FCC Votes To Free Up Mobile Satellite Spectrum - Broadcasting & Cable

FCC Votes To Free Up Mobile Satellite Spectrum

Will boost investment in broadband connectivity and speed to healthcare facilities
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The
FCC took two more steps toward its broadband deployment goals, voting at its
public meeting to free up mobile satellite spectrum for wireless broadband and
boosting deployment and speeds to healthcare facilities.

The
votes on both those proposals were 5-0.

FCC
staffers had previously outlined for reporters its proposal to free up 90 MHz
of mobile satellite spectrum for terrestrial broadband through more flexible
use policies. That is part of the FCC's effort to reclaim 500 Mhz over the next
10 years, including from broadcasters.

The
MSS spectrum is the second biggest chunk after broadcasters' 120 MHz that will
be put toward the commission's goal of freeing up 300 MHz as part of the
National Broadband Plan within the next five years.

To
help meet that, the FCC is opening up the DBS band to mobile terrestrial
service, as well as secondary market leasing rules for other parts of the
mobile satellite band, including the Big LEO (low
earth orbiting) portion. That will allow that spectrum to be sub-leased for
terrestrial. It is also seeking comment on other suggestions for expanding the
use of that spectrum.

Those
changes will make that spectrum a lot more valuable in the private market, but
the FCC says it will try to make sure that as much of that new value as
possible "inures to the public interest."

The
healthcare initiative boosts investment in connectivity and speed to help give
patients in rural areas access to diagnostic tools. FCC Chairman Julius
Genachowski used as an example a worker with cancer who might be able to keep a
job by getting remote oncologist visits that would allow them to stay closer to
home.

Remote
health monitoring and diagnoses is one of the major national purposes goals of
the National Broadband Plan, both as a way to improve and save lives, and to
help reduce health care costs.

Saying
that almost a third of federally funded rural clinics can't afford "safe
and reliable broadband," the FCC voted to invest $400 million annually
from the Universal Service Fund to fund connectivity. That will include teaming
with nonprofit health care providers on statewide broadband nets where it is
currently "unavailable or insufficient"; paying half the monthly
network costs for hospitals, clinics and others, and extending broadband's
healthcare reach to nursing facilities, administrative offices and data centers.

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