Within a year of these rules being adopted, business/industrial entities—presumably, utilities and transportation entities--would have a year to acquire the 240 narrowband channels in their markets necessary to establish a 3x3 MHz swath to support the deployment of a private LTE system that could be controlled completely by the utility, O’Brien said.

“This gets built from scratch,” he said. “This doesn’t have to make any compromise for being back-end compatible, and—as a result—you can really push the envelope for security. Also, it’s the intention to have it not connected to the Internet, so it eliminates that vulnerability. These are design decisions that will be made not by us, but whoever the licensee is.

“This will have all of the capabilities—and then some—of Tier 1 LTE systems. It will be built by the same people; it will be using the same devices. It will just be private, so they will control all elements of access to it, and they will use the prioritizing capabilities to [implement] ruthless preemption.”

Any entity seeking to pursue this option would need to negotiate a deal with pdvWireless, which holds the spectrum licenses for about 60% of the licensed spectrum in the affected 5x5 MHz swath of 900 MHz airwaves that currently are designated for narrowband use.

“I would think they [utilities] would like this,” O’Brien said. “This gives anybody who has designs on broadband at 900 MHz one year to come in and make whatever deal they can make to get 240 channels. We’re there, and we can’t do it—all we can do is partner, because we’re not eligible to apply, based on the way that this works.”

In markets where a utility or other entity does not seek to create a 3x3 MHz broadband swath, the pdvWireless proposal calls for the FCC to conduct an overlay auction.

“There will be plenty of places where nobody’s come forward, and the commission can have an overlay auction,” O’Brien said. “Undoubtedly, we’ll bid at that auction, but maybe others will, too.”

Under all scenarios, the entity seeking to license the 3x3 MHz broadband spectrum to support deployment of an LTE network would need to pay for the relocation of any incumbent users to “comparable facilities,” O’Brien said. Typical FCC rules make relocation negotiations voluntary for the first year. If a deal is not made during the first year, negotiations are mandatory during the second year, with the FCC requiring “the incumbents to negotiate in good faith—always on the premise that the licensee is obligated to find them comparable facilities and pay for the cost of swapping channels,” O’Brien said.

“We’re a formidable force that has to be moved, if we’re not the ones who win the auction,” he said. “If [other entities] win and we’re there, they have to clear us. They have to give us comparable facilities.”