigning the spectrum? Finally, the 
Commission also seeks comment on what form of supervisory authority the 
Commission should maintain over the Transition Facilitator, if any.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \12\ The Commission will release a Public Notice announcing the 
start of the transition period.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    54. Step 2: Negotiation Period.--The next step in the process would 
be to undertake negotiations for spectrum rights in the band. The 
Commission anticipates that the Transition Facilitator would engage in 
a multi-step process to negotiate with prospective licensees and 
protected incumbent earth stations in the band. The result of these 
negotiations would be a Transition Facilitation Plan that would lay out 
what spectrum would be made available for flexible use (and where) as 
well as the steps the Transition Facilitator plans to take to ensure 
that protected incumbent earth stations continue to have access to the 
content or bandwidth they currently receive using C-band earth 
stations.
    55. For example, the negotiation process could include the 
following steps. First, the Transition Facilitator

[[Page 44138]]

would identify the profit-maximizing feasible amount of spectrum to 
make available by soliciting inquiries from all interested terrestrial 
wireless parties and negotiating for specific spectrum blocks and 
markets. This amount of spectrum demanded might adjust during the 
course of negotiations. The Transition Facilitator would then conclude 
private agreements to protect incumbent earth stations and determine 
the total available supply. Next, having balanced the supply and the 
demand, the Transition Facilitator would provide each prospective 
licensee with a certification of the specific spectrum block(s) and 
market(s) negotiated for in the associated private agreement. Finally, 
the Transition Facilitator would file its Transition Facilitation Plan 
with the Commission. The Commission seeks detailed comment on this 
possible approach, including what, if any, Commission oversight is 
warranted. The Commission also seeks comment on this approach's costs 
and benefits as well as any alternative approaches.
    56. Given the high demand for and high-value of mid-band spectrum, 
the Commission should strive to adopt a mechanism that will repurpose a 
socially efficient amount of spectrum in the band. Intelsat-SES-Intel 
believe that consortium members could make approximately 100 megahertz 
of spectrum available for licensed terrestrial service via privately 
negotiated agreements between consortium members and prospective 
terrestrial licensees. In addition, under that proposal, consortium 
members would clear an additional 40 to 60 megahertz above this 
spectrum to act as an internal band to protect against harmful 
interference from transmissions in the adjacent spectrum. Intel 
maintains that, if the demand for terrestrial mobile spectrum is as 
robust as commonly believed by 5G supporters, this market-based 
approach could clear additional spectrum beyond the 100 megahertz 
proposed by Intelsat and SES in the same timeframe. The Commission 
notes that T-Mobile asserts that a market-based approach ``creates 
tremendous uncertainty regarding the availability of this spectrum for 
mobile broadband services and will likely result in inefficient 
reallocation of spectrum.'' To address this concern, the Commission 
seeks comment on whether to require that an Initial Minimum Spectrum 
Benchmark--a socially efficient amount of spectrum--be repurposed in 
the band in order to use a market-based approach, and what this amount 
should be. Should the Commission set the Initial Minimum Spectrum 
Benchmark to be 100 megahertz, given the comments of Intelsat and SES? 
Would a higher or lower benchmark be appropriate? Should the Commission 
require the Transition Facilitation Plan to require the clearing of at 
least the Initial Minimum Spectrum Benchmark for approval? In addition, 
the Commission seeks comment on whether an internal protection band is 
necessary both above and below (i.e., below 3.7 GHz) the repurposed 
spectrum. What benchmarks should be set for clearing an internal 
protection band? Commenters should describe the appropriate amount of 
spectrum to be repurposed, taking into account economic considerations 
and the expected time and costs associated with repurposing the 
spectrum.
    57. To ensure a timely transition process, should the Commission 
set specific benchmarks for the completion of initial negotiations with 
potential terrestrial licensees as well as protected incumbent earth 
stations? Intel, Intelsat, and SES maintain that such negotiations 
could be completed within three to eight months. The Commission asks 
commenters to consider whether eight months is an appropriate benchmark 
for completion of Transition Facilitator negotiations and submission of 
the Transition Facilitation Plan. What should be the effect of a 
failure to meet such a benchmark?
    58. The Commission seeks comment on how to ensure that the market-
based approach's negotiation process will facilitate a competitive and 
open market. For example, should the Commission require that all 
parties act in good faith? What other rules could the Commission adopt 
to ensure competition in the marketplace? The Commission notes that T-
Mobile raises concerns that satellite operators could choose to limit 
the amount of spectrum available for flexible use in order to increase 
their profits, while others claim it will not take into sufficient 
account the interests of protected incumbent earth stations. How can 
the Commission ensure the negotiation process accounts for the 
interests of all stakeholders that have interests in the band--from new 
wireless entrants to existing satellite operators to protected 
incumbent earth stations, from those living in rural America to those 
living in cities? Would Commission oversight of this market-based 
approach--or over the Transition Facilitator--benefit in any way from 
insights from antitrust law?
    59. The Commission also seeks comment on what role, if any, the 
Commission should play to facilitate or oversee these private market 
negotiations. For example, should the Commission allow some flexibility 
for the negotiators to make more spectrum available in some markets 
than others, potentially allowing a limited number of earth stations to 
continue to operate using wider bandwidths in certain areas where 
wireless operators are less interested in deploying (e.g., remote rural 
areas)? Should the Commission have some input on the FSS frequencies to 
be made available for private-market negotiations? How should these 
determinations be made? A market-based approach would not likely result 
in mutually exclusive applications for the Commission to consider if, 
for example, a negotiated agreement with the Transition Facilitator is 
a prerequisite for applying for a license in this band. Would this 
negotiation satisfy the Commission's obligation in the public interest 
to use negotiation to avoid mutual exclusivity pursuant to Sec.  
309(j)(6)(E) of the Communications Act?
    60. The Commission also asks commenters to discuss the requirements 
and safeguards that the Commission should adopt, if any, to ensure that 
these privately negotiated agreements result in a timely and complete 
transition. The Commission will expect parties to negotiate a full 
range of transition commitments and penalties for failure to meet 
transition benchmarks. Nonetheless, does the Commission need to adopt 
baseline requirements, such as defining comparable facilities, 
including the relocation of incumbent operations to another band, to 
fiber, and/or to more efficient technologies? What would be the 
relative costs and benefits associated with adopting such requirements? 
Would such definitions or rules minimize disruption to existing 
operations during the transition? Are there mechanisms the Commission 
can adopt to ensure that all or specific categories of incumbents are 
not adversely affected by repacking of this band? For example, should 
the Commission require FSS space station licensees that are going to 
cease transmitting on a primary basis to notify earth stations 
receiving those signals? Could the parties determine that the 
transitioning of facilities should be undertaken by the terrestrial 
licensee instead of the Transition Facilitator? If so, would the 
parties or the FCC establish a benchmark for completing such a 
transition? Should the Transition Facilitator be required to have a 
mechanism for receiving reports from incumbents that experience 
disruptions, and should the Transition Facilitator also be required to 
notify the

[[Page 44139]]

Commission when it receives such reports? The Commission invites 
commenters to address the specific form of notification required, the 
time period for providing each notification, and the costs and benefits 
of each notification requirement.
    61. If the Commission's role were more limited, what level of 
transparency, if any, should be required during the negotiation 
process? For example, should satellite operators be required to notify 
the Commission regarding the status of on-going negotiations? What 
types of information should be included in such a notice? Further, 
should the Commission require the filing of periodic reports (e.g., 
quarterly, bi-annually, annually) to ensure that the overall transition 
of this band will be completed in a timely manner? What should such 
reports include? The Commission encourages interested parties to 
provide detailed comments regarding the level of Commission oversight 
envisioned for this process including how such oversight comports with 
the Commission's obligation to assign spectrum in the public interest.
    62. Step 3: Conditional Authorization of Mobile Licensees.--Upon 
the submission of a Transition Facilitation Plan, the next step would 
be Commission review and approval of the plan, followed by applications 
for terrestrial license authorizations filed pursuant to the plan. The 
Commission seeks comment on this process. To facilitate a streamlined 
review, the Commission seeks comment on allowing applications for new 
terrestrial authorizations to be filed at the same time as a Transition 
Facilitation Plan, or while the Commission reviews that plan. And to 
avoid undue delay in commencing the band clearing process, the 
Commission seeks comment on the appropriate timing, criteria, and 
conditions that should apply to new license authorizations.
    63. The Commission seeks comment on conducting the review of the 
Transition Facilitation Plan. Most specifically, how should the 
Commission ensure that protected incumbent earth stations are indeed 
protected? What types of certifications should be required to ensure 
that the Commission can take all appropriate actions to ensure that the 
Transition Facilitator and its members carry out the Transition 
Facilitation Plan and appropriately protect, compensate, and ensure 
adequate access for relevant stakeholder? Should the Commission make 
the plan available to comment, and what confidential information is 
likely to be included? How should the Commission evaluate the various 
methods suggested for protecting incumbent earth stations, such as 
installing filters, extending fiber, offering service on new satellites 
or in new satellite bands, offering service over microwave links, and 
creating geographic separation from harmful interference (likely only 
in rural areas)? What level of granularity should the Commission 
require the steps of the Transition Facilitation Plan to meet? And how 
long should the Commission have to review and approve or reject a 
Transition Facilitation Plan?
    64. The Commission seeks comment on how to address initial 
licensing applications. First, the Commission seeks comment on 
establishing a 30-day filing window for new terrestrial license 
applications. Prospective licensees would file an application for any 
new licenses they have agreed to acquire through their negotiations 
with the Transition Facilitator, along with a certification from the 
Transition Facilitator to clear that portion of the band for the 
terrestrial operator's use. Should the Commission require any other 
specific information to be submitted as part of the application 
process? Applications would be accepted and reviewed pursuant to the 
requirements and procedures set forth in part 1 of the Commission's 
rules, including, among other things, the filing of certain FCC forms, 
release of a public notice listing the application as accepted for 
filing, and the opportunity for third parties to file petitions to deny 
the application. Upon the Commission's review and confirmation that the 
applicant has complied with all other Commission filing and 
qualification requirements, the Commission would grant a license 
subject to certain conditions discussed below. Second, the Commission 
could treat the Transition Facilitation Plan as an application for all 
the flexible use licenses that would be made available as a result of 
it being carried out, and then allow the Transition Facilitator and 
prospective licensees to file separate applications to transfer those 
licenses as the parties saw fit. Under this approach, the Transition 
Facilitation Plan would also have to comport with the requirements and 
procedures set forth in Part 1 of the Commission's rules and would be 
conditioned as discussed below.
    65. The Commission will condition authorizations for licensed 
terrestrial operations on the licensee not commencing operations until 
the Transition Facilitation Plan's protections for incumbent earth 
stations have been carried out in that area (and subject to those 
conditions to the extent the plan requires geographic or other 
sharing). The provisions of any private agreement to transition 
designated spectrum to licensed terrestrial operations would therefore 
need to comply with the service rules the Commission may ultimately 
adopt in this proceeding. For example, under this approach, the 
deadlines for a licensee's regulatory obligations, including 
construction benchmarks, would begin running on the date of license 
issuance. The Commission therefore anticipates that private agreements 
would take construction deadlines into account when negotiating the 
date by which the Transition Facilitator must clear the relevant 
spectrum such that the licensee may commence operations. However, the 
Commission seeks comment on whether the Commission should consider the 
individually negotiated time periods for band clearing when setting the 
deadlines for each licensee's satisfaction of its construction 
benchmarks. The Commission seeks comment on these and any other 
conditions on new license authorizations that would facilitate 
efficient implementation of the market-based approach.
    66. Additionally, the Commission seeks comment on what, if any, 
conditions should be placed on the license with respect to the 
protection or relocation of the approximately 115 incumbent microwave 
links in the band that would sunset under out proposal. For example, 
should the Commission require as a condition of the license that new 
licensees either protect or relocate incumbent users under the same 
part 27 and part 101 rules used for incumbent microwave links in the 
Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) bands or under some other protection 
and/or relocation mechanism?
    67. To ensure a timely transition process, should the Commission 
set specific benchmarks for the completion of its review of the 
Transition Facilitation Plan and the processing of conditional 
authorizations? Intel, Intelsat, and SES expect the review process 
would take two to seven months, and propose the license grant would 
trigger certain obligations under private agreements, including the 
clearing of the band within 12-20 months. The Commission seeks comment 
on a process whereby the Commission would take action on all unopposed 
applications found acceptable for filing within four months from the 
commencement of the filing window discussed above (i.e., a 30-day 
filing window plus three months of review). Upon completion of the 
four-month application and review process,

[[Page 44140]]

the Commission would notify the Transition Facilitator that it may 
begin clearing the designated spectrum in the band. The Commission 
seeks comment on this approach to triggering the commencement of the 
band-clearing process. Should the process instead be triggered only 
upon the Commission's grant of all licenses negotiated by the 
Transition Facilitator? Or is a certain critical mass of license grants 
sufficient to begin clearing incumbent users from the band? For 
example, to avoid undue delay of licensed operations in the band, would 
it be appropriate to begin clearing the band upon issuance of licenses 
authorized for operation in a certain portion of contiguous spectrum in 
the band? The Commission seeks comment on these and any other 
benchmarks that may be appropriate.
    68. The Commission also recognizes that the Transition Facilitator 
may find it necessary and beneficial to modify certain aspects of its 
Transition Facilitation Plan. The Commission therefore seeks comment on 
allowing the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to approve minor 
amendments to the Transition Facilitation Plan that would not increase 
harmful interference to protected incumbent earth stations.
    69. The Commission notes that the ultimate assignment of any 
license is subject to FCC approval under Sec.  310(d) of the 
Communications Act. The Commission therefore seeks comment on the 
application process described above and any other application criteria 
that may be appropriate to fulfill the Commission's statutory 
obligations to license spectrum in the public interest and ensure that 
spectrum is put to its highest and best use.
    70. Step 4--Band Clearing. Following approval of the Transition 
Facilitation Plan and grant of new terrestrial licenses in the band, 
the final step would be clearing certain incumbent users as needed from 
the designated spectrum and giving new terrestrial licensees access to 
their licensed spectrum. The Commission seeks comment on the best way 
to effectuate this process.
    71. The Commission seeks comment on reasonable benchmarks for 
incumbents to cease transmitting on a primary basis in the portion of 
the 3.7-4.2 GHz band that becomes available for flexible use, a process 
Intel, Intelsat, and SES expect to take 12-20 months. The Commission 
seeks comment on providing the Transition Facilitator with 20 months to 
clear incumbent users from the designated spectrum in the band. Under 
this approach, the Transition Facilitator would be responsible for 
enforcing the various private agreements between new terrestrial 
licensees and incumbent users to clear the band. As spectrum becomes 
available for licensed use, the Transition Facilitator would notify 
licensees that they may begin operating in particular areas covered by 
their licenses where the spectrum has been cleared.\13\ In light of the 
Commission's expectation that spectrum will be cleared incrementally 
over the course of the 20-month band-clearing process, the Commission 
proposes to require the Transition Facilitator to provide periodic 
updates notifying the Commission of the specific spectrum that has been 
cleared. Should the Commission require the Transition Facilitator to 
file status reports at various benchmarks (e.g., every four months)? 
The Commission seeks comment on these and any other benchmarks that may 
be appropriate to promote timely completion of the band-clearing 
process.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \13\ The entire area covered by a new license would not need to 
be cleared in order for licensees to begin operating. Instead, 
subject to their individual agreements, the Transition Facilitator 
could begin notifying licensees of their ability to begin operations 
once certain portions of the area covered by the license (e.g., 
counties) have been cleared.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    72. Finally, in light of our goal to promote the rapid deployment 
of new licensed terrestrial operations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, the 
Commission seeks comment on any further safeguards that should apply 
during the band-clearing process to ensure the transition is completed 
within a reasonable period of time. The Commission expects that the 
private agreements between new terrestrial licensees and incumbent 
users would contain provisions and penalties sufficient to address 
either party's failure to satisfy their respective contractual 
obligations in a timely manner. In addition to, and independent of, 
those private agreements, the Commission seeks comment on any 
appropriate penalties that should apply in the event that the 
Transition Facilitator is unable to clear the designated spectrum 
within the 20-month time period discussed above. What, if any, 
opportunities to cure should the Commission provide? For example, 
should the Commission allow new terrestrial licensees and incumbent 
users that default on their private agreements to re-enter the process 
beginning with Step 2 negotiations? If so, should the Commission apply 
more abbreviated time periods for the completion of each step? The 
Commission seeks comment on these and any other actions that may be 
appropriate to provide adequate opportunity for successful completion 
of a market-based approach, while also ensuring a rapid and efficient 
transition to flexible use in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band.
b. Auction Mechanisms
    73. The Commission seeks comment on various auction approaches to 
expand flexible use of the band. Specifically, the Commission asks 
commenters to consider whether an overlay auction, incentive auction, 
capacity auction or other auction mechanism could be used to create 
opportunities for flexible use of the band.
    74. Overlay Auction.--An overlay license authorizes operations for 
an entire geographic area but requires the licensee to protect existing 
incumbents from interference indefinitely, i.e., until the rights are 
relinquished. The Commission notes that the Commission has used overlay 
licensing to transition several bands from site-based to geographic-
area licensing.
    75. The Commission seeks comment on whether the Commission shall 
accept applications for one or more overlay licenses--assigned by 
competitive bidding if mutually exclusive applications for it were 
accepted--that would permit an overlay licensee to negotiate with both 
incumbent space station licensees and earth station owners and 
operators to clear all or part of the band. The Commission also seeks 
comment on whether the Commission shall require the overlay licensee(s) 
to transfer flexible use licenses in the secondary market (i.e., limit 
an individual licensee from holding more than a certain amount of 
spectrum in each market). Under this approach, the overlay licensee(s) 
would have the right to flexible use of any spectrum that becomes 
available as a result of incumbents' relinquishing their spectrum usage 
rights. If this approach were adopted, the Commission's presumption 
would be that incumbent space station licensees could bid individually, 
but not as a consortium. Allowing incumbents to bid collectively would 
eliminate the possibility of competition among them for the overlay 
license, and would discourage other potential bidders from 
participating in the auction. To encourage participation in the 
auction, are there rules the Commission can adopt to share the risk 
(between bidders and the U.S. Treasury) of a less profitable repurpose 
than anticipated? The Commission also seeks comment on whether, if no 
voluntary agreement is reached between an overlay licensee and earth 
station operators after some number of years, the earth station 
operators should be

