FCC Authorizes SAS Deployments in 3.5 GHz CBRS Band

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The FCC, in coordination with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Department of Defense, on Monday certified that five Spectrum Access Systems (SAS) satisfied the Commission’s laboratory testing requirements and are approved to begin their initial commercial deployments in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band (3550-3700 MHz ). The approved SAS are operated by: Amdocs, CommScope, Federated Wireless, Google, and Sony.

The companies will conduct field tests and the Commission will assess whether each SAS can operate under actual deployment conditions. 

Each company must tell the agency when its deployment begins and whether it will operate with an approved Environmental Sensing Capability. The notification must include a primary point of contact for incumbent operators to report potential interference issues to the SAS. Initial commercial deployments must last at least 30 days and test several CBRS devices. The companies must report results to the government for final review. Stakeholders plan full commercial launches to begin in the fourth quarter of this year.

The promise of the CBRS band is that new entrants will use dynamic spectrum sharing to co-exist with federal U.S. Navy radar systems operating along the coasts. Using SAS to let them know when a channel is occupied will enable new entrants to operate on different CBRS channels to avoid interfering with naval operations. The news opens the door to a market opportunity for operators, enterprises and industrial players, according the CBRS Alliance, an industry organization focused on driving the development, commercialization, and adoption of OnGo™ shared spectrum solutions. AT&T, Charter Communications and Verizon have developed technology and services to support the use of OnGo. Commercial services are planned for thousands of sites. 

The Alliance says the 150 MHz that make up the CBRS band became commercially available in only six years, due in part to the public-private partnership between industry players and government agencies. “There’s been an unprecedented amount of coordination and joint development to implement the FCC’s framework, prepare the industry for imminent deployments and certify components and devices,” said CBRS Alliance President Dave Wright.

Earlier this year, Google, LG, Motorola Mobility, Motorola Solutions, and Samsung launched commercial handsets authorized to operate in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band, and on September 10, the new Apple iPhone 11 was revealed to also be CBRS-ready. Find a list of OnGo-certified CBSDs and FCC-authorized Citizen Broadband Radio Service End User Devices (CBEs) here.

AT&T VP Federal Regulatory Hank Hultquist called the move a game-changer. Charter Communications SVP Wireless Technology Craig Cowden said it opens the door for companies like Charter “to deploy next generation wireless technologies, including 5G, Rural Broadband and service to the Internet of Things.”

The OnGo solution “is a great way to add capacity to the wireless network and meet today’s and tomorrow’s user needs,” said Verizon SVP Network Planning Adam Koeppe.

Wireless Internet Service Providers Association President/CEO Claude Aiken said: “With CBRS, new networks and, perhaps more importantly, a new manner of using spectrum, has been born. From this, the equipment makers, services and Internet providers will spring into action, helping more Americans – including those in unserved and underserved areas – obtain high-speed services through robust dynamic sharing of the 3.5 GHz band.”

September 17, 2019

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