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What are AWS Network Frequencies in Wireless Telecommunications?

AWS stands for Advanced Wireless Service. It is a term used by the FCC when collectively referring to the full set of mobile and fixed terrestrial wireless services that use bandwidths capable of supporting a number of applications. In particular, they are capable of carrying and transmitting high density media content such as voice applications, messaging services, Internet browsing, and video content. AWS licensees provide services that are restricted only by the designation of the mobile and fixed spectrum allocated for AWS services, along with service rules that are ultimately adopted for the relevant bands.

Services similar to AWS network frequencies include PCS (Broadband Personal Communications Service), 800-megahertz cellular service, 700-megahertz service, SMR (Specialized Mobile Radio Service) and 5G in the existing LTE frequency range (600MHz to 6GHz) and also in millimeter wave bands (24GHz to 86GHz).

Several spectrum bands have been designated for AWS use by the Commission in the past. What follows is a broad description of the various AWS bands, with a focus on actions taken by the Commission in recent years to lay down a set of rules regarding licensing of the bands.


The FCC set down an Order back in 2002, allocating a spectrum of 90-megahertz for AWS in the ranges of 1710 to 1755 and 2110 to 2155 megahertz. Referred to as AWS-1, this set of wireless spectrum bands was the subject of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by the FCC in 2002, inviting comment on rules regarding service for AWS. The following year, an Order was released by the FCC to establish rules licensing AWS in the above-mentioned spectrum ranges.


AWS in the bands 1915 to 1920 megahertz and 1995 to 2000 megahertz are collectively known as the "H Block". Back in 2002, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was released by the FCC regarding the development of rules for the H Block, in an effort to implement the Spectrum Act of 2012 (Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act 2012). In June the following year, an Order and Report was released by the FCC containing a full set of rules in relation to the H Block, encompassing rules relating to competitive bidding in addition to technical, operating, and licensing rules.


In July 2013, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was released by the Commission, followed shortly by an Order and a Report in March 2014 regarding rules relating to commercial use. It included licensing, technical, and allocation rules in respect to the 1695 through 1710, 1755 through 1780, and 2155 through 2180 megahertz bands. Collectively referred to as AWS-3, this set of three spectrum bands was the subject of an Order and Report mandating that commercial operators work cooperatively with Federal incumbents prior to commencing operations in certain areas known as Protection Zones. In July the following year, a joint public notice was released by the NTIA and the FCC refining zones of cooperation nationwide and setting out more detailed information concerning the corporation between Federal commercial use and its non-federal counterparts relating to the 1695 to 1710 megahertz and 1755 to 1780 megahertz bands.


A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was released in 2012 by the FCC in relation to the 2000 to 2020 megahertz and 2180 to 2200-megahertz spectrum ranges, and service rules that should apply. Collectively known as AWS-4, this set of spectrum bands are also allocated to MSS (Mobile Satellite Service) usage. Later in 2012, an Order and Report were released in conjunction with an Order of Proposed Modification setting out proposed flexible service usage rules for AWS-4 bands. In February the following year, another Order of Modification was issued by the Commission to further modify licenses relating to incumbent MSS licensees in the AWS-4 range, granting terrestrial operating authority. In December that year, an Order and Memorandum Opinion were released by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, having the effect of waiving particular rules specific to the 2000 to 2020-megahertz band. Subject to a specific set of conditions, this waiver gave a degree of flexibility to licensees within the band to use AWS for downlink and uplink operations. This provided a concomitant extension to the buildout milestone of AWS-4.

Summary of Radio Service Codes:


AWS-1: 1710 to 1755 and 2110 to 2155 megahertz bands.


H Block: 1915 to 1920 and 1995 to 2000 megahertz bands.


AWS-4: 2000 to 2020 and 2180 to 2200 megahertz bands.

AWS Frequency Channels.

AWS frequencies are further divided into various "Channels" that our used by different Carriers for use within their wireless network to transmit their subscriber mobile data wirelessly. See the list of AWS Frequency Channels.