205. The proposal in the NPRM to license the AWS-3 spectrum under Economic Areas (EA) geographic size licenses will provide regulatory parity with other AWS bands that are licensed on an EA basis, such as AWS-1 B and C block licenses. Additionally, assigning AWS-3 in EA geographic areas would allow AWS-3 licensees to make adjustments to suit their individual needs. EA license areas are small enough to provide spectrum access opportunities for smaller carriers. EA license areas also nest within and may be aggregated up to larger license areas. Therefore, the benefits and burdens resulting from assigning AWS-3 spectrum in EA license areas are equivalent for small and large businesses. Depending on the licensing mechanism we adopt, licensees may adjust their geographic coverage through auction or, as we discuss in paragraphs 139-143 above, through secondary markets. This proposal should enable AWS-3 providers, or any entities, whether large or small, providing service in other AWS bands to more easily adjust their spectrum to build their networks pursuant to individual business plans. As a result, we believe the ability of licensees to adjust spectrum holdings will provide an economic benefit by making it easier for small entities to acquire spectrum or access AWS spectrum.
206. The technical rules proposed in paragraphs 83-112 above will protect entities operating in nearby spectrum bands from harmful interference, which may include small entities. In the proposed band plan, AWS-3 spectrum would be licensed in five-megahertz blocks using EA licenses. Interference must therefore be considered between adjacent AWS-3 blocks, e.g., between 2155-2160 MHz and 2160-2165 MHz, as well as between AWS-3 operations in the 2155-2180 MHz band and services in the adjacent AWS-1 and AWS-4 bands. Similarly, AWS-3 mobiles could interfere with proximate Federal or non-Federal operations in the same or nearby bands.
207. The discussion in paragraphs 148-158 above pertaining to how the AWS-3 licenses will be assigned includes proposals to assist small entities in competitive bidding. We propose that the Commission would conduct any auction for licenses for spectrum in the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, 2020-2025 MHz, and 2155-2180 MHz bands in conformity with the general competitive bidding rules set forth in part 1, subpart Q, of the Commission's rules, and substantially consistent with the competitive bidding procedures that have been employed in previous auctions. Specifically, we propose to employ the part 1 rules governing competitive bidding design, designated entity preferences, unjust enrichment, application and payment procedures, reporting requirements, and the prohibition on certain communications between auction applicants. Specifically, small entities will benefit from the proposal to provide small businesses with a bidding credit of 15 percent and very small businesses with a bidding credit of 25 percent. Providing small businesses and very small businesses with bidding credits will provide an economic benefit to small entities by making it easier for small entities to acquire spectrum or access to spectrum in these bands. The Commission also seeks comment on whether the small business provisions we propose today are sufficient to promote participation by businesses owned by minorities and women, as well as rural telephone companies.
208. In para. 115 above, the Commission, consistent with the Spectrum Act's mandate to license under flexible use service rules, proposes service rules that permit a licensee to employ the spectrum for any non-Federal use permitted by the United States Table of Frequency Allocations, subject to the Commission's part 27 flexible use and other applicable rules (including service rules to avoid harmful interference). Thus, we propose that the spectrum may be used for any fixed or mobile service that is consistent with the allocations for the band. The technical rules we propose or seek comment on will allow licensees of AWS-3 spectrum to operate while also protecting licensees of nearby spectrum, some of whom are small entities, from harmful interference.
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