FCC Frees Up More Spectrum for Wireless Broadband

Approves AT&T/Sirus XM Proposal Resolving Interference Questions

The FCC Wednesday continued its push to free up spectrum for broadband, voting to revise its rules for use of the mostly fallow 2.3 GHz wireless communications services (WCS) band along the lines of an agreement between AT&T Inc. and Sirius XM that will allow the company to offer LTE service, essentially freeing up 30 MHz more of spectrum for wireless broadband.

The move allows AT&T to use the spectrum adjacent to XM Sirius' Digital Audio Services Radio Service, while protecting against interference to that service.

The FCC attempted, but was unable, to permit similar flexible use of satellite spectrum for terrestrial wireless broadband with its prpopsed waiver to LightSquared, but was unable to resolve interference issues with adjacent spectrum used for GPS.

In this case, AT&T and Sirius XM are in agreement interference issues can be resolved and the FCC rule adjustment includes conditions for identifying/resolving harmful interference.

Of the 30 MHz being freed up for broadband use, 20 MHz will be for wireless and another 10 MHZ for fixed broadband in the short term and possiblty mobile down the road, as it were, but that 10 MHz will provide a buffer.

“CTIA is pleased that chairman Genachowski and the commissioners are taking steps to facilitate the deployment of mobile broadband services in the Wireless Communications Service band,"  said vice president o f regulatory affairs Chris Guttman-McCabe. "Freeing up underutilized spectrum is a critical component in the effort to meet the rapidly-escalating demand for mobile broadband services. Whether through removing regulatory barriers or clearing underutilized spectrum in bands that can be used for mobile services, delivering additional spectrum for mobile broadband allows the U.S. wireless industry to invest billions of dollars every year and deploy world-leading networks, resulting in significant economic benefits for U.S. consumers and businesses.”

The FCC continues to try to free up spectrum through more flexible uses as it pursues the parallel track of reclaiming spectrum from broadcasters to open up even more real estate for mobile broadband.

"Secondary markets are a powerful way to address demand and improve the efficient use of spectrum," FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said of the decision to adjust the rules, which was 5-0.