FCC Transforms 2.5 GHz Band for 5G Services

The Federal Communications Commission voted to modernize the outdated regulatory framework for the 2.5 GHz band to make this swath of vital mid-band spectrum available for advanced wireless services, including 5G. The 2.5 GHz band—the single largest band of contiguous spectrum below 3 GHz—offers favorable coverage and capacity characteristics for next-generation mobile services. The Order eliminates restrictions on the types of entities that can hold licenses as well as educational use requirements, while preserving incumbent licensees’ private contractual arrangements and provisions in existing leases. Further, the Order removes limitations on leases entered into on a going-forward basis under the FCC’s secondary markets rules, which will create incentives to build out in rural areas. Additionally, the Order establishes a priority filing window for rural Tribal Nations to provide them with an opportunity to obtain unassigned 2.5 GHz spectrum to address the communications needs of their communities. The remaining unassigned spectrum will be available for commercial use via competitive bidding following the completion of the Tribal priority filing window. To maximize participation by small wireless service providers, the Order adopts county-sized overlay licenses, a three-part band plan (2 roughly 50 megahertz blocks and a 16.5 megahertz block), and adopts small business, rural service provider, and Tribal lands bidding credits. The Order also adopts robust buildout requirements to ensure that the spectrum is used to provide service.



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