What Does Ajit Pai's New FCC Position Mean For Shared Spectrum?
It’s official. This week President Trump appointed Ajit Pai Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Pai is a senior FCC Commissioner, and this quick action will help to maintain leadership and stability within this important government agency. I see this as particularly important to the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) to maintain momentum toward full commercial use of the band.
In the past Pai has spoken passionately about the need to encourage innovation with shared spectrum: “The FCC would like to test a theory — to see if we can implement a sharing regime that will allow a mix of innovative offerings to flourish. Have we struck the right balance? Will we see a variety of providers and technologies competing in the band? I can’t say for sure. It remains to be seen whether we can turn today’s spectrum theory into a working reality,” – Ajit Pai, April 2016.
Since then, the industry has rallied around the 3.5 GHz CBRS band. Here are just a few of the milestones achieved:
- – Wireless Innovation Forum has defined Spectrum Access System (SAS) signaling protocols and specifications, and in November defined SAS-SAS Interface Technical Specification
- – CBRS Alliance now has all four US Operators as members, and is working on issues like co-existence and neutral host
- – In November Federated Wireless started testing Environmental Testing Capability (ESC), and important element in the shared spectrum schema
- – In December the FCC gave nominal approval to 7 SAS providers, including Federated Wireless, and is starting certification testing in 1Q 2017
- – In December Federated Wireless and Google demonstrated SAS-SAS interoperability
- – And just this week AT&T asked the FCC for temporary authority to conduct trials in the 3.5 GHz band
As Pai states, the bright industry minds who are finding elegant new solutions to share spectrum will open up an untouched frontier for business and technical innovation. We are discussing new value chains, new business models, and a host of new services that will be made available when spectrum that was once locked is made available to securely and cost-effectively share. The spectrum sharing experiment that the FCC initiated is becoming reality, and Federated Wireless is leading the way.
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.