FCC Opens Rural Tribal Window for Access to Mid-Band Spectrum

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The FCC opened a priority window for federally recognized tribes and Alaska native villages to apply for spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band. This band—the single largest band of contiguous spectrum below 3 GHz—offers favorable coverage and capacity characteristics for next-generation mobile services, such as 5G. 

Last year, the FCC modernized the regulatory framework for this spectrum to make it available for advanced wireless services.

Through what the agency says is a first-of-its-kind priority window, tribes can obtain 2.5 GHz spectrum for free before any commercial auction. The window opened Monday, February 3, and will close on Monday, August 3, 2020. 

“My travels throughout Indian country have shown me that bringing high-speed connectivity to rural tribal lands can be a game-changer,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “That’s why I’m proud to extend this unique opportunity for tribes in rural areas to access critical mid-band spectrum and provide digital opportunity to those living on tribal lands.”

After the tribal priority window closes, the remaining unassigned 2.5 GHz spectrum will be made available for commercial use through a spectrum auction. The FCC’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy and its Wireless Telecommunications Bureau held a workshop on the initiative to ensure tribes can take advantage of the window.

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