As more people find themselves relying on an internet connection to work or go to school, those in rural areas are finding it a bit more difficult to continue with business as normal. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is looking to help by giving fixed-wireless companies in rural areas access to 5.9Ghz spectrum.
The FCC granted over 30 fixed-wireless internet service providers (ISPs) access to the 5.9 Ghz spectrum to help them deliver more reliable internet service to their customers. Of course, that spectrum access is granted on a temporary basis.
The FCC gave these ISPs this new spectrum access for 60 days. Although, experts expect that access to be extended should the COVID-19 pandemic continue past that date.
According to CNET, giving ISPs free access to that band of spectrum is “…sort of a dry run for the FCC’s plan to free up this portion of the 5.9GHz spectrum for unlicensed use.” The agency voted back in 2019 to split that band of spectrum up, so the lower 45 MHz could be free available for unlicensed use.
This is a big deal because that spectrum was previously reserved for the exclusive use of Dedicated Short-Range COmmunications (DSRC) by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Obviously, the department is not thrilled that the FCC decided to take away their exclusive usage rights.
Ajit Pai, the FCC chairman has long criticized the transportation industry for not using that spectrum to develop DSRC technology, which was the entire point of giving them exclusive usage right in the first place. As far as the FCC is concerned, if they aren’t going to use that spectrum they’ll give it to someone who will.
While giving fixed-wireless ISPs that serve rural areas access to this spectrum won’t completely fix everyones internet connectivity issues, it will help. In today’s world, every little bit helps.