UPDATE The FCC appears poised to vote on licensing changes to the Citizens Broadband Radio Service at its next meeting on October 24. The agency opened up the 3.5 GHz CBRS band to licensed and unlicensed sharing in 2016.
Currently, CBRS licensees use Priority Access Licenses (PALs), which cover small areas and are re-auctioned after short terms. T-Mobile and CTIA petitioned the Commission to redefine PALs to be like traditional cellular licenses – covering larger areas and renewing automatically to spur business investment. Companies that benefit from PALs, like rural co-ops and local Internet Service Providers, oppose the changes, saying they’d make operating in the CBRS band unaffordable for small companies.
The FCC plans to vote on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking covering several PALs license changes, according to adraft text of the item. The Commission proposes to expand PAL’s geographic coverage, extend the licenses to 10 years and not automatically terminate them when their term is up.
Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who took the lead on revising the CBRS rules, said: “My goal has always been to quickly and thoughtfully determine how to ensure innovation and investment in the band and alter the CBRS structure so that all interested parties can be accommodated. The NPRM represents a careful review of the record developed in response to the petitions filed and the inherent need to modify previous short-sighted rules to reflect the development of 5G technologies and the international spectrum environment.”