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During the Tribal Priority Window and the upcoming 2.5 GHz Overlay Auction, the FCC will issue new licenses in areas of the country that are unserved or underserved by 2.5 GHz spectrum. Licenses made available during the Tribal Window and Overlay Auction will be issued in three sizes: 49.5 MHz, 50.5 MHz and 17.5 MHz.
The 2.5 GHz band is divided into two radio services, Educational Broadband Services (EBS) and Broadband Radio Service (BRS). The band consists of thirty-three 5.5 or 6.0 MHz Channels, of which twenty are for EBS and thirteen are for BRS. The EBS band is the successor to Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS), a 1960s era radio service designed for educational broadcast television. The BRS band is the successor to Multi-point Distribution Service (MDS), a 1990s era radio service designed for wireless cable. The current band plan is shown below.
In 2005, the FCC approved changes to the rules to allow the use of EBS and BRS licenses for two-way, mobile and fixed data services. FCC regulations allow EBS licensees to lease their spectrum rights for commercial uses, including broadband access. The majority of the spectrum capacity of most of these licenses has been leased to commercial wireless operators. 4G protocols, including WIMAX and LTE, are supported by a wide variety of equipment manufacturers. The spectrum can also be used to support more specialized networks, including utility smart grid applications, government organizations, public safety, etc.
In July of 2019 the FCC adopted rules to commercialize the EBS band in its July Report and Order by removing the educational eligibility requirement. The implementation of these rules on April 27th, 2020, provide EBS licensees the ability to sell their licenses to a commercial party.