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FCC Wireless Spectrum NPRM Teed Up for Comment

Interested parties will have until the beginning of June to weigh in on whether the FCC should loosen its rules on mobile satellite spectrum to allow for terrestrial use, a move that would open the door to allowing Dish to deliver mobile wireless broadband.

The FCC declined to grant Dish a waiver -- similar to the LightSquared waiver it granted before rescinding -- to use its MSS spectrum for a terrestrial wireless broadband service. The FCC did approve Dish's $3 billion purchase of about 40 MHz of MSS spectrum from two bankrupt entities -- DBSD North America and TerreStar. The satellite giant has said that it plans to build out its own wireless network with the licenses. And while it declined to grant the waiver, it signaled it would propose a broader change to that MSS satellite-only policy in a rulemaking.

True to its word, the FCC on March 21 opened a proceeding on how to open up satellite spectrum in the 2 GHz MSS band for mobile terrestrial use, one of the proposals in the National Broadband Plan and yet another element of the FCC's multipart strategy to free up spectrum from broadcasters and others for mobile broadband.

Now that the March 21 NPRM and associated notice of inquiry have been published in the Federal Register -- the NPRM was published Tuesday (April 17), the NOI had already been published -- the comment dates have been set at May 17 for initial comments and June 1 for replies.  

The FCC has been trying to adopt a more flexible use policy for spectrum that could be repurposed to help meet the growing demands of all those smartphones, tablets and apps. It was the motivation behind granting a waiver to LightSquared to use its satellite spectrum for terrestrial service, though that waiver ran into what the FCC has called unresolvable interference issues with GPS, at least in the short term.