In a letter filed yesterday, the Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) acknowledged that the licensing staffs of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau have been directed not to process applications for renewal of Part 90 licenses operating on spectrum in the 470-512 MHz band (T-Band) and instead, to hold the applications in a pending status. This decision was certainly made in anticipation of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) eventually taking action in response to Section 6103 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Act), which directs the Commission to reallocate T-Band spectrum being used by public safety eligible entities and, begin an auction of that spectrum in 2021. However, EWA recommended that a far better approach for the benefit of licensees would be to grant T-Band renewals conditioned on the outcome of the T-Band proceeding, or any successor rulemaking in which the directives of the Act are implemented by the FCC.
EWA reminded the FCC that it used the identical approach during the pendency of the FCC’s license renewal proceeding (WT Docket No. 10-112), and that its application in this instance would avoid situations where a licensee needs to demonstrate that it has operating authority from the FCC, but must explain that what appears on its face and in the ULS database to be an expired license, actually remains valid because a timely renewal application was filed. EWA also stated that it was “unfortunate that the Bureaus did not consult the industry” before deciding to hold T-Band renewal applications in abeyance or, notify the industry that the decision not to process had been made.