FCC Report To Congress: Shared Spectrum For All

Today – November 2, 2018 – the Federal Communications Commission is providing a report to Congress analyzing the results of the 2015 rule changes which created CBRS band and on proposals that identify additional spectrum bands that can be shared between incumbent uses and new licensed and unlicensed services.

We’ve said for years, “shared spectrum for all” and have seen great success with CBRS. Because of that, we firmly believe there are many other spectrum bands that are ideal candidates for spectrum sharing. That’s why our team prepared a detailed proposal on this very topic which we presented to the FCC in September following their call for comments.

However, before we focus on which new bands should be opened for shared use, let’s consider the tremendously positive effects sharing in the CBRS band has yielded:

  1. CBRS frequencies are an integral component of 5G wireless technology worldwide, and by adopting and rapidly implementing a sharing framework for the CBRS, the Commission has maintained U.S. leadership in the global race to 5G, rather than waiting over a decade for legacy “clear and auction” approaches to realign use of the band.
  2. The Commission’s rules establishing the CBRS have fostered the development of a band that is a success on the verge of happening, with full commercialization imminent and immense demand evident for access to the CBRS spectrum across the country and across industry sectors.
  3. CBRS will provide robust broadband availability where it does not exist today and will generate material economic benefits.
  4. Commercial deployment of CBRS will prove the effectiveness and efficiency of the innovative tools the Commission used to create the CBRS opportunity—an opportunity that can be replicated in other bands.
  5. The spectrum landscape is replete with opportunities for sharing among incumbent and newly authorized licensed and unlicensed users, a move that will increase the efficiency and intensive use of scarce spectrum resources.

The work undertaken by the Commission and industry to create success in the CBRS band serves as a roadmap for the use of spectrum sharing regimes in additional bands, enabling commercial access to previously unavailable spectrum resources. In our proposal, we identified the 3.7-4.2 GHz, 3.45-3.55 GHz, 3.1-3.45 GHz, 5.925 GHz-7.125 GHz, 37 GHz, 26 GHz, 70/80 GHz, and 4.9 GHz bands as candidates for sharing.  Given the rapid demand for more wireless bandwidth and increased demands on scarce spectrum resources, we urged the Commission and Congress to fully embrace sharing as a comprehensive approach to improve spectrum management policy and to act quickly in enacting sharing in these candidate bands. Just as with CBRS, sharing can unlock the true potential of these other bands significantly increasing utilization while reliably ensuring protection of incumbent and priority uses.

The Commission took a commendable step in creating CBRS, an action that will bear significant fruit for consumers in the very near term.  We wish the FCC luck in their report to Congress and hope that they will take our notes into consideration for leveraging other bands in a similar fashion to CBRS.

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