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FCC Notifies NTIA of Intent to Auction Federal Spectrum

WASHINGTON— The FCC formerly informed the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration March 20 that it plans to auction licenses in the 1695-171 MHz band and the 1755-1780 MHz band as early as September 2014.

In a letter from FCC chairman Julius Genachowski to NTIA assistant secretary Lawrence Strickland, the FCC chairman said he was notifying NTIA as required by the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act 18 months prior to the actual auction of the frequencies.

“The CSEA requires NTIA to notify the Commission of estimated relocation and sharing costs and timelines for such relocation or sharing at least 6 months prior to the commencement of the auction,” the letter said. “Recent changes to the CSEA also require approval of federal agency transition plans by an expert technical panel.”

NTIA has identified the 1695-1710 MHz band as the 15 MHz of spectrum between 1675 MHz and 1710 MHz to be reallocated from federal use to non-federal use as required by Congress in the Middle-Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Spectrum Act). The Spectrum Act also requires the FCC to identify this spectrum as being available for commercial use and to license it by February 2015.

“Our goal is to ensure that the commission has adequate time to conduct this auction and complete the subsequent licensing process prior to the Spectrum Act's deadline,” the letter said.

The letter noted that the wireless industry is pushing to pair the 2155-2180 MHz with the 1755-1780 MHz federal band, which is part of a larger federal band an NTIA committee is studying for shared use between federal and commercial users. “Accordingly, we include the 1755-1780 MHz band in this notice to preserve the possibility of auctioning it with the 2155-2180 MHz band,” the letter said.

Auction of the 1755-1780 MHz band frequencies would follow completion of work by the committee studying shared use, NTIA’s acceptance of the committee’s recommendations, and the completion of an FCC rulemaking process, the letter added.