The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed plans to accelerate the frequency reassignment timetable relating to last year’s 600MHz Broadcast Television Spectrum Incentive Auction, in an effort to assist with the recovery of Hurricane Maria-stricken TV broadcasters located on Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. As a direct result, the time-frame within which 600MHz spectrum winners are able to utilise the airwaves has also been hastened. All but two of the affected stations were initially assigned to transition Phase 3 in the FCC’s ‘Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice’, which had a phase completion date of 21 June 2019. Now the broadcasters will be obliged to vacate the spectrum as of 1 August 2018.
T-Mobile US was said to be one of the key driving forces behind the move, and in a Twitter post, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray commented: ‘The repack of Puerto Rico TV stations has been accelerated, which means we can deploy our 600MHz spectrum much faster than planned, bringing improved broadband LTE coverage to PR!’
TeleGeography notes that T-Mobile agreed to pay USD7.99 billion for a total of 1,525 regional licences in the FCC licensing process, securing an average of 31MHz of 600MHz spectrum nationwide. The cellco switched on its first 600MHz LTE network in Wyoming in August 2017, and went on to cover 586 US towns and cities by year-end.