[[Page 44141]]

required to discontinue operation in some portion of the 3.7-4.2 GHz 
band if requested by the overlay licensee and if the overlay licensee 
delivers equivalent quality service to the locations of the earth 
stations that would no longer be protected. The Commission seeks 
comment on how equivalent quality service should be defined, especially 
with respect to reliability. The Commission also seeks comment on how 
many years incumbent earth station operators should have before they 
would no longer receive protection in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, and whether 
this deadline should apply to all areas or only to high-population-
density areas. If the latter, how should such areas be defined?
    76. Would assigning an overlay license or licenses for all of the 
band expedite flexible use of more of the band compared to other 
approaches? Compared to the market-based proposal, the overlay license 
approach potentially would allow non-incumbent bidders to develop 
innovative ways to clear the spectrum and clear more spectrum or 
varying amounts of spectrum depending on the relative costs and 
benefits of such repurposing. On the other hand, an overlay licensee 
may take longer to clear spectrum because the two largest FSS space 
station operators appear to already have an agreement on how to clear 
at least 100 megahertz for flexible use.
    77. The Commission also seeks comment on how all parties that would 
be affected by repurposing 3.7-4.2 GHz band spectrum should be treated. 
In particular, should the space station operators relinquishing 
spectrum or the overlay licensee be required to provide incumbent earth 
station operators comparable replacement facilities or media? Would an 
overlay auction expedite the provision of terrestrial mobile services 
in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band or facilitate making more than 100 megahertz of 
the band available for flexible use? Commenters should also address the 
potential costs and benefits of an overlay approach for consumers and 
businesses in rural and underserved communities, as well as any 
economic impact on small businesses, and discuss any rules or 
procedures that could be implemented to ensure that the needs of these 
communities and businesses are adequately addressed. The Commission 
invites comment on these issues and on other matters that it may need 
to address to conduct an overlay auction in this band.
    78. Incentive Auction.--The Commission also seeks comment on 
approaches using the Commission's general incentive auction authority 
to introduce flexible use in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. One commenter 
suggests that ``[FSS incumbent] satellite operators, earth station 
licensees, and microwave licensees all could participate in a reverse 
auction and choose from among several options including, for example, 
vacating the band for another or a fiber alternative; limiting 
operations to a smaller swath of spectrum; or moving to a more remote 
location.'' A forward auction would then generate the revenues from new 
entrants to support the reverse auction results, and repack incumbents 
into the remaining portion of the band for FSS and/or move earth 
stations to more remote locations.
    79. The Commission seeks comment on whether a variation of the 
incentive auction could work in the context of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. 
The Commission notes that in the case of the Commission's incentive 
auction authority, there is a legal aspect to the problem of FSS 
satellite operators' incentives to reduce the amount of spectrum for 
repurposing discussed above. Specifically, the Commission's legal 
authority to use that mechanism depends on having ``at least two 
competing licensees participate in the reverse auction.'' Would the 
Varian approach, discussed above, satisfy the statutory requirement 
that an incentive auction have at least two competing bidders take part 
in the reverse auction? The Commission seeks comment on means of 
inducing supply competition, such as by bringing in alternative bands 
as substitutes, both to insure a more competitive and efficient 
outcome, and to meet the legal requirement of having competing 
licensees participate in the reverse auction. The Commission also seeks 
comment on whether provision of supply by licensed earth stations can 
substitute for provision by FSS operators.
    80. Capacity Auction.--As an alternative to paying satellite 
incumbents to directly relinquish their rights to operate on specified 
frequencies, the Commission seeks comment on a reverse auction for 
satellite transponder capacity that could be used to compensate the 
satellite incumbents for giving up C-band transponder capacity in order 
to enable the Commission to reallocate C-band spectrum to flexible use. 
Under this approach, an individual bidder in the reverse auction would 
help to clear spectrum by bidding to relinquish some (or all) of the 
bundle of rights they hold under their licenses and the Commission's 
rules to lease capacity to other parties, so as to allow alternative 
use of the bands of spectrum associated with specific transponders. 
Potential bidders could be any FCC licensee that could make transponder 
capacity available in, for example, either the C-band or Ku-band, as 
discussed further below. Satellite operators could offer capacity 
created by launching new satellites in vacant orbital slots and/or by 
relinquishing some or all of their existing capacity.
    81. At the time of any incentive auction, could satellite customers 
or earth stations in their own right be eligible to offer capacity? For 
example, could they make available capacity through mechanisms such as 
substituting services (e.g. fiber) to fulfill their capacity needs, 
reducing the amount or quality of programming distributed, or using 
greater compression to reduce the capacity required to carry a given 
amount of programming or data? C-band capacity lost due to the reduced 
amount of available spectrum and that was not relinquished in the 
reverse auction by C-band satellite operators, could be repacked onto 
replacement capacity for the remaining lives of those lost 
transponders. This would compensate C-band licensees for their lost 
capital investments, but not for the loss of their spectrum. The amount 
of C-band spectrum reallocated could be determined by the reverse 
auction in combination with a forward auction for cleared spectrum. 
Adapting the approach of the broadcast incentive auction, the amount 
cleared could be the largest amount for which forward auction revenues 
exceed the cost of repacking the remaining C-band services plus any 
other compensation, e.g., for the loss of spectrum, and the cost of 
running the auction. The Commission seeks comment on a capacity auction 
and whether such a mechanism could be used to create flexible use in 
the band.
    82. Several commenters propose that Ku-band capacity could be 
utilized for C-band services. Other commenters raise the concern that 
Ku-band capacity is not a reliable replacement spectrum for C-band 
services. The Commission seeks comment on Ku-band capacity as a 
replacement for C-band, including as an alternative for infrequent, 
portable, or more temporary uses such as for breaking news or live 
sporting events. The Commission also seeks comment on how to define 
capacity for purpose of this approach. What capacity definition meets 
the needs of such an auction? Depending on the band, what adjustments 
would be appropriate to ensure a unit of capacity in the band is 
comparable with a C-band unit of capacity? Would comparable 
communication capacity be defined in

[[Page 44142]]

terms of throughput, reliability, and operating costs?
    83. Advocates for a capacity auction should specifically discuss 
the Commission's legal authority as well as implementation details and 
options. For example, could the Commission use its general incentive 
auction authority to hold a capacity auction? Which parties should be 
allowed to participate in the reverse auction? Is there a way for end 
users to participate and, if so, how would their costs be compensated? 
Would this approach incentivize bidders to make the appropriate 
tradeoffs among inputs such as compression technology and bandwidth in 
producing capacity? How could a capacity auction be designed to 
allocate capacity efficiently over time? Would this require the reverse 
auction to establish separate prices for capacity in each year? Would 
capacity need to be defined as packages of capacity at specified dates, 
and would a combinatorial auction be needed to determine auction 
winners and prices?
    84. The Commission seeks comment on the applicability of Sec.  647 
of the Open-market Reorganization for the Betterment of International 
Telecommunications Act (ORBIT Act) to a capacity or other auction 
mechanism. The Commission tentatively concludes that the prohibition is 
not applicable here, as any auctioned spectrum would be used for a new 
domestic terrestrial service, and the spectrum capacity auction does 
not propose to assign by competitive bidding orbital locations or 
spectrum used for the provision of international or global satellite 
communications services. The Commission also tentatively concludes that 
the participation in an incentive auction by Ku-band operators to 
provide spectrum capacity to C-band operators would not violate the 
ORBIT Act, because this would not constitute an ``assignment'' of 
satellite spectrum, because the Ku-band operators would only be giving 
up some of their licensed spectrum capacity, rather than ceding their 
actual licenses. The Commission seeks comment on this tentative 
conclusion and invite commenters to discuss the ORBIT Act's application 
to any proposed auction mechanism.
    85. The Commission also invites comment on other novel incentive 
auction mechanisms under the Commission's general incentive auction 
authority. Commenters should provide data on the costs and benefits 
associated with any proposed approach along with other helpful 
technical or procedural details. Commenters should also address the 
potential costs and benefits of an incentive-auction approach for 
consumers and businesses in rural and underserved communities, as well 
as any economic impact on small businesses, and they should discuss any 
rules or procedures that could be implemented to ensure that the needs 
of these communities and businesses are adequately addressed.
c. Alternative Mechanisms
    86. The Commission also seeks comment on approaches that combine 
various elements of the mechanisms discussed above, as well as other 
mechanisms for transitioning all or part of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band for 
wireless broadband use. Commenters offering sequential alternatives 
should address the circumstances under which one method of 
transitioning the band would end and a subsequent one would begin. Are 
any conditions necessary to prevent one approach from precluding later 
alternatives?
    87. In response to the Mid-Band NOI, T-Mobile proposed a hybrid 
approach that would combine elements of an incentive auction and the 
market-based approach. Under this proposal, a consortium of satellite 
operators (similar to the Transition Facilitator discussed above) and 
potential wireless bidders would participate in a phased auction 
process with both forward and reverse auction components. First, the 
Commission would conduct a simultaneous or near simultaneous auction of 
the band on a geographic basis to establish the initial price per area. 
Second, in those areas where satellite operators were all willing to 
clear all 500 megahertz at the prices established in the initial phase, 
the spectrum would be sold and these areas would be deemed ``cleared'' 
for flexible terrestrial wireless use. The Commission would then 
determine an appropriate amount of the remaining spectrum to reserve 
for satellite use and the forward and reverse auction processes would 
repeat until a Commission-determined amount of spectrum has been 
cleared. Although T-Mobile proposes that auction revenues would be 
split between the federal government and the satellite operators, with 
the latter responsible for end-user relocation costs as applicable, the 
Commission tentatively concludes there could be statutory barriers to 
this aspect of the proposal, and seek comment.
    88. The Commission seeks comment on whether T-Mobile's proposal, or 
a variant of this proposal, would solve or ameliorate the three 
economic problems discussed above. As discussed, there is a legal 
aspect to the problem of FSS satellite operators' incentives to reduce 
the amount of spectrum for repurposing because the Commission's 
incentive auction authority requires at least two competing 
participants in the reverse auction. Would T-Mobile's proposal, or a 
variant of that proposal, comply with the requirement that an incentive 
auction have two competing licensees in the reverse auction, as well as 
other requirements associated with the Commission's general incentive 
auction authority?
    89. The Commission seeks comment on whether a hybrid approach that 
combines elements of the approaches discussed above would strike a 
balance between incumbent and new entrant interests. If the Commission 
decides to clear and auction the entire band, but reserve some of the 
band for satellite use in certain areas, what is the minimum amount 
that should be cleared for flexible wireless use? Would the minimum 
amount differ based on geographic area? Should the Commission consider 
auctioning a majority of the band, versus the entire band, and if so, 
what would be the appropriate amount of spectrum to be cleared under 
such an approach? How can the Commission ensure that the band is 
transitioned in a timely manner? Should a backstop approach be 
triggered by a FSS operator's failure to clear the band in a timely 
manner? Is this the right balance, or is there a better way that 
traditional relocation could be used as a backstop approach to any 
hybrid mechanism? Additionally, would this approach allow the 
Commission to meet its statutory requirements under its general 
incentive auction authority?
    90. The Commission asks commenters to provide data on the costs and 
benefits associated with any hybrid approach over other possible or 
suggested methods. If the Commission adopted a split-revenue approach, 
under which revenue would be split between the federal government and 
the satellite operators, how would those funds be distributed? Are 
there are legal obstacles to such an approach? Commenters should also 
address the potential costs and benefits of any hybrid or alternative 
approach for consumers and businesses in rural and underserved 
communities, as well as any economic impact on small businesses, and 
discuss any rules or procedures that could be implemented to ensure 
that the needs of these communities and businesses are adequately 
addressed. Commenters should provide complete proposals to the extent 
technically and economically feasible.

[[Page 44143]]

2. More Intensive Point-to-Multipoint Fixed Use
    91. In connection with the Commission's proposals above to reform 
the full-band, full-arc earth station coordination policy, the 
Commission seeks comment on rule changes to Part 101 to allow point-to-
multipoint FS use of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band and invite parties to offer 
alternative rules or requirements that will allow for the more 
intensive point-to-multipoint FS use of the band. In doing so, the 
Commission seeks comment on how permitting fixed wireless would affect 
the possible future clearing of the band for flexible use and the use 
of the band for satellite operations. The Commission seeks to protect 
incumbent FSS earth stations from harmful interference and avoid 
disruption to existing operations in the band. Accordingly, the 
Commission seeks comment on the impact that point-to-multipoint use 
would have on the flexibility of FSS earth stations to modify their 
operations in response to technical and business needs. The Commission 
emphasizes that--under the proposals in this NPRM--point-to-multipoint 
would operate on a secondary basis vis-[agrave]-vis FSS in any part of 
the band in which FSS continues to operate during a transition period 
to accommodate repacking and, thereafter, on a frequency-coordinated 
basis to protect actual FSS operations.
    92. Channel Plan.--The Commission seeks comment on amending Sec.  
101.101 to permit point-to-multipoint FS in some portion of the 3.7-4.2 
GHz band. The Commission seeks further comment on amending the existing 
channel plan for FS in the band (paired 20 megahertz channels for 
frequency division duplex (FDD)) to allow time division duplex (TDD) on 
unpaired 20 megahertz channels. The Commission asks commenters to 
address interference concerns between FDD and TDD, explain how, or if, 
they could coexist in the portion of the band not being used for 
flexible use, and discuss coordination and interference rules that must 
apply if both were to be permitted. Should the Commission allow 
licensees to aggregate contiguous 20 megahertz channels up to a maximum 
of 160 megahertz of bandwidth? To the extent a licensee has 40 
megahertz of unconstructed spectrum in a licensed service area, should 
the Commission require construction before allowing the licensee to 
acquire additional spectrum in the licensed service area? The 
Commission invites alternative proposals with specific discussion of 
the costs and benefits as to each. The Commission also seeks comment 
generally on the technical improvements to allow for better band 
utilization.
    93. The Commission seeks comment on authorizing point-to-multipoint 
FS service, on a primary basis, in some portion of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band 
that does not become available for flexible use. The Commission 
proposes that flexible use licensees would operate in the lower segment 
of the band (starting at 3.7 GHz) and, if additional spectrum is 
cleared in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, it would be relatively easy and cost-
effective to expeditiously deploy more flexible use in the lower 
segment of this band that has been cleared and is contiguous to the 
spectrum for which flexible use is already licensed. The Commission 
also seeks comment as to whether, regardless of how much spectrum 
becomes available for flexible use in the near term, to make available 
for licensed point-to-multipoint use up to 160 megahertz (e.g., 4.04-
4.2 GHz) to accommodate a transition from FSS to flexible use working-
up from 3.7 GHz. Alternatively, the Commission seeks comment on making 
available for point-to-multipoint use 40 megahertz, 100 megahertz or up 
to 320 megahertz.
    94. Service Area of Each Point-to-Multipoint FS Access Point.--The 
Commission seeks comment on the best approach to define a point-to-
multipoint FS access point service area. The Broadband Access Coalition 
requests frequency coordinated, site-specific license areas, defined as 
a circle designated by a specified radial distance from a center point. 
Should the Commission define a service area based on a specified 
geographic access point location and maximum radius? As an alternative, 
should the Commission consider coverage arc sector(s) (e.g., 0[deg]N to 
30[deg]) around the access point location and specified radii, and what 
should such coverage arcs be based on (e.g., antenna beamwidth)? If a 
maximum radius around an access point is specified, should the 
Commission adopt a single value for all access points or values 
relative to whether the access point is in densely populated or rural 
areas? For example, the Broadband Access Coalition proposes 10 
kilometers for densely populated areas and 18 kilometers for rural 
areas. If the Commission allows different radii based on area 
population density, what threshold should the Commission use to 
differentiate between densely populated, rural, and other areas? Should 
the definition of ``rural'' for these purposes be the definition used 
for the E-Rate program? If based on a population density, should the 
population be based on residents or businesses, or perhaps some 
combination of both? Should this information be based on the most 
current available U.S. Census database at the time of the license 
application? Is there some other metric that would be better suited to 
determining the appropriate maximum radius limit? The Commission seeks 
comment on variations of these approaches, as well as those of 
alternatives that might not necessarily be limited to circles, arcs, or 
population density.
    95. Frequency Coordination and Interference Protection.--The 
Commission seeks comment on technical requirements for frequency 
coordination between point-to-multipoint FS applicants and licensees 
and FSS under Part 25 and point-to-point FS, if they are grandfathered 
or otherwise remain in the band, under part 101. Under the Commission's 
current rules, the technical aspects of coordination between FSS and 
terrestrial operations are based on Appendix 7 of the International 
Telecommunication Union (ITU) Radio Regulations and certain 
recommendations of the ITU Radiocommunication Sector and the technical 
aspects of coordination between terrestrial licensees are based on 
Telecommunications Industry Association's Telecommunications System 
Bulletin (TSB) 10-F or other procedures generally following acceptable 
good engineering practices. The Commission asks parties to comment on 
how either of the above or other standards, such as those developed by 
the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) or another 
organization, may be applicable or adaptable to point-to-multipoint FS 
operations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. The Commission also seeks comment 
on whether there are interference protection criteria set forth in 
other parts of the Commission's rules that may be adapted to protect 
FSS earth stations from interference by point-to-multipoint operations 
in the portion of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band that does not become available 
for flexible use. Are there technical operating characteristics of 
point-to-multipoint equipment, such as power levels, that would require 
us to adopt different values to protect FSS earth stations from 
interference by point-to-multipoint operations? The Commission asks 
that commenters be specific in addressing the technical requirements 
for coordination.
    96. The Commission seeks comment on allowing a point-to-multipoint 
FS applicant to coordinate each access point by sector based on the 
radius

