Menu
FCC moves toward 'historic' spectrum sharing plan

FCC moves toward 'historic' spectrum sharing plan

Commissioners vote to open up 3.5GHz spectrum band to commercial use in the coming years

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has approved what some commissioners called a "historic" plan to allow private mobile broadband services to share spectrum with incumbent military users.

The FCC voted Friday to approve its so-called Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) plan to open up wireless frequencies from 3550MHz to 3700MHz to new users, including new devices that could use the spectrum like current devices use Wi-Fi.

Commercial access to the spectrum may still be years away, and the FCC has several sticky issues it needs to resolve, including questions about the best ways to limit inference between users in the band. But with little new spectrum available to satisfy skyrocketing demand for mobile data services, some commissioners hailed the spectrum-sharing plan as a new model for dealing with a spectrum shortage.

"Since they don't make spectrum anymore, and since spectrum is the pathway of the 21st century, we have to figure out how we're going to live with a fixed amount," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said. "Clearly, sharing is key to that."

With the CBRS proposal, the commission abandons "the tired notion" that it must choose between licensed and unlicensed spectrum, added Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.

"This is a paradigm shift that paves the way for new services, new technologies and more mobile broadband," she said. "This is big."

The 3.5GHz band is now used mostly by Army and Navy radar systems and satellite equipment. Under the CBRS plan, those incumbent users would share the band with unlicensed users who would gain access by buying an authorized mobile device. The agency also plans to auction short-term licenses to wireless service providers, who would have some protection from interference by the unlicensed users.

Three of the five FCC members expressed some concerns about the proposal, saying the agency has more work to do. In addition to approving the proposal, the FCC voted to open up a new round of public comment to address some continued questions.

The plan allows the U.S. Department of Defense to wall off areas covering about 40 percent of the nation's population into exclusion zones where other users aren't allowed, said Commissioner Ajit Pai. That's more geographic exclusion than is ideal for new services to flourish, he said.

One major question is whether technologies will develop that can manage the "dynamic interference scenarios" that are likely to pop up, Pai added. "It remains to be seen whether we can turn today's spectrum theory into a working reality," he said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags U.S. Department of Defense4gtelecommunicationJessica RosenworcelregulationTom WheelerU.S. Federal Communications CommissionmobilegovernmentAjit Pai

Featured

Slideshows

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow Electronics introduced Tenable Network Security to local resellers in Sydney last week, officially launching the distributor's latest security partnership across Australia and New Zealand. Representing the first direct distribution agreement locally for Tenable specifically, the deal sees Arrow deliver security solutions directly to mid-market and enterprise channel partners on both sides of the Tasman.

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel
Show Comments