The Federal Communications Commission next month is expected to float a proposal to overhaul license procedures in 2.5 GHz spectrum.
The agency’s tentative agenda for its May meeting includes a measure to initiate the rule-making process for the Educational Broadband Service band, which officials said goes unused across roughly half the country — and primarily in rural areas.
The FCC proposal argues that current rules for the band date to a time “when educational TV was the only use envisioned for this wide swath of spectrum.”
“A scarce public resource that could be used to connect millions of Americans for a long time hasn’t been put to the best use, if it’s even been used at all,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wrote in a blog post.
The proposal would define geographic limits for current holders of EBS licenses, as well as eliminate restrictions on lease terms and educational use requirements.
The commission also aims to establish three “filing windows” for potential users. Existing license holders would be able to expand to the borders of their respective counties, while rural tribes and education entities could apply to take advantage of unused spectrum.
Any spectrum remaining after those priority filing periods, officials wrote, would be made available to other commercial users through a competitive bidding process.
“I’m proposing [to] provide greater flexibility to current EBS licensees to freely use and transfer their spectrum,” Pai wrote.