Democrats have urged the FCC to ensure that small carriers win some of the broadcast spectrum and to set aside a significant amount spectrum for unlicensed use, which powers technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. But those goals could reduce overall auction revenue, which the government is relying on to pay for the $7 billion public safety network.
"Because if we get this right, we also will substantially fund a nationwide, interoperable, wireless broadband network for public safety—the First Responders Network Authority—even before we begin our upcoming spectrum incentive auctions," Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. "This is important, because it means we can finally deliver on the promise of the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Plus, funding this network through these auctions now will enhance the Commission’s flexibility to design more robust incentive auctions later."
Acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said the proceeding "has the potential to repurpose a significant amount of spectrum for flexible commercial use, benefiting consumers and businesses across the nation."
The proposal, released late Tuesday, covers the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz and 2155-2180 MHz bands. The Defense Department is currently using the the 1755-1780 band, but has agreed to move to other frequencies.