About Lower 700 MHz
In 2002, the FCC reallocated the 698-746 MHz spectrum band (Lower 700 MHz Band) that had been allocated to television
Channels 52-59. The recovery of the Lower 700 MHz Band will be made possible by the conversion of television broadcasting
from the existing analog transmission system to a digital transmission system. Because the digital television (DTV) transmission
system is more spectrally efficient than the analog system, less spectrum will be needed for broadcast television service after the
transition to DTV on channels 2 - 51 is complete.
The reclamation of television spectrum has been addressed in two proceedings: the Upper 700 MHz Band (Channels 60-69) which
comprises 60 megahertz, and the the Lower 700 MHz Band (Channels 52-59) which comprises 48 megahertz. This is primarily due
to different statutory requirements applicable to the two bands and differing degrees of incumbency in the two bands. By statute, the
FCC was specifically required to reclaim channels 60-69 for new services in the Upper 700 MHz Band. While Congress did not specify
the amount of spectrum to be reclaimed beyond the Upper 700 MHz Band, the Commission determined that all broadcasters could
operate with digital transmission systems in Channels 2-51 after the transition. Thus the Commission reallocated Channels 52-59 for
new services in the Lower 700 MHz proceeding. In that proceeding, the Commission explained that the Lower 700 MHz Band is
significantly more occupied by incumbent television operations and temporary DTV assignments than the Upper 700 MHz Band.
(For more information see Lower 700 MHz Band Releases
Pursuant to Section 309(j)(14) of the Communications Act, the FCC was required to assign spectrum recovered from broadcast
television using competitive bidding. The Lower 700 MHz Band
Auction No. 44
Auction No. 49
were held from August 27 to
September 18, 2002 and May 28 to June 13, 2003, respectively. The statute further requires incumbent broadcasters to cease
operation in the recovered spectrum by the end of 2006 unless the end of the transition is extended. As provided in the statute,
the FCC is required to extend the end of the transition at the request of individual broadcast licensees on a market-by-market
basis if one or more of the four largest network stations or affiliates are not broadcasting in digital, digital-to-analog converter
technology is not generally available, or 15 percent or more television households are not receiving a digital signal.
During this transition period, incumbent broadcasters may continue to operate in the Lower 700 MHz Band. The FCC adopted rules
for new licensees to protect incumbent broadcasters during this transition to digital broadcasting. New licensees may operate in the
band prior to the end of the transition, provided they do not interfere with these existing broadcasters on Channels 52 to 59.
Depending on the license, there may be significant interference protection issues for new licensees seeking to initiate service in the
Lower 700 MHz Band. In addition to the existing analog broadcasters, new licensees will also need to take into account the large
number of digital broadcasters who will operate temporarily in the Lower 700 MHz Band during the transition. On average, there are
slightly more than ten times the number of digital stations per channel on Channels 52-59 as compared to Channels 60-69. Thus,
the degree of incumbency in the Lower 700 MHz Band - consisting of both digital and analog broadcasters - is likely to make it far
more difficult for new services to operate in this band, particularly in major metropolitan markets, prior to the end of the transition to
A licensee on the Lower 700 MHz Band is permitted to provide fixed, mobile, and broadcast services. Possible uses of this spectrum
include digital mobile and other new broadcast operations, fixed and mobile wireless commercial services (including FDD- and TDD-based services),
as well as fixed and mobile wireless uses for private, and internal radio needs.
The rules governing the Lower 700 MHz Band are generally found in the 47 CFR Part 1 and Part 27
You may read more about
resources and the
process and releases