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FCC Frees Up More Spectrum for Wireless Broadband

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 proposed
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 possibility
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 Chris
Guttman-McCabe, VP of regulatory affairs, CTIA. "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. 

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.