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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The Federal Communications Commission has approved a priority filing window for tribes to obtain licenses that could boost internet service in rural communities.

The commission voted 3-2 Wednesday in favor of the filing window for federally recognized tribes.

The 2.5 Ghz-band of spectrum largely is unassigned in the U.S. West and is seen as key to expanding 5G access.

The licenses could help tribes establish or expand broadband coverage in underserved areas. Tribally owned entities, including colleges and universities, also would be given priority for licenses.

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The filing window for tribes could open as early as December. The remaining spectrum would be auctioned off for commercial use.

The FCC vote also removed the educational use requirement for the spectrum. The changes won't affect existing license holders.

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