EWA Recommends Approach to Lifting T-Band Application Freeze
Tuesday, December 29, 2020 | Comments

In an ex parte filing with the FCC, the Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) proposed an approach for lifting the current application freeze in the T-band.

On December 21, Congress passed a massive coronavirus and appropriations package that included the repeal of a mandate to auction the T-band spectrum. President Donald Trump signed the act on December 27.

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), mandated that the FCC auction off the T-band, 470 – 512 MHz, by 2021. Because of the mandate, the FCC placed an application freeze on the band, preventing incumbents from modifying their systems.

Following Congress’ approval of the act, EWA President Mark Crosby said it would be important to lift the application freeze in a way that allows incumbents to modify their systems after being unable to for so long.

“I’m very happy that this decision went down, and I’m happy for the incumbents because this was just horrible for them,” Crosby said at the time. “They’ve been under this cloud for nine years.”

In its filing with the FCC, the EWA urged the FCC to lift the application freeze on the T-band as quickly as possible but to also do it in a way that will allow incumbents first priority to implement system upgrades and expansions that they have been unable to do for nine years.

EWA recommended that the FCC begin the processing by issuing a public notice that the application free would be modified 60 days after to allow incumbent business/industrial land transportation (B/ILT) licensees to file new or modification applications in their currently licensed market.

Under the proposal, the FCC would also process pending renewal applications, as well as applications modifying existing systems that were filed prior to implementation of the T-band freeze. EWA said that after the 60-day period, the application freeze should be lifted entirely. EWA said that its suggestions were for business enterprise incumbents, and public-safety licensees may require a different approach.

EWA also recommended that the rules incorporate the minimum efficiency standard, including for new licenses filed after the 60-day period. Applications from B/ILT licensees whose authorizations already meet the efficiency standard or whose modification applications request emission designators consistent with it would be accepted during the 60-day period.

“The T-band application freeze has been particularly painful for B/ILT licensees,” said Crosby. “The mandate to auction T-band never included these licensees, yet they were placed in limbo for nearly a decade unable to modify their systems to accommodate critical communications requirements. It’s not possible to make these licensees whole, but accommodating their system requirements through a phased application process would be fair, equitable and justified.”

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