DHHL Submits Wireless Spectrum Applications to FCC

Aug 12 2020

Press Release by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands

Kapolei, Oʻahu – The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) has submitted five applications to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for unassigned spectrum in response to a Rural Tribal Priority Window that opened Monday, February 3, 2020 and closes on Wednesday, September 2, 2020. Only federally recognized Tribes or Alaska Native Villages could apply for spectrum in the Window.

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

The petition, co-signed by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) and the Hawaiʻi State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT), 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.

“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. For this application, the term “rural” means that an area that does not include an urbanized area with a population of greater than 50,000 people, according to Census Bureau data. All five of DHHL’s applications were submitted for spectrum on the neighbor islands. The applications were completed with the assistance of Edyael Casaperalta, Irene Flannery, and Geoff Blackwell of AMERIND’s Critical Infrastructure division.

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 lease the spectrum. 

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.

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About the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands:

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands carries out Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole’s vision of rehabilitating native Hawaiians by returning them to the land. Established by U.S. Congress in 1921, with the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, the Hawaiian homesteading program run by DHHL includes management of over 200,000 acres of land statewide with the specific purpose of developing and delivering homesteading.