The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted T-Mobile US Special Temporary Authority (STA) to use additional spectrum in the 600MHz band to help it meet increased customer demand for broadband during the coronavirus pandemic. The company requested this authority to make it easier for Americans to participate in telehealth, distance learning and telework while practicing ‘social distancing’. T-Mobile also indicated that this authority would enable it to be prepared to meet the needs of first responders. According to the watchdog, the STA will be valid for 60 days.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai commented: ‘The FCC is dedicated to helping Americans work from home, learn at home, and connect remotely to health care professionals during this crisis. I would like to thank all of the companies that agreed to make their spectrum available for this important effort: DISH, Comcast, NewLevel, LB License Co, Channel 51, Omega, Bluewater and TStar License Holdings.’
TeleGeography notes that the FCC’s 600MHz Broadcast Television Spectrum Incentive Auction concluded in February 2017. The bidding process raised a net total of USD19.3 billion, with 50 bidders placing winning bids for a total of 2,776 licences. T-Mobile US comfortably dominated the bidding, agreeing to pay USD7.993 billion for a total of 1,525 regional licences, edging out DISH Network, which bid a total of USD6.2 billion for 486 licences. For its part, Comcast agreed to pay USD1.7 billion for 73 licences, Channel 51 paid USD858.7 million for eight licences and Bluewater Wireless bid USD568.3 million for 66 licences.