1. With this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we take key steps towards closing the digital divide and we make further progress on the goals set forth by Congress in the Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless Act (MOBILE NOW Act) regarding the diversity of spectrum access and the provision of service to rural areas. In particular, we propose an enhanced competition incentive program focused on increasing spectrum access for small carriers and Tribal Nations and on increasing the availability of advanced telecommunications services in rural areas with the goals of promoting greater competition in and expanded access to such services. To achieve these vital Commission goals, we propose to modify our existing partitioning, disaggregation, and leasing rules by providing specific incentives for stakeholders to participate in the program by engaging in qualifying transactions that make spectrum available to these entities and in these areas. Separate from the incentive program, we seek comment on potential alternatives to population-based performance requirements for a variety of stakeholders. Further, we propose to provide for reaggregation of partitioned and disaggregated licenses up to the original license size.
2. The Further Notice builds upon the record developed through the Commission’s 2019 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which initiated this proceeding to examine spectrum access and availability of rural service, as Congress directed in the MOBILE NOW Act. We believe that the proposals in this Further Notice, taken together, will create new opportunities for small carriers and Tribal Nations to get access to spectrum, and will result in greater competition and expanded wireless deployment in rural areas, bringing more advanced wireless service including 5G to underserved communities.