April 23, 2015 – The FCC has approved a regulatory framework regarding the creation of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), a shared spectrum plan for 3550-3700 MHz. The announcement comes as an ongoing effort to meet President Obama’s goal to make 500 MHz of spectrum available for mobile broadband by the year 2020.
The proposed rules are envisioned as an “Innovation Band” for small cells and other emerging technologies, and will be implemented as a three-tiered system with a dynamic spectrum management database similar to the one already in use for TV White Space.
The first tier, Incumbent Access, is for authorized federal and Fixed Satellite Service licensees who will be protected from interference by the lower two tiers.
The next tier is for short term Priority Access licenses. These licenses are filed in a given census tract and will have a three year renewal term. If mutually exclusive applications are received for the same census tract, the license will be auctioned to the highest bidder.
The third tier, General Authorized Access, is for other users including the general public who can operate in the 3.5 GHz Band subject to interference protections for Incumbent Access and Priority Access users.
The Spectrum Access System (SAS) will be a dynamic, geo-location enabled database for controlling access to and managing interference between users in the 3.5 GHz Band.
The FCC says the use of this advanced spectrum sharing framework will allow wireless broadband systems to share spectrum with military radars and other incumbents and to protect federal missions.
The FCC is seeking comments on the proposed rules until May 21, 2015.
For those holding an existing 3.65 GHz license, the FCC has proposed a transition period to the new rules until April 17, 2020 or the license expiration date, whichever is later. During the transition period, license holders will be able to operate using their current equipment configuration.
Council Rock can help you understand the impact of the 3.5 GHz spectrum rules on your system planning.
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This summary is our interpretation of the FCC’s 3.5 GHz proposed regulations which is subject to change as the rules are further defined. Be sure to consult with the FCC before making decisions based on this summary.