FCC Frees Up Spectrum for Mobile Broadband

The Federal Communications Commission took up issues relating to wireless spectrum at its monthly meeting today, voting to initiate a pair of rulemaking proceedings as it continues work to free up more sections of the airwaves for robust wireless broadband service.

By unanimous votes, the FCC opened proceedings to consider a proposal by Dish Network to reallocate a 40 MHz of spectrum currently licensed for satellite usage to wireless service, and a framework to achieve mobile device interoperability in a key portion of the airwaves while guarding against interference.

The latter issue, concerning the 700 MHz band of spectrum, has broadly pitted rural carriers against AT&T and Verizon, with the smaller firms arguing that their larger rivals have used their market clout to prevent certain devices from operating on all networks within that spectrum.

The Rural Carrier Association (RCA) hailed the FCC's move for its potential to level the playing field with large incumbents, which have argued that past device interoperability proposals would not shield their networks from interference, a standoff that prompted the FCC's regulatory intervention.

"Many RCA members own spectrum in the lower 700 MHz spectrum but are unable to build out their networks and compete with others moving to 4G/LTE because of a lack of interoperability," Steven Berry, the trade group's president and CEO, said in a statement. "The sooner this is resolved, the faster customers all across the country will have access to 4G/LTE devices and services."