A group of 17 entities, including Google, Boingo Wireless, Microsoft and American Tower, sent a letter to the FCC on Thursday urging the commission to stick to the rules it adopted in 2015 and affirmed in 2016 for the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) band.
Other signatories to the letter include All Points Broadband, Amplex, Baicells Technologies North America, Engine, High Speed Link, NCTA, Republic Wireless, Rise Broadband, Ruckus Wireless, Skywerks Internet Services, Smart City, Telrad and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA).
The group represents a broad cross section that has invested to build the foundation for commercial broadband services using Priority Access Licenses (PAL) and General Authorized Access (GAA) CBRS spectrum. They also urged the FCC to move quickly to test and certify the Spectrum Access System (SAS) and Environmental Sensing Capabilities (ESC) components of the CBRS framework.
They noted that the trial period and final certification process that the commission described last December appears to have not yet begun. SAS and ESC administrators continue to develop their systems without a firm schedule of when they can begin permanent commercial operation.
An FCC spokesman told FierceWirelessTech that the commission received the letter and is reviewing it but had no further comment on the status of the 3.5 GHz CBRS band. There is no 3.5 GHz item listed on the FCC’s June open meeting agenda.
CBRS stakeholders started sounding the alarm earlier this year after reports that Commissioner Michael O’Rielly wanted to review items in the rules before pressing forward. The extent of those changes are not known, but the group that sent the letter to the FCC today say any major changes could undermine their investments and the ability of operators and investors to rely on FCC rules.
“While we do not oppose modest adjustments or refinements, major changes to the three-tier structure or the operational rules would run counter to the FCC’s broadband deployment goals,” said Dave Wright, director, Regulatory Affairs & Network Standards at Ruckus Wireless, during a conference call with members of the media.
Rise Broadband, the largest fixed wireless service provider in the U.S., got a temporary authority license to conduct a 3.5 GHz trial in the Provo, Utah, area, with six towers, and it’s providing 100 megabit service to more than 100 customers in the initial LTE deployment, said Jeff Kohler, cofounder and chief development officer at Rise Broadband. The company is confident it will be able to offer competitive services at prices as low or lower than fiber-type services in rural or less populated areas where the big carriers typically don’t focus due to the economics.
The company has made quite an investment in the 3.5 GHz band and it’s concerned that if the FCC were to change the rules, it would undermine its efforts. In the meantime, the uncertainty posed by the FCC’s lack of movement is creating a sense of unease.
The base stations the company is using today in the 3.65 and 3.7 GHz spectrum can be used at 3.5 GHz in the U.S. with a simple swap of the CPE at the customer’s home or business, enabling speeds of up to 100 Mbps.