FCC moves to auction spectrum in 1900MHz band

The agency votes for rules that would allow mobile service without interference

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has voted to open up 10 megahertz of spectrum in the 1900MHz band for commercial mobile services.

Thursday's vote would allow an auction of the 1915-1920MHz and 1995-2000MHz spectrum, called the H block, as soon as early 2014.

The FCC has considered auctioning the 1915-1920MHz and 1995-2000MHz spectrum in the past, but concerns about interference with a nearby PCS block kept the commission from moving forward. The FCC order adopted Thursday sets up technical rules to keep the so-called H block from interfering with PCS signals.

Congress, in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, required the FCC to license 65 megahertz of spectrum, including the 10 megahertz in the H block, by February 2015.  Lawmakers and the FCC have been moving to open up more spectrum for commercial use in anticipation of spectrum shortages in coming years.

The FCC must keep up with a mobile revolution that "shows no signs of stalling," Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said. "The commission must continue to ensure that the nation's wireless networks have the capacity, speed and ubiquity to keep pace with consumers' expectations, and their ever-rising demand, for mobile services."

Advances in mobile broadband technology have allowed the FCC to create rules that will minimize interference, Clyburn said.

Sprint Nextel, which holds a nationwide license in neighboring PCS spectrum, thanked the FCC for the licensing and technical rules it approved. The FCC adopted "balanced rules to protect neighboring licensees from interference while assuring H block licensees the flexibility necessary to provide wireless broadband services," Sprint said in a statement.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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