FCC Opens 3.5 GHz for Shared Access

Under a proposed rulemaking, the FCC is looking to create the Citizen Broadband Radio Service that will include 150 megahertz of spectrum between the 3550-3700 MHz bands.

The FCC hopes to provide a “three-tiered access and sharing model with federal and non-federal incumbents, priority access licensees, and general authorized access users.”

“Federal and non-federal incumbents would be protected from harmful interference,” the FCC explained. “Targeted priority access licenses would be made available for a variety of uses, including mobile broadband.

General authorized access use would be permitted in a reserved amount of spectrum and on an opportunistic basis for a variety of consumer or business-oriented purposes, including advanced home wireless networking.”

The propagation characteristics of the 3.5 GHz band are thought to be a good fit for small cells.

The proposed rulemaking will build on a previously announced notice released in late 2012. That initial proposal looked at whether it will be feasible to open up approximately 100 megahertz of spectrum in the 3550-3650 MHz bands for small cell technologies, possibly on an unlicensed basis.

Today, the FCC extended the spectrum allocation an additional 50 megahertz up to the 3700 MHz band.

The proposed spectrum access system (SAS) for the 3550-3650 MHz band (3.5 GHz band) would operate similar to the TV White Spaces database in governing use of the 3.5 GHZ band.

The 3.5 GHz band is now used by the Department of Defense for radar, as well as by “non-federal fixed satellite service earth stations for receive-only, space-to-earth operations and feeder links.”

Unfortunately, the 3.5 GHz Band would be largely unusable on the east and west coasts and along the Gulf. As you can see from the slide, New England, Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana; almost all of New York, Virginia, California; and half of Texas are in exclusion zones.

Phased array radars have been used by the US Navy for over 20 years. The Spy-1 phased array radar (pdf) is used for local ship defense. It uses 3.1-3.5 GHz. The Navy’s SPY-1 radiates four million watts of power, and can acquire and track targets as far out as 250 miles and as far up as low Earth orbit.

Wireless advocacy groups generally applauded the move, saying that the sharing of spectrum would promote small-cell technologies, which operate wireless networks for very small geographic locations.

The Wireless Innovation Alliance said in a press release that going through with the proposal would “benefit countless stakeholders, including public safety, small businesses, educators, and consumers through improved wireless broadband access.”

In July 2012, a Presidential Commission recommended that the Federal Government identify 1,000 megahertz of federal spectrum for shared use to create “the first shared use spectrum superhighways.”

Related Dailywireless articles include; FCC Boss Wheeler Pushes for 3.5 GHz Spectrum Sharing, FCC Paves Way for 3.5GHz Band Nationwide, FCC Dishes Dirt, Talks Up 3.5 GHz, FCC Limits Dish on LTE Terrestrial Spectrum, Dish: On the Move, Dish and Sprint Battle over PCS band Extension, FCC Approves 2.3 GHz for AT&T, AT&T Likely to Get 2.3 GHz, Sprint’s Dish Compromise, MetroPCS Merges with T-Mobile USA, T-Mobile Gets AWS Spectrum from Breakup, FirstNet: The Asymetrical Threat, Spectrum War: Unlicensed, Shared and Auctioned, White Spaces: Nationwide by Mid January, FCC: TV Auction in 2014, Genachowski Lobbies for Unlicensed White Spaces, Universal Service Reform Passed

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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