Announcing a new Tell us what you think and help shape the future
Federal Communications Commission Logo - Click here to go to the FCC home page

Lower 700 MHz


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 and 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 digital television.
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 data resources and the licensing information process and releases.
Return to Top Arrow Return To Top
Last reviewed/updated on