FCC to open up more spectrum for terrestrial fixed and mobile 5G

The FCC voted to propose opening up even more spectrum for 5G, allowing sharing of spectrum now used for weather forecasting by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  It was a unanimous decision to take the first step toward reallocating spectrum for shared use between those federal users and non-federal flexible-use wireless.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) approved at Thursday’s (May 9, 2019) FCC open meeting proposes to reallocate that spectrum (1675-1680 MHz) on a co-primary basis, meaning both weather forecasting and wireless will have equal stature. The band can be used for terrestrial fixed and mobile (except aeronautical mobile) on a shared basis, with appropriate technical rules to protect each.

The FCC is also seeking comment on other ways the NOAA weather data can be delivered to those now receiving it via earth stations using  the 1675-1680 MHz band.  In particular, the Commission seeks comment on how to implement a sharing framework that would create opportunities for commercial operations in this band while also protecting incumbent federal users.  Finally, the Commission asks about possible alternative methods of providing access to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather data to other non-federal users that currently receive such data via earth stations they operate in this band.

Wireless broadband is a critical component of economic growth, job creation, public safety, and global competitiveness, and the demand for spectrum continues to increase.  As shown by today’s action, the Commission is continuing to work to identify and make available additional spectrum to meet the growing demand.

“Today, the FCC joined together to take an important step to free up vital mid-band spectrum and help secure American digital superiority in 5G,” said Doug Smith, CEO of Ligado Networks, which had sought the move as part of its mid-band 5G strategy, which will require 40 MHz of spectrum. “Under chairman Pai’s leadership, this FCC is working hard to identify opportunities to make mid-band spectrum available, and the NPRM on 1675–1680 MHz will help deliver on the promise of developing and deploying 5G in the U.S. as soon as possible. We applaud the Commissioners’ commitment to make our nation first in next-generation technologies through a free market approach that encourages private sector investment and innovation.”

“The FCC’s action today proposing to reallocate the 1675–1680 MHz band for shared federal and non-federal commercial use is another positive step in the effort to make available more mid-band spectrum for private sector use,” said Free State Foundation president Randolph May. “It should not go unremarked that the FCC’s action today is an important ‘infrastructure’ measure — just as much as a federal grant to build a highway or road — because the availability of spectrum, especially mid-band spectrum, is necessary to support the investment in transmitters, small antennas, tower structures, terrestrial links, and so forth that will comprise the guts of 5G network infrastructure.”

Public Knowledge also praised the move:  “Consumer demand for wireless services continues to grow, and spectrum that can easily be cleared and used for mobile use has been exhausted,” said PK senior policy counsel Phillip Berenbroick. “Today’s proposal to permit sharing of the 1675-1680 MHz band correctly recognizes the need to more efficiently use scarce spectrum resources to meet this consumer demand, while also ensuring federal users can accomplish their missions. Public Knowledge supports the NPRM and looks forward to weighing in on the details of the 1675-1680 MHz band plan.”




2 thoughts on “FCC to open up more spectrum for terrestrial fixed and mobile 5G

  1. FCC ends 24 GHz auction, collects more than $2B:

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has completed its 24 GHz 5G spectrum, the agency said, adding that it raised more than $2 billion and awarded nearly all of the 2,909 licenses up for sale in the millimeter-wave band. Telecoms submitting bids included Frontier Communications and Windstream Communications and the FCC said it will reveal more information on the 24 GHz and previous 28 GHz auctions soon.



  2. FCC controversially relaxes its rules to open mid-band spectrum for 5G

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to relax its rules around who can own spectrum in the 2.5GHz band.

    Rules first established in the Kennedy-era required spectrum in the 2.5GHz band to be used for educational purposes. With more spectrum now needed for 5G, the FCC has decided to open up the “underutilised” airwaves.

    The FCC voted 3-2 in favour of changing the rules and claims it will help with “closing the digital divide” between rural and more developed areas.

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the vote “a major step toward freeing up critical mid-band spectrum for 5G.”

    Sprint uses leased spectrum in the 2.5GHz band for its 4G network and its ongoing rollout of 5G. Part of the reason why T-Mobile is willing to splash $26 billion on acquiring Sprint is to use the mid-band spectrum for its own 5G network.

    “At long last, we remove the burdensome restrictions on this band, allowing incumbents greater flexibility in their use of the spectrum and introduce a spectrum auction that will ensure that this public resource is finally devoted to its highest-valued use,” added Pai.

    The FCC also hopes that relaxing the rules will help the US meet its ambitious 5G strategy of establishing itself as the world leader. Under the new rules, the FCC will auction 2.5GHz spectrum directly to operators.


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