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FCC Releases More Tribal 2.5 GHz Applications for Comment

FCC's 2020 seal
(Image credit: FCC)

The FCC said 57 more Tribal applications for 2.5 GHz spectrum have passed initial muster, meaning they are complete and have sufficient information to process for further review, including providing time for public comment. 

The commission is auctioning spectrum in the band but before that gave Tribes a first-of-its-kind priority window to get spectrum for free to help close the rural digital divide in Indian Country.

The FCC announced its first group of 157 applications that passed their initial reviews in September, then approved 154 of those last month and granted them licenses.

The FCC received over 400 applications for up to 117.5 MHz of spectrum, with the rest to be auctioned.

Senate Democrats, joined by at least two Republican House members, have been trying to force the FCC to open a new window for Tribal groups to file for 2.5 GHz 5G spectrum.

Related: New Bill Would Open Second Tribal Window For Free 5G Spectrum

A politically divided FCC voted last July to convert the 2.5 GHz band from one reserved for educational (EBS) licenses to flexible licenses that can be used for 5G, and to auction current unassigned spectrum (white spaces) in the band.

The Democrats on the FCC saw the sunsetting of the EBS-controlled band as an abdication of an important educational mission, and strongly dissented on that part of the item. The Republicans said they were putting dramatically underused spectrum to its highest, best use--5G--and reforming "arcane" rules.

One thing the Democrats did support was giving the tribal communities a priority window to obtain unassigned spectrum to serve tribal lands--the only part they approved.