Advanced Wireless Service (AWS) is the collective term the FCC uses for innovative fixed and mobile terrestrial wireless services using bandwidth that is sufficient for the provision of a variety of applications, including those using voice and data (such as internet browsing, message services, and full-motion video) content. The services provided by AWS licensees are limited only by the Fixed and Mobile designation of the spectrum we allocate for AWS and the services rules we ultimately adopt for the bands.
The Commission has designated several different AWS spectrum bands over the years. The following contains a general description of the individual AWS bands that primarily focuses on recent actions the Commission has taken to establish rules to license these bands. The descriptions contain links to pages with more detailed information about each band, including historical information.
AWS-1: In 2002, the FCC released an Order that allocated 90 MHz of spectrum for AWS in the 1710-1755 and 2110-2155 MHz spectrum range. These spectrum bands are known as AWS-1. In 2002, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that sought comment on service rules for AWS. In 2003, the FCC released an Order that established rules to license AWS in the 1710-1755 and 2110-2155 MHz spectrum range.
AWS at 1915-1920 MHz/1995-2000 MHz (“H Block”): In 2012, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to develop rules for the H Block, as part of an effort to implement the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Spectrum Act). In June 2013, the FCC released a Report and Order containing licensing, operating, technical, and competitive bidding rules for the H Block.
AWS-3: Following a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in July 2013, the Commission adopted a Report and Order in March 2014 with allocation, technical, and licensing rules for commercial use of the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz and 2155-2180 MHz bands. These spectrum bands are collectively known as AWS-3. The AWS-3 Report and Order required that commercial operators successfully coordinate with Federal incumbents before operating in certain Protection Zones. In July 2014, the FCC and NTIA put out a Joint Public Notice Announcing AWS-3 Coordination Details, which refined the default nationwide coordination zones and provided additional information regarding coordination between Federal and non-Federal commercial shared use of the 1695-1710 MHz and 1755-1780 MHz bands.
AWS-4: In 2012, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposed to apply AWS service rules for spectrum in the 2000-2020 and 2180-2200 MHz spectrum range. These spectrum bands, which are also allocated and authorized for Mobile Satellite Service (MSS), are known as AWS-4. Later the same year, the FCC released a Report and Order and Order of Proposed Modification adopting flexible use service rules in those bands. In February 2013, the Commission issued an Order of Modification to modify the licenses of the incumbent MSS licensees in that spectrum to grant them AWS-4 terrestrial operating authority. In December 2013, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order granting a petition for waiver of certain rules in the 2000-2020 MHz band, subject to certain conditions, in order to provide the licensees of that band with flexibility to use it for uplink or downlink operations, and providing a concomitant extension of the AWS-4 buildout milestone.
Market Areas and Channel Blocks
AWS licenses are issued by FCC market areas and channel blocks.
FCC market areas consist of one or more counties. The market areas for AWS licenses are:
- Cellular Market Area (CMA) – There are 734 CMAs
- Economic Area (EA) – There are 176 EAs
- Regional Economic Area Grouping (REAG) – There are 12 REAGs
Channel blocks are groups of frequencies. For the specific channel blocks associated with a particular AWS band, please see § 27.5(h),(j)(k) (Frequencies) and § 27.6(h),(i),(j),(k) (Service areas).
The FCC typically uses an auctions process, absent a need to do otherwise, to assign initial licenses for AWS from among mutually exclusive applications. Access to AWS spectrum may also be attained through the secondary market, which generally allows AWS licensees to transfer, sell or lease spectrum, in whole or in part.
To date, licenses have been issued for the AWS-1, H Block, and AWS-4 spectrum bands. You can find information about AWS licenses in the Universal Licensing System (ULS) and the Spectrum Dashboard. The ULS radio service code and description for AWS-1 is AW, 1710-1755/2110-2155 MHz bands; for H Block is CY, 1915-1920 MHz / 1995-2000 MHz; and for AWS-4 is AD, 2000-2020 / 2180-2200 MHz bands.
The FCC service rules for AWS are located in 47 C.F.R. Part 27.
You can view some historical releases about AWS at the AWS Releases page.