Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for additional time to see if it can convert existing wireless infrastructure at resorts in Anaheim, California, and Orlando, Florida, to operate under Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) rules.
Disney was granted Special Temporary Authorization (STA) to conduct tests last July, but that expires on January 16.
The stated purpose on the current application is to “determine functionality of a CBRS proxy developed by Siemens to allow for conversion of existing part 90 installations to operate under the CBRS rules.” The FCC’s Part 90 rules cover private land mobile radio services.
The paperwork with the FCC doesn’t reveal a lot about how Disney wants to use CBRS, but its interest isn’t surprising. Well-known entities from Amazon to the NFL have expressed interest in the technology.
Last year, research analysts at the Wall Street firm Cowen noted that companies like Amazon and Google were interested in the CBRS band because it could ultimately enable them to build out an IoT platform that would feed back into their cloud platforms, creating a turnkey IoT solution that completely bypasses the incumbent wireless carriers. The analysts also noted that 5G is the first wireless generational technology being built to use the cloud.
The CBRS band in the U.S. involves a spectrum sharing system where the General Authorized Access (GAA) portion of the band is unlicensed and getting used first. On June 25, an auction of the Priority Access Licenses (PALs) part of the band will start for licensed usage. Wireless operators are among the likely participants in that auction, although they generally view the 3.5 GHz band in the U.S., while it’s mid-band spectrum, as more limited than some other mid-band spectrum, such as C-band. The FCC is still determining how to relocate current satellite users in the C-band to open up 280 MHz for terrestrial 5G.