FCC Chairman Ajit Pai reiterated his call for congressional repeal of the T-band auction mandate while also circulating a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would take the next statutorily required step to implement this mandate to his fellow commissioners.
“An FCC auction of the T-band is a bad idea,” Pai said. “But as of today, the law mandates that we do it. It’s unfortunate that commission resources must be dedicated to laying the groundwork for an auction that will likely fail. This is especially true at a time when we are making every effort to keep Americans safe and connected, including allowing expanded temporary use of this very spectrum to help first responders save lives.
“Fortunately, there is bipartisan legislation in Congress to repeal this mandate, including bills that couple repeal with 9-1-1 fee diversion reform as reported out by the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation of the U.S. Senate and the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the U.S. House of Representatives. I hope legislation passes soon, so first responders who rely on this spectrum no longer need to worry about a potential loss of or significant disruption to their mission-critical radio systems. I remain committed to helping Congress in any way I can to ensure that such harms to public safety operations do not come to pass.”
In 2012, Congress passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act requiring the FCC to reallocate T-band spectrum used by public-safety and private wireless licensees and “begin a system of competitive bidding” for reallocated spectrum by 2021. The FCC has compiled a record on the T-band that demonstrates that an auction is unlikely to yield sufficient revenue to cover the costs to move public safety users out of the band.
Pai first asked Congress to repeal the mandate late last year.