U.S. Cellular gets access to more spectrum for COVID-19 response

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave U.S. Cellular permission to use additional spectrum to help meet increased demands for mobile broadband during the coronavirus pandemic.

Permission was granted in the form of Special Temporary Authority (STA) that allows the company to operate for 60 days in spectrum licensed to Advantage Spectrum in the AWS-3 band. It will enable U.S. Cellular to provide additional capacity for customers in parts of California, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.

“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 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.”

T-Mobile was granted similar permission over the weekend to boost capacity in networks where additional spectrum can be quickly deployed. Dish, Comcast, NewLevel, LB License Co, Channel 51, Omega, Bluewater and TStar License Holdings are part of that spectrum sharing deal.  

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At least 185 broadband and phone service providers have signed onto the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected pledge, committing for the next 60 days to not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus; waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of the pandemic; and open Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.