One of the roles of the FCC is to ensure that all spectrum is being put to productive use, which is why it allows license holders to partition, disaggregate and lease spectrum to others that can use it. The commission adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking last week exploring how potential changes to its partitioning, disaggregation, and leasing rules might get more spectrum in use. The Notice also satisfied the requirement under the Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless Act (MOBILE NOW Act), passed by Congress.
“To ensure we do that as effectively as possible, today’s Notice tees up many questions regarding the Commission’s partitioning and disaggregation rules (which allow a spectrum license to be broken up into smaller pieces), as well as our leasing rules,” FCC Chairman Pai said in a prepared statement. “We’re aiming to figure out whether any changes to those rules would help small carriers and wireless Internet service providers get better access to spectrum, such as by encouraging spectrum licensees to lease or sell spectrum to small companies serving rural areas.”
The MOBILE NEW act requires the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to consider specific questions related to the partitioning or disaggregation of spectrum licenses and spectrum leasing as a potential means to increase availability of advanced telecommunications services in rural areas and spectrum access by small carriers.
Claude Aiken, Wireless Internet Service Provider Association (WISPA) president, applauded the FCC’s effort to spur secondary markets for spectrum.
“Far too often, small and rural providers have limited spectrum access because licensed spectrum lies fallow in rural America,” Aiken said in a prepared statement. “A more robust secondary market could enable small providers to gain access to licensed spectrum. We thank Chairman Pai for including our proposals in this item and look forward to working with the FCC to ensure that spectrum in rural America is put to its best and highest use.”