The Federal Communications Commission recently adopted a Report and Order setting the rules to auction and license the H Block—ten megahertz of paired spectrum at 1915-1920 MHz and 1995-2000 MHz. In the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (the Spectrum Act), Congress directed the FCC to make more spectrum available for commercial use. As part of that mandate, the FCC was directed to allocate and license the H Block by February 2015. The H Block auction is expected to take place later this year or in early 2014, in advance of the 2015 deadline.
The Report and Order largely adopted the FCC’s proposals from the H Block NPRM, which found that designating the upper and lower H Block bands for Personal Communications Services (PCS) mobile operations would not result in harmful interference to the adjacent PCS band licensees. The Report and Order also adopted a “straight forward” band plan in which the upper H Block will be used for downlink operations and the lower H Block will be used for uplink operations.
The H Block is unique because it is the only spectrum identified in the Spectrum Act that is paired and already cleared of incumbent licensees (thanks to the prior relocation of Broadcast Auxiliary Service licensees by Sprint). The Spectrum Act requires the proceeds from these spectrum auctions be used to fund FirstNet, the first high-speed nationwide network for emergency responders and public safety. The H Block auction revenue could be a significant “down payment” towards the roll out of FirstNet.