FCC Prepares to Clear Public Safety Users From T-Band

WASHINGTON – The process of moving public safety operations out of the T-band has begun. The Federal Communications Commission has issued a Public Notice seeking input on clearing public-safety communications from the T-band, which comprises TV Chs. 14-20, 470-512 MHz. Public safety land-mobile users share the spectrum with broadcasters in large urban areas.

The Spectrum Act directs the FCC to relocate public-safety users in the T-band and make the spectrum available for auction by 2021. In doing so, the commission must first determine how many public-safety, land-mobile operations there are in the T-band. The Notice seeks comment on how many licensees of all types are using the T-band, the public-versus-private ratio of users, and what equipment is being used on it, and for what purpose. The Notice also asks where the public-safety operations should be moved to.

“What alternative spectrum bands are potentially available for relocation of T-Band public safety licensees?” it states. “Could T-Band licensees relocate to other UHF-VHF spectrum bands, or to public safety spectrum in the 700 MHz or 800 MHz bands? Should spectrum bands that are not currently allocated for public safety use be considered?”

Another possibility is moving T-band public safety licensees to the 700 MHz D-Block, where the government intends to create a nationwide broadband network specifically for public-safety operations.

The Notice seeks feedback on reimbursement considerations, incentives, the eventual band configuration and narrowbanding. T-band licensees were granted a waiver of the Jan. 1, 2013 narrowbanding deadline in light of the Spectrum Act. The commission is asking if narrowbanding should be a condition for licensees to receive replacement spectrum.

Comments are due on Docket No. 13-42 by May 13, 2013. Replies are due June 11, 2013.