DHHL Submits Wireless Spectrum Applications to FCC

August 16, 2020, 3:30 PM HST · Updated August 16, 12:35 PM
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PC: The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL).

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has submitted five applications to the Federal Communications Commission for unassigned Spectrum in response to a Rural Tribal Priority Window that opened Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 and closes on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. Only federally recognized Tribes or Alaska Native Villages could apply for Spectrum in the Window.

Successful applicants will receive a license from the FCC to use a portion of the 2.5 GHz band. Two years after the license is granted, licensees must submit evidence that they are providing service coverage to 50 percent of the population in their license areas. Five years after the license is granted, licensees must show they are providing service coverage to 80 percent of the population.

DHHL submitted its applications after petitioning the FCC for a waiver in March.

The petition, co-signed by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Hawaiʻi State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, detailed the unique trust relationship between the State of Hawaiʻi, DHHL, and native Hawaiians. The waiver affirms DHHL as the only entity with the legal standing to apply in the Window and implement broadband service on Hawaiian Home Lands.

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“These applications represent a first step toward the Department’s telecom future,” said DHHL Deputy to the Chairman Tyler Gomes. “We are hopeful the FCC will grant us these licenses and that we can improve broadband connectivity across current and future rural homestead communities on the neighbor islands.”

The Spectrum available in the Rural Tribal Priority Window is a portion of the 2.5 GHz band. Applicants may designate their own desired license areas, so long as the applicant has a local presence in the area and the entire area is approved rural land. All five of DHHL’s applications were submitted for Spectrum on the neighbor islands.

The 2.5 GHz band is suitable for both mobile coverage and fixed point-to-point uses and is currently used by educational licensees and commercial providers that are under lease.

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