[[Page 44144]]

around the geographic coordinates of the site, the antenna 
characteristics (e.g., beamwidth), and a maximum number of client 
devices to be deployed within a specific distance from the access 
point. Should point-to-multipoint FS applicants be required to submit 
frequency coordination for each access point, including geographic 
coordinates of the access point, frequency range, power and antenna 
characteristics, service area limits, maximum number of future 
authorized client devices, and the power and antenna characteristics of 
individual client devices? How will prior coordination be achieved for 
point-to-multipoint access points when the location, height, and 
technical characteristics of the client devices in the access point 
service area are not available at the time of access point 
coordination? If some probability of location/height is assigned for 
the maximum number of client locations in order to develop an 
interference profile for purposes of coordination, the resulting 
interference predictions will have some associated probability of 
interference occurrence; in that case should point-to-multipoint 
licensees be able to add up to the maximum number of client devices 
without independently coordinating each client device? Should client 
devices be subject to additional technical limitations, such as minimum 
directional antenna requirements, EIRP limits, or other criteria to 
limit their interference potential? Should the maximum number of client 
devices be specified for each channel? The Commission seeks comment on 
the above proposals and, whether, if a point-to-multipoint FS applicant 
cannot successfully coordinate a geographic service area, it should be 
permitted to coordinate client devices on a path-to-path basis. Parties 
should address the technical requirements of the above, offer 
alternatives, and specifically detail the costs and benefits of each 
proposal.
    97. The Commission also seeks comment on the administrative process 
that should apply to the coordination of point-to-multipoint FS 
operations in the band. Under the current rules, the administrative 
aspects of the coordination process are set forth in Sec.  101.103(d) 
in the case of coordination of terrestrial stations with earth stations 
and in Sec.  25.203 in the case of coordination of earth stations with 
terrestrial stations. What modifications to Sec. Sec.  101.103(d), 
25.203, or to another rule must be made to govern the administrative 
process that will apply to the coordination of point-to-multipoint FS 
operations with FSS and point-to-point FS, if grandfathered or remain 
in the band, and the coordination of FSS and point-to-point FS, if 
grandfathered or remain in the band, with point-to-multipoint FS 
operations in the band? The Commission seeks comment on subjecting 
point-to-multipoint FS applicants to an expedited coordination process 
with mandatory electronic notification and response. Should an 
expedited process, if adopted, govern coordination that occurs 
beginning 90 days after the adoption of final rules published in the 
Federal Register? The Commission also seeks comment on any other 
modifications to the Commission's rules with respect to the 
coordination administrative process that would reduce the economic 
impact of the proposed rule changes on small entities.
    98. Additionally, the Commission seeks comment on the possibility 
of adopting an automated coordination process for point-to-multipoint 
FS applications. There is a lack of a consensus in the record as to 
when, or if, the Commission will be in a position to propose and adopt 
rules for automated coordination of point-to-multipoint FS applications 
in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. The Broadband Access Coalition contends that 
automated coordination should not be the same as the Spectrum 
Allocation Server (SAS) system for licensing in the 3.5 GHz band. 
However, the Broadband Access Coalition believes that the existing 
process can be modified and automated over time to incorporate real-
time, real-world FSS protection criteria and enable coordination 
between and among point-to-point FS, if grandfathered or remain in the 
band, and point-to-multipoint FS based on FSS, point-to-point FS and 
point-to-multipoint FS industry standards of protection criteria to be 
developed by affected stake-holders. Several commenters including IEE 
DySPAN, OTI &PK, and Federated, support using a spectrum access 
database similar to the sharing system used below 3.7 GHz for the 
Citizens Broadband Radio Service. Google offers another variant 
contending that a lightweight database supported authorization 
framework would enable the efficient deployment of fixed broadband 
access (FBA) systems. However, the satellite industry and content 
providers have strong objections to more intensive use of the 3.7-4.2 
GHz by FS and have raised very specific concerns over the lack of 
proven methods for spectrum sharing with more intensive fixed use in 
this band. Satellite operators also raise concern about the ability of 
point-to-multipoint systems to quickly remedy interference when it is 
identified or to accommodate FSS earth stations when they change 
frequencies. The Commission seeks comment on the above. The Commission 
also asks that, given the lack of consensus, parties continue to work 
together to offer a more widely supported proposal for the Commission 
to consider.
    99. Power Limits.--The Commission seeks comment on adopting power 
limits for point-to-multipoint FS operations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. 
The Commission existing rules for FS provide power limits based on the 
link length. With point-to-multipoint FS service areas, individual 
links between access points and client devices will vary in length. 
Should the Commission apply a rule to point-to-multipoint FS links 
specifying a minimum path length, similar to those specified for point-
to-point FS links in Sec.  101.143 or is some other variation of this 
rule more applicable to point-to-multipoint FS operations? What should 
the Commission's power limits be for point-to-multipoint FS service? 
The Broadband Access Coalition has proposed a 50 dBm EIRP limit and a 
maximum conducted power of 1 Watt. Should the access point EIRP be 
scalable with bandwidth? Likewise, should client devices be limited to 
50 dBm EIRP regardless of bandwidth? If not scalable, how do changes in 
bandwidth impact frequency coordination? Should the Commission apply 
the emission limits set forth in Sec.  101.111 to point-to-multipoint 
FS operations in this band, or would some other limits be more 
appropriate to protect adjacent-band operations? The Broadband Access 
Coalition anticipates that point-to-multipoint FS systems would be able 
to meet existing Part 101 out-of-band emission limits, without 
modification, but the Commission seeks comment as to this issue. The 
Commission also invites comment on other proposals. The Commission 
notes that the adjacent 4.2-4.4 GHz band is allocated to the 
aeronautical radionavigation service on a primary basis and that, at 
WRC-15, the 4.2-4.4 GHz band was also allocated to the aeronautical 
mobile (R) service on a primary basis in all ITU Regions with use 
reserved for WAIC systems. WAIC systems are onboard short range 
wireless systems that will replace substantial portions of aircraft 
wiring. These systems increase aircraft safety by providing dissimilar 
redundancy in communications links between aircraft systems. The 
Commission solicits comment on the needed out-of-band emission limit 
required to protect the

[[Page 44145]]

aeronautical radionavigation service in the 4.2-4.4 GHz band.
    100. Antenna Standards.--The Commission asks parties to provide 
detailed technical comments as to antenna standards that should apply 
to point-to-multipoint FS operations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. Section 
101.115 of the Commission's rules specifies the maximum beamwidth, 
minimum antenna gain and radiation suppression envelope for FS antennas 
in this band. How should these antenna standards be modified to 
accommodate the range of antennas typically used in point-to-multipoint 
applications? The Broadband Access Coalition Petition proposes that, 
unlike point-to-point FS licensees subject to Sec.  101.115, point-to-
multipoint FS licensees be permitted to use any antenna in the 3.7-4.2 
GHz band that meets the minimum performance requirements for access 
points and client devices. Specifically, the Broadband Access Coalition 
Petition proposes that a point-to-multipoint FS licensee would be 
required to specify the gain; azimuth; polarization; height; azimuth 
and elevation half-power beamwidths; and tilt (e.g., -10 degrees) for 
sectorized antennas and gain, height and any electrical tilt for omni-
directional antennas. Should the Commission specify a minimum radiation 
suppression at some angle from the edge of the main beam for sectorized 
antennas? The Commission seeks comment on the above and invite parties 
to offer alternative proposals. What are the relative costs and 
benefits for each proposal? How would each proposal affect other users 
in the band or provide mechanisms to address interference?
    101. Client Devices.--The Commission seeks comment on whether the 
Commission should require directional antennas on outdoor point-to-
multipoint client devices and if so what should those antenna standards 
be? Would antenna standards for client devices make coordination 
easier? The Commission asks that commenters address the minimum antenna 
gain and minimum suppression from main beam centerline. Should client 
devices be limited to outdoor antennas only and permanently affixed at 
the client location? Should the Commission allow portable indoor client 
devices, and should such devices be allowed under point-to-multipoint 
or flexible use rules? If the Commission permits portable client 
devices with non-directional antennas, how will this impact the access 
point service area frequency coordination with incumbent licensees?
    102. Frequency Agility and Radio Capabilities.--The Commission 
seeks comment on whether the Commission should require point-to-
multipoint FS radios (both access points and client devices) to be 
frequency agile and thus capable of operating across the 3.7-4.2 GHz 
band or allow radios to be agile over 3.7-4.2 GHz so long as the 
flexible use portion of the band is locked out and be able to 
accommodate any 20 megahertz channel assignment? The Broadband Access 
Coalition requests that licensed point-to-multipoint radios (both 
access points and client devices) be frequency agile and thus capable 
of operating across the entire 3.7-4.2 GHz band, and accommodate any 20 
megahertz channel assignment. Additionally, should the Commission 
require that client devices be capable of modifying channel and 
bandwidth assignment when prompted by the associated access point? 
Should access points be software upgradable to communicate with future 
automated database and client devices to be capable of following 
instructions from associated access point to change channels and 
bandwidth, as necessary? The Commission seeks comment on how such 
requirements might be implemented in regulations, or whether any such 
features may instead be developed by manufacturer technical standards 
and/or multi-stakeholder interest groups.
    103. Construction.--The Commission seeks comment on the 
construction deadlines and notifications that should apply to point-to-
multipoint FS licensees in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. Should the Commission 
require point-to-multipoint FS licensees to build out, within 12 
months, and operate at least one access point and at least five client 
radios in licensed areas or lose protection for the service area? If a 
point-to-multipoint FS licensee fails to meet the above requirements, 
should the Commission allow links already in service from that access 
point to maintain coordinated protection on an individual, path-by-path 
basis to protect existing customers served by those links? In addition, 
the Commission encourages commenters to consider the economic impact on 
consumers and businesses in rural communities and areas that are 
unserved or underserved by current broadband providers, as well as any 
economic impact on small businesses. The Commission asks parties to 
comment on this proposal, offer alternative proposals, and discuss the 
relative costs and benefits for each proposal.
    104. Additionally, Sec.  101.141(a)(3)(ii) requires that ``traffic 
loading payload shall exceed 50 percent of payload capacity within 30 
months of licensing.'' The Commission recognizes that the minimum 
traffic loading payload requirement in Sec.  101.141(a)(3)(ii) was 
designed for symmetrical traffic and that IP traffic is often 
asymmetrical. Should the Commission therefore not adopt a requirement 
for point-to-multipoint FS licensees or do parties have alternative 
proposals for us to consider?
    105. Equipment Access/RF Exposure.--Section 101.131(a) requires 
that ``[t]he equipment at the operating and transmitting positions must 
be so installed and protected that it is not accessible to, or capable 
of being operated by, persons other than those duly authorized by the 
licensee.'' The Broadband Access Coalition states that client radios 
providing low power point-to-multipoint services will operate from 
residential premises and will not present a radiofrequency (RF) hazard 
because, when operated at full power, the RF exposure keep-out zone for 
point-to-multipoint client radios operating at the proposed maximum 
EIRP level is less than 0.6 meters (2 feet). The Commission anticipates 
that client devices would likely be mounted in such a way as to provide 
a good connection back to the access point, free from obstructions 
within the transmission path, and so while such an installation may not 
strictly comply with the access restriction requirement in the 
Commission's rules, it is possible that other regulatory examples or 
analogies may apply to point-to-multipoint situations where home 
subscriber devices are involved. For example, fixed wireless licensees 
with home-installed consumer equipment are generally required to attach 
a label to transceiver antennas that: (1) Provides adequate notice 
regarding potential radiofrequency safety hazards, e.g., information 
regarding the safe minimum separation distance required between users 
and transceiver antennas; and (2) references the applicable FCC-adopted 
limits for radiofrequency exposure specified in Sec.  1.1310. The 
Commission seeks comment on whether a similar requirement for point-to-
multipoint client devices may be a preferred alternative to Sec.  
101.1310 of the Commission's rules. In addition, the Commission seeks 
comment on the possibility that there may be any other potential use 
cases, such as wireless routers or other types of devices, that may 
require separate consideration for the purposes of equipment 
authorization and RF exposure compliance. The Commission notes that

[[Page 44146]]

all transmitters must comply with the Commission's exposure limits and 
requirements of Sec. Sec.  1.1307(b), 1.1310, 2.1091, and 2.1093 of the 
Commission's rules, as applicable.
    106. ULS Requirements.--What technical data should point-to-
multipoint FS licensees be required to provide in ULS? The Commission 
notes that the Broadband Access Coalition requests in its petition that 
the applicant's frequency coordination should correspond to the 
specific equipment and antenna orientation the applicant selects, and 
so the Commission seeks comment on whether at least that same 
information used for frequency coordination should be entered into the 
Commission's licensing database. At a minimum should licensees be 
required to provide the antenna gain, azimuth, polarization, height, 
half-power beamwidth (azimuth and elevation), and tilt (e.g. -10[deg]) 
for each access point by sector?
3. Service Rules for Flexible Use
    107. The scope of the service rules adopted herein will vary 
depending on the mechanism ultimately adopted by the Commission to 
expand flexible use in the band. For convenience, the Commission refers 
to this indeterminate amount of spectrum as the Mid-Band Flexible Use 
or ``MBX'' spectrum. Assuming that the Commission ultimately decides to 
add a mobile, except aeronautical mobile, allocation and to make some 
or all of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band available for flexible use, in this 
section the Commission proposes or seeks comment on band plan, 
licensing and operating and technical rules for the 3.7-4.2 GHz band 
spectrum that becomes available for terrestrial mobile and fixed 
flexible-use. The Commission proposes to license this spectrum under 
the Commission's flexible-use, part-27 rules that permit licensees to 
provide any fixed or mobile service consistent with the allocations for 
this spectrum, subject to rules necessary to prevent or minimize 
harmful interference. The Commission seeks comment on this approach. 
The Commission also seeks comment, however, on whether there are any 
services, e.g., Internet of Things, that would not qualify under Sec.  
603(a)(2)(B) of the MOBILE NOW Act, which requires the Commission to 
identify 100 megahertz below 6000 MHz for use on exclusive, licensed 
basis for commercial mobile use, pursuant to the Commission's authority 
to implement such licensing in a flexible manner?
a. Band Plan
    108. Block Sizes.--The Commission seeks comment on appropriate 
block size to promote efficient and robust use of the band for next 
generation wireless technologies, including 5G. Currently, the 3.7-4.2 
GHz band is licensed terrestrially by 20 megahertz channels for fixed 
use. However, the current channelization of the band should not affect 
the Commission's consideration of alternate band plans. Therefore, the 
Commission seeks comment on the appropriate block size(s) to best 
accommodate the fullest range of terrestrial wireless services.\14\ 
Would 20 megahertz blocks be appropriate for the wireless technologies 
that are likely to be deployed in this band? Should the Commission 
allow blocks to be aggregated to provide greater capacity where needed? 
Or, would licensing the 3.7-4.2 GHz band in larger block sizes (e.g., 
50-100 megahertz) better support 5G services while promoting 
competition? Would a mix of channel sizes improve efficiency and 
flexibility for a wider variety of users in the band?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \14\ The use of 20 megahertz blocks will enable transmission 
efficiencies achieved by 5G voluntary standards, including Long-Term 
Evolution (``LTE'') derivatives. Vivint Wireless Comments at 3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    109. The Commission also seeks comment on whether the appropriate 
block sizes should be affected by the specific transition mechanism 
adopted by the Commission. For example, if the Commission adopts a 
market-based approach, the Commission seeks comment on allowing parties 
to define block sizes in their agreements. In this regard, would a 
default block size that could be aggregated and disaggregated help 
facilitate a market-based process? Commenters should discuss and 
quantify the costs and benefits of their proposals.
    110. Spectrum Block Configuration.--The Commission generally has 
licensed bands that support mobile broadband services on a paired basis 
but specified the downlink and uplink bands only when necessary to 
avoid harmful interference, e.g., to Federal incumbents. The Commission 
recognizes that the 3.7-4.2 GHz spectrum that becomes available for 
flexible use could be configured in any number of paired or unpaired 
modes. The Commission therefore seeks comment on a range of options. If 
the Commission adopts an unpaired approach, are any administrative 
measures necessary to keep track of how spectrum blocks are being used? 
The Commission invites comment on what approach to take, and the costs 
and benefits of particular approaches. Above, the Commission discusses 
various mechanisms for expanding flexible use in all or part of the 
band. The Commission asks proponents of the various approaches 
described whether there are issues specific to this section and their 
preferred approach.
    111. Use of Geographic Licensing.--Consistent with the Commission's 
approach in several other bands used to provide fixed and mobile 
services, the Commission proposes to license the 3.7-4.2 GHz MBX 
spectrum on an exclusive, geographic area basis. Geographic area 
licensing provides flexibility to licensees, promotes efficient 
spectrum use, and helps facilitate rapid assignment of licenses, 
utilizing competitive bidding when necessary. The Commission seeks 
comment on this approach, including the costs and benefits of adopting 
a geographic area licensing scheme. In the event that a party does not 
support using geographic licensing, it should explain its position, 
describe what type of licensing scheme it supports and identify the 
costs and benefits associated with its alternative licensing proposal.
    112. Service Areas.--The Commission seeks comment on the 
appropriate service areas for any flexible use licenses. In determining 
the appropriate geographic license size, the Commission must consider 
several factors, including: (1) Facilitating access to spectrum by both 
small and large providers; (2) providing for the efficient use of 
spectrum; (3) encouraging deployment of wireless broadband services to 
consumers, especially those in rural areas and Tribal lands; and (4) 
promoting investment in and rapid deployment of new technologies and 
services. In light of these statutory considerations, the Commission 
asks commenters to discuss and quantify the economic, technical, and 
other public interest considerations of licensing on a PEA, county, 
nationwide, or other basis. The Commission asks commenters to address 
the costs and benefits of their recommended licensing approach.
    113. The Commission also seeks comment on a licensing approach for 
the Gulf of Mexico. In AWS-1, AWS-3, AWS-4, and the H Block, the 
Commission issued separate licenses for the Gulf of Mexico. In the 
Upper 700 MHz band, however, the Commission included the Gulf of Mexico 
in larger service areas. Commenters who advocate a separate service 
area or areas to cover the Gulf of Mexico should discuss what 
boundaries should be used, and whether special interference protection 
criteria or performance requirements are necessary due to the unique 
radio propagation characteristics and antenna siting challenges that 
exist for Gulf licensees.

[[Page 44147]]

    114. The Commission also seeks comment on whether the service areas 
should be affected by the specific transition mechanism adopted by the 
Commission. For example, if the Commission adopts a market-based 
approach, the Commission seeks comment on allowing parties to define 
service areas in their agreements. In this regard, would a default 
service-area size smaller than the contiguous 48 states that could be 
aggregated and disaggregated help facilitate a market-based process? If 
the Commission adopts an overlay auction, the Commission seeks comment 
on issuing a single nationwide license, or alternatively issuing 
licenses for five regions: (1) The contiguous 48 states and the Gulf of 
Mexico, (2) Alaska, (3) Hawaii, (4) Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin 
Islands, and (5) Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American 
Samoa. Commenters should discuss and quantify the costs and benefits of 
their proposals.
    115. The Commission also seeks comment on a licensing approach for 
the Gulf of Mexico. In AWS-1, AWS-3, AWS-4, and the H Block, the 
Commission issued separate licenses for the Gulf of Mexico. In the 
Upper 700 MHz band, however, the Commission included the Gulf of Mexico 
in larger service areas. Commenters who advocate a separate service 
area or areas to cover the Gulf of Mexico should discuss what 
boundaries should be used, and whether special interference protection 
criteria or performance requirements are necessary due to the unique 
radio propagation characteristics and antenna siting challenges that 
exist for Gulf licensees.
b. Licensing and Operating Rules
    116. The Commission seeks to afford licensees the flexibility to 
align licenses in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band with licenses in other spectrum 
bands governed by Part 27 of the Commission's rules. The Commission 
therefore proposes that licensees in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band comply with 
licensing and operating rules that are applicable to all Part 27 
services, including assignment of licenses by competitive bidding, 
flexible use, regulatory status, foreign ownership reporting, 
compliance with construction requirements, renewal criteria, permanent 
discontinuance of operations, partitioning and disaggregation, and 
spectrum leasing. The Commission seeks comment on this approach and ask 
commenters to identify any aspects of the Commission's general Part 27 
service rules that should be modified to accommodate the particular 
characteristics of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. The Commission asks proponents 
of the various mechanisms described above whether there are issues 
specific to this section and their preferred approach.
    117. In addition, the Commission seeks comment on service-specific 
rules for the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, including eligibility, mobile spectrum 
holdings policies, license term, performance requirements, renewal term 
construction obligations, and other licensing and operating rules. In 
addressing these issues, commenters should discuss the costs and 
benefits associated with these proposals and any alternatives that 
commenters propose.
    118. Eligibility.--Consistent with established Commission practice, 
the Commission proposes to adopt an open eligibility standard for 
licenses in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. The Commission seeks comment on this 
approach. Specifically, the Commission seeks comment on whether 
adopting an open eligibility standard for the licensing of the 3.7-4.2 
GHz band would encourage efforts to develop new technologies, products, 
and services, while helping to ensure efficient use of this spectrum. 
The Commission notes that an open eligibility approach would not affect 
citizenship, character, or other generally applicable qualifications 
that may apply under the Commission's rules. Commenters should discuss 
the costs and benefits of the open eligibility proposal on competition, 
innovation, and investment. Above, the Commission discusses various 
mechanisms for expanding flexible use in all or part of the band. The 
Commission asks proponents of the various approaches described above 
whether there are issues specific to this section and their preferred 
approach. Finally, a person who has been, for reasons of national 
security, barred by any agency of the Federal Government from bidding 
on a contract, participating in an auction, or receiving a grant is 
ineligible to hold a license that is required by 47 U.S.C. Chapter 13 
(the Spectrum Act) to be assigned by a system of competitive bidding 
under Sec.  309(j) of the Communications Act. In the event that the 
Commission assigns licenses through competitive bidding, the Commission 
proposes to apply this ineligibility provision to the 3.7-4.2 GHz band.
    119. Mobile Spectrum Holdings.--Spectrum is an essential input for 
the provision of mobile wireless services, and to implement provisions 
of the Communications Act, the Commission has developed policies to 
ensure that spectrum is assigned in a manner that promotes competition, 
innovation, and efficient use.
    120. The Commission seeks comment generally on whether and how to 
address any mobile spectrum holdings issues involving 3.7-4.2 GHz 
spectrum to meet the Commission's statutory requirements and ensure 
competitive access to the band. Similar to the Commission's approach in 
the 2017 Spectrum Frontiers Order and FNPRM, the Commission proposes 
not to adopt a pre-auction bright-line limit on the ability of any 
entity to acquire spectrum in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band through competitive 
bidding at auction. Since such pre-auction limits may unnecessarily 
restrict the ability of entities to participate in and acquire spectrum 
in an auction, the Commission is not inclined to adopt such limits 
absent a clear indication that they are necessary to address a specific 
competitive concern, and the Commission seeks comment on any specific 
concerns of this type.
    121. The Commission also seeks comment on whether this band should 
be included in the Commission's spectrum screen, which helps to 
identify markets that may warrant further competitive analysis, for 
evaluating proposed secondary market transactions. If the Commission 
does determine that an auction is appropriate, the Commission seeks 
comment on reviewing holdings on a case-by-case basis when applications 
for initial licenses are filed post-auction to ensure that the public 
interest benefits of having a threshold on spectrum applicable to 
secondary market transactions are not rendered ineffective. The 
Commission seeks comment on whether and how the similarity of this 
spectrum to spectrum currently included in the screen should be 
factored into the Commission's analysis, including the suitability of 
3.7-4.2 GHz spectrum for use in the provision of mobile telephony or 
broadband services. Commenters should discuss and quantify any costs 
and benefits associated with any proposals on the applicability of 
mobile spectrum holdings policies to 3.7-4.2 GHz spectrum. The 
Commission discusses above various mechanisms for expanding flexible 
use in all or part of the band. The Commission asks proponents of the 
various approaches described above whether there are issues specific to 
this section and their preferred approach. For example, should the 
Commission impose limits on the amount of spectrum acquired by one 
party through a market-based mechanism?

