AT&T/EchoStar proposal for 28 GHz sharing gets heat from other satellite players

Reacting to a proposal for sharing in the 28 GHz and 37/39 GHz bands as outlined by AT&T (NYSE: T) and EchoStar, Boeing says its proposal represents only a single viewpoint and should not be taken to represent a consensus within the satellite industry.

Boeing points out in an ex parte filing that the proposal carves out the most populous "urban core" areas and in some cases, surrounding suburbs, for 5G services, limiting satellite access to the band to individually licensed earth stations, often on a secondary unprotected basis.

"Most important, the AT&T/EchoStar proposal appears to prejudge the continuing and vigorous discussions that are ongoing between the satellite industry and 5G proponents on identifying the most effective spectrum sharing solutions for the 28 and 37/39 GHz bands," Boeing states. "Both AT&T and EchoStar remain active participants in these spectrum sharing discussions, with each offering additional technical contributions and critiques during a conference call that was held by the Satellite Industry Association on Thursday, April 7th, one day after AT&T and EchoStar filed their proposal with the Commission."

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, while speaking at the 19th Annual Satellite Leadership Dinner in Washington, D.C., on March 7, implored the satellite industry "to work with the mobile industry and quickly come back to us with realistic sharing ideas for the coexistence of satellite and mobile" in the 28 and 37/39 GHz bands. "The satellite industry took this message to heart and engaged with renewed determination in detailed technical discussions with terrestrial carriers and wireless equipment manufacturers to identify spectrum sharing measures that can facilitate highly efficient shared use of scarce spectrum resources in the 28 and 37/39 GHz bands," Boeing said.

Recognizing that the commission wants to move quickly in the proceeding, Boeing said collaborative efforts should be allowed to continue in order to develop truly effective spectrum sharing measures that can ensure growth in both terrestrial 5G and broadband satellite services in the U.S. and throughout the world.

ViaSat also weighed in on the EchoStar/AT&T proposal, noting that "we were not consulted about its terms in advance of submission, despite having met with AT&T."

"The EchoStar-AT&T proposal did not have industry consensus, only partially addresses one aspect of the sharing environment under consideration, was offered before technical details were provided by the 5G industry, has critical details to be resolved, and in fact appears to meet the needs of only one or two satellite operators," ViaSat said, adding that it's concerned that EchoStar is "inherently conflicted" because it currently holds mmWave band licenses through Alta Wireless that will become much more valuable and "could be a key in blocking competitors from accessing spectrum.

Meanwhile, AT&T Assistant Vice President of Federal Regulatory Stacey Black in a blog post Thursday said AT&T looks forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the FCC and the satellite industry to formalize a set of rules to allow for the most effective use of the bands for both industries. Black also provided insight into AT&T and EchoStar's strategy to develop a sharing plan. "How? Not with some new-fangled technology with an acronym," Black said. "We talked with each other to understand interference concerns and to develop a coordination framework that would work for both types of services."

AT&T is not too keen on some of the high-tech approaches being proposed for sharing spectrum. "The key to any successful coordination is a good faith approach accompanied by clear rules for both parties," Black said. "The coordination guidelines being developed will be based on both. The framework proposes that FCC rules should require mobile broadband operators to respond to coordination requests from satellite operators and enter into negotiations in good faith. We believe this common sense approach – which has been used in the wireless industry for decades – can be implemented much faster and will have a more predictable outcome than some new Dynamic Frequency Allocation Shared Spectrum Algorithm that has yet to be invented much less tested or deployed."

For more:
- see this Boeing filing
- see this AT&T blog

Related articles:
AT&T, EchoStar agree on potential framework for sharing 28 GHz band
FCC needs to tackle a bunch of thorny issues on mmWave spectrum before unleashing it
Google calls satellite industry assertions 'logically inconsistent' in 3.5 GHz proceeding

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