The FCC has moved to clear up interference problems on wireless operators' valuable 700 MHz spectrum with a temporary freeze on new applications for television broadcasts on Channel 51, which is directly adjacent to airwaves used on the lower A Block.
CTIA had petitioned the agency in March to prohibit new broadcast licenses on the band. There is no guard band between television Channel 51 and the lower A Block spectrum in the 700 MHz band, so broadcast signals in Channel 51 could interfere with mobile broadband services deployed in nearby bandwidth.
"Licensees of 700 MHz A Block spectrum have encountered significant technical challenges to deploying wireless broadband service in this spectrum, primarily owing to the fact that there is no guard band between Channel 51 and the A Block," CTIA wrote in its petition. "Channel 51 broadcast operations pose a substantial interference threat to mobile systems deployed in the A Block."
Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular both won A Block licenses in the 2008 broadcast spectrum auction. The operators are using it in their respective LTE deployments.
The temporary freeze is effective immediately and applies to both new applications and the processing of pending applications.
"We agree that freezing the acceptance of channel 51 applications will "stabilize the channel 51 environment" and "create the necessary conditions" to allow the Commission to consider the matters raised in the Petition in an "effective, efficient and meaningful manner," the FCC said in its order.
The FCC said the freeze was procedural so did not need to be delayed until 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, as is customary.
"Such a delay would be impractical, unnecessary, and contrary to the public interest because it would undercut the purposes of the freeze," the agency said.
The agency is still accepting applications from full power television stations trying to relocate off of Channel 51, and has opened a 60 day window for companies applying for low power television stations on the channel to request a different channel assignment.
The change does not affect existing broadcasters on the band, and the FCC will still consider applications for some minor modifications, such as when stations are damaged and need to be replaced.