The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced last week that it granted an additional 22 applications for licenses through its Rural Tribal Priority Window program, allowing more applicants to use the 2.5 GHz spectrum band. This is part of an effort to close the digital divide and provide wireless services, such as 5G broadband, to rural tribal communities.
The FCC noted that these licenses were granted to tribal entities around the United States as part of the “first-of-its-kind Rural Tribal Priority Window” to provide up to 117.5 megahertz of the 2.5 GHz spectrum band, exclusively to tribes. These licenses allow tribes to provide broadband connection to their communities.
“We continue to make significant progress in putting this prime mid-band spectrum into the hands of Tribes so they can connect their communities to business, health care, and educational resources online,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said. “Far too many Tribal communities are on the wrong side of the digital divide, and this Rural Tribal Priority Window is making a real difference in helping to bring digital opportunity to these communities. This is one of the initiatives of which I’m most proud during my time at the Commission.”
The Rural Tribal Priority Window was created by the FCC in February 2020 allowing federally recognized tribes or Alaska Natives to apply for licenses to bring broadband to their territory, specifically in the 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum. On July 31, 2020, the Commission extended the deadline for the Rural Tribal Priority Window based on challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In October, the FCC granted its first set of spectrum licenses through the program to 154 applications. With these additional granted applications, there are now 179 GHz licenses helping tribes with connectivity needs.