Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Reminds Wireless Licensees of Construction Obligations

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The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (Bureau) reminds wireless licensees of their obligations to meet construction and coverage deadlines that are applicable to their service. Under the FCC’s rules, if a licensee fails to timely construct or commence operations by the expiration of its construction period or to meet its coverage or substantial service obligation, its authorization automatically terminates (in whole or in part depending on the service rules), without FCC action, on the date the construction or coverage period expires. The Bureau notes that the FCC’s construction obligations are intended to ensure that spectrum resources are put to use. In light of the FCC’s actions to facilitate the rapid deployment of wireless broadband services, the Bureau reminds licensees that requests to extend construction deadlines will not be routinely granted. Under FCC Rule Section 1.946(e), extensions of the time to meet construction and service requirements are permitted in only two situations: (1) involuntary loss of site; or (2) other causes beyond a licensee’s control. The rules do not contemplate extensions for licensees that fail to meet obligations because of miscalculations of costs, demand, market developments, or timing and success in obtaining permissions necessary for construction.  The FCC expects licensees to factor in these considerations from the start. Moreover, the Bureau states that circumstances beyond the licensee’s control generally exclude the market’s failure to accommodate a business plan due to an economic downturn, delays given the technology chosen, and failure to obtain financing or an antenna site, or to timely order equipment. The Bureau also states that extensions will be denied where such requests reflect a lack of substantial progress.

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