Dynamic Spectrum Alliance urges FCC to get moving on 3.5 GHz so companies can deploy networks

Nokia car
Nokia, along with Alphabet's Access Group and Qualcomm, ran a trial at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in February using 3.5 GHz spectrum. Image: Nokia

The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA) wants the FCC to end uncertainty around the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) space and implement the three-pronged sharing framework—pronto.

Specifically, the DSA is urging the FCC to expedite implementation of its Part 96 framework by developing auction procedures for Priority Access Licenses (PALs) and by fully certifying the Spectrum Access System (SAS) and Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) networks as soon as possible to open the 3.5 GHz band for companies poised to deploy networks.

In a letter (PDF) to the commission, DSA President Kalpak Gude said that in light of recent news that there may be interest at the FCC in considering changes to the Part 96 framework, “we also caution that injecting regulatory uncertainty at this late stage will have the effect of reducing or stranding current investment, deterring future investment, and ultimately setting back active use of the 3.5 GHz band to square one.”

Concerns have risen in recent weeks that the FCC could revisit the rules for 3.5 GHz, leading some companies to ramp up their 3.5 GHz advocacy efforts. The WinnForum and CBRS Alliance have been working hard over the past year or so to build an ecosystem to support an alternative way of using spectrum in the U.S.—one they say will provide a whole new avenue for nontraditional players to get into the game. Indeed, many other countries are watching to see how it unfolds in the U.S.

“DSA is deeply concerned that the introduction of any new uncertainty regarding the future of the three-tiered framework and applicable Part 96 rules, including any substantial change in the framework for assigning PALs or in their geographic size, will derail this historic effort and deter investment in the band,” Gude wrote. “This could also have the effect of creating an unfortunate self-fulfilling prophecy for spectrum sharing opponents; they will no doubt cite a lack of investment in the band as proof the CBRS structure generally, and the three-tier approach in particular, does not work, then claim a justification for a return to the old exclusive licensing model.”

RELATED: Verizon aims to deploy small cells in 3.5 GHz when practical

The DSA mentioned the trial that Alphabet’s Access Group, Nokia and Qualcomm conducted on Feb. 2 where they set up a private LTE network using the 3.5 GHz band at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to show how a 360-degree virtual reality zone inside a stock car could provide a streaming, real-time virtual user experience. The video was streamed over YouTube Live Events—while the car traveled at speeds over 180 mph.

The DSA also pointed to other examples where companies anticipate using the 3.5 GHz band. For example, once CBRS device-to-SAS protocols are finalized and a SAS is certified, Rise Broadband, the nation’s largest fixed wireless internet service provider, will be able to load new software on its base stations to provide far greater throughput and more affordable rural broadband service. Others, like Ruckus Wireless and Qualcomm, have developed and demonstrated technologies that could enable enterprises and service providers to provide better in-building cellular solutions.

RELATED: Ruckus, Rise Broadband cite concerns about potential 3.5 GHz CBRS rule changes

"Given the innovations and investments in the current framework, it's imperative the Commission promptly implement the CBRS rules, including the drafting and release of PAL auction public notices, and fully certify the SAS and ESC networks as soon as possible," DSA said. "We are particularly concerned with the slow progress on ESC specifications, which have yet to be finalized by the Commission and the Department of Defense."

Earlier this month, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Office of Engineering and Technology established a deadline for a second wave of proposals from prospective SAS administrators and ESC operators in the 3.5 GHz band. Those applications are due by May 31.