NCE Window: FCC announces filing freeze, census data and other procedures

In a Public Notice released today, the FCC has announced some dates and set some procedures for the upcoming NCE FM Filing Window.

August 2, 2021:  The FCC will open up Form 340 in the LMS filing system for data entry only.  This will allow applicants to be be able to “stage” their applications in advance of the filing window.  Any application that is actually filed (by clicking the green button the certification screen) prior to the filing window will be dismissed by public notice.   Form 340 will be accessible in LMS on the “Applications” main tab and by clicking on the blue “File an Application” pull-down and selecting “New NCE FM Construction Permit Application”.

October 5, 2021: On this date, the FCC will start a filing freeze.  During the filing freeze, no full-service minor modification applications may be filed for any of the reserved band channels 201~220 (88.1~91.9), as well as for commercial band channels 221~223 (92.1~92.5) and intermediate frequency channels 254~274 (98.7~102.7).  Secondary services such as LPFM and FM Translators can still file during the freeze. LPFM applicants seeking modifications involving Channels 201~222 (88.1~92.3) are strongly cautioned that subsequent activity in the filing window may impact the future viability of the LPFM station.

November 2, 2021: The NCE filing window will open at 12:01 AM EDT and filings made in LMS will be accepted.

November 9, 2021: The filing window will close at 6:00 PM EST (Reminder: we change back to standard time during the filing window!).  After the window is closed, no more filings can be made. 

The details of each application filed will be withheld from the public view until sometime after the window ends.

Snapshot date for “local presence” point: For organizations needing to compute whether it qualifies for the “local presence” point, which requires a minimum of two years, the FCC advises you can use the last day of the window to demonstrate that date.  Therefore, organizations that were established on or before November 9, 2019 could qualify for the point.

2010 Census data to be used:  While the US Census Bureau has already advised REC that they anticipate the release of 2020 Census Block level data in mid-August, the FCC has determined that due to insufficient time from when the data is released to the time when developers (such as REC, VSoft and RadioSoft) can update their systems and software, it would be best that applicants base all population calculations on 2010 Census Block Data.  This is an issue that REC has been working closely with staff to resolve.  We urge our developer peers to delay the release of 2020 Census products until after the window in order to assure fairness.

The FCC has made it clear in the Public Notice that 2010 data must be used and we anticipate having the capability at REC to detect any cheaters.  We hope that all applicants play fairly and not “fudge” the numbers in their favor.  This is going to be a very competitive window.

Also, just some reiteration of previous items:

Getting an FRN:  Applicants in this window that are not already a noncommercial educational (LPFM or full service) licensee will need to establish an account in the FCC CORES system and then apply for a FRN (FCC Registration Number).

Current LPFM licensees:  LPFM licensees will use the same FRN and password that they use for their LPFM station.  The NCE application must include a statement that the applicant pledges to divest themselves of the LPFM station prior to program testing of the new NCE station.   This means that as long as you make this disclosure and the NCE application is grantable, you will be granted a construction permit. That permit will have a condition that program testing is not authorized.  Before you can turn up the NCE transmitter, the licensee must have divested the LPFM station.  Divestiture takes place one of two different ways: (1) the LPFM license is cancelled, or (2) the LPFM station is assigned to a different organization, the assignment is granted and a consummation notice has been filed confirming that the different organization has control of the LPFM station and the previous organization (the NCE grantee) is now divested from it.

More information for LPFM stations can be found in REC’s LPFM Advisory Letter #2.

Parties that have made Show of Interest forms with REC:  REC has previously announced an embargo certain types of work not related to the upcoming window for early August.  This will allow us to get more deep into the applications.  Every show of interest applicant who has a viable proposed site will be contacted in early August to further drill down their preferred sites and antenna heights. 

Those interested in filing in this window:  First, make sure that there may be availability.  We can tell you right now, there is no availability in the urbanized areas of the Top-100 cities and most cities in the Top-150 are also unavailable.  Please consult the following REC resources for more details:

After determining that there may be spectrum available in your desired area, you can make a show of interest with REC by using our NCE Show of Interest Form at REC EZforms