FCC Criteria Determining When 600 MHz Operations “Commence”: Petitions Challenging Due February 29, 2016

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The FCC has announced in a public notice that petitions for reconsideration of the Commencing Operations Report and Order (R&O), which defines when and in what areas 600 MHz Band wireless licenses will be deemed to “commence operations” for the purpose of establishing when the secondary and unlicensed users must cease operations and vacate the 600 MHz Band in those areas, must be filed by Monday, February 29, 2016.  The October 22, 2015 R&O spelled out issues like site planning, site deployment, and network and field testing, that might impact when a 600 MHz Band wireless network is deemed to have commenced operations, and those rules were published in the Federal Register on January 29, 2016.   With some exceptions, a 600 MHz Band wireless licensee will be thought to have commenced operations when it conducts site commissioning tests, but generally not before then.  Following the close of the forward auction component of the Incentive Auction, certain “secondary and unlicensed” users, typically LPTV stations and unlicensed whitespace device users, will still be permitted to use the 600 MHz Band, but they all must vacate after newly licensed wireless operators “commence operations.”

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