T-Mobile wants to get early access to some of the 2.5 GHz licenses it just won at auction, and it’s pointing to the damage caused by Hurricane Ian as one reason to grant the request.

T-Mobile earlier this week submitted a Special Temporary Authority (STA) application to the FCC for using the spectrum. First reported by RCR Wireless, the application asks for access to about 2,000 of the 7,156 licenses that T-Mobile won in Auction 108, which closed in late August.

The FCC is currently completing the Auction 108 review process and in September extended deadlines related to the auction due to damages from Hurricane Fiona.

T-Mobile said the unique circumstances of the 2.5 GHz white space auction present an opportunity to put a significant amount of the spectrum to immediate use for 5G without risking interference or undermining the FCC’s auction and licensing process.

It’s an unusual request, but T-Mobile said the situation is unique. T-Mobile already uses 2.5 GHz spectrum throughout the country and the licenses it picked up in Auction 108 are interspersed throughout its existing footprint. Plus, the equipment for this band is already being deployed, which isn’t always the case with newly auctioned spectrum.  

In a lot of cases, winning bidders will use the time between the close of an auction and the issuance of the licenses to place equipment orders, secure site access, install infrastructure and start to integrate new infrastructure with the architecture of existing networks, the carrier noted.

In this situation, T-Mobile has already deployed advanced 5G mobile broadband services in the 2.5 GHz band, and it can launch operations without delay and without deploying new infrastructure.

“Allowing immediate, short-term use of otherwise fallow spectrum for mobile broadband operations will allow T-Mobile to improve U.S. consumers’ mobile broadband experience without risking harmful interference or displacing any other spectrum users,” T-Mobile told the FCC in its filing. “Further, no reliance interest will be created upon issuance of the special temporary authority while T-Mobile’s long form application is pending because T-Mobile is only seeking to use spectrum at locations where its infrastructure is already deployed.”

T-Mobile’s public interest statement points to the damage caused by Hurricane Ian that caused flooding and dislocated millions of people. Such conditions are likely to generate increased demand for mobile connectivity as residents relocate to areas outside of the hurricane’s path and emergency personnel go into affected areas to restore basic services. The licenses that T-Mobile is requesting early access to include counties in dozens of states across the country, including Florida and surrounding southeastern states. T-Mobile is asking to activate the subset of licenses it won for up to 60 days.

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