FCC Denies Santa Clara County’s T-Band Waiver Request, Applications
Monday, April 17, 2017 | Comments

The FCC denied a waiver request and dismissed two applications filed by the county of Santa Clara, California, to operate a T-band (470 – 512 MHz) public-safety LMR system on frequency pair 482/485.3375 MHz at two sites located beyond the allowable 80 kilometers (50 miles) from San Francisco.

Following passage of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, the FCC suspended processing of certain applications in the T-band because the act directed the FCC to auction the spectrum by 2021.

Santa Clara operates on the same frequency pair at six sites within the allowable 80 kilometers of the San Francisco geographic center coordinates. The county noted that the 80-kilometer radius encompasses the northern third of Santa Clara County and thereby limits the usage of 482.3375 MHz to fixed transmitters located in this area.

Santa Clara argued that the applications should be accepted because they were filed three months prior to Congress passing the 2012 Spectrum Act and six months prior to the T-Band freeze. However, timing relative to the suspension is irrelevant because the suspension notice stated that “affected applications that are now pending will not be further processed until the commission decides how to implement the act,” the FCC said.

Santa Clara said there is precedent for granting its requested waiver because the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority (VTA) was granted a waiver to operate a T-band transmitter at the Gilroy location requested by the county. However, FCC staff determined that VTA only operates T-band facilities near the proposed Morgan Hill location. Moreover, the waivers for those VTA T-band facilities were granted in 2001, well before the freeze was imposed. Thus, the pre-freeze waivers granted to VTA do not serve as precedent for grant of post-freeze waivers to Santa Clara, the FCC said.

“We deny Santa Clara’s request for waiver of the filing suspension and Section 90.305 because granting those waivers of the 80-kilometer restriction would further constrain the [incentive auction’s] repacking process and would impede the commission’s implementation of the incentive auction required by the Spectrum Act,” the order said. “We find that enforcement of the suspension in this instance would serve its stated purpose and the public interest.”

The full order is here.

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