FCC Expands Telecoms’ Spectrum Access to Bolster Wireless Capacity During Pandemic

March 24, 2020 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – The Federal Communications Commission’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau has granted requests from AT&T and Verizon to use additional spectrum to help meet escalating wireless demand during the coronavirus outbreak.

AT&T has been granted authority to operate in the AWS-4 band Spectrum licensed to DISH, and both AT&T and Verizon have been granted permission to use the AWS-3 spectrum currently held in the FCC’s inventory.

Access to both spectrums is temporary and will lapse in 60 days unless extended.

“Consumers and businesses across the country are making the necessary adjustments to maintain social distance during the coronavirus pandemic.  This means an increased reliance on wireline and wireless broadband services,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. 

“The FCC has been coordinating closely with network operators to ensure those networks remain up and running,” he continued. “We have been encouraged by the feedback we have received so far regarding the ability of their networks to handle changes in usage patterns caused by the coronavirus outbreak and how networks are performing so far.”

Pai said despite these steps, the agency is continuing to monitor the situation closely.

He thanked DISH for its willingness to allow this use of the spectrum for which they hold licenses, and he also applauded AT&T and Verizon for seeking out ways to meet increased consumer demand. 

Among the federal entities that helped move the applications forward were the Justice Department, Defense Department CIO, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Office of Spectrum Management.

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