Press Release Spectrum Reform

Public Knowledge Welcomes FCC Action to Use 12 GHz Band to Close Digital Divide

January 13, 2021 , , ,
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Last night, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that could potentially leverage spectrum sharing technology to help close the digital divide. Adding the 12 GHz band to the agency’s “5G FAST Plan” would potentially make an additional 500 MHz of contiguous spectrum available for additional uses such as gigabit Wi-Fi, fixed wireless broadband, and mobile 5G wireless broadband services. The notice conditions any expanded use of the spectrum on protecting previously approved satellite uses — such as new satellite-based broadband services –from harmful interference.

Public Knowledge commends Chairman Pai for moving this proceeding forward to determine if spectrum sharing technologies offer an opportunity to increase competition, promote innovation, and improve services to underserved communities by encouraging multiple non-interfering uses  of the 12 GHz band — especially vital during a pandemic.

The following can be attributed to Kathleen Burke, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“Expanding the 12 GHz band has the potential to make valuable mid-band spectrum available for applications that can help close the digital divide and deliver broadband in rural and Tribal areas.

“First and foremost, we agree that the Commission’s rules need to protect satellite as the primary use of the 12 GHz band. But, we also believe that there are other terrestrial uses of this band that will not harmfully interfere with satellite providers. We need to strike a balance and ensure that our nation’s spectrum is efficiently allocated, and this NPRM does just that.

“Moreover, we are confident that technical solutions exist to allow unlicensed and opportunistic use of the 12 GHz band without interfering with existing users. More than twenty years have passed since the FCC adopted its current rules for the 12 GHz band. Since then, the technology that allows shared use of spectrum has greatly improved, while the need to provide more spectrum access for more diverse uses has increased exponentially. Americans on the wrong side of the digital divide are counting on it; homes and business relying on increasingly congested Wi-Fi are counting on it.”

You may view our recent letter to the FCC for more information about the 12 GHz band.