FCC to Vote on CBRS Order This Month

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The FCC will consider an order concerning the Citizens Band Radio Service – or CBRS at this month’s meeting. FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly has been involved with the proceeding for over a year and detailed highlights to attendees of the 7th Annual Americas Spectrum Management Conference in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.

The Commission created a three-tier structure to use the 150 megahertz between 3550 to 3700 MHz. Incumbents would be protected. The tier system for licensed and unlicensed use, contains seven Priority Access Licenses (PALs), along with 80 MHz of spectrum for unlicensed-like use, known as general authorized access (GAA). Currently, Naval radar systems use the CBRS band.

To coordinate the uses and protect the radar systems, the FCC will employ a Spectrum Access System to manage frequency use and the Environmental Sensing Capability to detect when federal users are transmitting on the band.

So far, the Commission has six conditionally approved SAS operators, whose prototypes are currently being lab tested. “These are now in the process of being reviewed and, if approved, will permit operators to start initial commercial deployments, which will serve as field tests, hopefully by the end of this year,” said O’Rielly.

O’Rielly says those who believe the FCC wants to turn the 3.5 GHz band into a 5G band for large wireless providers are wrong. “What this is really about is making this valuable resource available at auction and allowing the free market to decide the best use for this spectrum. These rules will permit mobile and fixed use to be offered by large and small, urban and rural, and incumbent and new providers.”

Some claim their investments will be “stranded” due to the changes. He calls this argument “disingenuous,” because any investments in the CBRS band were done with no assurances that these entities would win a PAL license.    

October 4, 2018

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