FCC to Expand Access to 3.5 GHz Spectrum in Puerto Rico and US Pacific Islands

Last Friday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced plans to make mid-band spectrum available for 5G and other advanced wireless services in Puerto Rico, Guam, and American Samoa for the first time. The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) and Office of Engineering and Technology, in collaboration with other federal administrations, reportedly took several actions to enable commercial deployments in the band segment.

The press release stated that firstly, the FCC approved new and updated Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) sensor deployment and coverage plans of four ESC operators, opening up commercial access in Puerto Rico and Guam. Next, it reportedly approved Federated Wireless Inc.’s expansion of its Spectrum Access Systems (SAS) operations to cover a portion of the 3.5 GHz band in American Samoa.

Finally, the FCC conditionally approved three entities that applied during the Second Wave SAS application window after they sufficiently demonstrated their technical and financial capability to perform the work. As a result, Fairspectrum LLC, Nokia, and RED Technologies will move on to the next phase of the approval process prior to final approval.

In addition to these efforts, the WTB also granted an additional 13 applications for Priority Access Licenses in the 3.5 GHz band, bringing the total to 125 licenses.

“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,” FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. “These actions continue our efforts to bring 5G to everyone, everywhere in the country—and not create communities of 5G haves and have-nots. I want to thank our partners at NTIA and the Department of Defense for working closely with our great FCC team to make this progress possible.”