At its May open meeting earlier today, the FCC took the first steps to establish an air-to-ground mobile broadband service – aimed at increasing Wi-Fi access and competition on commercial flights – that uses shared spectrum. The NPRM proposes to create the service as a secondary allocation in the 14 GHz-14.5 GHz band, the same band used by satellite companies for Fixed-Satellite Service (FSS) uplinks on a primary basis and by some federal services on a secondary basis. Service providers would have to put interference mitigation in place, and they would be required to coordinate with other users in the band. The NPRM asks for comments on the following licensing schemes: two 250-megahertz blocks, one 500-megahertz block or some other spectrum-block size. The new licenses would be sold at auction. Comments Dean Brenner, senior vice president/Government Affairs at Qualcomm, which designed the Gogo Wi-Fi network used on many U.S. aircraft, “This proposal takes the technology to the next level, allowing passengers to use their smartphones, tablets and other mobile broadband devices in the air with very-high-speed, high-capacity mobile broadband connectivity, just as they do on the ground. Qualcomm believes that the 14 GHz band can be shared successfully without causing interference, thereby promoting efficient use of spectrum and enabling competition.”

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RDOF Broadband Projects Taking Shape, Questions Remain

Broadband providers winning support in Phase 1 of the RDOF auction have years to complete those projects, but work is already getting underway.

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