Menu
FCC will vote next month on plan to share valuable 3.5GHz spectrum

FCC will vote next month on plan to share valuable 3.5GHz spectrum

Carriers and consumers would get access to a fat frequency band used mostly by government today

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will vote April 17 on a spectrum-sharing plan for a band that could serve the military, mobile service providers and individuals.

The CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) would open up frequencies from 3550-3700MHz to three classes of users, including owners of new mobile devices who could use the service like they do Wi-Fi. The FCC vote comes after several rounds of study and public comment on the proposal for more than two years.

In that time, growing demand for wireless spectrum has boosted pressure on the government to share or auction off some of the many frequencies it exclusively controls. Bandwidth-hungry services like streaming video and audio, plus wireless links for a growing array of connected devices, are expected to eventually place strains on the spectrum currently allocated to wireless data.

The CBRS plan could lead to better wireless data performance for users in crowded places like stadiums, as well as better rural broadband services and new spectrum for industrial uses not suited to Wi-Fi or LTE, according to the FCC. It could also be a proving ground for a spectrum-sharing approach that might be applied to other government bands.

The 3.5GHz band is used mostly by Army and Navy radar systems and satellite equipment. The CBRS plan calls for them to share the band with effectively unlicensed access that anyone could get just by buying an authorized mobile device. But the FCC would also auction off licenses to service providers, who would enjoy some protection from interference by the unlicensed users.

A cloud-based Spectrum Access System would keep track of the existing radios and the licensed services in order to manage interference. But large swaths of the country that previously would have been reserved for the incumbent users are much smaller in the latest version of the plan, thanks in part to improved technology. Those so-called exclusion zones previously would have covered much of the country's east and west coasts, home to a majority of the population, but now are 77 percent smaller, the FCC says.

The exclusion zones could disappear completely if there were a service that could sense protected users nearby and automatically prevent interference, the agency says. It envisions that as a second phase of the technology but would seek proposals for both a Spectrum Access System and sensing services at the same time. It's not likely either of those technologies would be approved before next year.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags regulationU.S. Federal Communications Commissionmobilegovernment

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments