While everyone pretty much agrees that releasing more spectrum is good, the experimental nature the FCC is taking with the 3.5 GHz band isn't making all wireless carriers jump with joy. In fact, CTIA says the FCC failed to put into place appropriate incentives and protections for licensed users and risks undermining the success of its spectrum sharing model.
Last week, the FCC adopted a Second Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration regarding service rules for the 3.5 GHz band – one that will see its fair share of sharing among various stakeholders based on a whole new way of doing business.
For T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), the FCC's decision to make more spectrum available is positive. "It is great that the FCC is working on bringing additional spectrum to the market soon," a spokesperson told FierceWirelessTech. Due to timing, however, it would be more applicable in today's LTE than 5G.
CTIA and the two Republicans on the commission are concerned about aspects of the 3.5 GHz framework. "CTIA and the wireless industry have supported the FCC's efforts to make 3.5 GHz band spectrum available to advance an experimental three-tiered spectrum sharing framework," CTIA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Scott Bergmann said in a statement. "While some of the FCC's decisions will improve certain technical aspects of the service rules, the FCC failed to put into place appropriate incentives and protections for licensed users and risks undermining the success of its spectrum sharing model."
He added that CTIA will continue to work with the commission to determine the model's viability and if there are benefits for U.S. consumers. "Given these continued challenges, we do not think it is prudent to expand this sharing experiment to other bands until the successful auction and operation of all three 3.5 GHz tiers," he said.
Prior to the vote, AT&T's Vice President of Federal Regulatory Joan Marsh had pointed out in a blog post that a troubling aspect of the FCC's proposal for the 3.5 GHz band was that some viewed the 3.5 GHz sharing framework as a template for others, including the high GHz bands that are being considered for 5G. AT&T had supported CTIA's efforts as outlined in its Petition for Reconsideration.
AT&T said Friday it did not have any comment on the FCC's vote.
In his written statement about the 3.5 GHz band, which the FCC calls an "Innovation Band," or new Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS), FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he does not think the 3.5 GHz model is appropriate everywhere, and he will continue to support both the exclusive licensed and unlicensed approaches, independently, where such approaches make the most sense. He also said concerns about the shorter license terms in the band are misplaced and reflect 20th Century thinking that ignores the way networks are being developed and deployed today.
Commissioner Michael O'Rielly, who dissented in part, said the lack of renewability and short license terms for Priority Access Licenses (PALs) is a problem, and it's been made clear by numerous wireless providers that the short license terms and lack of renewal, along with the auction structure, will "inform their business decisions as to whether they should apply for PALs or whether it is even worth investing in and developing this band."
"Basically, by rejecting commonsense and generally supported changes to this 'experiment,' we have created a tier of licenses where there may be little to no incentive to participate," O'Rielly said. "As it stands now, the band plan for 3.5 GHz is like a three-legged stool that could topple over because one key component is missing."
- see this CTIA post
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