The WiMAX Forum, the global body that certifies and promotes products based on the 802.16 standard, is urging the FCC not to include the 3.65-3.7 GHz spectrum band in the anticipated 3.55-3.65 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS).
The FCC hopes to add an additional 50 MHz from 3650-3700 MHz, in the Citizens Broadband Service. That includes incumbent WiMax operators. The proposed Citizens Broadband rules cover the spectrum between 3550 MHz and 3650 MHz, and the FCC seeks comment on extending the proposed service to 3700 MHz.
The FCC hopes to make 150 MHz available in the 3.5 GHz band and proposed a three-tiered access and sharing model comprised of federal and non-federal incumbents, priority access licensees, and general authorized access users.
The general public would be allowed access to the band on an “opportunistic basis” within designated geographic areas, but they would have to live with the interference caused by other users. Because the federal use in this band occurs primarily around the coasts, the FCC sees it as an opportunity for testing shared wireless broadband.
Current users in the 3650-3700 MHz band would be reclassified as general authorized access users. Incumbents in the 3.65 GHz band include Utilities and Oil and Gas companies, and hundreds of small Wireless Internet Service Providers mainly serving rural users.
“There are over 2,000 registrants currently in the 3.65 GHz FCC database, with over 100 Utilities as incumbent operators in this band,” said Declan Byrne, President of the WiMAX Forum. “The FCC is embarking on an innovative, but untested plan for spectrum sharing through dynamic spectrum management and the auctioning of one-year licenses for the 3.55 -3.65 GHz CBRS band.
“We simply advise caution from proceeding too rapidly into untested waters. Sandbox the innovation to the 3.55-3.65 GHz band, where such a novel approach is clearly necessary. There is time down the road to expand the CBRS with the additional 3.65 GHz spectrum if the new rules and processes work out,” concluded Byrne.
Still, some 50-60 percent of the U.S. population will not be able to use the 3.5 GHz band which is often used by million watt ship and aircraft radar. That generally eliminates commercial use along coasts and near DOD training sites. The Navy’s Aegis Spy Radar operates in S-band, from about 3.1 to 3.5 GHz using a 400 MHz wideband waveform constructed from ten 40 MHz bandwidth pulses frequency jumping from 3.1 to 3.5 GHz.
The 3.5 GHz Interest Group promotes LTE TDD spectrum bands 42 and 43. The Citizens Broadband Radio Service would essentially expand unlicensed frequencies, using spectrum sharing, with database technology similar to that developed for White Spaces.
Deployment of public access small cells will rise from under 30,000 in 2011 to 11.3 million in 2016, amounting to a capex spend of almost $4 billion, according to Maravedis, and will be partly driven by the availability of more spectrum, including 100MHz in the 3.5GHz band.
Another band being eyed for sharing between government users and commercial interests is the 4.9 GHz band, which consists of a contiguous block of 50 MHz located at 4940-4990 MHz and is currently designated for public-safety fixed and mobile uses.
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.”
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