RWA’s Petition for Reconsideration asking the FCC to license the 1915-1920 MHz and 1995-2000 MHz (“H Block”) band on a Cellular Market Area (“CMA”) basis has drawn support from small and regional carriers NTCH, Inc. (“NTCH”) and NTELOS Holdings Corp. (“nTelos”).

In its own filing, NTCH asks the FCC to reconsider certain aspects of the auction rules adopted for the upcoming H Block auction (“Auction 96”) and to address RWA’s petition prior to conducting Auction 96, an action that would depart from the FCC’s usual practice of acting on reconsideration petitions many years after the auction.

RWA points out, correctly, that use of such large geographic areas to license this service effectively excludes smaller carriers from participation in the auction because the sheer size of such areas vastly exceeds the needs of smaller carriers to serve their customers,” states NTCH. “The practice of delaying action on well-founded recon petitions like RWA’s subverts the orderly process of reaching a decision, reconsidering it upon reasonable request, and having it be subject to prompt judicial review.

nTelos shares RWA’s concern that the FCC’s decision to issue H Block licenses on an Economic Area basis may prevent many carriers, including nTelos itself, from participating in Auction 96.

nTelos agrees with RWA that this action may hinder small, rural and regional carriers from meaningfully participating in the H Block Auction, and be inconsistent both with the public interest and the Commission’s statutory obligations under Section 309(j) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended… Due to this decision, nTelos is currently evaluating whether to participate in Auction 96… Therefore, nTelos urges the Commission to adopt RWA’s suggestion and issue licenses for the H Block on a CMA basis.

Auction 96 is scheduled for January 22, 2014, and short-form applications to participate are due this week on November 15, 2013.