Altice, Frontier blast AT&T’s proposal to create new class of CBRS devices

Navy ship
The spectrum sharing system in the CBRS band is designed to protect military radar users along the coastlines. (Pixabay)

Altice USA, Frontier Communications, Motorola Solutions and Windstream are just a handful of entities that told the FCC in no uncertain terms that they object to AT&T’s proposal for the creation of a new Category C antenna for the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band.

AT&T’s proposal would have the FCC creating a third class of Citizens Broadband Service Devices (CBSDs) with permission to operate with a maximum EIRP of 62 dBm/10 MHz.

“Particularly now, on the verge of Initial Commercial Deployments (ICD) and General Authorized Access (GAA) use of the band, AT&T’s ‘questions concerning whether the Commission would entertain’ such a proposal should be met with a resounding ‘NO,’” the entities told the commission in a June 4 filing.

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Allowing CBSDs to operate with an EIRP of 62 dBm/10 MHz—31 times the maximum EIRP permitted under existing rules—would wreak havoc on CBRS, they added.

For one thing, increasing power would result in larger Priority Access License (PAL) protection areas and foreclose opportunistic GAA for a variety of uses cases other than the traditional cellular deployments that AT&T envisions.

For another, operation at higher power levels near the coastlines and near inland military facilities would be heavily constrained by the need to protect the Environmental Sensing Capabilities (ESC), they added. The ESCs are there to ensure fixed and ship-borne military users are protected.

Besides the aforementioned companies, the signatories include NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, Wireless Internet Service Provides Association (WISPA) and the American Petroleum Institute. They also said that AT&T’s proposal amounts to a petition for reconsideration, albeit one that was filed more than a year after the statutory deadline passed for such submissions.

AT&T last month met with the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) staff to discuss its proposal, which it outlined here (PDF). At the time, AT&T said the higher power would enable additional 5G use cases for CBRS as a mid-band anchor for New Radio (NR).

RELATED: AT&T floats proposal for new category of CBRS devices

The opponents said that at this stage of the CBRS game, where initial commercial deployments are preparing to launch, AT&T’s proposal could be even more disruptive than one that T-Mobile previously made.

“The Commission has established a ‘workable framework’ for all stakeholders—incumbents, rural broadband providers, neutral host networks, private broadband networks, the Internet of Things and a host of other use cases,” they said. “It should be noted that several of these use cases involve 5G air interface technologies. AT&T’s proposal would severely undermine these uses, destroy investment, limit innovation and convert the CBRS band into something more closely resembling the ‘command and control’ regulatory model the Commission has many times rejected.”

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