FCC Modifies 900 MHz LMR Application Freeze
Wednesday, October 09, 2019 | Comments

The FCC modified the temporary freeze on the acceptance of certain applications related to LMR services operating in the 896 – 901/935 – 940 MHz band following a request from pdvWireless, doing business as Anterix. The commission said the freeze will provide greater flexibility for 900 MHz band incumbents to relocate out of the broadband segment that the commission has proposed in a pending rulemaking proceeding.

The FCC indicated that if this proposal is adopted, it will lift the temporary filing freeze to allow 900 MHz band incumbents to file applications necessary to effectuate relocation from the broadband segment to the segments reserved for narrowband operations.

Anterix in its request said that many 900 MHz band incumbents were in the process of upgrading or replacing their systems when the freeze was announced, and that these incumbents want to construct on frequencies outside of the proposed broadband segment. The company asked that the freeze be modified to provide flexibility for incumbents to exchange frequencies in the proposed broadband segment voluntarily for an equal number of frequencies in the segments that would continue to be used for narrowband operations.

To ensure that there is no net increase in the number of frequencies assigned to incumbents, Anterix suggested that if an incumbent is granted 900 MHz band frequencies outside the proposed broadband segment, its authorization for the corresponding frequencies in the proposed broadband segment be canceled.

Anterix said that allowing incumbents to exchange frequencies on this basis before the commission adopts final rules for the 900 MHz band realignment would accelerate the process of clearing the broadband segment of narrowband incumbents without prejudging or compromising the outcome of the rulemaking proceeding. The company also suggested that modifying the freeze as requested will curtail individual requests for waiver of the freeze.

“We find that the future availability of the 900 MHz band will not be jeopardized by allowing an incumbent to exchange frequencies in a manner that does not increase that incumbent’s net number of licensed frequencies and is consistent with the commission’s proposed band realignment,” the order said. “In that regard, it is in the public interest to reduce the burdens for licensees and the commission by eliminating the need for individual waiver requests for applications that meet these criteria.”

Specifically, the FCC modified the freeze by excluding applications filed by incumbent site-based licensees of frequencies in the 897.5 – 900.5 MHz/936.5 – 939.5 MHz segment to modify their licenses to request an equal or smaller number of frequencies in the 896 – 897.5/935 – 936.5 MHz and/or 900.5 – 901/939.5 – 940 MHz segments at the same location(s) and with equal or smaller spectral and geographic coverage.

The commission will not require simultaneous deletion of the old frequencies from the license because licensees may need to continue to use the old frequencies during a transition period while constructing and testing the new frequencies. Instead, to ensure that there is no net increase in the number of licensed 900 MHz band frequencies beyond a temporary transition period, applications will be granted on the express condition that the licensee must cancel its authorization for the corresponding frequencies in the 897.5 – 900.5 MHz/936.5 – 939.5 MHz segment no later than 180 days after the application is granted.

The full order is here.

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