House Dems Ask FCC to Extend Priority 2.5 GHz Window for Tribes

Some top House Democrats have told FCC Chairman Ajit Pai that the FCC has not provided enough time for tribes and tribal nations to take advantage of a priority filing window for securing valuable spectrum. 

Related: FCC to Free Up 2.5 GHz for 5G

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

But in a letter to Pai Tuesday (Nov. 19) the chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Communications subcommittee, Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), joined by three other members, told the FCC its 90-day notice and 60-day window for applications was not enough time given that "tribal governments have collaborative processes for decisionmaking that often take longer than the period the FCC has allocated." 

They praised the creation of the priority window, but said that if the FCC "sincerely" wants to give tribes this priority spectrum opportunity, they need a meaningful opportunity to participate. 

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.