FCC International Bureau Chief Mindel De La Torre joined FCC Incentive Auction Task Force Chairman Gary Epstein in announcing that Mexico’s Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT) had “confirmed . . . that our two agencies intend to follow common guidelines” for repacking television stations in border areas of the U.S. and Mexico that will clear the 600 MHz band “for mobile broadband use in both countries.” The development helps pave the way for the projected start of the broadcast incentive auction in March 2016.
The events, described last Friday in an FCC blog post, depict substantial progress since May on coordination efforts between the U.S. and Mexico. At that time, the FCC acknowledged in a public notice outlining the results of initial staff simulations on procedures to optimize 600 MHz spectrum clearing targets that Mexico had “not yet put forward any public plans for repurposing the 600 MHz band.” In its subsequent order on reconsideration in the incentive auction proceeding, the FCC stressed that it expected “to reach timely agreements with Canada and Mexico that will enable us to carry out the repacking process in an efficient manner.”
According to the blog post, the letters describing the accord spell out the procedures by which Mexico and the U.S. “will work together to help advance the ongoing FCC and IFT spectrum reconfiguration process.” Spectrum reconfiguration and related procedures outlined in the letters are also intended to advance Mexico’s transition to digital television, a move that was announced last year and involves the relocation of all Mexican TV stations below Channel 37.
Following the earlier release of Canada’s consultation on repurposing the 600 MHz band, De La Torre and Epstein hailed the Mexican guidelines as “another milestone on the road to a successful incentive auction.” As De La Torre and Epstein thanked “our counterparts at IFT for their hard work and cooperative efforts to reach this point,” a spokesman for the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition said, “we look forward to seeing the details.”