FCC Seeks Comment on Ways to Expand Access to Unassigned Auction Spectrum

On March 7, 2024, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“WTB”) released a Public Notice seeking comment on ways to facilitate access to the FCC’s inventory of currently unassigned spectrum in bands previously licensed for wireless services through auctions (“Inventory Spectrum”) in light of the ongoing lapse of FCC auction authority.  WTB has identified several mechanisms the FCC could use to make Inventory Spectrum available for Public Use and seeks comment on each, including whether to use combinations of the proposals:

  1. Providing access through dynamic spectrum sharing techniques – WTB notes that dynamic spectrum sharing has been deployed in the 3.5 GHz band and 6 GHz band.  WTB seeks comment on whether dynamic spectrum sharing could facilitate access to Inventory Spectrum for multiple users within particular bands and geographic areas.
  2. Providing access through non-exclusive site-based licensing – WTB notes that it has issued non-exclusive site based licenses for use in specific locations, consistent with existing allocations and service rules, that require licensees to coordinate with one another to minimize harmful interference for several bands.  WTB seeks comment on whether such a non-exclusive site-based licensing approach—with or without a third-party spectrum coordinator—could be used to provide the public with access to Inventory Spectrum.
  3. Leasing spectrum inventory licenses – WTB notes the FCC has attempted to implement innovative approaches to spectrum leasing to facilitate more flexible and efficient access to spectrum resources.  WTB seeks comment on whether the FCC could position Inventory Spectrum licenses so they could be leased to the public even if they have not yet been initially licensed.
  4. Special Temporary Authority (“STA”) – WTB notes that the public has access to Inventory Spectrum under limited circumstances and for limited purposes via grants of STAs.  WTB notes this mechanism will remain available to users regardless of any approach adopted in the future, but seeks comment on changes to the STA process that might serve the public interest during this period of lapsed auction authority.
  5. Other Options – WTB seeks comment on other assignment options to provide access to the FCC’s spectrum inventory, including innovation zones, under which users could experiment with different technical approaches, especially as it relates to dynamic spectrum sharing techniques, and information gained could then be applied to other geographic areas and spectrum bands to facilitate public access to Inventory Spectrum.

 In addition, WTB seeks comment on several general questions to facilitate access to Inventory Spectrum, including the drawbacks and benefits of each proposed mechanism, how to address co-channel and adjacent band interference issues for each mechanism, how the mechanisms might be adjusted to incentivize network investment, if any particular mechanism is more appropriate for a particular set of bands, for what term the mechanisms should remain valid, how the FCC should address issues related to mutually exclusive applications, and the impact each mechanism might have on the FCC’s Mobile Spectrum Holdings policies.

Comments are due on or before April 8, 2024.

Reply comments are due on or before April 22, 2024.

Please Contact Us if you have any questions.

The post FCC Seeks Comment on Ways to Expand Access to Unassigned Auction Spectrum first appeared on Telecommunications Law Professionals, PLLC.

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