The 2.5 GHz band initially was set aside in the 1960s for educational television but was rarely used for that purpose. Years ago, the FCC renamed the band Educational Broadband Service (EBS) and said the spectrum could be used for broadband initiatives supporting educational use. In some areas, such deployments have occurred. Alternatively, educational license holders have leased much of the spectrum to commercial mobile network operators, including Sprint.
As previously outlined, the order adopted by the FCC today would give tribal entities the opportunity to gain licenses for 2.5 GHz EBS spectrum in their territories. Subsequently, an auction of unlicensed spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band would be held.
Today’s order calls for county-sized licenses, including two blocks of approximately 50 MHz each and a 16.5 MHz block. Plans also call for bidding credits for small businesses, rural service providers and tribal entities.