The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“Bureau”) of the FCC released an Order granting the petition for waiver of section 27.14(p)(1)-(2) and subsequent supplement filed by AT&T, BellSouth Mobile Data, Inc., New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC, and SBC Telecom Inc. (collectively “AT&T”).  The Bureau finds that granting the waiver, related to performance requirements and construction deadlines for AT&T’s 2.3 GHz Wireless Communications Service (“WCS”) C and D block licenses, is in the public interest because it will facilitate AT&T’s rapid deployment of a beneficial service in a way that makes efficient use of previously underused WCS spectrum while not causing harmful interference to adjacent Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (“SDARS”) operations.  The waiver, granted with certain specified conditions, extends AT&T’s September 13, 2019 final construction deadline to September 13, 2021, modifies the metric used to evaluate final performance for the licenses, and waives the March 13, 2017 interim performance deadline.

As a reminder, WCS and SDARS occupy 55 MHz of spectrum from 2305 MHz to 2360 MHz (2.3 GHz band).  AT&T holds all U.S. licenses for WCS C and D block spectrum, which are immediately adjacent to the SDARS spectrum, and argued that technical restrictions to protect SDARS and AMT severely constrained its deployment of WCS spectrum.

The relief granted for the licenses is conditional upon AT&T meeting concrete steps showing progress toward the modified final benchmark.  Failure to comply with these conditions in a given Regional Economic Area Group (“REAG”) will result in termination of the waiver in that market.  To track AT&T’s progress toward meeting the September 13, 2021 deadline, the Bureau implements the following milestone requirements:

  • September 13, 2017:  AT&T must file a report in ULS updating the Commission on the utility customers for which it has agreed to provide its smart grid service and the timeframes for deployment, as well as results of any equipment testing and trial/initial deployments.
  • September 19, 2019:  AT&T must have contracts for commercial deployments with at least ten utilities, file a report in ULS demonstrating that it has such contracts, and provide supporting documentation to the Commission.  AT&T must also have begun operation and provide corresponding documentation in two of the six continental REAGs, and update the Commission on the status of its build-out and contracts with other utilities.
  • September 13, 2020:  AT&T must have begun operations and provide documentation in four of the six continental REAGs, and update the Commission on the status of its build-out and contracts with other utilities.
  • September 13, 2021:  AT&T must file a report in ULS demonstrating its compliance with the modified final performance benchmark.

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