3.5 GHz spectrum band plan drawing scrutiny

Tammy Parker, FierceWirelessTech

The FCC's plan to create a Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in the 3.5 GHz band has multiple moving parts. And the FCC's spectrum-related decisions will likely have international as well as domestic repercussions.

A laudable effort to employ spectrum-sharing techniques to make up to 150 MHz of spectrum available for general consumer use, small cell deployments, fixed wireless broadband services and other uses, the CBRS is very much a work in progress.

As we've known for months, the commission is proposing a three-tiered access and sharing model comprised of federal and non-federal incumbents, priority access licensees (PALs) and general authorized access (GAA) users, with the latter enabling unlicensed service for the public. Much attention has focused on the planned PALs' license terms (as short as one year) and the staggering number of licenses that might be made available if the commission sticks to its plan to offer them by census tracts, of which there are some 74,000 nationwide.

However, an issue that has broader international implications is the FCC's 3.5 GHz spectrum band plan. There is a potential harmonization problem in that the way the FCC is defining the 3.5 GHz band does not match the current 3GPP band definition for Bands 42 and 43. Some fear the United States could end up carving out a unique band plan that dashes hopes for economies of scale and even delays availability of devices and infrastructure.

FierceWirelessTech has taken a look at the CBRS debate over the FCC's three-tiered plan and 3.5 GHz spectrum harmonization. For more, check out this special feature.--Tammy