FCC Officially Terminates T-Band Auction Proceeding
Thursday, January 14, 2021 | Comments

The FCC officially terminated its proceeding on auctioning the T-band spectrum. The action follows the repeal of the mandate that the FCC auction off the spectrum by 2021.

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 spectrum by 2021. Since that act, public-safety and business organizations fought to have the mandate repeal, arguing that an auction of the spectrum would likely not be successful and would not cover the costs of relocating incumbents.

Even the FCC, including Chairman Ajit Pai, spoke out against the mandate and asked Congress to repeal it. However, because of its statutory limitations, the FCC moved forward and released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) proposing rules for an auction and seeking comments on the proposals.

In December, Congress repealed the T-band mandate as part of a large coronavirus relief and spending package. With the repeal of the mandate, the FCC terminated the proceeding and NPRM as it was no longer needed.

“In initiating the rulemaking, the commission noted that implementing the T-band mandate posed significant challenges and potential harm to first responder communications, and that multiple bills had been introduced in Congress to repeal the mandate,” the order terminating the proceeding said. “The (Don’t Break Up) T-Band Act has now repealed the T-band mandate in its entirety, thus eliminating the statutory mandate to reallocate and auction T-band spectrum occupied by public-safety licensees. In the absence of the statutory mandate that was the predicate for the T-band NPRM, we therefore terminate this proceeding.”

Following the passage of the 2012 act, the FCC put an application freeze on the T-band, preventing new applications or modifications systems in the band. The FCC has not yet announced the process it will use to lift that freeze.

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