[[Page 44148]]

    122. License term.--The Commission seeks comment on a 15-year term 
for licenses in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band.\15\ The Commission believes that 
15 years will afford licensees sufficient time to achieve this 
significant buildout obligation. The Commission seeks comment on the 
costs and benefits of this proposal. In addition, the Commission 
invites commenters to submit alternate proposals for the appropriate 
license term, which should similarly include a discussion on the costs 
and benefits.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \15\ The Communications Act does not specify a term limit for 
wireless radio services licenses. The only statutory limit on 
license terms is eight years for licenses in the broadcast services. 
See 47 U.S.C. 307(c)(1); see also 47 CFR 73.1020(a).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    123. Performance requirements.--The Commission establishes 
performance requirements to ensure that spectrum is intensely and 
efficiently utilized. The Commission has applied different performance 
and construction requirements to different spectrum bands based on 
considerations relevant to those bands. The Commission continues to 
believe that performance requirements play a critical role in ensuring 
that licensed spectrum does not lie fallow.
    124. Accordingly, considering the unique characteristics of this 
band, and to ensure that licensees begin providing service to consumers 
in a timely manner, the Commission seeks comment on adopting specific 
quantifiable benchmarks as an important component of its performance 
requirements. The Commission seeks comment on requiring a 3.7-4.2 GHz 
band licensee, relying on mobile or point-to-multipoint service in 
accordance with the Commission's part 27 rules, to provide reliable 
signal coverage and offer service to at least forty-five (45) percent 
of the population in each of its license areas within six years of the 
license issue date (first performance benchmark), and to at least 
eighty (80) percent of the population in each of its license areas 
within 12 years from the license issue date (second performance 
benchmark). For licensees relying on point-to-point service, the 
Commission seeks comment on requiring them to demonstrate within six 
years of the license issue date (first performance benchmark) that they 
have four links operating and providing service, either to customers or 
for internal use, if the population within the license area is equal to 
or less than 268,000. If the population within the license area is 
greater than 268,000, the Commission seeks comment on requiring a 
licensee relying on point-to-point service to demonstrate it has at 
least one link in operation and providing service per every 67,000 
persons within a license area. The Commission seeks comment on 
requiring licensees relying on point-to-point service to demonstrate 
within 12 years of the license issue date (final performance benchmark) 
that they have eight links operating and providing service, either to 
customers or for internal use, if the population within the license 
area is equal to or less than 268,000. If the population within the 
license area is greater than 268,000, the Commission seeks comment on 
requiring a licensee relying on point-to-point service to demonstrate 
it is providing service and has at least two links in operation per 
every 67,000 persons within a license area. The Commission seeks 
comment on whether in order to be eligible to be counted under the 
point-to-point buildout standard, a point-to-point link must operate 
with a transmit power greater than + 43 dBm.\16\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \16\ In Spectrum Frontiers, the Commission defined a ``fixed 
point-to-point link'' as ``a radio transmission between point-to-
point stations (as already defined in part 30), where transmit power 
exceeds + 43 dBm.'' Under this definition, stations or devices 
transmitting using lower power levels will not count towards the 
number of fixed links required under the performance metric. 
Licensees whose networks include such low-power connections may rely 
on another part of their network to demonstrate buildout (e.g., 
mobile area coverage or higher-power fixed backhaul links). See 2017 
Spectrum Frontiers Order and FNPRM, 32 FCC Rcd at 11008-09, 
paragraph 66 through 68.
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    125. The Commission believes that 12 years will provide sufficient 
time for any 3.7-4.2 GHz licensee to meet the proposed coverage 
requirements. The Commission anticipates that after satisfying the 12-
year second performance benchmark, a licensee will continue to provide 
reliable signal coverage, or point-to-point links, as applicable, and 
offer service at or above that level for the remaining three years in 
the proposed 15-year license term prior to renewal. Establishing 
benchmarks before the end of the license term will ensure continuity of 
service over the license term, which is essential to the Commission's 
evaluation under the Commission's renewal standards.
    126. The Commission also seeks comment on whether the proposals 
discussed above represent the appropriate balance between license-term 
length and a significant final buildout requirement. The Commission 
seeks comment on the proposed buildout requirements and any potential 
alternatives. The Commission, for example, seeks comment on alternative 
methodologies for measuring population coverage requirements in the 
Gulf of Mexico. Above, the Commission discusses various mechanisms for 
expanding flexible use in all or part of the band. The Commission asks 
proponents of the various approaches described above whether there are 
issues specific to this section and their preferred approach. The 
Commission also seeks comment on whether small entities face any 
special or unique issues with respect to buildout requirements such 
that they would require certain accommodations or additional time to 
comply. Finally, commenters should discuss and quantify how any 
supported buildout requirements will affect investment and innovation, 
as well as discuss and quantify other costs and benefits associated 
with the proposal.
    127. Internet of Things (IoT) Performance Requirements.--While the 
Commission proposes performance benchmarks based on population coverage 
applicable for a range of fixed and mobile services, the Commission 
recognizes that 3.7-4.2 GHz licenses have flexibility to provide 
services potentially less suited to a population coverage metric. In 
particular, licensees providing IoT-type fixed and mobile services may 
benefit from an alternative performance benchmark metric, and the 
Commission seeks comment on the appropriate metric to accommodate such 
service offerings. As the Commission did in Spectrum Frontiers, the 
Commission acknowledges that some IoT-type services may have difficulty 
meeting the population-based metrics that the Commission proposes for 
fixed and mobile services. In Spectrum Frontiers, the Commission 
modified its existing part 30 rules to adopt a specific definition of 
``fixed point-to-point link,'' which includes the use of point-to-point 
stations as already defined in part 30 and is based on power level. 
This definition is intended to separate ``traditional'' point-to-point 
links from the sensor and device connections the Commission anticipates 
will be part of new Internet of Things networks in these bands. This 
definition applies to a network of fixed sensors or smart devices 
operating at low power over short distances. The Commission seeks 
comment on applying the same framework here and invite commenters to 
suggest new metrics that will accommodate innovative services in mid-
band spectrum. The Commission also seeks comment on how relatively 
lower power point-to-point operations at or below a transmit power of + 
43 dBm should be required to meet the buildout rules for 3.7-4.2 GHz 
licensees.

[[Page 44149]]

    128. The Commission seeks additional comment on what metric it 
should adopt to accommodate IoT services, while recognizing the 
difficulty of crafting an IoT-specific metric, especially while the 
relevant technologies and use cases are still being developed. For 
example, a performance metric based on geographic area coverage (or 
presence) could allow for networks that provide meaningful service but 
deploy along lines other than residential population. Consistent with 
the Commission's approach above seeking comment on a first and second 
performance benchmark, the Commission seeks comment on the following 
metrics as an option for MBX-spectrum licensees to fulfill their 
buildout requirements: geographic area coverage of 35 percent of the 
license area at the first (six-year) performance benchmark, and 
geographic area coverage of 65 percent of the license area at the 
second (12-year) performance benchmark. The Commission also seeks 
comment on an alternative requirement of presence in 35 percent of 
subset units of the license area, such as census tracts, counties, or 
some other area at the first performance benchmark, and presence in 65 
percent of subset units at the second benchmark. A standard requiring 
presence in subset units of a license area could accommodate 
deployments, such as sensor networks, that are not designed to provide 
mobile or point-to-multipoint area coverage, and for whom calculating 
``coverage of 65 percent of the area'' would therefore not be a 
meaningful standard. Licensees would demonstrate compliance with this 
metric through a showing of the equipment or deployments that are part 
of a network that is actually providing service, either to external 
customers or for internal uses.
    129. The Commission suggests these levels of geographic coverage as 
an attempt to maintain parity between the requirements in these metrics 
and the requirements of its earlier proposal based on population 
coverage.\17\ The Commission seeks comment on these coverage levels, 
including any suggestions of alternative levels of coverage that might 
be more appropriate. The Commission also emphasizes that any metric it 
adopts to accommodate IoT services would, like the population coverage 
and fixed link metrics ultimately adopted, be available to any MBX-
spectrum licensee. While the Commission suggests an additional metric 
in order to facilitate the deployment of IoT and other innovative 
services, there would be no requirement that a licensee build a 
particular type of network or provide a particular type of service in 
order to use whatever metric the Commission ultimately adopts. Above, 
the Commission discusses various mechanisms for expanding flexible use 
in all or part of the band. The Commission asks proponents of the 
various approaches described above whether there are issues specific to 
this section and their preferred approach. The Commission strongly 
encourages stakeholders to fully develop a record on this issue.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \17\ In most license areas, the residential population is 
unevenly distributed. In those areas, building a network covering 
65% of the geographic area would require more intensive deployment 
than one covering 65% of the population, suggesting that a lower 
percent coverage requirement for geographic area could be 
appropriate.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    130. Penalty for Failure to Meet Performance Requirements.--Along 
with performance benchmarks, the Commission seeks to adopt meaningful 
and enforceable penalties for failing to meet the benchmarks. The 
Commission seeks comment on which penalties will most effectively 
ensure timely build-out. Specifically, the Commission proposes that, in 
the event a 3.7-4.2 GHz MHz licensee fails to meet the first 
performance benchmark, the licensee's second benchmark and license term 
would be reduced by two years, thereby requiring it to meet the second 
performance benchmark two years sooner (at 10 years into the license 
term) and reducing its license term to 13 years. The Commission further 
proposes that, in the event a 3.7-4.2 GHz licensee fails to meet the 
second performance benchmark for a particular license area, its 
authorization for each license area in which it fails to meet the 
performance requirement shall terminate automatically without 
Commission action.
    131. The Commission proposes that, in the event a licensee's 
authority to operate terminates, the licensee's spectrum rights would 
become available for reassignment pursuant to the competitive bidding 
provisions of Sec.  309(j). Further, consistent with the Commission's 
rules for other licenses, including AWS-1, AWS-3, AWS-4 and H Block, 
the Commission proposes that any 3.7-4.2 GHz licensee who forfeits its 
license for failure to meet its performance requirements would be 
precluded from regaining the license.
    132. Compliance Procedures.--In addition to compliance procedures 
applicable to all Part 27 licensees, including the filing of electronic 
coverage maps and supporting documentation, the Commission proposes 
that such electronic coverage maps must accurately depict the 
boundaries of each license area in the licensee's service territory. If 
a licensee does not provide reliable signal coverage to an entire 
license area, the Commission proposes that its map must accurately 
depict the boundaries of the area or areas within each license area not 
being served. Further, the Commission proposes that each licensee also 
must file supporting documentation certifying the type of service it is 
providing for each licensed area within its service territory and the 
type of technology used to provide such service. Supporting 
documentation must include the assumptions used to create the coverage 
maps, including the propagation model and the signal strength necessary 
to provide reliable service with the licensee's technology. The 
Commission seeks comment on the Commission's proposal. The Commission 
also seeks comment on whether small entities face any special or unique 
issues with respect to the transition such that they would require 
additional time to comply.
    133. Renewal Term Construction Obligation.--In addition to, and 
independent of, the general renewal requirements contained in Sec.  
1.949 of the Commission's rules, which apply to all Wireless Radio 
Services (WRS) licensees, the Commission also seeks comment on 
application of specific renewal term construction obligations to 3.7-
4.2 GHz licensees.
    134. The WRS Renewal Reform FNPRM proposed to apply rules adopted 
in that proceeding to all flexible geographic licenses. Given the 
Commission's proposal to license this band on a geographic basis for 
flexible use, any additional renewal term construction obligations 
proposed in the WRS Renewal Reform FNPRM also would apply to licenses 
in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. The Commission seeks comment on whether there 
are unique characteristics of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band that might require a 
different approach than the various proposals raised by the WRS Renewal 
Reform FNPRM. For example, while the vast majority of existing wireless 
radio services have 10-year license terms, here the Commission seeks 
comment on a 15-year license term for the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. Do any of 
the Commission's proposals for this band, such as potentially longer 
license terms, necessitate a more tailored approach than the rules of 
general applicability proposed in the WRS Renewal Reform FNPRM? For 
instance, should the Commission requires buildout to 85 percent of the 
population by the end of second license term? Commenters advocating 
rules specific to the 3.7-4.2 GHz band should address the costs and 
benefits of their proposed

[[Page 44150]]

rules and discuss how a given proposal will encourage investment and 
deployment in areas that might not otherwise benefit from significant 
wireless coverage. Above, the Commission discusses various mechanisms 
for expanding flexible use in all or part of the band. The Commission 
asks proponents of the various approaches described above whether there 
are issues specific to this section and their preferred approach. The 
Commission seeks comment on whether to require an applicant deploying 
IoT applications in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band to exceed its original 
construction metric by an additional five percent in its next full 
renewal term.
    135. Competitive Bidding Procedures.-- The Commission seeks comment 
above on the types of licenses for the 3.7-4.2 GHz band that would best 
serve the public interest. In the event that the Commission accepts 
mutually exclusive applications for licenses in the band, the 
Commission will grant the licenses through a system of competitive 
bidding, consistent with the Commission's statutory mandate. 
Accordingly, the Commission seeks comment on a number of proposals 
relating to competitive bidding for licenses for spectrum in this band, 
including the costs and benefits of those proposals.
    136. Consistent with the competitive bidding procedures the 
Commission has used in previous auctions, the Commission proposes that 
the Commission would conduct any auction for licenses for spectrum in 
the 3.7-4.2 GHz band in conformity with the general competitive bidding 
rules set forth in part 1, subpart Q, of the Commission's rules. 
Specifically, the Commission proposes to employ the part 1 rules 
governing competitive bidding design, designated entity preferences, 
unjust enrichment, application and certification procedures, payment 
procedures, reporting requirements, and the prohibition on certain 
communications between auction applicants. Under this proposal, such 
rules would be subject to any modifications that the Commission may 
adopt for its part 1 general competitive bidding rules in the future. 
In this NPRM, the Commission seeks comment on general application of 
the part 1 competitive bidding rules to any auction of 3.7-4.2 GHz 
licenses. The Commission also seeks comment on whether any of the 
Commission's part 1 rules would be inappropriate or should be modified 
for an auction of licenses in this frequency band. In particular, the 
Commission seeks comment on the following proposals for bidding credits 
for designated entities in this band. As with other flexible use 
licenses in recent years, the Commission proposes in this band to adopt 
bidding credits for the two larger designated entity business sizes 
provided in the part 1 rules. The Commission also proposes to offer 
rural service providers a designated entity bidding credit for licenses 
in this band. Commenters addressing these proposals should consider 
what details of licenses in the band may affect whether designated 
entities will apply for them. The Commission seeks comment on new or 
revised rules that would be necessary to implement an incentive auction 
if the Commission adopted that approach. Would a tailored version of 
the rules adopted for the reverse auction portion of the broadcast 
incentive auction be appropriate?
c. Technical Rules
    137. Power Limits for Fixed and Base Stations.--The current rules 
for AWS-1, AWS-3 and AWS-4 limit base station power in non-rural areas 
to 1640 watts EIRP for emission bandwidths less than one megahertz and 
to 1640 watts per MHz EIRP for emission bandwidths greater than one 
megahertz and they double these limits (3280 watts EIRP or 3280 watts/
MHz) in rural areas. The same limits apply to broadband PCS stations. 
There are a few services that have a power limit of 2000 Watts per MHz, 
most notably, the recent 600 MHz band. In the Commission's experience 
the AWS limits have provided good service while avoiding harmful 
interference. Further, the higher power limit for rural areas may 
promote the Commission's goals of furthering rural deployment of 
broadband services. Therefore, the Commission proposes to extend Sec.  
27.50(d)(1)-(2) to apply to both fixed and base stations in the 3.7-4.2 
GHz MBX-spectrum. Thus, the power limits are proposed to be 1640 watts 
EIRP for emission bandwidths less than one megahertz and to 1640 watts 
per MHz EIRP for emission bandwidths greater than one megahertz. For 
operation in rural areas, defined as any county with population density 
of 100 or fewer persons per square mile, based upon the most recently 
available population statistics from the Bureau of the Census, the 
power limits are proposed to be 3280 watts EIRP for emission bandwidths 
less than one megahertz and to 3280 watts per MHz EIRP for emission 
bandwidths greater than one megahertz. These power limits apply to the 
sum of the power of all antenna elements of the fixed or base station. 
The Commission seeks comment on this proposal. Are the power levels the 
Commission proposes sufficient to provide robust mobile broadband 
service as well as being practical and realistic in this particular 
spectrum? Alternatively, would the proposed power levels need to be 
reduced to avoid the blocking of receivers operating in the adjacent 
Citizen's Broadband Radio Service at 3.5-3.7 GHz? The Commission 
invites commenters who propose alternative solutions to provide 
specific technical details and thorough analysis to support their 
proposals.
    138. It is anticipated that this new band may be able to 
accommodate much wider channel bandwidths than in the past. Current 
plans for 5G deployments are capable of channel bandwidths of as much 
as 100 MHz at frequencies below 6 GHz. There is some concern regarding 
the total power of a wide bandwidth channel when the power limit is 
specified as a power density level. Should the Commission propose a 
limit on the total power of a base station in order to relieve 
potential blocking? One possible solution is that the total power of a 
base station should be limited to 75 dBm EIRP, summed over all antenna 
elements, for fixed and base stations. The Commission seeks comment on 
this proposal.
    139. The Commission notes that the power limit for most AWS 
services is specified based on an RMS-equivalent or average power 
measurement. This power measurement methodology is preferred for 
advanced digital modulation schemes that could create very short 
duration power spikes, while the overall power remains low. There are a 
few services whose power limit is specified based on a peak power 
measurement. The Commission proposes that the power limit be based on 
the average power measurement and seek comment on this proposal.
    140. Power Limits for Mobiles and Portables.--The Commission 
proposes to limit the power of mobiles and portables in the 3.7-4.2 GHz 
MBX spectrum to 1 Watt (30 dBm). While power limits for flexible use 
mobile services vary in the Commission's rules (e.g., 50 milliwatts per 
MHz EIRP for WCS, 2 Watts EIRP for PCS, 3 Watts ERP in the 600 MHz 
band, 1 Watt EIRP for the AWS-1 and AWS-3 uplink bands, and 2 Watts 
EIRP for the AWS-4 uplink band); most device operate at levels under 1 
Watt to preserve battery life, meet exposure limits and meet power 
control requirements. The limit the Commission proposes falls within a 
range of values typically seen in AWS services, and should provide 
adequate power for the 5G mobile applications envisioned for the MBX 
spectrum

