DSA encouraged by FCC spectrum direction

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The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance is a global organization focused on increasing dynamic access to unused radio frequencies.

The head of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA) says the organization is encouraged by the current makeup of the still-evolving FCC, but the DSA’s goals remain the same in terms of working on a global scale rather than just focusing on the U.S.

Ajit Pai, who was officially named chairman of the FCC last week, has been calling on the government to make more spectrum available for unlicensed use and has been supportive of efforts to make the 5.9 GHz band available for Wi-Fi, so there’s no reason to believe he’s going to change course. “I don’t think he’s hostile to unlicensed at all and I don’t think he’s hostile to dynamic sharing,” said DSA President Kalpak Gude. “From our perspective, I think he’s going to be very positive for it.”

The FCC currently has only three members: Pai, fellow Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly and Democrat Mignon Clyburn, leaving two seats yet to be filled.

The DSA, whose members include some big names like Facebook, Google and Microsoft, was incorporated in the United Kingdom in 2013 with the aim of advocating for more efficient and effective spectrum utilization around the world, mainly with TV white spaces. 

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Gude was appointed president of the alliance late last year and is based in Washington, D.C., while the previous executive director, Professor H Nwana, was not. Nwana continues to be involved with the forum as executive director emeritus.

Gude’s most recent position was at OneWeb, where he was responsible for spectrum and government affairs. Earlier in his career, he also led government and regulatory affairs at Intelsat, so he’s familiar with the satellite industry.

RELATED: New DSA leader says 3.5 GHz shows dynamic use models ready for prime time

The satellite industry has come out in opposition to a petition filed by the Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition (FWCC), which wants the FCC to initiate a proceeding to change its rules related to spectrum in the 3700-4200 MHz band shared by operators of Fixed Services (FS) and Fixed Satellite Services (FSS). The DSA filed comments in support of having the FCC open a rulemaking to free up additional bands for dynamic shared use, but it isn’t taking a position on the specifics of the FWCC proposal.

For any incumbent faced with change, there’s a natural desire to resist because all the potential ramifications are not immediately known, but Gude said he believes sharing is something the satellite industry should embrace. “I think the satellite industry will get to the place of recognizing that ultimately they will get certainty… that dynamic sharing provides the largest degree of long-term certainty and they should be driving for it,” he said, adding that satellite incumbents will be protected in both their current uses and long-term deployment under the current proposal.

Last year, the FCC passed a three-pronged sharing approach for the 3.5 GHz band, and the DSA is interested in seeing some of those efforts applied elsewhere. “We think once the protection criteria is in place, the logical extension is into the 3.7-4.2 GHz band and potentially to the bands immediately below,” where more government users are located, he said.

The alliance also would like to see more Wi-Fi mid-band spectrum made available, both in the U.S. and internationally. “We think harmonization is key,” Gude said, noting that what the FCC has done in the millimeter wave bands for unlicensed is an important area on which the DSA is focused. “The greatest potential for use of those higher frequency bands, just by nature of the propagation characteristics of those bands is really more of an unlicensed approach than anything else.”

The DSA is gearing up for its fifth annual Global Summit, which takes place May 9-11 in Cape Town, South Africa, where a key theme will be opening up more spectrum sharing opportunities across the globe.