Oceus says sharing AWS-3 spectrum could work to military's advantage

Oceus Networks has told the FCC that a bi-directional sharing framework providing military access to the paired 1755-1780 MHz and 2155-2180 MHz bands could fulfill training requirements on remote bases and ranges with limited impact to auction revenues.

The information was revealed in an ex parte filing Oceus made regarding a March 11 meeting between its CEO Douglas Smith and a handful of other Oceus representatives with Renee Gregory, legal adviser to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

The firm's submission to the FCC was made in advance of the FCC's March 31 open meeting, at which the commission "will consider a Report and Order that would adopt allocation, licensing, service, and technical rules to make available for auction 65 MHz of AWS-3 spectrum for flexible use services, including mobile broadband." The auction is expected to take place in 2015.

Oceus, the exclusive provider of Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) products to the U.S. Department of Defense, noted the DoD, first responders and others are seeking to leverage the LTE ecosystem and innovations. The firm said the DoD requires the "same spectrum roadmap as commercial for LTE to be used."

In July 2013, the FCC first sought comment on bi-directional sharing of the AWS-3 spectrum, including the 2155-2180 MHz band, which is presently allocated for commercial but not federal use. The commission said shared use of AWS-3 by federal and non-federal users might facilitate the increased use of commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies to support government missions, including military uses.

Subsequently, in a Nov. 25, 2013, letter to the FCC endorsing spectrum sharing, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) agreed that expanding federal access to the full AWS-3 band "may allow federal agencies greater flexibility to meet tactical, training and other requirements."

NTIA noted that the DoD in particular sometimes engages in "intermittent or geographically limited tactical and training operations that may not hinder the nationwide implementation of wireless broadband services."

According to Oceus, the proposed sharing regime in the AWS-3 band will enable fuller spectrum use by allowing the military to access the band in areas with limited commercial 2G and 3G buildouts. It noted that the FCC's build-out requirement for most 700 MHz licenses excludes federal lands, including military bases.

"Spectrum access on base is [a] critical enabler for DoD tactical LTE use," the firm added.

On the commercial side, T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) has long been interested in using the AWS-3 band for mobile broadband services. In August 2012, the FCC granted T-Mobile 's request for special temporary authority (STA) to test the suitability of mobile broadband services in the 1755-1780 MHz band.

At the time, Steve Sharkey, T-Mobile director of government affairs for technology and engineering policy, commented in a blog post that the 1755-1780 MHz spectrum could be paired with the existing commercial AWS-3 band at 2155-2180 MHz and auctioned "without a requirement that all government facilities be cleared completely from the spectrum before commencement of commercial operations, while fully protecting government operations."

For more:
- see this FCC filing

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