The FCC considers releasing 1,700 MHz of spectrum

By:
Natalie Bannerman
Published on:

The Federal Communications Commission will vote next month on making an additional 1,700 MHz of spectrum available for flexible terrestrial and satellite use

The Federal Communications Commission is to vote on making 1,700 MHz of additional high-frequency spectrum at its next open meeting scheduled for 16 November 2017.

According to a blog post on the FCC website, its chairman Ajit Pai writes that the extra spectrum will be used for flexible terrestrial use and will provide 4 gigahertz for core satellite use. In addition, Pai said that the decision to create more spectrum would build on its 11 gigahertz of spectrum, which the FCC made available for terrestrial use over a year ago, indicating the US’s desire to lead the world in 5G innovation. According to a blog post on the FCC website, its chairman Ajit Pai writes that the extra spectrum will be used for flexible terrestrial use and will provide 4 gigahertz for core satellite use. In addition, Pai said that the decision to create more spectrum would build on its 11 gigahertz of spectrum, which the FCC made available for terrestrial use over a year ago, indicating the US’s desire to lead the world in 5G innovation. 

Speaking to FierceWirelessTech Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO of ViaSat, said: “Based on our initial review of the FCC’s draft Spectrum Frontiers order, we believe the FCC recognized the important role satellite broadband plays connecting critically-important applications - from providing rural service to bridging the digital divide to assisting our armed forces with advanced national security, cyber and defence communications.”

Conversely T-Mobile criticised the decision of the satellite community in requesting more spectrum, hinting that they could be granted to access of spectrum without having to pay for it, “Unlike terrestrial providers of broadband services, they [satellite companies] object to participating in auctions to secure spectrum rights. But dedicating spectrum for only one type of mobile broadband—satellite mobile broadband—is poor spectrum management,” T-Mobile said in an Ex Parte in October.

Adding his commentary, OneWeb founder and executive chairman Greg Wyler said spectrum certainty is the biggest concern “If you went to Verizon and said ‘we’re thinking about taking back the 700 MHz, the 1.9, maybe’ it would just halt investment overnight. Don’t play with spectrum,” he said. “This stuff that we’re doing takes seven years to build and tens of billions of dollars to do it at the scale we’re talking about.”

Additionally in the blog post by Pai, he discussed the FCC’s plans to crackdown on unlawful robocalls, the rollout of the next generation TV, its plans to make it easier to build wireless infrastructure, expediting the transition from legacy copper networks to modern fibre networks, the Lifeline program, media ownership and updating form 325 requirements.

Most recently the FCC approved Padtec’s submarine line terminal equipment, including its transponder for ultra-long distances. The move marks an important step in the Brazilian company’s expansion into the North American market.

And earlier this month, Pai was quoted as saying that he plans to get rid of as much “government regulation of the telecommunications market place” as he possibly can. During a speech at the Reagan Library, Pai praised the Reagan administration for its deregulatory stance saying that it is something that he “strives for that bar every day”.