REMINDER: Certain AWS-1 and AWS-3 Licensees Must Make Build-Out Showings in 2021

In 2021, many AWS-1 and AWS-3 licensees will be required to demonstrate that they met end-of-term or interim build-out requirements. Licensees holding AWS-1 licenses that the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) initially granted in 2006, must demonstrate that they have met end-of-term buildout requirements by their license expiration dates in 2021. Licensees holding AWS-3 licenses that the FCC initially granted in 2015 must demonstrate that they have met interim buildout requirements in 2021. Licensees should refer to their individual licenses for the exact dates.

In general, AWS-1 licensees must demonstrate to the FCC that such licensees are providing “substantial service” in their license areas by the end of the license
term. Substantial service is defined as “service which is sound, favorable, and substantially above a level of mediocre service which just might minimally warrant renewal.”[1] The FCC has established no safe harbor for AWS-1, meaning there is no specific guidance as to what qualifies as “substantial service.” The lack of a safe harbor leaves flexibility for the licensee to determine what level of service is sufficient to serve end users, but also creates risk that the FCC will reject a licensee’s interpretation of the requirement. Failure to meet this substantial service requirement will result in license termination. The demonstration of satisfaction of the end-of-term substantial service buildout requirement, is separate from a demonstration of satisfaction of other applicable renewal requirements.

AWS-3 licensees must demonstrate that they are providing reliable signal coverage and offering service to forty (40) percent of the population of each license area within six (6) years of the date of license issuance (“Interim Buildout Requirement”), and must demonstrate that they are providing reliable signal coverage and offering service to at least seventy-five (75) percent of the population in each license area within twelve (12) years of the date of the initial license (“Final Buildout Requirement”). Many licensees

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Interim Buildout Requirement deadline falls in 2021. If a licensee fails to meet the Interim Buildout Requirement, the Final Buildout Requirement deadline will be accelerated by two years.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss these requirements, please contact Greg Whiteaker at greg@hermanwhiteaker.com, Dee Herman at dee@hermanwhiteaker.com or Hilary Rosenthal at hrosenthal@hermanwhiteaker.com.