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FCC Updates WCS Rules on 2.3 GHz Band

Action frees up spectrum for mobile broadband, helps to protect satellite radio from interference

For 15 years, some 30 megahertz of spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band was underused.

Though it was auctioned to wireless providers, they couldn’t use the spectrum efficiently without interfering with their neighbors, satellite digital radio and the aviation industry.

Now, the largest wireless communications services (WCS) licensee on the band, AT&T, has come to an agreement on how to use the spectrum to minimize interference with its neighbors, especially SiriusXM, and the FCC today voted to amend its rules governing WCS services in the 2.3 GHz band to reflect the update.

The action frees up some 30 MHz of spectrum for wireless broadband service while protecting satellite radio from harmful interference, according to FCC commissioners who spoke at Wednesday’s meeting.

Commissioner Robert McDowell, who invoked Star Trek in his vote, said, “We are adapting old rules and creating new ones” to facilitate the deployment of mobile broadband. The action ends a long-standing interference issue “putting to use valuable spectrum that has been wasted or under-utilized for years.”

The action is the FCC’s version of Star Trek’s “Prime Directive,” according to McDowell, allowing the agency to protect its licensees from harmful interference.

His colleague, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, agreed the action is built upon a private sector solution that ends 15 years of arguments. It includes a coordination agreement between AT&T and SiriusXM both to minimize interference and to mitigate harmful interference to satellite radio should that occur.