FCC Paves Way for 4G LTE Mobile Broadband Service

The Federal Communications Commission adopts framework proposed by AT&T and Sirius XM to provide for LTE service without disrupting satellite-radio transmissions. The agency also updates progress on wireless 'bill shock' initiative.

By Kenneth Corbin
Wed, October 17, 2012

CIO — The Federal Communications Commission today voted unanimously to revise a set of rules governing wireless spectrum to open a portion of the airwaves for mobile broadband service.

Additionally, at its monthly meeting the FCC produced a report outlining the progress that wireless carriers have made toward their commitment to provide customers with notices about looming overage charges, an issue the agency has dubbed "bill shock."

In its spectrum decision, the commission affirmed a plan jointly submitted by AT&T and satellite-radio provider Sirius XM earlier this year to resolve concerns about inference in the 2.3 GHz band. In doing so, the FCC paved the way to make 30 MHz of Wireless Communications Service (WCS) spectrum available for 4G LTE mobile broadband service.

"Making this particular spectrum available for broadband will help sustain U.S. mobile leadership in part because the U.S. is leading the way in developing LTE standards for the WCS band," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. "Today's order frees up spectrum by removing regulatory barriers to flexible use of spectrum for broadband, an approach that we are seeking to implement across the board, that can be as valuable as clearing and reallocating new bands of spectrum."

Wednesday's action continues the FCC's work to make more spectrum available for mobile broadband, an effort the agency has undertaken in response to the spike in consumption of wireless data that carriers have warned threatens to overwhelm their networks if they don't gain access to more capacity.

Last month, the FCC launched a rulemaking proceeding to develop guidelines for a series of auctions to reallocate spectrum from television broadcasters to wireless carriers. The agency has set the overarching goals of freeing up 300 MHz of spectrum for mobile broadband by 2015, and 500 MHz by 2020.

That agenda meshes with the argument Genachowski has recently made that broadband speeds and capacity are a pillar of U.S. competitiveness in the global economy. And the FCC under his watch has left no confusion that wireless will be a crucial driver of the broadband ecosystem.

"Over the past four years, the U.S. has regained global leadership in mobile, setting the pace in key areas like the apps economy, mobile operating systems and the rollout of 4G LTE networks at scale," Genachowski said. "The U.S. has become the world's testbed for 4G LTE services and applications, which is vital for U.S. innovation, leadership, and for sustainability -- job creation. And to maintain our leadership, and to spur future innovation, we need to ensure that the U.S. has a strategic bandwidth advantage -- advanced, high-capacity and ubiquitous broadband. That requires maximizing the value of the airwaves and ensuring that the spectrum crunch doesn't slow growth in the mobile economy."

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