FCC Grants 33 WISPs STA Request to Operate in 5.9 GHz

Washington, DC, March 27, 2020 – Today, the FCC granted the special temporary authority (STA) requests of 33 WISPs for access to 45 MHz of 5.9 GHz spectrum in order to meet demand brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.  These WISPs bring broadband service to thousands of Americans in 330 counties in 29 states.  The STA requests last for 60 days.
“The pandemic’s shut-in orders have really increased demand on this nation’s networks,” said Claude Aiken, president and CEO of WISPA.  “This has been particularly hard on rural Americans, and those effects are only amplified by poorer access to broadband in the heartland of America.”  The 33 small rural innovators who received their STA grants today already operate in the 5 GHz band.  With the temporary authority to use 45 MHz of 5.9 GHz band, “They’re set to quickly develop and deliver new high-speed broadband offerings for their rural customers who could really use it,” stated Aiken.
The new capacity will allow fewer network disruptions, facilitating the new use dynamics brought about by the pandemic response, such as increased telework, distance learning and tele-health uses.  “Our members are seeing over a 35% bump in traffic in peak hours, with 90% of them getting customer requests to add more speed to their plans,” noted Aiken.  “The more capacity they can quickly put into service, the more fortified their communities are against the challenges of COVID-19.” 
Added Aiken, “We truly appreciate the hard work and dedication of the Commission and staff to help our members access this needed capacity.  It will make the customers these WISPs serve safer and help stop the spread of the virus.”
WISPA’s approximately 850 members are composed of fixed Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) and the industry that supports fixed wireless broadband, including equipment suppliers, support services, and other components needed to run a successful business. Our members, and WISPs, in general, provide broadband access to over 6 million residential and business customers, often in exclusively rural areas.
Mike Wendy