CTIA, AT&T propose different frameworks for 28 GHz sharing

Both CTIA and AT&T (NYSE: T) are proposing frameworks for sharing spectrum with satellite operators, but they're not the same framework.

AT&T's guidelines for the 28 GHz band were developed with EchoStar, Hughes Network Systems and Alta Wireless in a way that they say will allow fixed satellite services (FSS) and Upper Microwave Flexible Use (UMFU) licensees to fairly share the 28 GHz band outside the protected "urban core" areas. CTIA says its framework for sharing in the 28 and 37-40 GHz bands will enable both terrestrial and satellite services to make intensive use of the spectrum bands in a way that fairly balances the rights of all affected stakeholders.

"In both the 28 GHz and 37-40 GHz bands, while there are international allocations for FSS, the FCC has consistently given priority to terrestrial uses of these bands," CTIA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Scott Bergmann said in a letter to the commission. "CTIA believes that this prioritization should continue, especially in the most populated areas of the United States, to ensure that 5G mobile broadband services can be deployed.

"As CTIA and its member companies have noted in this proceeding, the primary opportunity for mmW deployment is in areas with the greatest population density. This is due to the fact that mmW spectrum is unlikely to deliver extensive coverage in a market but instead will be best suited to providing capacity via small cells and backhaul, particularly in densely populated areas," Bergmann said.

AT&T and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) both are members of CTIA. A Verizon spokesman said the company is working with CTIA and the industry on the sharing framework.

In their joint May 19 filing with the FCC, AT&T and EchoStar said they've now drafted the first portion of the guidelines they proposed last month, under which UMFU licensees would accommodate post-auction deployment of individually licensed FSS earth stations communicating with geostationary orbit satellites in the 28 GHz band. Their guidelines include a process for standard coordination of proposed FSS earth stations, including the timing for submissions and the sorts of information to be exchanged. Their guidelines also include an option for long-range coordination of proposed FSS earth stations, designed to give FSS operators the certainty they need in advance of the multi-year process of designing and building a satellite and a two-tiered safe harbor approach, one of which may be invoked by an FSS applicant as of right and the other of which may be invoked on a more limited basis if attempts to coordinate have failed.

AT&T did not comment to FierceWirelessTech beyond referencing an April 14 blog post. When AT&T presented its sharing plan back in April, Stacey Black, AT&T assistant vice president of Federal Regulatory, said that in its discussions with EchoStar, the company found that they not only shared common business goals and interests, but that "our network architectures were a lot more compatible than once believed." For example, "satellite earth stations point into the sky with highly directional antennas and mobile broadband base stations typically point their antennas towards the ground. We also learned that it is not necessary for earth stations to be in densely populated urban centers, where mobile broadband is used the most. With these and other data points, we outlined a reasonable set of coordination guidelines and parameters that would allow us to deploy mobile networks and new earth stations in more places than previously thought," Black said in the blog post.

While AT&T and EchoStar came to an agreement, it's not clear how other satellite and terrestrial players will react. When AT&T and EchoStar first registered their sharing plans with the FCC, companies like Boeing and ViaSat said the EchoStar-AT&T proposal did not have industry consensus.

For more:
- see this CTIA filing
- see this AT&T/EchoStar filing

Related articles:
AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon respond to satellite's 28 GHz sharing concerns
Verizon, ViaSat argue over 28 GHz sharing details
AT&T/EchoStar proposal for 28 GHz sharing gets heat from other satellite players
AT&T, EchoStar agree on potential framework for sharing 28 GHz band