T-Mobile continues tests in 3.5 GHz CBRS band, seeks extension on STA in Vegas

Las Vegas
T-Mobile wants to continue testing 3.5 GHz prototype equipment in Las Vegas. (Pixabay)

T-Mobile wants to continue testing new 3.5 GHz equipment in Las Vegas using prototype gear from Nokia and Ericsson.

The carrier was previously granted authority in Las Vegas, as well as Dallas and Richardson, Texas, to conduct 3.5 GHz tests, but that expires April 10 of this year. The current application seeks an operation start date of April 11 through Oct. 11.

T-Mobile submitted its Special Temporary Authority (STA) request saying it wishes to continue operating in the 3550-3700 MHz band to understand the propagation characteristics and gain a better understanding of new innovative services that the band can offer.

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The FCC currently is reviewing its rules for the band after T-Mobile and CTIA last year submitted petitions to the agency seeking to make the rules more conducive to investment by carriers and more harmonized with the rest of the world when it comes to 5G.

Separately, T-Mobile recently submitted comments reiterating its desire to see the rules governing Priority Access Licenses changed so that the geographic areas are larger and based on Partial Economic Areas, rather than the current census tract scheme. A lot of smaller WISPs are pushing for the census tracts, but larger carriers have been asking for wider licensed areas and on longer terms.

RELATED: T-Mobile: Smaller license areas in CBRS would result in inefficient use of spectrum

“T-Mobile recognizes that there are competing interests with respect to the appropriate license size for the band, particularly in rural areas,” the uncarrier said in its ex parte filing (PDF). “Accordingly, the commission may wish to consider the use of Cellular Market Areas to license the band as a compromise in some or all locations.”

Speaking at the AT&T policy forum on the future of 3.5 GHz last month, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said he was encouraged by reports that many parties involved with the CBRS band are moving away from their previous positions and starting to talk to one another about possible compromises, including considering whether to offer different license sizes in urban and rural areas.

It's not certain when the commission will vote on the final CBRS rules. “While everyone may not get what they want in the end, my goal is to ensure that as many companies as possible are interested in participating in the 3.5 GHz spectrum auction and will soon be able to offer the services consumers desire,” he said.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced at Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona that he wants to begin a 28 GHz auction by November, but T-Mobile is pushing for an auction of all the millimeter wave bands together in one big auction, which would include the 24 GHz, 28 GHz, 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz bands. The operator argues that auctioning more than just the 28 GHz band will, among other things, draw more participants and capital, resulting in greater benefits to the U.S. Treasury and the American taxpayer, and lead to a faster, broader and more competitive rollout of 5G services.