[[Page 44151]]

considering the similarity in propagation characteristics for the MBX-
spectrum band and AWS bands. Indeed, most commercial services, 
including LTE, CDMA and UMTS, commonly deploy mobile devices which 
operate at a maximum output power of 23 dBm (200 milliwatts), 
regardless of higher FCC power limits. However, there are a few new 
power class II LTE devices being developed with slightly higher output 
power of 26 dBm. Similar devices are expected for the new 5G standard 
as well. This development warrants continued flexibility in the rules 
to allow for a wider range of devices types. The Commission seeks 
comment on this proposal. The Commission further proposes that mobile 
and portable stations operating in these bands must employ a means for 
limiting power to the minimum necessary for successful communications.
    141. Out of Band Emissions Limits.--The limits the Commission sets 
on out of band emissions are important to protecting services in 
adjacent bands. This band is adjacent to the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband 
Radio Service and will also be adjacent to any service that remains in 
a portion of the 3.7-4.2 GHz FSS band after the Commission adopts and 
completes a transition plan. The Commission proposes that out of band 
emissions be kept to a level that will provide protection to incumbent 
services in adjacent bands, while allowing the full use of the new 
band. The Commission proposes to apply the longstanding limit on out of 
band emissions of -13 dBm/MHz at the authorized channel edge as 
measured at the antenna terminals. This out of band emission level has 
been used successfully to protect adjacent operations from harmful 
interference in several AWS bands. The Commission seeks comment on this 
proposal and whether to apply more stringent out of band emission 
limits beyond the band edge, as described below.
    142. The out of band emission limits that the Commission adopts for 
the MBX spectrum will depend on the characteristics of the services 
likely to be deployed in the MBX spectrum and the coexistence needs of 
services in the adjacent bands. Notably, to ensure effective 
coexistence with adjacent band services, it may be necessary to adopt 
more stringent out of band emission limits beyond the edges of the 
band. For example, in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service, the 
Commission limits out of band emission to -25 dBm/MHz at or beyond 10 
megahertz outside of the band edge and -40 dBm/MHz at or beyond 20 
megahertz outside of the band edge. The Commission seeks comment on the 
out of band emission limits that will be needed to facilitate 
widespread deployment of next generation wireless services in the MBX 
spectrum while ensuring effective coexistence with the services 
operating in the adjacent bands. Commenters should analyze the costs 
and benefits of different options and provide detailed technical 
analysis in support of their proposals.
    143. To fully define an emissions limit, the Commission's rules 
generally specify details on how to measure the power of the emissions, 
such as the resolution bandwidth. For most AWS bands, the resolution 
bandwidth used to determine compliance with this limit for base 
stations is one megahertz or greater, except that within one megahertz 
of the channel edge where a resolution bandwidth of at least one 
percent of the emission bandwidth of the fundamental emission of the 
transmitter may be employed. Rather than allow use of a bandwidth 
dependent resolution bandwidth near the channel edge, the Upper 
Microwave Flexible Use Service (UMFUS) rules under Part 30 instead 
specify use of a one megahertz resolution bandwidth but allow an out of 
band emission limit of -5 dBm per megahertz from the channel edge out 
to 10 percent of the channel. Considering that the MBX spectrum, like 
UMFUS, will likely employ much larger signal bandwidths than AWS, 
should the MBX spectrum rules adopt the AWS approach to defining the 
resolution bandwidth or follow the UMFUS approach?
    144. Finally, should the same out of band emission limits apply to 
both base stations and mobile handsets? While the Commission finds that 
mobile handsets can meet the out of band emission limit the Commission 
has proposed, they also operate at lower power levels and their size 
could restrict the implementation of more stringent emission limits 
that would require nonstandard filtering. However, base station 
equipment may have more flexibility to implement more stringent filters 
if necessary to protect adjacent services. The Commission seeks comment 
on all aspects of the emission limits for mobile and portable devices 
as part of the discussion above.
    145. Coexistence with FSS Operations Above the MBX Spectrum.--The 
Commission seeks comment on whether additional technical protection 
criteria, beyond out of band emission limits, are necessary to ensure 
effective coexistence with adjacent band FSS operations. As discussed 
above, several of the transition mechanisms under consideration could 
make available a portion of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band available for flexible 
use, while allowing continued widespread FSS operations in adjacent 
portions of the band. For example, under the proposal submitted by 
Intelsat and SES, the 3700-3800 MHz portion of the band would be 
initially cleared for flexible use along with an additional 40 to 60 
megahertz of guard band adjacent to and above it. As part of the 
clearing process, Intelsat and SES have proposed to install a filter or 
replace the Low Noise Block converter (LNB) in every earth station so 
as to prevent 5G transmission in the 3700-3800 MHz from saturating the 
LNB of the earth stations. Intelsat and SES state that they are working 
with manufacturers to define the desired filter characteristics such as 
the rejection, roll-off, and insertion loss, but have not provided any 
specific numbers. The Commission seeks comment on whether such 
additional requirements are necessary to ensure coexistence with 
adjacent band operations.
    146. In general, the width of the guard band and roll-off of the 
filter determine the amount of out-of-band rejection provided to a 
receiver. The Commission seeks comment on the earth station receiver 
protection criteria, necessary rejection performance from the external 
filter, and amount of spectrum it requires for the filter roll off. 
Should the protection limit of the FSS earth stations be based solely 
on interference-to-noise ratio (I/N) regardless of the actual FSS 
carrier power and/or earth station configuration? Should the Commission 
establish a baseline FSS earth station configuration (antenna, LNB, 
receiver) for any interference and protection assumptions? Given the 
signal strength differential between the terrestrial and satellite 
systems, can terrestrial wireless base or mobile stations cause 
saturation of the LNB of FSS earth stations? Could an external filter 
be tunable across 3700-4200 MHz band? Will there be a minimum distance 
separation required between MBX transmitters and earth station 
receivers? What are the tradeoffs among filter performance, required 
guard band, level of protection, and cost of such filter? The 
Commission requests commenters to provide details of assumptions and 
analysis including MBX transmit power level, earth station protection 
limit, propagation model, antenna aperture and off-axis isolation.
    147. Alternatively, should the Commission define the MBX transmit 
power limit, out of band emission limits, and guard band and allow the 
satellite service providers to determine how to protect the earth 
station receivers? The Commission typically

[[Page 44152]]

does not specify receiver performance, and there are many variables 
that contribute to the receiver blocking performance from strong 
transmit signals in an adjacent band, including external filter, low-
noise amplifier (LNA), mixer and other RF components, and digital 
signal processing in the baseband. Given the current design and 
operation of the earth stations, each earth station receiver may be 
impacted differently for a given MBX transmit power. Therefore, it may 
be more practical for satellite service providers to determine how to 
protect the earth station receivers given the allowed transmit power 
level and out of band emission limits. The Commission seeks comment on 
this proposal.
    148. The guard band used for receiver filter rejection can also be 
used to enhance the out of band emission performance of MBX 
transmitters. The Commission seeks comment on the out of band emission 
limit necessary at the upper end of guard band in order to ensure 
coexistence with earth station receivers. Does this out of band 
emission limit allow ubiquitous operation of base stations and mobile 
stations or does it require a minimum distance separation from earth 
station receivers? The Commission requests commenters to include 
proposed out of band emission at the upper end of guard band, 
propagation model, antenna gains and off-axis isolation between MBX 
transmitters and earth station receivers in their analysis. The 
Commission also seeks comment on whether this guard band could be used 
for other purposes such as coordinated fixed point-to-multipoint 
operations, a low power wireless broadband system, indoor-only system, 
or unlicensed use.
    149. Coexistence with FSS Operations in the MBX Spectrum. There may 
be some FSS earth stations operating co-channel with MBX, depending on 
the mechanisms of expanding flexible use as described above. The 
Commission seeks comment on the coexistence challenges between 
terrestrial mobile services and the FSS earth stations that may remain 
in the cleared spectrum and on any specific rules that should be 
adopted to ensure effective coexistence between these services. In 
other bands, the Commission has adopted exclusion or coordination zones 
to protect co-channel FSS earth stations from harmful interference. 
Would exclusion zones or coordination zones be appropriate to protect 
any existing FSS earth stations in the MBX spectrum? If so, how should 
the size of the exclusion zone or coordination zone be determined? 
Should the Commission instead specify interference protection limits 
that the terrestrial systems must meet to protect the earth stations? 
Such protection limits could take the form, for example, of an 
interference-to-noise ratio (I/N), carrier to interference-plus-noise 
ratio (C/I+N),\18\ or a power density at the FSS receiver. If so, how 
would such a protection limit be modeled and enforced? In applying a 
protection limit, exclusion zone, or coordination zone, how should the 
aggregate interference from multiple base stations and associated 
mobile devices from the different MBX licensees be taken into account? 
Should the Commission require that earth stations remaining in the band 
be moved to less populated areas or can RF shielding of earth stations 
be employed to reduce the size of exclusion or coordination zones?
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    \18\ The carrier power is the power received by the earth 
station from the satellite.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    150. Coexistence with FSS Operation Below 3700 MHz.--There are 120 
FSS earth stations that are authorized in the 3600-3700 MHz band. Yet, 
unlike FSS earth stations operating above 3800 MHz, Intelsat and SES 
have not proposed any particular means of protecting these earth 
stations against interference. Given that there will be no guard band 
to help prevent interference in this band, should operators of these 
stations be included in any transition mechanisms, including possible 
relocation to transponders above the MBX spectrum? How should these 
earth stations be treated during any transition process that is adopted 
for the MBX spectrum? If an earth station continues to receive signals 
below 3700 MHz, could the receiver be modified to protect the LNB from 
the MBX transmitters (e.g., by adding a filter)? The Commission seeks 
comment on alternative means for mitigating interference to protect any 
continued FSS downlink operation below 3700 MHz.
    151. The Commission seeks comment and quantitative analysis to 
demonstrate if the proposed MBX spectrum power and emission limits are 
sufficient, without additional mitigation methods, to protect any FSS 
earth station operation below 3700 MHz. The Commission expects that a 
minimum propagation loss plus additional attenuation would be required 
to protect FSS earth stations below 3700 MHz, depending on the 
separation distance between FSS and MBX-spectrum transmitters, the RF 
propagation environment, and FSS antenna (gain) orientation. Would 
exclusion zones or coordination zones be required around the earth 
stations?
    152. The Commission seeks comment on the achievable RF shielding 
around the FSS earth stations and the cost thereof. Would using RF 
shielding be sufficient to protect FSS earth stations below 3700 MHz? 
In addition, or alternatively, would it be possible for the MBX 
spectrum licensees to engineer around the FSS antenna sites, such that 
the predicted propagation loss and additional attenuation of base/
mobile emissions (fundamental power and out of band emission) would be 
sufficient to ensure that co-channel/out of band emission and blocking 
FSS thresholds were not exceeded?
    153. Coexistence with Telemetry, Tracking, and Command.--FSS Earth 
stations that are used for telemetry, tracking and command of 
satellites have assignments near 3700 MHz, 3950 MHz, and 4200 MHz. 
These telemetry, tracking and command licenses may list widely varying 
bandwidths in IBFS. Most assignments are no more than 1-2 megahertz 
wide; however, others are less specific, and are recorded across the 
entire passband of the earth station receiver (i.e., 3625-4200 MHz). 
Since there are a limited number of telemetry, tracking and command 
earth stations, should the Commission consider protection on a case-by-
case basis through coordination between MBX-spectrum licensees and FSS 
earth station operators? What are the appropriate coexistence criteria 
for telemetry, tracking and command receivers \19\ and do they differ 
from other earth station receivers? What interference mitigation 
techniques could be used to protect telemetry, tracking and command 
earth stations? For example, could RF shielding effectively reduce the 
interference to the telemetry, tracking and command earth stations? The 
Commission also seeks comment on whether telemetry, tracking and 
command earth stations located in or near densely populated areas could 
be relocated to more remote locations and, if so, how much such 
relocations would cost. Because telemetry, tracking and command 
transmissions are a function of satellite design and cannot be changed 
following launch, the Commission recognizes that earth stations 
receiving telemetry, tracking and command transmissions in the

[[Page 44153]]

MBX spectrum will require protection for the lifetime of the satellite. 
The Commission seeks comment on if protection of these operations would 
require a different approach depending on whether telemetry, tracking 
and command earth stations are within or outside of the MBX spectrum.
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    \19\ The Commission has adopted specific rules to protect TT&C 
earth stations that operate in in and adjacent to the 3.55-3.7 GHz 
band. These rules require that the aggregate passband RF power 
spectral density at the output of a reference RF filter and antenna 
at the location of a TT&C FSS earth station produced by all Citizens 
Broadband Service Devices within 40km of the earth station shall not 
exceed a median RMS value of -129 dBm/MHz. See 47 CFR 96.17.
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    154. Coexistence with Citizens Broadband Radio Service Operations 
in the 3550-3700 MHz Band.--The Commission seeks comment on the 
compatibility between Citizens Broadband Radio Service and MBX systems, 
including the suitability of the out of band emission limit proposed 
above.\20\ One concern about deploying a robust mobile broadband 
service adjacent to the Citizens Broadband Radio Service arises from 
the relatively higher power limits proposed above. One possibility for 
preventing interference between the services would be to impose 
adjacent channel power limits that could limit the differential between 
power levels for adjacent stations operating in the same area. Such a 
limit would be specified as a ratio between the total power in the 
channels immediately adjacent to an MBX-spectrum station to the total 
power in the MBX-spectrum station's emission bandwidth. Should the 
Commission specify such a ratio for MBX-spectrum devices, and if so, 
what limit would be appropriate?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \20\ In the Citizens Broadband Radio Service, the Commission has 
adopted out-of-channel emission limits of -13 dBm/MHz starting at 
the channel edges and -25 dBm/MHz beyond 10 megahertz of the channel 
edges. Additionally, the Commission adopted an out of band emission 
limit of -40 dBm/MHz beyond 20 megahertz of the 3.5 GHz band edges. 
47 CFR 96.41(e). The Commission is currently considering proposals 
to change the emission limits based on claims that more relaxed 
limits are necessary to facilitate wider channels in the 3.5 GHz 
band. See Promoting Investment in the 3550-3700 MHz Band, Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking and Order Terminating Petitions, 32 FCC Rcd 
8071, 8089-8092 paragraph. 50 through 58 (2017).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    155. Field Strength Limit and Market Boundaries.--If the Commission 
ultimately decide to license the MBX spectrum based on geographic 
service areas that are less than nationwide, the Commission will have 
to ensure that such licensees do not cause interference to co-channel 
systems operating along common geographic borders. The current rules 
for AWS-1, AWS-3 and AWS-4 address the possibility of harmful co-
channel interference between geographically adjacent licenses by 
setting a field strength limit from base stations of 47 dB[mu]V/m at 
the edge of the license area. In the 600 MHz band, the Commission 
adopted a field strength limit of 40 dB[mu]V/m. In the UMFUS rules, the 
Commission adopted a limit of -76 dBm/m\2\/MHz at a height of 1.5 
meters above ground at the border of a licensee's service area.
    156. The 47 dB[micro]V/m limit that has been used in the AWS rules 
was developed at a time when signal bandwidths were much smaller than 
are likely to be used in the MBX spectrum. Furthermore, the 47 
dB[micro]V/m limit did not have an associated bandwidth. In the H Block 
proceeding, Sprint requested that the Commission modify the boundary 
limit to set a reference measurement bandwidth of 1 MHz, with the aim 
of limiting boundary power density to the equivalent of that first 
applied to PCS systems in 1993. At that time, operators were deploying 
mostly Digital AMPS, PCS1900 and CDMA technologies, which had channel 
bandwidths of 30 kHz, 200 kHz and 1.25 MHz, respectively. Sprint claims 
that because today's LTE transmissions operate on much wider bandwidths 
up to 20 MHz, a 47 dB[micro]V/m limit measured over the full channel 
bandwidth will effectively result in a comparatively lower power level. 
Sprint proposed to adjust the field strength limit from 47 dB[micro]V/m 
to 62 dB[micro]V/m per MHz. Verizon has made a similar claim in the 
Incentive Auctions proceeding, proposing a field strength limit of 50 
dB[micro]V/m per MHz.
    157. The Commission agrees with Sprint and Verizon that the market 
boundary limit should be related to the signal bandwidth. The 
Commission proposes to adopt the same -76 dBm/m\2\/MHz power flux 
density limit at the service area boundaries as is used for the UMFUS 
rules. This UMFUS limit was calculated based on an interference 
criterion of 0 dB I/N and made assumptions about a typical antenna 
gain. The Commission seeks comment on whether the interference 
criterion and technical assumptions are appropriate
    158. Finally, the Commission proposes that adjacent affected area 
licensees may voluntarily agree upon higher field strength boundary 
levels. This concept is already codified in the field strength rules 
for both PCS and AWS services, as Sprint acknowledges. Accordingly, to 
maintain consistency with the PCS and other AWS bands, the Commission 
proposes to permit adjacent area licensees to agree to a higher field 
strength limit
    159. Antenna Height Limits.--The Commission proposes, as discussed 
below, that the flexible antenna height rules that apply to AWS-1 and 
AWS-3 should generally also apply to MBX spectrum. Specific antenna 
height restrictions for AWS-1 and AWS-3 base stations are not set forth 
in part 27 of the Commission rules. However, all part 27 services are 
subject to Sec.  27.56, which bans antenna heights that would be a 
hazard to air navigation. Furthermore, the limitations of field 
strength at the geographical boundary of the license discussed above 
also effectively limit antenna heights. The Commission similarly 
proposes that no unique antenna height limits are needed for MBX-
spectrum facilities; rather, the Commission believes that the general 
height restrictions are sufficient. The Commission seeks comment on 
this proposal, including the costs and benefits of the proposal and any 
alternatives. The Commission does not propose a height limit for fixed 
stations in the MBX spectrum. Although fixed stations were limited to 
10 meters above ground in the AWS-1 band and were prohibited in the 
AWS-3 band. There are no antenna height limits for fixed stations in 
the AWS-4 band, since, unlike the former, it is not directly adjacent 
to certain Federal incumbents. Using this same reasoning, the 
Commission proposes no antenna height limits for fixed operation in the 
MBX spectrum. The Commission seeks comment on this proposal and request 
technical support for any alternative proposals.
    160. Canadian and Mexican Coordination.--Section 27.57(c) of the 
Commission's rules provide that several AWS services, including WCS, 
AWS-1, AWS-3, AWS-4 and the H Block, are subject to international 
agreements with Mexico and Canada. The Commission proposes to apply the 
same limitation to the new MBX spectrum. Until such time as any 
adjusted agreements between the United States, Mexico, and/or Canada 
can be agreed to, operations must not cause harmful interference across 
the border, consistent with the terms of the agreements currently in 
force. The Commission notes that further modification (of the proposed 
or final rules) might be necessary in order to comply with any future 
agreements with Canada and Mexico regarding the use of these bands. The 
Commission seeks comment on this issue, including the costs and 
benefits of alternative approaches to this issue.
    161. General Part 27 Rules--There are several additional technical 
rules applicable to all Part 27 services, including Sec. Sec.  27.51 
Equipment authorization, 27.52 RF safety, 27.54 Frequency stability, 
27.56 Antennas structures; air navigation safety, and 27.63 Disturbance 
of AM broadcast station antenna patterns. As operations in the MBX 
spectrum will be a Part 27 service, the Commission proposes that all of 
these general Part 27 rules should

[[Page 44154]]

apply to all MBX-spectrum licensees, including licensees who acquire 
their licenses through partitioning or disaggregation (to the extent 
the rules permit such aggregation). The Commission seeks comment on 
this approach, including its costs and benefits.

