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FCC’s 3.5 GHz Proposal Could Result in Spectrum Auction

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 10:50am
Ben Munson

The FCC yesterday issued a Further Notice of Public Rulemaking (FNPRM) regarding up to 150 MHz of 3.5 GHz spectrum it wishes to make available for mobile broadband and other uses.

The FCC’s proposal is eyeing 3550 MHz to 3650 MHz—with wishes to expand the block to 3700 MHz for a total of 150 MHz—that potentially can be used on a shared basis with incumbents. Named the Citizens Broadband Radio Service, the spectrum block would be available for consumer use, small cell deployment, fixed mobile broadband services and other uses. 

Under the FCC’s three-tiered proposal for the spectrum block, the top tier would be reserved for federal and non-federal incumbents, the second tier would be for priority access and the third tier for general authorized access use. Each lower tier would be responsible for preventing harmful interference for the tier or tiers above it.

For the second tier, the Commission has proposed to, on an annual basis, allow applications for available Priority Access Licenses (PAL) with the possibility of allowing licensees to aggregate PAL licenses by making available multiple consecutive years of PALs licenses available at the same time.

The FCC would hold an auction to assign PALs where there are mutually exclusive applications pending, which happens when more applications are submitted than can be accommodated geographically, temporally, and spectrally. The auction would offer non-frequency-specific blocks when the total number of applicants for a PAL in a specific geographic area for a given year exceeds the total number of PALs available in that geographic area for that year, according to the rules filed by the FCC. The Commission is seeking comment on the proposal. 

The FCC originally released the NPRM for the Citizens Broadband Radio Service in December 2012. With the FNPRM, the main difference is the proposal has been opened to technologies other than small cells. The new FNPRM is also loaded with 20 pages of licensing and technical rules, which took into account comments received

The FNPRM will probably be the last chance for public input as the next step is the report and order, which the Commission will review.

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