Genachowski: Sprint, Dish will get AWS-4, H Block rules this month

Though Dish Network, Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and the FCC itself continue sparring over proposed rules impacting 2 GHz AWS-4 spectrum and the 1900 MHz PCS H Block, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is still aiming to wrap up its rulemaking proceeding within the month of December.

Julius Genachowski, FCC Chairman

Julius Genachowski

Speaking last week at a press conference, Genachowski acknowledged that the proceeding is on a fast track and bringing it to resolution by year's end would be "by far the fastest the commission has ever resolved a rulemaking like this." The commission chairman, whose comments were reported by Broadcasting & Cable, added, "We are still committed to getting this done by the end of the year."

Only FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, is believed to have cast a vote on the issue so far, said Broadcasting & Cable, citing sources familiar with the vote tally.

Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen was reportedly at the commission Thursday to argue against Genachowski's plan to set power limits on the lower portion of Dish's spectrum to prevent interference with the H Block, which Sprint Nextel has said it would like to acquire at auction for use with its nascent LTE network. The H Block encompasses paired spectrum from 1915-1920 MHz and 1995-2000 MHz.

Dish controls 40 MHz of Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) S-band spectrum in the 2 GHz band, which the FCC has renamed AWS-4. Dish requires an FCC waiver before it can launch its planned terrestrial LTE Advanced network in that spectrum. Last month, standards body 3GPP approved technical specifications requested by Dish for its AWS-4 spectrum, which would need to be adjusted if the FCC were to set new power limits.

Meanwhile, third parties continue offering their input regarding how the AWS-4 and PCS (AWS-2) H Block spectrum should be treated. A Nov. 30 ex parte filing from Public Knowledge reveals the group is urging the FCC to avoid reducing the power approved for Dish's uplink spectrum. Specifically, the group suggested the commission should consider whether a combination of out-of-band-emission (OOBE) limits on both AWS 4 and H Block spectrum, combined with a requirement that Dish accept any interference from the H Block licensee to its uplink, might address interference concerns without significantly changing the approved 3GPP standard.

"This approach will also set a precedent for greater flexibility for interference mitigation when repurposing broadcasting spectrum by allowing a licensee (Dish) to voluntarily accept a risk of interference in exchange for higher power. Such an approach is also consistent with the reality that users are increasingly engaged in upload activity and not merely download activity as cloud storage becomes more common," added Public Knowledge, in a filing submitted by Senior Vice President Harold Feld.

The FCC has argued that it has a duty to protect the PCS H Block from interference so it can raise as much money as possible from the spectrum when it goes up for auction, likely in 2013. The funds from that auction are targeted to help fund the planned nationwide public-safety mobile broadband network.

However, Wireless Week reported that the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition (PISC), of which Public Knowledge is a member, reminded the FCC in a filing last week that designing service rules to maximize auction revenue would appear to violate the maxim that auction revenue should be secondary to broader public interest considerations.

The FCC issued its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the MSS 2 GHz band spectrum in March, at which time it proposed to "increase the nation's supply of spectrum for mobile broadband by removing unnecessary barriers" that are preventing flexible use of the spectrum.

For more:
- see this Broadcasting & Cable article
- see this Public Knowledge ex parte filing
- see this Wireless Week article

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