EWA Asks FCC to Lift T-Band Freeze for I/B Incumbents
Wednesday, September 30, 2020 | Comments

The Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) asked the FCC to remove an application freeze on business enterprises and private carriers in the T-band spectrum.

“All affected parties and the FCC agree that there should not be a proceeding and that the T-band mandate that has triggered this exercise should be repealed,” the EWA said in a statement.

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), requires that by 2021, the FCC auction off the T-band spectrum. There has been much opposition from both public safety, industry and even the FCC to the auction mandate.

Earlier this year, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called on Congress to repeal the mandate. At the same time, the FCC released proposed rules for the auctions, noting that if Congress did not repeal the mandate, it would still have to follow the mandate.

Earlier this month, the U.S. House approved a bill that would repeal the T-band mandate. That bill must still be approved by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by the president before the mandate is repealed.

The FCC imposed the application freeze on the T-band following the passage of the act to stabilize the band prior to the mandated auction.

“While all parties affected by this ill-conceived congressional stratagem to extract spectrum from public safety in exchange for the 700 MHz FirstNet award have been disadvantaged, public safety has at least secured 20 megahertz of broadband spectrum,” the EWA said in its filing. “The I/B incumbents, whose business operations already have been frozen for more than eight years in anticipation of an auction that may never take place and that is expected to fail if it does, received no benefit from being caught up in a quid pro quo to which they were not a party.”

The EWA acknowledged that the FCC’s hands were tied when it came the mandate, but also argued that if the commission chooses to, it can change the freeze.

“That decision was the FCC’s alone and could be reversed immediately,” the filing said. “In EWA’s opinion, it should be. It is more than time to allow I/B incumbents to resume normal business operations in this band, irrespective of the impact on what increasingly appears to be a purely hypothetical T-band auction.”

“At the end of the day, after eight years and counting, the application freeze has economically damaged American businesses caught within the T-band mandate,” EWA Mark Crosby said. “The FCC has the power but perhaps not the inclination to end the application freeze. They should.

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