WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission announced this week that its decision to grant wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) temporary access to 5.9 GHz spectrum is helping them keep Americans connected during the coronavirus pandemic.

In late March, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau began granting temporary access, called Special Temporary Authority (STA), to 5.9 GHz spectrum for WISPs serving largely rural and suburban communities. The STAs allow WISPs to use the lower 45 megahertz of the band to help serve their customers. To date, the FCC has granted STAs to more than 100 WISPs, and many of those providers have reported that the spectrum is helping to address the increased demand for broadband associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“American consumers are relying more than ever on broadband, so I’m pleased that 5.9 GHz spectrum is helping fixed wireless broadband providers deliver faster and more efficient service for consumers,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “I’m grateful to these companies for making a positive difference in their communities, delivering Internet access that’s sorely needed in some of the hardest-to-connect places in our country.”

Among the WISPs that are using the 5.9 GHz band is MetaLINK Technologies, based in Defiance. MetaLINK reports that the additional unlicensed spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band enables it to “provide a better Internet experience” for customers by “expanding the throughput, reducing latency, and providing better modulation in a less noisy environment.”

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