IV. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    162. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as 
amended (RFA), the Commission has prepared this Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact 
on a substantial number of small entities by the policies and rules 
proposed in this NPRM. The text of the IRFA is set forth in Appendix B 
of the NPRM. Written comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must 
be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the 
deadlines for comments on the NPRM. The Commission will send a copy of 
the NPRM, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the 
Small Business Administration (SBA). In addition, the NPRM and IRFA (or 
summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.

A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

    163. The NPRM seeks comment and makes proposals on a range of 
potential opportunities for more intensive fixed or flexible uses--
particularly for wireless broadband services--in 500 megahertz of mid-
band spectrum between 3.7-4.2 GHz (the band). In doing so, the NPRM 
proposes to add a mobile, except aeronautical mobile, allocation to the 
band and seeks comment on transitioning all or part of the band to 
terrestrial wireless broadband services. The actions are another step 
in the Commissions efforts to close the digital divide by providing 
wireless broadband connectivity across the nation and to secure U.S. 
leadership in the next generation of wireless services, including 
fifth-generation (5G) wireless, Internet of Things (IoT), and other 
advanced spectrum-based services.
    164. In this proceeding, the Commission is pursuing the joint goals 
of making spectrum available for new wireless uses while effectively 
accommodating incumbent Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) and Fixed Service 
(FS) operations in the band. The NPRM seeks comment on various 
proposals for transitioning all or part of the band for flexible use. 
The NPRM also proposes and seeks comment on revisions to Parts 25 and 
101 of the Commission's rules to promote more intensive fixed use of 
the band. Additionally, as part of the Commission's proposal to add a 
mobile, except aeronautical mobile, allocation, and to develop rules 
that would enable the band to be transitioned for more intensive fixed 
and flexible uses, the Commission encourages commenters to discuss and 
quantify the costs and benefits associated with any proposed approach 
along with other helpful technical or procedural details.
    165. The 3.7-4.2 GHz band is currently allocated in the United 
States exclusively for non-federal use on a primary basis for the FSS 
(space-to-Earth) and the FS. For FSS, the 3.7-4.2 GHz band (space-to-
Earth or downlink) is paired with the 5.925-6.425 GHz band (Earth-to-
space or uplink), and collectively these bands are known as the 
``conventional C-band.'' Domestically, satellite operators use this 
band to provide downlink signals of various bandwidths to licensed 
transmit receive, registered receive-only, and unregistered receive-
only earth stations throughout the United States. Geostationary orbit 
(GSO) FSS satellites operating in the C-band typically have 24 
transponders, each with a bandwidth of 36 megahertz received by one or 
more earth stations. Predominant GSO FSS uses include delivery of 
programming content to television and radio broadcasters, including 
transportable antennas used to cover live news and sports events, cable 
television and small master antenna systems, as well as the backhaul of 
telephone and data traffic. The band is also used for reception of 
telemetry signals transmitted by satellites, typically near 3.7 or 4.2 
GHz.
    166. Mid-band spectrum, in conjunction with lower and higher bands, 
is well suited for next generation wireless broadband services due to 
the combination of favorable propagation characteristics (as comparted 
to bands above 24 GHz) and the opportunity for additional channel re-
use (as compared to bands below 3.7 GHz). With the ever-increasing 
demand for more data on mobile networks, wireless network operators 
have increasingly focused on providing more data capacity rather than 
providing coverage over large areas from individual base stations. One 
technique for providing increased capacity is to use smaller cell 
sizes--i.e., have each base station provide coverage over a smaller 
area. Using higher frequencies can be advantageous for deploying a 
higher density of base stations. The decreased propagation distances at 
higher frequencies reduces the interference between base stations using 
the same frequency, thereby allowing base stations to be more densely 
packed and increasing the overall system capacity. Therefore, mid-band 
spectrum presents wireless providers with the opportunity to deploy 
base stations using smaller cells to get higher spectrum reuse than the 
lower frequency bands while still providing indoor coverage. Relative 
to higher bands, mid-band spectrum also offers favorable propagation 
characteristics for fixed wireless broadband services in less densely 
populated areas.
    167. In the NPRM the Commission proposes to add a non-federal 
mobile, except aeronautical mobile, service allocation to the 3.7-4.2 
GHz band, and based on the Commission's conclusion that co-channel 
sharing is not feasible, the Commission seeks comment on several 
proposals to clear all or part of the band for flexible use. Because 
the NPRM seeks comment on several alternate approaches for making 
portions of the band available for flexible use, the appropriate 
operational and technical restrictions on terrestrial and FSS use of 
the band will depend on the selected mechanism for expanding flexible 
use in the band. Specifically, the NPRM seeks comment on three 
potential mechanisms for expanding flexible use in the 3.7-4.2 GHz 
band: (1) A market-based mechanism, (2) auctions mechanisms, and (3) 
alternative mechanisms. In pursuing the Commission's goal of creating 
additional opportunities for wireless broadband in mid-band spectrum, 
under each approach, the Commission seeks to balance incumbent 
interests, speed to market, and efficiency of use.

B. Legal Basis

    168. The proposed action is taken pursuant to sections 1, 2, 3, 
4(i), 7, 201, 301, 302, 303, 304, 307, 308, 309, and 310 of the 
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 153, 
154(i), 157, 201, 301, 302, 303, 304, 307, 308, 309, 310, and section 
706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 1302.

C. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities To Which 
the Proposed Rules Will Apply

    169. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of--and 
where feasible, an estimate of--the number of small entities that may 
be affected by the rules, if adopted. The RFA generally defines the 
term ``small entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms ``small 
business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small governmental 
jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ``small business'' has the same 
meaning as the term

[[Page 44155]]

``small business concern'' under the Small Business Act. A small 
business concern is one that: (1) Is independently owned and operated; 
(2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any 
additional criteria established by the SBA.
    170. Small Businesses, Small Organizations, and Small Governmental 
Jurisdictions. The Commission's action may, over time, affect small 
entities that are not easily categorized at present. The Commission 
therefore describes here, at the outset, three broad groups of small 
entities that could be directly affected herein. First, while there are 
industry specific size standards for small businesses that are used in 
the regulatory flexibility analysis, according to data from the SBA's 
Office of Advocacy, in general a small business is an independent 
business having fewer than 500 employees. These types of small 
businesses represent 99.9 percent of all businesses in the United 
States, which translates to 28.8 million businesses.
    171. Next, the type of small entity described as a ``small 
organization'' is generally ``any not-for-profit enterprise which is 
independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.'' 
Nationwide, as of August 2016, there were approximately 356,494 small 
organizations based on registration and tax data filed by nonprofits 
with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
    172. Finally, the small entity described as a ``small governmental 
jurisdiction'' is defined generally as ``governments of cities, 
counties, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special 
districts, with a population of less than fifty thousand.'' U.S. Census 
Bureau data from the 2012 Census of Governments indicate that there 
were 90,056 local governmental jurisdictions consisting of general 
purpose governments and special purpose governments in the United 
States. Of this number there were 37,132 General purpose governments 
(county, municipal and town or township) with populations of less than 
50,000 and 12,184 Special purpose governments (independent school 
districts and special districts) with populations of less than 50,000. 
The 2012 U.S. Census Bureau data for most types of governments in the 
local government category show that the majority of these governments 
have populations of less than 50,000. Based on this data we estimate 
that at least 49,316 local government jurisdictions fall in the 
category of ``small governmental jurisdictions.''
    173. Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite). This 
industry comprises establishments engaged in operating and maintaining 
switching and transmission facilities to provide communications via the 
airwaves. Establishments in this industry have spectrum licenses and 
provide services using that spectrum, such as cellular services, paging 
services, wireless internet access, and wireless video services. The 
appropriate size standard under SBA rules is that such a business is 
small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. For this industry, U.S. 
Census data for 2012 show that there were 967 firms that operated for 
the entire year. Of this total, 955 firms had employment of 999 or 
fewer employees and 12 had employment of 1000 employees or more. Thus 
under this category and the associated size standard, the Commission 
estimates that the majority of wireless telecommunications carriers 
(except satellite) are small entities.
    174. Satellite Telecommunications. This category comprises firms 
``primarily engaged in providing telecommunications services to other 
establishments in the telecommunications and broadcasting industries by 
forwarding and receiving communications signals via a system of 
satellites or reselling satellite telecommunications.'' Satellite 
telecommunications service providers include satellite and earth 
station operators. The category has a small business size standard of 
$32.5 million or less in average annual receipts, under SBA rules. For 
this category, U.S. Census Bureau data for 2012 show that there were a 
total of 333 firms that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 
299 firms had annual receipts of less than $25 million. Consequently, 
the Commission estimates that the majority of satellite 
telecommunications providers are small entities.

D. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements for Small Entities

    175. The potential rule changes proposed in this NPRM, if adopted, 
could impose some new reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance 
requirements on some small entities. In addition to the proposed rule 
changes associated with the proposed mechanisms for expanding flexible 
use in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, there could be new service rule compliance 
obligations. For new licensed flexible uses in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, 
the NPRM seeks comment on various service rules that should apply, 
including construction benchmarks and technical operating requirements. 
In the event the Commission adopts the proposed service rules and 
issues licenses for flexible use in the band, any small entity licensee 
would be required to satisfy construction requirements, and comply with 
limits on power, out of band emissions, field strength, antenna height, 
and other existing coordination requirements. Licensees would be 
responsible for making certain construction demonstrations with the 
Commission through the Universal Licensing System showing that they 
have satisfied the relevant construction benchmarks.
    176. The projected reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance 
requirements proposed in the NPRM will apply to all entities in the 
same manner. The Commission believes that applying the same rules 
equally to all entities in this context promotes fairness. The 
revisions the Commission may ultimately adopt however, should benefit 
small entities by giving them more information about opportunities in 
the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, more flexibility to provide a wider range of 
services, and more options for gaining access to wireless spectrum.
    177. Application/Petition Freeze & Part 25 and 101 Modifications. 
Applications for new or modified earth stations, applications for new 
or modified fixed microwave stations, and applications for new space 
stations operating in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band were previously frozen by 
the International, Wireless Telecommunications, and Public Safety and 
Homeland Security Bureaus.\21\ The Bureaus took these actions to 
preserve the current landscape of authorized operations while the 
Commission proceeded with an ongoing inquiry into the possibility of 
permitting mobile broadband use and more intensive fixed use of the 
band in this proceeding. To reexamine the existing full-band, full-arc 
coordination policy, the NPRM proposes to revise the Commission's rules 
to bar new applications for space station licenses

[[Page 44156]]

and new petitions for market access concerning space-to-Earth 
operations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. Additionally, the NPRM seeks 
comment on modifying the Commission's part 25 rules to require 
operators of licensed or registered FSS earth stations receiving in the 
3.7-4.2 GHz band to coordinate only the specific combinations of 
frequency, azimuth, and elevation angle that they regularly use and 
that such technical information be reflected on each earth station 
application and authorization. The NPRM seeks comment on whether this 
information should form the basis for protection from terrestrial 
stations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \21\ On April 19, 2018, the staff froze applications for new or 
modified fixed microwave stations and earth stations in the 3.7-4.2 
GHz band to preserve the current landscape of authorized operations 
pending action as part of the Commission's ongoing inquiry into the 
possibility of permitting mobile broadband use and more intensive 
fixed use of the band through this proceeding. To provide the 
Commission and commenters with more accurate information about 
existing earth stations, however, the International Bureau, as a 
limited exception to the freeze, concurrently opened a 90-day window 
during which entities that own or operate existing FSS earth 
stations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band could file an application to 
register or license the earth station, or file an application to 
modify an existing registration or license. On June 21, 2018, the 
International Bureau extended this filing-window for an additional 
90 days until October 17, 2018, and also imposed a freeze on new 
space stations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    178. The NPRM further proposes to update IBFS to remove 3.7-4.2 GHz 
band earth station licenses or registrations for which the licensee or 
registrant does not file the certifications required in the Order (to 
the extent they registered before April 19, 2018) and, more 
specifically, proposes that an earth station licensed or registered in 
IBFS be automatically terminated unless the licensee or registrant 
timely files the certification required by the Order. The NPRM seeks 
comment on revising the part 25 rules to limit eligibility to file 
applications for earth station licenses or registrations to incumbent 
earth stations, including comments on the relative costs and benefits 
of such a restriction.
    179. The NPRM proposes to define incumbent earth stations as only 
those earth stations that (1) were operational as of April 19, 2018, 
(2) are licensed or registered in IBFS, or had a pending application 
for license or registration as of October 17, 2018, and (3) the 
licensee/registrant timely filed the certification required by the 
Order. The Commission further proposes that unregistered FSS earth 
stations lawfully receiving transmissions could continue to operate on 
an unprotected basis. The Commission seeks comment on whether 
incumbents that are small entities face any special or unique issues 
with respect to the transition such that they should be defined 
differently or have different obligations.
    180. Because the Commission's consideration of some transition 
options may benefit from additional, more granular information on FSS 
earth station and space station operations in the band, the NPRM seeks 
comment on whether to seek additional information from FSS earth 
station or space station operators,\22\ including information on 
transponder use, satellite points of communication, and other technical 
and operational data that would provide a more detailed picture of the 
actual usage of the band. The Commission also seeks comment on whether 
small entities face any special or unique issues with respect to 
proposed information collections such that they would require certain 
accommodations or additional time to comply. Commenters have been asked 
to describe, with specificity, how any additional information 
collection would support a given transition proposal and should provide 
a detailed assessment of the costs and benefits of such additional 
collections.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \22\ In the Order, the Commission directed temporary fixed or 
transportable FSS earth station operators and FSS space station 
operators in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band to provide certain information on 
their current operations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    181. Comments have also been sought by the Commission on amending 
Sec.  101.101 of the Commission's rules to permit point-to-multipoint 
FS broadband service in a portion of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. In order to 
accommodate point-to-multipoint operations, the NPRM seeks comment on 
several amendments that may be necessary to part 25 and part 101 of the 
Commission's rules that currently apply to FS. The part 25 and 101 
rules that would apply to point-to-multipoint FS operators would 
include regulatory requirements and restrictions including power 
limits, frequency coordination, and potential construction 
requirements. The NPRM also seeks comment on the appropriate channel 
plan, power limits, service areas, antenna standards, and construction 
requirements for point-to-multipoint operations in the band. Further, 
the NPRM seeks comment on any necessary technical requirements for 
frequency coordination between point-to-multipoint FS applicants and 
licensees and other operators in the band, including equipment 
authorizations for client devices that may be operated by persons other 
than those duly authorized by the licensee. The NPRM also seeks comment 
on whether to sunset the existing point-to-point FS operations in the 
band.
    182. Transitioning Mechanisms. The transition to more intensive 
fixed and flexible use in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band will require Commission 
action to clear existing incumbent users from the band. The NPRM 
discusses various mechanisms for clearing incumbent users from the 
band. Each of these potential mechanisms for transitioning the band to 
flexible use--(1) a market-based mechanism, (2) auctions mechanisms, 
(3) alternative mechanisms--would require small entities that are 
incumbent operators in the band to participate in some sort of 
negotiation and agreement (either through the secondary market or 
through a Commission-administered auction) to reassign their spectrum 
access rights. Incumbents operating in the spectrum designated for new 
licensed flexible use would further be required to relocate their 
operations to different bands, potentially requiring reconfiguration or 
replacement of their existing facilities. However, once relocated, such 
operators and licensees would remain subject to the same Commission 
rules and obligations under which they are already operating.
    183. In light of the differing approaches to transitioning the band 
to flexible use and the obligations that would result, the NPRM seeks 
comment from the parties on each mechanism. Specifically, for the 
market-based mechanism, the NPRM seeks comment on whether the 
Commission should adopt rules that would enable a market-based 
mechanism to the clearing of incumbents from some or all of the 3.7-4.2 
GHz band, introducing flexible use in the band or encouraging more 
intensive fixed use while simultaneously protecting critical services 
offered by incumbents (i.e., FSS space stations, FSS earth stations, FS 
licensees). Under such an approach, the Commission would seek to 
encourage incumbent FSS operators to voluntarily clear the spectrum. 
Satellite operators in the band could choose to make some or all of 
their spectrum available to terrestrial operators on the secondary 
market. In return, terrestrial operators would compensate affected 
incumbents. A secondary market approach could make spectrum available 
more quickly than other available mechanisms, such as an auction, and 
thus could facilitate rapid deployment of next generation wireless 
broadband networks. Moreover, such an approach could leverage the 
technical and operational knowledge of satellite space station 
operators while relying on market incentives to promote economic 
efficiency. The NPRM seeks comment on whether a market-based mechanism 
could effectively and rapidly facilitate new terrestrial deployments in 
the band.
    184. More specifically, the NPRM states that a transition under a 
market-based mechanism could be undertaken in a four-step process. The 
first step would involve the industry voluntarily forming a Transition 
Facilitator composed of eligible C-band satellite operators. In the 
second step, the Transition Facilitator would negotiate with any 
interested terrestrial operators and incumbent users. In the third 
step, the Commission would review the Transition Facilitator's plan and 
conditionally authorize terrestrial licenses in the band. And in step 
four, the Transition Facilitator would clear

