FCC Unassigned Spectrum Rights Opportunity for Tribal Communities

Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt PC

Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt PC

Background Details on 2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Window
The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) is presenting federally recognized Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages with a unique opportunity to directly access unassigned spectrum over rural Tribal lands.

Once buildout requirements are met, the spectrum is suitable for both mobile and fixed point-to-point uses. Tribal applicants considering participation in the FCC’s Rural Tribal Window may determine if spectrum is available in the applicant’s area by using maps posted on the FCC’s website. The spectrum available in this window is a portion of the 2.5 GHz band. Some tribes are already making use of this spectrum. For example, at least two tribes, the Havasupai Tribe and the Nisqually Tribe, are currently accessing the 2.5 GHz spectrum to provide network and educational services to Tribal members. The Rural Tribal Window for applying for spectrum use closes on August 3, 2020.

Eligibility and Other Program Requirements
In addition to federal recognition or status as an Alaska Native Village, eligible applicants may designate desired license areas, so long as the entire area is rural Tribal land where the applicant has a presence. For purposes of the FCC’s program, rural means an area that does not include an urbanized area with a population of more than 50,000 people. The FCC will assess population figures using Census Bureau data. The designated rural area must also be located entirely within Tribal land. Tribal land, for these purposes, means any federally recognized Tribes’ reservation, including former reservations in Oklahoma and Alaska Native regions established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act or Indian Allotments. Consortia of federally recognized Tribes and/or Native Villages, or other entities controlled and majority owned by such Tribes or consortiums, are also eligible to apply.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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