O’Rielly: Not Trying to Favor Largest Carriers on CBRS Band

UPDATE The FCC has a pending controversial proceeding to change how Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum is allocated based on a petition from CTIA and T-Mobile, proposing to lengthen license terms to 10 years and increase license areas by using traditional Partial Economic areas rather than the current census tracts. Opponents, generally smaller wireless and broadband companies, call that a giveaway to the largest carriers that would essentially convert the band to 5G use.

Noting the 5G comment, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said yesterday, “I am not trying to tilt the scales towards the largest wireless providers.” That means the agency rules must not favor nationwide wireless providers, nor penalize them. “Our rules also cannot be designed to ensure that a favored class gets licenses on the cheap,” he added.

O’Rielly’s goal is to ensure as many companies as possible participate in a 3.5 GHz license auction.  

The FCC will soon announce the first wave of applicants that will be able to conduct spectrum coordination field trials on the 3.5 GHz band, according to O’Rielly. Speaking to an AT&T forum on the band yesterday in Washington, D.C., he said the technology applications to detect when federal users are transmitting on the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum would be granted conditionally. “Before receiving their final certification, each system will go through a trial period.” He said it’s a “huge step” that’s crucial to the ability to use 3.5 GHz in coastal areas, where a “substantial” number of Americans live.

The agency auctioned over 44,000 licenses in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). The three-tier system enables incumbents and new entrants to share spectrum. First-tier, incumbent users are fully protected. Second-tier users, or priority access licenses, receive priority over third-tier users, or generally authorized access. Frequency use will be coordinated by a Spectrum Access System (SAS), which will manage spectrum access by all users and the Environmental Sensing Capability, or ESC system, which will detect when federal users are transmitting on the spectrum. Six SAS applications have been conditionally okayed. The ESC is “well on its way,” according to the Commissioner.

February 14, 2018 

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