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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