FCC Denies RWA H-Block Petition for Reconsideration

On April 19, 2019, the Commission released an Order on Reconsideration dismissing and denying in part the Rural Wireless Association’s (“RWA”) Petition for Reconsideration in the 2013 H Block Report and Order, which adopted licensing and technical rules and a band plan for the 1915-1920 MHz/1995-2000 MHz bands (“H Block”) and a competitive bidding system. RWA’s Petition, filed in 2013, asked the Commission to reconsider its decisions to license H Block spectrum using Economic Areas (“EAs”) and to adopt population-based performance requirements, and argued these decisions violated § 309(j) and were not in the public interest.

The Commission disagrees with RWA’s arguments that it should have licensed H Block spectrum using CMAs rather than EAs and adopted geographic-based, rather than population-based, performance requirements. The Commission finds it acted well within its discretion and “struck a reasonable and well-justified balance among multiple statutory goals” in adopting the H Block rules. The Order also notes that the Commission carefully considered how the rules would affect small and rural providers, and does not believe that the EA-based licenses will deprive providers of opportunities to devise appropriate spectrum configurations. Additionally, the Commission states that it specifically considered and rejected geographic-based requirements, finding that population-based requirements are more appropriate for the H Block and will provide licensees with flexibility to promote deployment.

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