FCC Seeks Comments on Broadcaster Relinquishment of Ch. 51
Federal regulators are seeking feedback on a
petition from the wireless industry to kick broadcasters off of Channel 51.TVB
reported last week that the CTIA--The
Wireless Association and the Rural Cellular Association, filed a petition with
the Federal Communications Commission asking for an immediate license freeze on
Ch. 51. They also want the FCC to clear the channel as soon as possible of
broadcasters who “reach voluntary agreements to relocate to an alternate
channel,” according to the FCC’s related Public
CTIA members recently met with the FCC’s Jim Schlichting, senior deputy chief
of the Wireless Burueau, and Margaret Weiner, chief of the Auctions and
Spectrum Access division of the Wireless Bureau.
“During this meeting, CTIA and member companies discussed the importance of
bringing additional spectrum to market for mobile broadband services,” the FCC
ex parte filing documenting the meeting states.
Ch. 51 is the highest channel on the broadcast TV spectrum, at 698 MHz. It came
to define that boundary after broadcasters gave up Chs. 51-69 in the digital
transition. The spectrum between those channels was auctioned off to wireless
providers in blocks. Ch. 51 now lies adjacent to the A Block, which comprises
176 wireless licenses from 698 to 704 MHz, and from 728 to 734 MHz. CTIA
Cellular and Cavalier, and several other companies, won licenses in the A
The petitioners cited the Obama Administration’s goal of creating nationwide
wireless broadband as justification for booting broadcasters from Ch. 51. The
Obama FCC’s National Broadband Plan already proposes taking 120 MHz of
broadcast spectrum and reallocating it for wireless services. This is in
addition to the 108 MHz relinquished after June 2009, when over-the-air analog
TV signals were shut down.
“The National Broadband Plan emphasized the deployment of additional spectrum
for wireless broadband spectrum as key policy objective of the commission,” the
CTIA and RCA petition states. “While the 700 MHz spectrum in particular is ideally
suited for innovative wireless broadband services, licensees in the A Block
face technical challenges caused by the presence of broadcast TV services on
Under current FCC rules broadcasters are legally protected from harmful
interference caused by the A Block winners.
Comments are due on the Ch. 51 petition, (Proceeding No. RM-11626 in the
)--April 27. Reply comments are due May 12, 2011.
-- Deborah McAdams