[[Page 44157]]

the negotiated-for spectrum, making it available for flexible use while 
protecting incumbent earth stations through a variety of potential 
means. The NPRM notes as well that a market-based process need not be a 
one-time event--a Transition Facilitator could negotiate with parties 
for compensation and protection, seek Commission review and conditional 
authorization, and clear new spectrum multiple times to ensure the 
total spectrum dedicated to flexible use meets market demands.
    185. For auctions as a transition mechanism, the NPRM seeks comment 
on approaches using the Commission's general auction authority to 
introduce flexible use in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. Incentive auctions 
provide the Commission with new tools to make additional spectrum 
available for broadband. Incentive auctions are a voluntary, market-
based means of repurposing spectrum by encouraging licensees to compete 
to voluntarily relinquish spectrum usage rights in exchange for a share 
of the proceeds from an auction of new licenses to use the repurposed 
spectrum. The NPRM therefore seeks comment on whether an incentive 
auction could work in the context of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band.
    186. Recognizing that the band's incumbent structure presents 
unique issues distinct from those present in the broadcast incentive 
auction, the NPRM seeks comment on possible approaches to inducing 
satellite incumbents to reveal the least amount they must be paid to 
relinquish any given amount of spectrum. The NPRM also seeks comment on 
whether the Commission should accept applications for overlay 
licenses--assigned by competitive bidding if mutually exclusive 
applications for it were accepted--that would permit the overlay 
licensees to negotiate with incumbent licensees to clear all or part of 
the band and then transfer flexible use licenses in the secondary 
market. An overlay license authorizes operation for an entire 
geographic area but requires the licensee to protect existing 
incumbents from interference indefinitely, i.e., until the rights are 
relinquished. The NPRM seeks comment on whether assigning overlay 
licenses in the band would expedite flexible use of more of the band 
compared with other approaches. Under this approach, the overlay 
licensee would have the right to flexible use of any spectrum that 
becomes available as a result of incumbents' relinquishing their 
spectrum usage rights. The NPRM seeks comment on how other parties that 
would be affected by repurposing 3.7-4.2 GHz band spectrum should be 
treated, and whether the overlay licensee or the satellite incumbents 
relinquishing spectrum should be required to provide incumbent earth 
station operators comparable replacement facilities or media.
    187. With the auctions mechanism, the NPRM further seeks comment, 
as an alternative to paying satellite incumbents to relinquish spectrum 
usage rights, on conducting a reverse auction for satellite transponder 
capacity that could be used to replace lost C-band transponder capacity 
resulting from reallocating C-band spectrum to flexible use. Under this 
approach, an individual bidder in the reverse auction could contribute 
towards clearing spectrum. Potential bidders could be any FCC licensee 
that could make transponder capacity available in either C-band or Ku-
band. Satellite bidders could offer capacity created by launching new 
satellites in vacant orbital slots and by relinquishing existing 
capacity. Satellite customers can offer capacity made available by 
substituting services (e.g. fiber) to fulfill their capacity needs, 
reducing the amount or quality of programming distributed, or using 
greater compression to reduce the capacity required to carry a given 
amount of programming or data. C-band transponder capacity that is lost 
due to the reduced amount of available spectrum and that was not 
relinquished in the reverse auction by C-band satellite operators, 
could be repacked onto replacement capacity for the life of those lost 
transponders. This would compensate C-band licensees for their lost 
capital investments, but not for the loss of their spectrum. The NPRM 
seeks comment on whether under this approach such additional 
compensation for the loss of spectrum should be accomplished by 
extending the length of time free replacement capacity is offered or by 
some other means, e.g., a financial payment.
    188. As another possible transition mechanism, the NPRM seeks 
comment on approaches that combine various elements of the mechanisms 
discussed above, as well as other mechanisms for transitioning all or 
part of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band for wireless broadband use. For example, 
the NPRM seeks comment on a hybrid approach under which the Commission 
would auction a majority of the band under traditional mechanisms and 
grant FSS operators flexible use authority (i.e., allowing them to use 
a market-based approach) for the rest of the band so long as they 
timely clear the auctioned portion. The NPRM asks whether the 
Commission could use this approach or another combination of approaches 
to strike a balance between incumbent and new entrant interests and, if 
so, how much of the band should be cleared under a traditional 
mechanism and how much could be left for FSS space station operators to 
clear under a market approach. The NPRM seeks comment on how the 
Commission can ensure the band is transitioned in a timely manner and 
whether a backstop mechanism should be triggered by a FSS operator's 
failure to clear the band in a timely manner. The NPRM asks commenters 
to provide data on the costs and benefits associated with any 
alternative mechanism over other possible or suggested methods.
    189. Recognizing that the transition to flexible use licenses in 
the 3.7-4.2 GHz band will be complicated logistically and needs to be 
carried out promptly in order to get the repurposed spectrum into the 
hands of flexible use licensees to address spectrum needs, the NPRM 
seeks comment on a range of transition issues applicable to each of the 
alternative mechanisms for expanding flexible use discussed above. The 
NPRM seeks comment on reasonable deadlines for implementation of each 
mechanism, or other approaches suggested by commenters, including 
deadlines for incumbents to cease transmitting on a primary basis in 
the portion of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band that becomes available for flexible 
use. The NPRM seeks comment on how to define the appropriate class of 
incumbents for protection and possible reimbursement purposes and the 
relative obligations and/or rights that each category of incumbents may 
have under each mechanism. Further, the NPRM seeks comment on what 
requirements and safeguards the Commission should adopt to ensure the 
timely and complete transition of all required incumbents pursuant to 
each mechanism for expanding flexible use in the band. Such 
requirements and safeguards could include, among others: Requiring all 
parties act in good faith; adopting a definition of comparable 
facilities; adopting financial or regulatory protections that can 
ensure that all transition obligations are satisfied in the event of 
bankruptcy or other events; and any technical rules that the Commission 
needs to adopt to apply specifically during the transition. Finally, 
the NPRM seeks comment on whether the Commission should seek additional 
information from FSS earth station and space station operators in the 
3.7-4.2 GHz band that would provide additional clarity on the actual 
usage and availability of spectrum in the band.
    190. Assuming that the Commission ultimately decides to add a 
mobile,

[[Page 44158]]

except aeronautical mobile, allocation and make some or all of the 3.7-
4.2 GHz band available for flexible use, the NPRM proposes and seeks 
comment on band plans, licensing and operating, and technical rules for 
the 3.7-4.2 GHz band spectrum that becomes available for terrestrial 
mobile and fixed flexible use. The NPRM proposes to license this 
spectrum under the Commission's flexible use, part 27 rules that permit 
licensees to provide any fixed or mobile service consistent with the 
allocations for this spectrum, subject to rules necessary to prevent or 
minimize harmful interference.
    191. Band Plan(s). The NPRM seeks comment on whether to license 
according to part 27 nationwide or only in the contiguous 48 states and 
whether there are issues unique to any of the areas outside of the 
contiguous 48 that would make it impractical to transition all or part 
of the band to flexible use. The NPRM seeks comment on appropriate 
block size(s) to promote efficient and robust use of the band for next 
generation wireless technologies, including 5G. Recognizing that the 
3.7-4.2 GHz spectrum that becomes available for flexible use could be 
configured in any number of paired or unpaired modes, the NPRM seeks 
comment on a range of options for paired and/or unpaired blocks and the 
costs and benefits of particular approaches. Finally, consistent with 
the Commission's approach in several other bands used to provide fixed 
and mobile services, the NPRM proposes to license the 3.7-4.2 GHz Mid-
Band Flexible Use (MBX) spectrum on an exclusive, geographic area 
basis. The NPRM seeks comment on an appropriate geographic license area 
size(s) for this band and asks commenters to discuss and quantify the 
economic, technical, and other public interest considerations of 
licensing on a PEA, county, nationwide, or other basis.
    192. Licensing and Operating Rules. In order to afford licensees 
the flexibility to align licenses in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band with licenses 
in other spectrum bands governed by part 27 of the Commission's rules, 
the NPRM proposes that licensees in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band comply with 
licensing and operating rules that are applicable to all part 27 
services, including assignment of licenses by competitive bidding, 
flexible use, regulatory status, foreign ownership reporting, 
compliance with construction requirements, renewal criteria, permanent 
discontinuance of operations, partitioning and disaggregation, and 
spectrum leasing, and seeks comment on this approach. The NPRM also 
proposes an open eligibility standard for licenses in the 3.7-4.2 GHz 
band and seeks comments on the proposal that should include a 
discussion of the costs and benefits of the open eligibility proposal 
on competition, innovation, and investment. The adoption of an open 
eligibility approach would not affect citizenship, character, or other 
generally applicable qualifications that may apply under the 
Commission's rules. The NPRM further seeks comment on a 15-year term 
for licenses in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. Finally, in the event that the 
Commission assigns licenses for the 3.7-4.2 GHz band through 
competitive bidding, the Commission proposes to exclude from 
eligibility a person who has been, for reasons of national security, 
barred by any agency of the Federal Government from bidding on a 
contract, participating in an auction, or receiving a grant.
    193. Regarding mobile spectrum holding policies, the Commission 
proposes not to adopt a pre-auction bright-line limit on the ability of 
any entity to acquire spectrum in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band through 
competitive bidding at auction similar to the Commission's approach in 
the 2017 Spectrum Frontiers Order and FNPRM. Additionally, if an 
auction is chosen as the mechanism to transition to flexible uses in 
the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, the Commission proposes to review holdings on a 
case-by-case basis when applications for initial licenses are filed 
post-auction to ensure that the public interest benefits of having a 
threshold on spectrum applicable to secondary market transactions are 
not rendered ineffective.
    194. Performance Requirements. The NPRM seeks comment on requiring 
a 3.7-4.2 GHz band licensee, relying on mobile or point-to-multipoint 
service in accordance with the Commission's part 27 rules, to provide 
reliable signal coverage and offer service to at least forty-five (45) 
percent of the population in each of its license areas within six years 
of the license issue date (first performance benchmark), and to at 
least eighty (80) percent of the population in each of its license 
areas within 12 years from the license issue date (second performance 
benchmark). For licensees relying on point-to-point service, the NPRM 
seeks comment on requiring them to demonstrate within six years of the 
license issue date (first performance benchmark) that they have four 
links operating and providing service, either to customers or for 
internal use, if the population within the license area is equal to or 
less than 268,000. If the population within the license area is greater 
than 268,000, the NPRM seeks comment on requiring a licensee relying on 
point-to-point service to demonstrate it has at least one link in 
operation and providing service per every 67,000 persons within a 
license area. Further, the NPRM seeks comment on requiring licensees 
relying on point-to-point service to demonstrate within 12 years of the 
license issue date (final performance benchmark) that they have eight 
links operating and providing service, either to customers or for 
internal use, if the population within the license area is equal to or 
less than 268,000. If the population within the license area is greater 
than 268,000, the NPRM seeks comment on requiring a licensee relying on 
point-to-point service to demonstrate it is providing service and has 
at least two links in operation per every 67,000 persons within a 
license area.
    195. While the NPRM seeks comment on performance benchmarks based 
on population coverage applicable for a range of fixed and mobile 
services, the NPRM recognizes that 3.7-4.2 GHz licenses have 
flexibility to provide services potentially less suited to a population 
coverage metric. In particular, licensees providing Internet of Things-
type fixed and mobile services may benefit from an alternative 
performance benchmark metric, and the NPRM seeks comment on the 
appropriate metric to accommodate such service offerings.
    196. Along with performance benchmarks, the NPRM seeks comment on 
which penalties will most effectively ensure timely build-out. 
Specifically, the NPRM states that, in the event a 3.7-4.2 GHz licensee 
fails to meet the first performance benchmark, the licensee's second 
benchmark and license term would be reduced by two years, thereby 
requiring it to meet the second performance benchmark two years sooner 
(at 10 years into the license term) and reducing its license term to 13 
years. The NPRM proposes that, in the event a 3.7-4.2 GHz licensee 
fails to meet the second performance benchmark for a particular license 
area, its authorization for each license area in which it fails to meet 
the performance requirement shall terminate automatically without 
Commission action. Additionally, the Commission also proposes that, in 
the event a licensee's authority to operate terminates, the licensee's 
spectrum rights would become available for reassignment pursuant to the 
competitive bidding provisions of Sec.  309(j). Further, consistent 
with the Commission's rules for other licenses, including AWS-1, AWS-3, 
AWS-4, and H Block, the NPRM proposes that any

[[Page 44159]]

3.7-4.2 GHz licensee who forfeits its license for failure to meet its 
performance requirements would be precluded from regaining the license.
    197. Compliance Procedures. In addition to compliance procedures 
applicable to all part 27 licensees, including the filing of electronic 
coverage maps and supporting documentation, the NPRM proposes that such 
electronic coverage maps must accurately depict the boundaries of each 
license area in the licensee's service territory. If a licensee does 
not provide reliable signal coverage to an entire license area, the 
NPRM proposes that its map must accurately depict the boundaries of the 
area or areas within each license area not being served. Further, the 
NPRM proposes that each licensee also must file supporting 
documentation certifying the type of service it is providing for each 
licensed area within its service territory and the type of technology 
used to provide such service. Supporting documentation must include the 
assumptions used to create the coverage maps, including the propagation 
model and the signal strength necessary to provide reliable service 
with the licensee's technology. The Commission seeks comment on these 
proposals. The Commission also seeks comment on whether small entities 
face any special or unique issues with respect to the transition such 
that they would require additional time to comply.
    198. Renewal Term Construction Obligations. The WRS Renewal Reform 
FNPRM proposed to apply rules adopted in that proceeding to all 
flexible geographic licenses. Given the proposal to license this band 
on a geographic basis for flexible use, any additional renewal term 
construction obligations proposed in the WRS Renewal Reform FNPRM also 
would apply to licenses in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. Accordingly, the NPRM 
seeks comment on whether there are unique characteristics of the 3.7-
4.2 GHz band that might require a different approach than the various 
proposals raised by the WRS Renewal Reform FNPRM.
    199. Competitive Bidding Procedures. Consistent with the 
competitive bidding procedures the Commission has used in previous 
auctions, the NPRM proposes that the Commission would conduct any 
auction for licenses for spectrum in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band in conformity 
with the general competitive bidding rules set forth in part 1, Subpart 
Q, of the Commission's rules. Specifically, the NPRM proposes to employ 
the part 1 rules governing competitive bidding design, designated 
entity preferences, unjust enrichment, application and certification 
procedures, payment procedures, reporting requirements, and the 
prohibition on certain communications between auction applicants. Under 
this proposal, such rules would be subject to any modifications that 
the Commission may adopt for its part 1 general competitive bidding 
rules in the future. The NPRM seeks comment on whether any of the 
Commission's part 1 rules would be inappropriate or should be modified 
for an auction of licenses in this frequency band. In particular, the 
NPRM seeks comment on the following proposals for bidding credits for 
designated entities in this band. As with other flexible use licenses 
in recent years, the NPRM proposes to adopt in this band, bidding 
credits for the two larger designated entity business sizes provided in 
the part 1 rules. The NPRM also proposes to offer rural service 
providers a designated entity bidding credit for licenses in this band. 
The NPRM asks commenters addressing these proposals to consider what 
details of licenses in the band may affect whether designated entities 
will apply for them.
    200. Technical Rules. Consistent with existing rules for other 
advanced wireless services, the NPRM proposes power limits for fixed 
and base stations of 1640 watts EIRP for emission bandwidths less than 
one megahertz and to 1640 watts per MHz EIRP for emission bandwidths 
greater than one megahertz. For mobiles and portables in the 3.7-4.2 
GHz band, the NPRM proposes to limit the power to 1 Watt (30 dBm). The 
NPRM also proposes that the power limit measurement methodology be 
based on the average power measurement and seeks comment on this 
proposal. Additionally, the NPRM proposes that mobile and portable 
stations operating in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band must employ a means for 
limiting power to the minimum necessary for successful communications.
    201. For out-of-band-emissions, the NPRM proposes that emissions be 
kept to a level that will provide protection to incumbent services in 
adjacent bands, while allowing the full use of the new band, and 
therefore proposes to apply the longstanding limit on out-of-band-
emission of -13 dBm/MHz at the authorized channel edge as measured at 
the antenna terminals. Further, the NPRM seeks comment on whether 
additional technical protection criteria, beyond out-of-band-emission 
limits, are necessary to ensure effective coexistence with adjacent 
band FSS operations.
    202. To implement field strength limit at market boundaries, the 
NPRM proposes to adopt a -76 dBm/m\2\/MHz power flux density limit at 
the service area boundaries, and further proposes that adjacent 
affected area licensees may voluntarily agree upon higher field 
strength boundary levels and to permit such agreement. Regarding 
antenna height, the NPRM proposes that the part 27 flexible antenna 
height rules that apply to AWS-1 and AWS-3 should generally also apply 
to MBX spectrum, that no unique antenna height limits are needed for 
MBX-spectrum facilities and that no antenna height limits are needed 
for fixed operation in the MBX spectrum. The Commission seeks comments 
on these proposals, including cost and benefit information.
    203. For new MBX spectrum, the NPRM proposes to apply the 
limitations to Canada and Mexico from Sec.  27.57(c) of the 
Commission's rules that provide that several AWS services, including 
WCS, AWS-1, AWS-3, AWS-4 and H Block are subject to international 
agreements with Mexico and Canada. Lastly, the NPRM proposes that 
several additional technical rules applicable to all part 27 services, 
including Sec. Sec.  27.51 Equipment authorization, 27.52 RF safety, 
27.54 Frequency stability, 27.56 Antennas structures; air navigation 
safety, and 27.63 Disturbance of AM broadcast station antenna patterns 
should apply to all MBX-spectrum licensees, including licensees who 
acquire their licenses through partitioning or disaggregation (to the 
extent the rules permit such aggregation). The Commission seeks comment 
on this approach, including its costs and benefits.

