Comment Period Opens for FCC's 3.5 GHz Rule Overhaul
The CommLaw Group warns: "Don't let them take away your spectrum."
Current 3.5 GHz Rules
The FCC's current rules for commercial shared use of the 3.5 GHz band were written with 5G innovation in mind. This is promoted by the unique and unprecedented three-tiered commercial radio service: Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS).
CBRS Spectrum Allocation
The first and highest tier (Tier 1) contains incumbent federal users and fixed satellite service (FSS) operators. These incumbents have complete interference protection from the two lower CBRS tiers.
The second tier is PA. A PA license (PAL) is an authorization to use an unpaired 10 MHz channel in the 3550-3650 MHz range in a geographic service area for a single three year period. The PA geographic service areas are census tracts, which typically align with the borders of political boundaries such as cities or counties. PA licensees can aggregate up to four PA channels in any census tract at any given time, and may obtain licenses in any available census tract. PA licensees must provide interference protection for Tier 1 incumbent licensees and accept interference from them. But, PA licensees are entitled to protection interference from GAA operators.
The third tier, GAA, permits access to 80 MHz of the 3.5 GHz band that is not assigned to a higher tier. GAA will be licensed by rule, meaning that entities that qualify to be FCC licensees may use FCC-authorized telecommunications equipment in the GAA band without having to obtain an individual spectrum license. GAA operators will receive no interference protection from PA or Tier 1 operators, and must accept interference from them.
PAL Auction Procedures
Unlike previous auctions, the FCC will not offer bidding credits to small businesses or any other specialized entity in the PAL auctions. Bidding credits are unnecessary because the small census tract licensing areas will be affordable, thereby obviating the need for credits or other types of financial assistance to the bidders.
PAL applicants will not bid on specific spectrum blocks. Rather, frequency coordinators will assign frequencies based on the amount of spectrum a licensee is authorized to use in a given license area.
PAL License Terms
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