Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will consider potentially opening 1000 MHz of spectrum to new commercial uses.
The Order declines to adopt a proposal from January 2021 to open the 12.2-12.7 GHz band for mobile use out of concern that this would cause harmful interference to existing satellite services such as DirecTV and Starlink. However, in the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC considers other possible ways to expand use of the 12.2-12.7 GHz band, such as permitting unlicensed operations to support next-generation Wi-Fi or authorizing fixed wireless broadband services. In addition, the FCC proposes to clear a portion of the 12.7-13.25 GHz band for mobile broadband, but also seeks comment on whether to authorize unlicensed operation or other forms of access in this portion of the band as well.
Public Knowledge supported the original proposal to allow mobile in the lower band, but also asked the FCC to consider authorizing unlicensed or other uses of the band as well. Public Knowledge also previously supported opening the upper portion of the band for unlicensed or other new uses to support next-generation Wi-Fi and provide new wireless services for rural communities and Native Tribes.
The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:
“Although we had hoped the engineering would support opening the lower band for mobile use to enhance mobile competition, we respect the FCC’s engineering analysis. We have always said the science must lead, and the FCC has done a thorough and conscientious job.
“By the same token, we are pleased that the FCC will continue to look at ways to make this spectrum more productive. There are many ways this spectrum can help to bridge the digital divide, promote innovation, and encourage deployment of new services and new technologies. Opening this band for unlicensed use would provide the spectrum needed for Wi-Fi 7, which will provide gigabit speed for connected devices. Authorizing fixed wireless broadband could provide rural communities with an affordable high-speed solution and promote competition against cable in urban areas.
“Finally, we applaud the FCC for seeking comment on how its policies can contribute to promoting digital inclusion. We will strongly urge the FCC to consider giving Native American Tribes the opportunity to apply for any licenses authorized – whether for mobile in the upper band or for fixed wireless in the lower band – so they can continue to build their own broadband networks in some of the least connected communities in the country.”
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.