So far, the carriers have benefited from the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Further temporary spectrum access has been granted to bolster capacity by the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.
“[Additional spectrum for the carriers] is a big positive, because a lot of the networks have been choked,” Marc Ganzi, co-founder and CEO of Digital Bridge, said in an interview with Jennifer Fritzsche, Wells Fargo senior analyst (see related article). “The FCC has done a nice job to enable all of our customers to move forward, which is pragmatic. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is focused on getting spectrum into the hands of the carriers. That is what we must do. We can’t put up roadblocks.”
AT&T has been granted authority for 60 days to operate in AWS-4 band spectrum licensed to Dish Networks, and both AT&T and Verizon were granted similar authority to use AWS-3 spectrum currently held in the FCC’s inventory.
“Consumers and businesses across the country are making the necessary adjustments to maintain social distance during the coronavirus pandemic. This means an increased reliance on wireline and wireless broadband services,” said Pai. “The FCC has been coordinating closely with network operators to ensure those networks remain up and running. We have been encouraged by the feedback we have received so far both regarding the ability of their networks to handle changes in usage patterns caused by the coronavirus outbreak and how networks are performing so far.”
Last week, temporary nationwide access for spectrum licensed to Northstar Wireless LLC and SNR Wireless LicenseCo in the AWS-3 band was granted to Verizon. The Commission has granted similar requests by T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular.
U.S. Cellular will be allowed to operate for 60 days in spectrum licensed to Advantage Spectrum in the AWS-3 Band in order to provide additional capacity to customers in parts of California, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin.