FCC offering Alaska Native Villages opportunity to provide service over their rural areas
Beginning on February 3, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is offering a six month window for Alaska Native Villages and federally recognized Tribes to apply for direct access to unassigned radio spectra in the 2.5GHz band.
This window, called the Rural Tribal Window or Rural Tribal Priority Window, allows eligible federally recognized Tribes or Alaska Native Villages in rural areas to apply.
The FCC defines rural as an area which does not include an urbanized area with a population of more than 50,000 people.
Three channels will be made available on the 2.5GHz band. Eligible groups may apply for any and all available channels in their area. Successful applicants will receive a license from the FCC to use their allotted spectrum.
The FCC customarily dispenses licenses to applicants via auction. Since radio space is scarce, applicants bid on pieces of available spectrum. According to an FCC document, “spectrum auctions allow market forces to determine the highest and best use of scarce spectrum and the highest value user.”
This is not necessarily the case when it comes to the Rural Tribal Window. Eligible groups utilizing the window will receive their licenses free of charge. However, if two eligible entities apply for the same spectrum in the same area, they will be forced to bid against each other for the spectrum.
Successful applicants who receive a license must also meet certain conditions. They must supply at least half (50%) of their population with coverage within two years, and 80% of their population within five years. Failing to meet the two year deadline, they will be required to meet their 80% deadline within four years instead of five.
Licensees who do not meet their final deadline will automatically have their license revoked and their spectrum will go to auction.
Portions of the 2.5GHz band have previously been in use for Educational Broadband Service. Because of this, specific sections within an applicant’s channel might not be available if currently licensed by another party. However, if the current licensee of a spectrum relinquishes their license by expiry or some other means, licensees owning the channel within which the expired band was located will automatically be inherited by the channel licensee.
Interested parties can email the FCC at RuralTribalWindow@FCC.gov or