Telecom Associations Praise C-Band Vote; Broadcasters Less Enthused

The FCC voted unanimously yesterday to adopt an Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that expands more flexible use of up to 500 megahertz between 3.7 and 4.2 GHz, known as C-band. The point is to open up more mid-band spectrum for 5G wireless services.

Inside Towers reported the FCC asked stations to register their earth station downlinks in this band to get a more accurate picture of band use; Now, Fixed Satellite Service earth stations will be required to certify their existing registration and license information is accurate. 

Satellite and wireless companies proposed different methods to share the band; broadcasters say that can’t be done without disrupting their ability to receive and re-distribute satellite-delivered programming. In the Notice, the FCC seeks comment on allowing more intensive point-to-multipoint fixed use in some portion of the band, on a shared basis and how to define and protect incumbent users from harmful interference. The agency also wants input on service and technical rules to enable efficient use by any new services.

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly cautioned stakeholders not to get bogged down in “unnecessary tangents” and focus on the goal, noting that cooperation will be paramount. Spectrum reallocation in the band “needs to happen quickly,” he said, adding the issue, “can’t wait another five to 10 years.”

CTIA applauded the vote. “Other countries are moving quickly to bring mid-band spectrum to market, so today’s action is a positive step toward increasing America’s competitiveness in the global race to 5G,” stated CTIA President/CEO Meredith Attwell Baker. The Wireless Infrastructure Association was equally enthused. WIA President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein noted: “Wireless infrastructure plays an important role in the rollout of 5G, and the FCC’s efforts recognize that role.

NAB’s reaction, however, was more restrained. Like the telecom associations, the broadcast trade group pledged to work with the Commission on determining the best path forward for the C-band. However NAB EVP Communications Dennis Wharton said the Commission “should tread lightly when looking at repurposing even more spectrum for the commercial wireless industry. Slogans and promises are what led the FCC to repurpose spectrum for Dish, and that spectrum still sits fallow.”

July 13, 2018

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