The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted U.S. Cellular special temporary authority (STA) to allow the carrier to use another license holder’s spectrum to boost mobile network capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Cellular will borrow the spectrum, which is in the AWS-3 band, from Advantage Spectrum for 60 days.
T-Mobile may have started a trend over the weekend when it asked the FCC for permission to use spectrum borrowed from Dish Network and several other spectrum holders to boost its capacity during the pandemic. As Telecompetitor reported, the borrowed spectrum is currently not in use by the license holders.
U.S. Cellular will use the Advantage Spectrum to provide additional capacity to U.S. Cellular customers in parts of California, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.
FCC Encourages Carriers to Borrow Spectrum
“During this crisis, the FCC is committed to pulling out all the stops so that broadband service providers are able to meet the changing needs of the American public,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, in a prepared statement. “I would like to thank Advantage Spectrum for agreeing to make its spectrum available for this important effort. I would also like to thank U.S. Cellular for taking the initiative and looking for ways to better serve customers who are making significant adjustments to their daily lives to minimize in-person interactions and slow the spread of the coronavirus. We will continue to do everything we can to Keep Americans Connected.”
“Keep Americans Connected” is a reference to a FCC requested pledge by which 185 broadband service providers (as of March 16th) have committed for the next 60 days to not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Carriers also agree to waive late fees for payment and to open their Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.