FCC Releases Public Notice on 2.5 GHz Auction

On May 6, 2022, the Office of Economics and Analytics (“OEA”) and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“WTB”) (collectively “Bureaus”) released a Public Notice addressing ex parte filings that suggest additional adjustments should be made to the 2.5 GHz Auction (“Auction 108”) inventory and reminding participants of their Auction 108 due diligence duty and the prohibited communications rule.  You may recall that in April, the FCC released Public Notice updating the inventory of overlay licenses that will be available in Auction 108.  In recent ex parte filings, T-Mobile suggested that further adjustments should be made to the inventory based upon an analysis they conducted.  The Bureaus decline to adjust the inventory, and do not anticipate further revisions absent changes required by disposition of the Rural Tribal Priority Window applications.

Instead the Bureaus remind applicants that they have a responsibility to conduct their own further due diligence to determine whether the available white space in the overlay license is useful or available for their use.  The FCC anticipates that a substantial number of licenses in the Auction 108 inventory have very small amounts of unassigned area or unassigned spectrum, and the details in each case may or may not be of significance to a potential user of the spectrum.  Thus, interested parties should consult the Universal Licensing System to confirm all information in the Auction 108 mapping tool and determine the amount of spectrum that is available.

In addition, the Bureaus also remind applicants the pending applications in the Rural Tribal Priority Window, if granted, will have incumbent status vis-à-vis licenses awarded in Auction 108.  Any winning bidder awarded a license in Auction 108 will not be allowed to operate within the license area of a successful Rural Tribal Priority Window applicant, even if that Rural Tribal Priority Window application remains pending at the time of issuance of the overlay license.  In the event that a grant of a Rural Tribal Priority Window application results in a country/channel block combination having no unassigned spectrum, then the Commission will announce the removal of the affected licenses from the auction inventory.

Finally, the Bureaus remind Auction 108 participants that the FCC’s prohibition against certain communications goes into effect at the deadline for the filing of short-form applications, which is May 10, 2022 at 6:00 PM.  The Bureaus also caution participants that communications in a FCC docket regarding Auction 108 licenses that may reflect an interest in bidding on those licenses may violate the prohibition or at minimum raise questions regarding a potential violation which could require reporting.  Though the Bureaus do not anticipate a need to communicate with the FCC regarding licenses or related data, if there is a reason for any party to do so, they should do it without disclosing to the public any interest in particular licenses and consider filing a request for confidentiality for any such filing.

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