FCC Sets Stage for Commercial Use of New Wireless Broadband Spectrum
New rules governing the use of the 3.5 GHz spectrum arms IoT technology providers with more viable deployment options.
May 16, 2016—
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released a Second Report and Order containing the final rules governing the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in the 3,550 to 3,700 MHz (3.5 GHz) band. These rules, which allow commercial shared use of 150 MHz of the 3.5 GHz spectrum, are certain to speed up the implementation of small cell and distributed antenna system (DAS) technologies.
These technologies are mainly used by cellular companies, large and small, to increase transmission capacity and extend their coverage. They are great for enabling in-building cellular coverage, but they work outdoors as well. Internet of Things and machine-to-machine technologies are placing a drain on available spectrum, and that drain is expected to increase sharply as IoT networks grow. Sufficient spectrum at all frequency ranges is needed to support the many forms of IoT technology. The wider availability of the 3.5 GHz spectrum increases capacity and extends coverage of wireless services, thereby providing new connectivity options for IoT applications in industry, smart buildings and homes, and smart-city infrastructure.
The original rules, released in an April 2015 Report and Order, delineated three tiers of 3.5 GHz operations.
1) Incumbents—federal users and fixed satellite service (FSS) operators
CBRS encompasses the PA and GAA portions of the 3.5 GHz spectrum.
Commercial Benefits of the New Rules and Policies
The new rules will not only make use of the 3.5 GHz spectrum easier to access, but also permit more efficient and profitable use of it by PA licensees and GAA operators. Equipment manufacturers will also benefit, as the FCC has liberalized equipment interference response time, increased power limits and permitted an alternative RF emissions testing methodology.
Auction Exemption for Rural PA Licenses
To provide more incentive for broadband coverage in rural areas, the FCC modified its auction rules to allow for the assignment of a PAL without an auction in rural areas when there is only a single applicant for a PAL. A rural area is defined as a census tract not located within or overlapping a town containing more than 20,000 people, or an urbanized area adjacent to a city that has more than 50,000 inhabitants.
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