E. Steps Taken To Minimize the Significant Economic Impact on Small 
Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered

    204. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant, 
specifically small business, alternatives that it has considered in 
reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four 
alternatives (among others): ``(1) The establishment of differing 
compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into 
account the resources available to small entities; (2) the 
clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and 
reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; (3) the use 
of performance rather than design standards; and (4) an exemption from 
coverage of the rule, or any part thereof for small entities.''
    205. In this proceeding, the Commission seeks to identify potential 
opportunities for additional flexible access--particularly for wireless 
broadband services--in 500 megahertz

[[Page 44160]]

of mid-band spectrum between 3.7-4.2 GHz. While lacking specific data 
in general, which includes data on small entities, the Commission has 
taken steps to enable it to minimize the economic burden on small 
entities that could occur if some of the rule changes or approaches 
proposed in the NPRM are adopted. Throughout the NPRM, the Commission 
seeks comment on whether small entities face any special or unique 
issues with respect to the information collection such that they would 
require certain accommodations or additional time to comply. The 
Commission also seeks comment on modifications that could be made to 
the Commission's rules regarding administrative processes that would 
reduce the economic impacts of proposed rule changes on small entities. 
Seeking comments specifically targeting small entities should provide 
the Commission with the requisite data to consider the most cost-
effective approach to minimize the economic impact for such entities 
while achieving its statutory objectives.
    206. With respect to the application freeze and information 
collection for incumbent earth stations operating in the 3.7-4.2 GHz 
band, the Commission has taken several steps to reduce the economic 
burden of its actions. During the freeze on new earth station 
applications and filing window for incumbent FSS earth station 
operators, the International Bureau granted a temporary waiver of the 
frequency coordination requirement in the band. To ensure that earth 
station data contained in the Commission's IBFS remains accurate to 
facilitate frequency coordination and maximize efficient use of the 
spectrum, the NPRM seeks comment on whether, for a constructed and 
operational earth station, any combination of frequency, azimuth, and 
elevation listed in the license or registration that is unused for more 
than, e.g., 180 days, must be deleted from the license or registration. 
By proposing to delete data for earth stations that are unused, the 
NPRM seeks to minimize unnecessary constraints on successful frequency 
coordination of new operations, which reduces the economic impact on 
small entities, who often have more limited resources to allocate 
towards such regulatory compliance burdens. The NPRM also proposes to 
adopt specific definitions of each class of incumbents that would 
require protection and be entitled to possible reimbursement for 
clearing the band. This proposal has the dual benefit to small entities 
of creating a means for compensating any unexpected costs they may 
experience as a result of transitioning the band to flexible use, as 
well as providing a clear definition of the class of operators that 
requires interference protection and coordination, thereby avoiding 
overly burdensome and unnecessary obligations.
    207. The NPRM seeks comment on several ways to facilitate more 
intensive fixed use of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band by allowing point-to-
multipoint operations in the band through rules that will promote more 
efficient use of the limited spectrum available. In doing so, the NPRM 
makes several proposals to reduce the burden of frequency coordination 
for any new point-to-multipoint licensees, which would benefit small 
entities, and seeks comment on rules that are narrowly tailored to the 
needs of point-to-multipoint operations in particular, without the need 
for unnecessary regulatory burdens. The NPRM seeks comment on 
subjecting point-to-multipoint FS applicants to an expedited 
coordination process with mandatory electronic notification and 
response, and on the possibility of adopting an automated coordination 
process for point-to-multipoint FS applications. The NPRM asks 
commenters to discuss specifically any modifications that could be made 
to the Commission's coordination rules that would reduce the economic 
impact on small entities. In seeking comment on the appropriate 
construction requirements to apply to point-to-multipoint operations, 
the NPRM asks commenters to consider the economic impact on consumers 
and businesses in rural communities and areas that are unserved or 
underserved by current broadband providers, as well as any economic 
impact on small businesses.
    208. The NPRM discusses various proposals to reallocate and 
transition the 3.7-4.2 GHz band to more intensive fixed and flexible 
use, and seeks comment on ways to minimize the economic impact of any 
rule changes specifically with respect to small entities. For example, 
in seeking comment on whether to seek additional information from FSS 
earth station registrants or space station licensees, the NPRM asks 
whether small entities face any special or unique issues with respect 
to the information collection such that they would require certain 
accommodations or additional time to comply.
    209. Further, in its discussion of the three potential mechanisms 
for transitioning the band to flexible use--(1) market-based mechanism, 
(2) auctions mechanisms, (3) alternative mechanisms--the Commission 
seeks specific comment on the costs, benefits, and potential economic 
impact on small businesses, and asks commenters to discuss any rules or 
procedures that could be implemented to ensure that the needs of these 
communities and businesses are adequately addressed. Each of these 
transition mechanisms rely heavily on a competitive marketplace to set 
the value of spectrum and compensate incumbents for the costs of 
relocating, reconfiguring, and potentially lost opportunity cost. 
Specifically, for small entities that may be incumbent satellite or 
earth station operators in the band, the Commission is focused on 
facilitating competition in the band and ensuring that all relevant 
interests, not just those of the largest companies, are represented. 
This will help to reduce the potential economic impact on small 
entities.
    210. The NPRM also seeks comment on applying 15-year license terms 
for any licensees issued in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. Specifically for 
small entities who must allocate resources carefully over the length of 
their license term, and have more limited funds should they be required 
to compete at auction for a particular license, the certainty of a 
longer license term would provide licensees with sufficient incentive 
to make the long-term investments necessary for compliance.
    211. The Commission finds an overriding public interest in 
encouraging investment in wireless networks, facilitating access to 
scarce spectrum resources, and promoting the rapid deployment of mobile 
services to Americans. All licensees, including small entities, play a 
crucial role in achieving these goals. Thus while the NPRM does not 
propose any exemption for small entities, as mentioned above, the 
Commission seeks comment on alternative obligations, timing for 
implementation, scope of subject licenses, penalties for failure, and 
other measures that could accommodate the needs and resources of small 
entities. The Commission will carefully consider these matters as it 
relates to small entities before adopting final rules in this 
proceeding.

F. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the 
Proposed Rules

    212. None.

V. Ordering Clauses

    213. It is ordered, pursuant to the authority found in sections 1, 
2, 3, 4(i), 7, 201, 301, 302, 303, 304, 307, 308, 309, and 310 of the 
Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 153, 154(i), 157, 201, 
301, 302, 303, 304, 307, 308,

[[Page 44161]]

309, 310, and section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, as 
amended, 47 U.S.C. 1302, and 1.411 of the Commission's Rules, 47 CFR 
1.411, that this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is hereby adopted.
    214. It is further ordered that notice is hereby given of the 
proposed regulatory changes described in this Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking, and that comment is sought on these proposals.
    215. It is further ordered that the Petition for Rulemaking filed 
by the Broadband Access Coalition on June 21, 2017, RM-11791, is 
granted to the extent indicated herein and is otherwise denied.
    216. It is further ordered that the Petition for Rulemaking filed 
by the Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition, Inc, on October 11, 
2016, RM-11778, is granted to the extent indicated herein and is 
otherwise denied.
    217. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a 
copy of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of 
the Small Business Administration.

List of Subjects 47 CFR Parts 1, 2, 25 and 27

    Practice and procedure, Communications common carrier, 
Communications equipment, Reporting and recording requirements, 
Satellites.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene Dortch,
Secretary.

Proposed Rules

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR parts 1, 2, 25, and 
27 as follows:

PART 1--PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE

0
1. The authority citation for part 1 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), 155, 157, 160, 201, 
225, 227, 303, 309, 332, 1403, 1404, 1451, 1452, and 1455, unless 
otherwise noted.

0
2. Amend Sec.  1.907 by revising the definition of ``Covered Geographic 
Licenses'' to read as follows:


Sec.  1.907  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Covered Geographic Licenses. Covered geographic licenses consist of 
the following services: 1.4 GHz Service (part 27, subpart I); 1.6 GHz 
Service (part 27, subpart J); 24 GHz Service and Digital Electronic 
Message Services (part 101, subpart G); 218-219 MHz Service (part 95, 
subpart F); 220-222 MHz Service, excluding public safety licenses (part 
90, subpart T); 600 MHz Service (part 27, subpart N); 700 MHz 
Commercial Services (part 27, subpart F and H); 700 MHz Guard Band 
Service (part 27, subpart G); 800 MHz Specialized Mobile Radio Service 
(part 90, subpart S); 900 MHz Specialized Mobile Radio Service (part 
90, subpart S); Mid-Band Flexible Use Service (part 27, subpart O); 
Advanced Wireless Services (part 27, subparts K and L); Air-Ground 
Radiotelephone Service (Commercial Aviation) (part 22, subpart G); 
Broadband Personal Communications Service (part 24, subpart E); 
Broadband Radio Service (part 27, subpart M); Cellular Radiotelephone 
Service (part 22, subpart H); Dedicated Short Range Communications 
Service, excluding public safety licenses (part 90, subpart M); H Block 
Service (part 27, subpart K); Local Multipoint Distribution Service 
(part 101, subpart L); Multichannel Video Distribution and Data Service 
(part 101, subpart P); Multilateration Location and Monitoring Service 
(part 90, subpart M); Multiple Address Systems (EAs) (part 101, subpart 
O); Narrowband Personal Communications Service (part 24, subpart D); 
Paging and Radiotelephone Service (part 22, subpart E; part 90, subpart 
P); VHF Public Coast Stations, including Automated Maritime 
Telecommunications Systems (part 80, subpart J); Upper Microwave 
Flexible Use Service (part 30); and Wireless Communications Service 
(part 27, subpart D).
* * * * *
0
3. Amend Sec.  1.9005 by adding paragraph (mm) to read as follows:


Sec.  1.9005   Included services.

* * * * *
    (mm) The Mid-Band Flexible Use Service in the 3700-4200 MHz band.

PART 2--FREQUENCY ALLOCATIONS AND RADIO TREATY MATTERS; GENERAL 
RULES AND REGULATIONS

0
4. The authority citation for part 2 continues to read as follows:

     Authority:  47 U.S.C. 154, 302a, 303, and 336, unless otherwise 
noted.

0
5. Amend Sec.  2.106, the Table of Frequency Allocations, by revising 
page 41 and, under ``Non-Federal Government (NG) Footnotes,'' adding 
footnote NG182 to read as follows:


Sec.  2.106   Table of Frequency Allocations.

* * * * *
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P

[[Page 44162]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29AU18.003


[[Page 44163]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP29AU18.004


[[Page 44164]]


BILLING CODE 6712-01-C

Non-Federal Government (NG) Footnotes
* * * * *
    NG182 In the band 3700-4200 MHz, the following provisions shall 
apply to geostationary satellite orbit (GSO) fixed-satellite service 
(space-to-Earth) operations:
    (a) Space stations authorized prior to, or authorized as a result 
of an application filed prior to, June 21, 2018 may continue to operate 
on a primary basis, but no applications for new space station 
authorizations or new petitions for market access shall be accepted for 
filing after that date, other than applications by existing operators 
in the band seeking to make more efficient use of the band. 
Applications for extension, cancellation, replacement, or modification 
of existing space station authorizations in the band will continue to 
be accepted and processed normally.
    (b) Earth station operations shall not claim protection from 
terrestrial stations, unless the requirements of 47 CFR 25.203(n) are 
satisfied.

PART 25--SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS

0
6. The authority citation for Part 25 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 154, 301, 302, 303, 307, 309, 310, 319, 
332, 605, and 721, unless otherwise noted.

0
7. Amend Sec.  25.203 by adding paragraph (n) to read as follows:


Sec.  25.203   Choice of sites and frequencies.

* * * * *
    (n) Earth stations operating in the 3700-4200 MHz band shall 
receive interference protection from terrestrial stations only to the 
extent that (1) the earth station was operational as of April 19, 2018, 
(2) the earth station was licensed or registered (or had a pending 
application for license or registration) in the IBFS database as of 
October 17, 2018, and (3) the operator timely certified the accuracy of 
information on file with the Commission to the extent required by the 
Order adopted in FCC 18-XXX. Earth stations failing to satisfy any of 
the above may continue to operate, but such operations shall be on an 
unprotected basis.

PART 27--MISCELLANEOUS WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES

0
8. The authority citation for part 27 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 154, 301, 302a, 303, 307, 309, 332, 336, 
337, 1403, 1404, 1451, and 1452, unless otherwise noted.

0
9. Amend Sec.  27.1 by adding paragraph (b)(15) to read as follows:

Sec.  27.1  Basis and purpose.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (15) 3700-4200 MHz.
* * * * *
0
10. Amend Sec.  27.13 by adding paragraph (m) to read as follows:


Sec.  27.13  License period.

* * * * *
    (m) 3700-4200 MHz band. Authorizations for the 3700-4200 MHz band 
will have a term not to exceed 15 years from the date of issuance or 
renewal.
0
11. Amend Sec.  27.14 by revising the first sentence of paragraphs (a) 
and (k), and adding paragraph (u) to read as follows:


Sec.  27.14   Construction requirements.

    (a) AWS and WCS licensees, with the exception of WCS licensees 
holding authorizations for the 600 MHz band, Block A in the 698-704 MHz 
and 728-734 MHz bands, Block B in the 704-710 MHz and 734-740 MHz 
bands, Block E in the 722-728 MHz band, Block C, C1 or C2 in the 746-
757 MHz and 776-787 MHz bands, Block A in the 2305-2310 MHz and 2350-
2355 MHz bands, Block B in the 2310-2315 MHz and 2355-2360 MHz bands, 
Block C in the 2315-2320 MHz band, Block D in the 2345-2350 MHz band, 
and 3700-4200 MHz band, and with the exception of licensees holding AWS 
authorizations in the 1915-1920 MHz and 1995-2000 MHz bands, the 2000-
2020 MHz and 2180-2200 MHz bands, or 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz and 
2155-2180 MHz bands, must, as a performance requirement, make a showing 
of ``substantial service'' in their license area within the prescribed 
license term set forth in Sec.  27.13. * * *
* * * * *
    (k) Licensees holding WCS or AWS authorizations in the spectrum 
blocks enumerated in paragraphs (g), (h), (i), (q), (r), (s), (t), and 
(u) of this section, including any licensee that obtained its license 
pursuant to the procedures set forth in paragraph (j) of this section, 
shall demonstrate compliance with performance requirements by filing a 
construction notification with the Commission, within 15 days of the 
expiration of the applicable benchmark, in accordance with the 
provisions set forth in Sec.  1.946(d) of this chapter. * * *
* * * * *
    (u) The following provisions apply to any licensee holding an 
authorization in the 3700-4200 MHz band:
    (1) A licensee shall provide reliable signal coverage and offer 
service within six (6) years from the date of the initial license to at 
least forty-five (45) percent of the population in each of its license 
areas (``First Buildout Requirement'').
    (2) A licensee shall provide reliable signal coverage and offer 
service within twelve (12) years from the date of the initial license 
to at least eighty (80) percent of the population in each of its 
license areas (``Second Buildout Requirement'').
    (3) If a licensee fails to establish that it meets the First 
Buildout Requirement for a particular license area, the licensee's 
Second Buildout Requirement deadline and license term will be reduced 
by two years.
    (4) If a licensee fails to establish that it meets the Second 
Buildout Requirement for a particular license area, its authorization 
for each license area in which it fails to meet the Second Buildout 
Requirement shall terminate automatically without Commission action, 
and the licensee will be ineligible to regain it if the Commission 
makes the license available at a later date.
    (5) To demonstrate compliance with these performance requirements, 
licensees shall use the most recently available decennial U.S. Census 
Data at the time of measurement and shall base their measurements of 
population served on areas no larger than the Census Tract level. The 
population within a specific Census Tract (or other acceptable 
identifier) will be deemed served by the licensee only if it provides 
reliable signal coverage to and offers service within the specific 
Census Tract (or other acceptable identifier). To the extent the Census 
Tract (or other acceptable identifier) extends beyond the boundaries of 
a license area, a licensee with authorizations for such areas may 
include only the population within the Census Tract (or other 
acceptable identifier) towards meeting the performance requirement of a 
single, individual license. For the Gulf of Mexico license area, the 
licensee shall demonstrate compliance with these performance 
requirements, using off-shore platforms, including production, 
manifold, compression, pumping and valving platforms as a proxy for 
population in the Gulf of Mexico.
0
12. Amend Sec.  27.50 by revising the introductory text to paragraphs 
(d), (d)(1), and (d)(2) and paragraph (d)(4) to read as follows:


Sec.  27.50   Power limits and duty cycle.

* * * * *
    (d) The following power and antenna height requirements apply to 
stations transmitting in the 1695-1710 MHz, 1710-1755 MHz, 1755-1780 
MHz,

[[Page 44165]]

1915-1920 MHz, 1995-2000 MHz, 2000-2020 MHz, 2110-2155 MHz, 2155-2180 
MHz, 2180-2200 MHz, and 3700-4200 MHz bands:
    (1) The power of each fixed or base station transmitting in the 
1995-2000 MHz, 2110-2155 MHz, 2155-2180 MHz, 2180-2200 MHz band, or 
3700-4200 MHz band and located in any county with population density of 
100 or fewer persons per square mile, based upon the most recently 
available population statistics from the Bureau of the Census, is 
limited to:
* * * * *
    (2) The power of each fixed or base station transmitting in the 
1995-2000 MHz, the 2110-2155 MHz 2155-2180 MHz band, 2180-2200, or 
3700-4200 MHz band and situated in any geographic location other than 
that described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section is limited to:
* * * * *
    (4) Fixed, mobile, and portable (hand-held) stations operating in 
the 1710-1755 MHz band and mobile and portable stations operating in 
the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, and 3700-4200 MHz bands are limited 
to 1 watt EIRP. Fixed stations operating in the 1710-1755 MHz band are 
limited to a maximum antenna height of 10 meters above ground. Mobile 
and portable stations operating in these bands must employ a means for 
limiting power to the minimum necessary for successful communications.
* * * * *
0
13. Amend Sec.  27.53 by revising paragraph (h)(1) to read as follows:

Sec.  27.53   Emission limits.

* * * * *
    (h) AWS emission limits--(1) General protection levels. Except as 
otherwise specified below, for operations in the 1695-1710 MHz, 1710-
1755 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, 1915-1920 MHz, 1995-2000 MHz, 2000-2020 MHz, 
2110-2155 MHz, 2155-2180 MHz, 2180-2200 MHz, and 3700-4200 MHz bands, 
the power of any emission outside a licensee's frequency block shall be 
attenuated below the transmitter power (P) in watts by at least 43 + 10 
log10 (P) dB.
* * * * *
0
14. Amend Sec.  27.55 by adding paragraph (d) to read as follows:

Sec.  27.55  Power strength limits.

* * * * *
    (d) Power flux density for stations operating in the 3700-4200 MHz 
band. The predicted or measured Power Flux Density from any Base 
Station operating in the 3700-4200 MHz bands at any location on the 
geographical border of a licensee's service area shall not exceed -
76dBm/m\2\/MHz (measured at 1.5 meters above ground) unless the 
adjacent affected service area licensee(s) agree(s) to a different PFD.
0
15. Amend Sec.  27.57 by revising paragraph (c) to read as follows:

Sec.  27.57   International coordination.

* * * * *
    (c) Operation in the 1695-1710 MHz, 1710-1755 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, 
1915-1920 MHz, 1995-2000 MHz, 2000-2020 MHz, 2110-2155 MHz, 2155-2180 
MHz, 2180-2200 MHz, and 3700-4200 MHz bands is subject to international 
agreements with Mexico and Canada.
0
16. Add subpart O to read as follows:

Subpart O--3700-4200 MHz Band
Sec.
27.1400 3700-4200 MHz band subject to competitive bidding.
27.1401 Designated entities in the 3700-4200 MHz band.

Sec.  27.1400 3700-4200   MHz band subject to competitive bidding.

    Mutually exclusive initial applications for 3700-4200 MHz band 
licenses are subject to competitive bidding. The general competitive 
bidding procedures set forth in 47 CFR part 1, subpart Q of this 
chapter will apply unless otherwise provided in this subpart.


Sec.  27.1401   Designated entities in the 3700-4200 MHz band.

    (a) Eligibility for small business provisions--(1) Definitions--(i) 
Small business. A small business is an entity that, together with its 
affiliates, its controlling interests, and the affiliates of its 
controlling interests, has average gross revenues not exceeding $55 
million for the preceding three (3) years.
    (ii) Very small business. A very small business is an entity that, 
together with its affiliates, its controlling interests, and the 
affiliates of its controlling interests, has average gross revenues not 
exceeding $20 million for the preceding three (3) years.
    (2) Bidding credits. A winning bidder that qualifies as a small 
business, as defined in this section, or a consortium of small 
businesses may use the bidding credit of 15 percent, as specified in 
Sec.  1.2110(f)(2)(i)(C) of this chapter. A winning bidder that 
qualifies as a very small business, as defined in this section, or a 
consortium of very small businesses may use the bidding credit of 25 
percent, as specified in Sec.  1.2110(f)(2)(i)(B) of this chapter.
    (b) Eligibility for rural service provider bidding credit. A rural 
service provider, as defined in Sec.  1.2110(f)(4)(i) of this chapter, 
that has not claimed a small business bidding credit may use the 
bidding credit of 15 percent specified in Sec.  1.2110(f)(4) of this 
chapter.

[FR Doc. 2018-18288 Filed 8-28-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6712-01-P