The Federal Communications Commission is poised to announce major changes to the way it decides who can and cannot use the nation’s wireless spectrum.
The agency has said it is going to require new spectrum licenses be auctioned before the FCC can consider new providers.
The change could make it easier for incumbent providers to compete with new entrants, but some have questioned whether the FCC should allow new entrants to compete.
In a speech on Wednesday, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said the agency would not let any incumbent carriers use its spectrum.
Pai’s announcement comes as other major US wireless operators are expanding their spectrum holdings and rolling out their own services.
“We’re going to open up spectrum in a way that lets new entrants compete for those spectrum licenses,” Pai said at the FCC’s press conference.
“And we’re going do that through auction.”
Pai said the FCC will consider bids for spectrum licenses and then determine who gets them based on the type of services they provide.
The new rules would be one of the first major changes in wireless policy to take effect since the agency created the rules in 2015 to promote competition in the market.
Pai’s announcement could also come at a time when other major wireless carriers are ramping up their spectrum.
Verizon is rolling out its 4G LTE service in new markets in New Jersey, South Carolina and Virginia.
AT&T is in the midst of launching its 4-G LTE services in Florida, Texas and Arizona.
Last month, AT&t said it was in talks with other wireless carriers to offer 4G wireless services in the U.S. in an effort to compete against Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.
AT & T, which already offers 4G services in parts of Canada, Mexico and Brazil, is also working on plans to expand the 4G coverage to parts of the United States, including the states of Georgia, South Dakota, South Georgia and Alabama.
In addition to the spectrum auction, Pai also announced plans to launch a program to streamline the FCC to allow more Americans to access wireless services without the need for a phone line.
The program would allow consumers to stream their online, phone and video streaming services from a mobile device that can be plugged into a home router.