New Coalition Petitions FCC to Expand Shared Access to Underused Spectrum to Boost High-Speed Broadband Access in Rural and Underserved Areas

Photo: Pexels

Members of the new Broadband Access Coalition today called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to authorize a new, licensed, point-to-multipoint (P2MP) fixed wireless service in the underutilized 3700 - 4200 MHz spectrum band used primarily by fixed satellite services. The proposed licensing scheme and operating rules enable gigabit and near-gigabit broadband service in rural and underserved areas, and promote competition for broadband delivery among various technologies and licensees. 

The Coalition is a diverse group of more than 20 service providers, equipment vendors, trade associations and non-profit public advocacy groups. The co-founders are Mimosa Networks, Inc., the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), and the Open Technology Institute at New America. Other members include Cincinnati Bell Inc., the Consumer Federation of America, the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition, the American Library Association, Rise Broadband, Telrad Networks, and Public Knowledge.

The Coalition’s Petition for Rulemaking is intended to speed the deployment of very high-capacity fixed wireless broadband services in tribal, rural, and suburban areas where consumer choice is lacking and where fiber-to-the-home deployments are neither cost-effective nor necessary to enable gigabit broadband service. The new service would also enable more affordable high-speed connections to small businesses, libraries, and other community anchor institutions.

The Coalition’s Petition proposes shared access to 500 megahertz of contiguous spectrum for a new, licensed P2MP service. The new P2MP service would fully protect existing satellite earth stations and terrestrial point-to-point fixed service under a more modern and flexible policy than the one currently in place.

Without federal allocations or mobile services to protect, sophisticated spectrum management techniques are not necessary to make the band immediately useful for closing the high-speed broadband gap. Ultimately, the proposal recommends that a multi-stakeholder group implement an automated database to replace the current manual coordination process. 

“Our plan advances the goals of both Chairman Pai’s Digital Empowerment Agenda and the bipartisan MOBILE NOW Act in Congress,” said Alex Phillips, president of WISPA. “It also promotes efficient use of an underutilized resource and fosters competition among broadband providers. That’s a win-win scenario for both businesses and consumers.”  

“The majority of Americans do not have a choice among broadband service providers,” said Brian L. Hinman, CEO of Mimosa Networks, a fixed wireless equipment provider. “Sharing this spectrum with satellite operators represents the best path to competitive broadband services throughout the country. We’re proud to be leading this initiative, and anticipate bipartisan support for this critical first step toward improving our internet infrastructure.”

“Opening this large band of spectrum on a shared basis can rapidly make gigabit broadband service available and affordable in places where trenching fiber is too expensive,” said Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Program at New America, a nonprofit think tank. “The 34 million Americans who lack access to high-speed broadband, as well as the 40% of U.S. schools in need of higher-capacity broadband connections, can hugely and quickly benefit from this proposal.” 

The joint filing is posted here, a summary is here, and a list of Coalition Members is here.


For more information, please contact one of the following media representatives:

Alison Yost, OTI
alison@opentechinstitute.org, (202) 596-3345

Michael Calabrese, Wireless Future Project
calabrese@newamerica.org, (202) 986-9453

Breyana Franklin, WISPA
breyana@dalecurtiscommunications.com, (202) 495-3701

Amy Robinson, SHLB Coalition, 
arobinson@shlb.org

ATTACHMENTs:

3.7 GHz Band Petition for Rulemaking
3.7 GHz Band Petition Summary
3.7 GHz Band List of Coalition Members