Google, GE, Ruckus and others press for their CBRS licensing framework

light (Pixabay)
A group says its proposed licensing framework represents a compromise to meet the needs of all stakeholders in the 3.5 GHz band, but not everyone is behind it. (Pixabay)

A diverse set of companies is urging the FCC to adopt its proposed licensing framework for the Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) band, saying it represents the largest cross-industry coalition in the proceeding to date and will ensure the largest possible group of stakeholders can derive value from the 3.5 GHz CBRS band.

Representatives from Google, Frontier Communications, Motorola Solutions, General Electric Company, NCTA – The Internet and Television Association, NTCA – the Rural Broadband Association, Ruckus Networks, Rural Wireless Association and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) met with Commissioner Michael O’Rielly and his legal adviser, Erin McGrath, last week regarding the proposal, according to an ex parte filing (PDF).

In the meeting, the group presented the terms of a proposed compromise framework for Priority Access License (PAL) licensing, which is the area where the most contention has been brewing over the CBRS band. The commission in 2015 adopted licensing rules based on census tracts, which larger mobile carriers didn’t like. They petitioned the FCC to review the rules, and O’Rielly has been the point person on the topic, meeting with stakeholders in hopes of reaching a compromise.

CTIA and the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) submitted a plan last month that represented a compromise between the largest U.S. carriers and smaller ones. They proposed that the commission license PALs using Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the top 306 Cellular Market Areas (CMAs) and use county-based geographic area licenses in the remaining 428 CMAs.

The GE/Google/Frontier/WISPA group says their proposal’s inclusion of MSA-sized licenses incorporates a key part of the CTIA/CCA plan. The CBRS Coalition group presented a compromise framework in early May, and now it’s added the additional provision for five MSA-sized PALs at auction.

“If it adopts this compromise framework, the Commission will maximize the enormous social and economic benefits of the CBRS band, catalyze U.S. wireless technology and 5G leadership, and promote the modernization of U.S. infrastructure,” the group wrote in an ex parte filing (PDF). “Both the makeup of our coalition and the substance of our proposal reflect the diversity of deployment options and network operators that will be required to realize the vision for 5G wireless—ubiquitous wireless services in urban and rural areas, both outdoor and indoor, and involving a breadth of industries (e.g., mobile, cable, industrial, WISPs, and enterprise).”

Here are the elements of the framework presented to O’Rielly on May 24:

• In every census tract in every U.S. county, there will be two census-tract-based CBRS PALs available at auction.

• In the top 30 U.S. CMAs (ranked by population), there will be five county-sized PALs available at auction in every county.

• In CMAs ranked 31-306 (based on population), there will be five MSA-sized PALs available at auction.

• In CMAs ranked 307-734 (based on population), there will be five county-sized PALs available at auction in every county.

• The license term for all PALs will be seven years, and PALs will be renewable based on performance criteria.