The Wireless Communications Service (WCS) is in the 2305-2320 and 2345-2360 MHz spectrum range. The most common use of WCS spectrum is mobile voice and data services, including cell phone, text messaging, and Internet.
The WCS and the Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS) occupy 55 megahertz of RF spectrum, frequently referred to as the “2.3 GHz band,” from 2305 2360 MHz. The SDARS occupies the center portion of the 2.3 GHz band at 2320 2345 MHz, and this spectrum is divided evenly between two separate, but co owned, SDARS networks, Sirius and XM. The WCS occupies frequency bands on either side of the SDARS allocation and consists of 4 blocks in the 2305-2320 and 2345 2360 MHz bands: two 10-megahertz blocks (paired 5-megahertz blocks) and two unpaired 5-megahertz blocks.
WCS and SDARS
On October 17, 2012, the FCC adopted revised rules to enable Wireless Communications Service (WCS) licensees’ to use a total of 30 megahertz of underutilized spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band for wireless broadband services while protecting the adjacent Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS) operator Sirius XM Radio Inc. (Sirius XM) against harmful interference.
The revised rules are consistent with a package of compromise proposals from WCS licensee AT&T Inc. and Sirius XM that were designed to facilitate the efficient deployment and coexistence of the WCS and SDARS. Of the 30 megahertz of total spectrum, 20 megahertz may be used for mobile broadband services and 10 megahertz for fixed broadband services, with possible future use as downlink spectrum to serve mobile broadband devices.
The revised rules also provide Sirius XM greater certainty and flexibility by adopting conditions for identifying and resolving harmful interference to SDARS operations on roadways and by relaxing the SDARS licensee notification requirements for low power terrestrial repeaters (equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP) less than 2 Watts) and for minor modifications to repeaters. WCS and SDARS licensees are encouraged to enter into coordination agreements with one another for interference mitigation.
On August 8, 2014, AT&T Mobility Spectrum LLC, BellSouth Mobile Data, Inc., New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC, and SBC Telecom Inc. (collectively, AT&T), filed a Petition for Rulemaking requesting that the Commission open a rulemaking proceeding to enable the use of WCS C and D Block spectrum for in-flight connectivity service. On August 21, 2014, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau issued a Public Notice seeking comment on AT&T’s Petition for Rulemaking (RM-11731). On November 25, 2014, AT&T filed a letter with the Commission explaining that, due to recent investments and a related evaluation of various investment priorities, AT&T had decided not to develop an air-to-ground business and was reevaluating its plans for the use of its WCS C and D block licenses. Accordingly, AT&T requested that the Commission hold its Petition for Rulemaking in abeyance until February 12, 2015 and thereafter dismiss the petition and related waiver requests unless AT&T notified the Commission that it wished to pursue the rulemaking prior to that date. Therefore, on February 13, 2015, pursuant to AT&T’s request, the Commission dismissed this Petition for Rulemaking.
The only WCS auction started on April 15, 1997 and ended on April 25, 1997.
- Auction No. 14: 4/15/1997 – 4/25/1997
Market Areas and Channel Blocks
WCS licenses are issued by FCC market areas and channel blocks.
FCC market areas consist of one or more counties. The market areas for WCS licenses are:
- Regional Economic Area Groupings (REAG) - There are 12 REAGs
- Major Economic Areas (MEA) - There are 52 MEAs
Channel blocks are groups of frequencies. The channel blocks for WCS licenses are:
- Block A: 2305 - 2310 and 2350 - 2355 (10 MHz) - issued by MEAs
- Block B: 2310 - 2315 and 2355 - 2360 (10 MHz) - issued by MEAs
- Block C: 2315 - 2320 - issued by REAGs
- Block D: 2345 - 2350 - issued by REAGs
You can find information about WCS licenses in the Universal Licensing System (ULS) and the Spectrum Dashboard. The ULS radio service code and description for Wireless Communications Service )WCS) is WS – Wireless Communications Service.
The FCC service rules for WCS are located in 47 C.F.R. Part 27.