FCC to open 10MHz for commercial mobile service

The FCC has voted to allow an auction of the 1915MHz-1920MHz and 1995MHz-2000MHz spectrum — called the H block — as soon as early 2014.

The spectrum was previously protected due to interference concerns with nearby personal communication system (PCS) signals. The commission, in approving the auction, also set up technical rules to prevent the H block from interfering with the PCS signals and other spectrum bands, including that used by the Dish satellite network for uplink services.

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, passed by Congress, requires the FCC to license 65MHz of spectrum, including the H block, by February, 2015. The H block is the only segment of spectrum that is paired and not in use by government agencies. Revenue generated from the auction will not have to be used to pay government users to move off the spectrum.

Acting FCC chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said recent advances in mobile broadband technology have now allowed the commission to create rules that will minimize interference.

Sprint Nextel, which holds a nationwide license for PCS spectrum, issued a statement that praised the FCC for “balanced rules to protect neighboring licensees from interference while assuring H block licensees the flexibility necessary to provide wireless broadband services.”

Sprint and Dish may be interested in bidding on the H block spectrum. Sprint could use it to enhance its LTE service, while Dish could use it for uplink services.

In a December 2012 order on Dish’s AWS-4 spectrum, the FCC specified the power limits placed on a portion of Dish’s uplink spectrum that sits next to the upper portion of the H block. Dish’s 40MHz of spectrum specifically runs from 2000MHz-2020MHz (for the uplink) and 2180MHz-2200MHz (for downlink). Dish has argued extensively with Sprint about power limits and interference protections for the 1995MHz-2000MHz band.