YOU ARE AT:Archived ArticlesPCS WINNERS GAIN FLEXIBILITY IN SELLING LICENSES UNDER FCC RULES

PCS WINNERS GAIN FLEXIBILITY IN SELLING LICENSES UNDER FCC RULES

WASHINGTON-The Federal Communications Commission voted Friday to allow broadband personal communications services auction winners to sell off parts of licenses and proposed to give all commercial wireless carriers the same flexibility, moves aimed at helping operators better react to market forces and to foster entry of small businesses that don’t have wireless permits.

The action also may help to speed the delivery of PCS service to less populated areas, which are typically the last to see new technology because they are less attractive to carriers in terms of generating revenue. Women and minorities, who lost bidding preferences as the result of a Supreme Court ruling last year, expect to benefit as well.

The ruling goes beyond the FCC’s original proposal in response to public comments in the proceeding.

Holders of A, B, D and E blocks can partition licensed areas and/or disaggregate spectrum blocks at any time, provided recipients meet minimum eligibility requirements.

C- and F-block PCS licensees are limited to doing business during the first five years of their 10-year license term with FCC-qualified entrepreneurs. After that, they can partition and disaggregate to non-entrepreneurs if they refund a proportional share of the outstanding balance on their installment payments and a proportional share of any bidding credits received.

The FCC chose not to limit a minimum level of spectrum that can be disaggregated or to define what parts of service areas can be partitioned.

Commissioner James Quello called it a “win-win” decision.

Entities that negotiate with auction winners to buy a slice of spectrum or to sell pocket phone service in part of the service area will be treated as separate licensees, having the same rights and obligations as the lead PCS operator. That means they have to meet construction requirements and relocate 2 GHz microwave users under cost-sharing guidelines.

“What we’re doing here is continuing to build on our reputation as the sword against anticompetitive regulation and the shield against monopoly,” said Reed Hundt, chairman of the FCC.

“All of this is the end of an era in terms of big government intrusion in the use of the spectrum,” he added. “It is the end of the era of industrial policy with respect to the spectrum. We believe that is a very, very significant opportunity if governments would just create the right climate that the information highway will turn out to be in many, many places a wireless-led information highway.”

In a separate action, the FCC streamlined rules governing experimental radio service. Experimental licenses played a big role in the engineering of the 2 GHz band for PCS.

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