EBS Spectrum makes up one of the largest prime spectrum bands allocated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for advanced wireless services in the U.S. The band is licensed on a geographic service area (GSA) basis only to accredited educational institutions and nonprofit entities whose missions are educational. The typical GSA footprint for an EBS license extends in a circle 35 miles out from a central point in a market area and the spectrum bandwidth is 22.5 megahertz (MHz) per typical channel group/license. There exist five EBS channel group licenses in each market area for a total of 112.5 MHz of EBS spectrum per market area.
EBS licensees are permitted to lease to commercial operators 95% of the capacity of their licensed spectrum for commercial deployment of advanced wireless services pursuant to spectrum leases that generate new revenue for EBS spectrum license holders. In some cases, licensees have received in excess of $50 million for leasing a single EBS license pursuant to a standard 30 year long term lease, with many hundreds of lease transactions of this type generating millions in lease royalties to educators.
While there are 2,250 active EBS licenses in the United States as of 12/2013 covering the vast majority of the U.S. population, there is still very substantial EBS spectrum that may be newly licensed at no cost to interested qualified parties in numerous regions throughout the U.S., including many densely populated regions. These spectrum licenses may, in turn, be leased by educational licensees to interested wireless operators for deployment of advanced wireless services by those commercial service providers.
Of the currently licensed EBS spectrum, the majority is currently leased to national and regional wireless operators, which have deployed 4G (LTE and WiMAX) networks on the spectrum in markets throughout the U.S. For interested local and regional wireless operators which are not familiar with EBS spectrum or are not yet using it to provide wireless services, there are still very substantial opportunities to lease EBS spectrum from licensees in many U.S. market areas – in addition to opportunities to work with qualified parties to pursue new licenses through the FCC.