FCC Urged To End Uncertainty Regarding 3.5 GHz Use

The Federal Communications Commission was urged in a letter by the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance to put an end to the uncertainty regarding the regulation of the 3.5GHz band utilization. The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance has asked the FCC to avoid adding "regulatory uncertainty" and instead implement the three-tiered authorization framework established by the FCC in July 2015. If the FCC revisits the rules regarding the 3.5GHz band, the DSA warns that it will either stagnate or reduce current investment, undermine efforts for future investment, and in turn, setting back the utilization of the 3.5 GHz band. Aside from the DSA, members of the CBRS Alliance, an organization that advocates use of the 3.5GHz band for LTE connectivity, have already expressed concern about the possible changes in the rules for 3.5GHz band utilization. In order to utilize the 3.5GHz band as soon as possible, the DSA urges the FCC to move forward and start drafting Priority Access Licenses auction notes and certifying Spectrum Access System and Environmental Sensing Capability networks.

In the previously approved three-tiered authorization framework, the access to the 3.5GHz band is separated by three access layers, which differ in terms of priority of access to the frequencies and interference protection. The layers are the Incumbent Access layers, Priority Access layers, and General Authorized Access. The Incumbent Access layers, which are protected from interference, are given to federal users and FSS Earth Stations. Small cells providing LTE connectivity are assigned to Priority Access layers, which has short-term priority to the spectrum within an assigned geographical area. Individuals and organizations that do not take advantage of the 3.5GHz spectrum regularly are assigned to the General Authorized Access layers, which are not protected against any form of interference. Aside from the three mentioned layers, Spectrum Access System servers will be an important component of the 3.5GHz band and are important in managing relationships between the devices in these three tiers and should handle millions of devices who will utilize the frequency band.

Aside from the appeal of DSA to push forward with implementation of the three-tiered authorization framework, DSA's letter has detailed recent testing procedures performed by stakeholders in the 3.5GHz band. A recent test was performed by Nokia, Alphabet's Access Group, and Qualcomm, alongside NASCAR, to use the 3.5GHz band to deliver real-time virtual reality experience inside a race car streamed through YouTube's Live Events. Meanwhile, rural broadband providers have also tested using the 3.5GHz band to provide broadband internet, with speeds of up to 100 Mbps, to rural neighborhoods at a fraction of the cost of wireline internet access.

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