AT&T seeks extension for experimental 3550-3600 MHz license

Mobility AT&T
AT&T is among those that want to see changes to the current 3.5 GHz rules.

AT&T is asking the FCC for an extension to a license it has held to conduct 5G tests using 3550-3600 MHz in Atlanta and Cumming, Georgia.

The current license is in effect until Dec. 1, 2017, and the new application seeks a 12-month run.

The initial application, tied to the call sign “WI2XNH,” explained that AT&T wanted to install radios tested by AT&T Laboratories personnel using microwave radio and digital communications test equipment, with much of the experimentation to be centered around the evaluation of the integrated adaptive antenna system in a non-line-of-sight (NLOS) environment.

AT&T, along with CTIA, T-Mobile and Verizon executives, have been meeting with FCC representatives about the 3.5 GHz band rules ahead of next week’s open meeting, where the FCC will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would propose changes to the Priority Access License rules in the 3550-3700 MHz (3.5 GHz) band.

CTIA and the operators have been urging the FCC to move forward quickly to modify the PALs terms to a standard, 10-year term with an expectation for renewal, which they say would give licensees greater certainty and encourage investment. They also want the PAL license area extended and say the changes they’re asking for will not delay the General Authorized Access (GAA) use of the 3.5 GHz band.

While the FCC’s description of the rule changes asserted that they’re designed to increase incentives for investment, encourage more efficient spectrum use and promote faster and more widespread network deployments, they remain controversial. Google and many WISPs that made investments based on the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) rules—which were voted on by the commission two years ago—said competition is already occurring in the band.

Google and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) say the existing rules will accelerate fixed broadband deployment to rural areas and support many different business models—including but not limited to the those of national carriers. The proposed rule changes, however, would practically foreclose access to PALs by any company other than the few large mobile carriers that operate over large geographic areas, they argued.

The commission will consider the 3.5 GHz NPRM at its meeting on October 24. The draft NPRM noted that since the commission established rules for the band, it has become increasingly apparent that the 3.5 GHz band will play a significant role as one of the core mid-range bands for 5G network deployments throughout the world, and several countries have moved forward with policies that would make the band available for 5G.