FCC gives access to 5.9GHz spectrum for rural wireless broadband amid coronavirus pandemic

The US Federal Communications Commission is taking some steps to help get broadband to rural Americans who don’t have it. On Friday, the agency granted nearly three dozen fixed-wireless internet service providers, or WISPs, temporary access to the 5.9GHz band of spectrum.

The agency is giving the 33 WISPs access for 60 days to help them get broadband to rural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary access to the lower 45 megahertz of spectrum in that band is sort of a dry run for the FCC’s plan to free up this portion of the 5.9GHz spectrum for unlicensed use. In December, the agency voted to split that band of spectrum so it could be shared with providers, allocating the lower 45 megahertz for unlicensed use. The upper 30 megahertz is allocated for the use of Qualcomm’s cellular vehicle-to-everything protocol (C-V2X).