To help close the broadband digital divide, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed an enhanced competition incentive program to encourage licensees to offer opportunities for small carriers and Tribal Nations to obtain spectrum via lease, partition, or disaggregation.
In a press release, the FCC said the program would also be available to entities interested in providing wireless service in rural areas. The FCC also noted that this is its latest action to close the digital divide and make further progress on Congress’ goals in the MOBILE NOW Act to promote diversity of spectrum access and availability of rural service.
According to the FCC, transactions that qualify for the program would be those that facilitate spectrum use by entities unaffiliated with the licensee wherein the licensee designates at least 50 percent of the licensed spectrum to an assignee or a lessee through either a small carrier or Tribal Nation transaction or through a rural-focused transaction.
The newly proposed program offers three primary benefits to participants:
- A five-year extension of the license terms for all parties to a qualifying transaction;
- A one-year extension of construction deadlines for all parties to a qualifying transaction in a partition and/or disaggregation, and to the lessor in a qualifying lease; and
- Alternate construction requirements for partition and disaggregation in rural-focused transactions.
The FCC said the proposal would create new opportunities for small carriers and Tribal Nations to get access to spectrum and would result in greater competition and expanded wireless deployment in rural areas, bringing more advanced wireless service including 5G to underserved communities.