FCC takes steps to free up 3.5GHz spectrum in Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa

11 May 2021

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that it has taken steps to enable the use of mid-band spectrum in the 3550MHz-3700MHz (3.5GHz) band for 5G use in Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa for the first time. After close coordination with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Defence (DoD), the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) and Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) have taken the following three actions related to 3.5GHz Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) and Spectrum Access Systems (SAS) approvals:

· Approved new and updated ESC sensor deployment and coverage plans of four ESC operators – CommScope, Google, Federated Wireless and Key Bridge Wireless – clearing the way for commercial access to the 3550MHz-3650MHz portion of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in Puerto Rico and Guam for the first time.

· Approved Federated Wireless to expand its SAS operations to cover the 3550MHz-3650MHz portion of the 3.5GHz band in American Samoa consistent with protection criteria described by NTIA in a letter filed with the FCC on 26 April 2021, which will enable the first CBRS deployments in that portion of the band in American Samoa.

· Conditionally approved three entities that applied during the Second Wave SAS application window – Fairspectrum, Nokia and RED Technologies, completing the first phase of the two-stage SAS application review process established by the FCC.

In addition to these actions, last week, the WTB granted an additional 13 applications for Priority Access Licences (PALs) in the 3.5GHz band, representing a total of 125 licences.

Acting FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel commented: ‘No matter who you are or where you live, you need access to modern communications to have a fair shot at 21st century success. This is true, of course, for those living in Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa too. These actions continue our efforts to bring 5G to everyone, everywhere in the country – and not create communities of 5G haves and have-nots.’

American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Federal Communications Commission (FCC)