TR Daily FCC Approves Initial 3.5 GHz Band SAS Deployment
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Monday, September 16, 2019

FCC Approves Initial 3.5 GHz Band SAS Deployment

The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Office of Engineering and Technology today approved initial commercial deployment (ICD) of 3.5 gigahertz band spectrum access systems (SASs) operated by five entities.

The entities getting the OK to commence initial deployment in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) are Amdocs, Inc., CommScope, Federated Wireless, Inc., Google LLC, and Sony, Inc.

In July, the Wireless Bureau and OET approved 3.5 GHz band environmental sensing capability (ESC) sensor deployment and coverage plans for CommScope, Federated Wireless, and Google (TR Daily, July 29).

The SAS/ESC operations will enable sharing of the 3.5 GHz band between commercial and military users. Initially, general authorized access (GAA) spectrum will be available. The FCC plans to hold an auction next June of 70 megahertz of priority access licenses (PALs) in the spectrum.

A wide variety of business cases are envisioned for CBRS spectrum.

Customers include wireless carriers, which can use the CBRS spectrum to bolster capacity for indoor and outdoor services; cable operators, which can utilize the additional frequencies to add LTE to access points, extend coverage, and augment capacity; wireless Internet service providers, which can upgrade their systems; enterprise users, which can upgrade their communications networks, reduce interference from Wi-Fi, and run Internet of things applications; and managed-service providers, which can deploy neutral host networks, Federated Wireless has noted.

The Wireless Bureau and OET reviewed SAS lab test reports and ICD proposals in consultation with the Department of Defense and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

A public notice released today in GN docket 15-319 detailed the compliance obligations on entities granted ICD authorization.

“Each SAS Administrator must file a notification in GN Docket No. 15-319 stating: (1) the beginning date of their ICD period; (2) the specific geographic areas covered by ICD deployments; (3) whether the SAS is DPA [dynamic protection area]-enabled; (4) whether the SAS will be operating with an approved Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) operator during ICD and, if so, which ESC they will be using; and (5) the expected end date of the ICD reporting period,” the public notice said. “The notification must also include a primary point of contact for incumbent operators to use to report potential interference issues to the SAS and to obtain additional information about ICD operations, if needed. The ICD period may begin once this notification is filed.”

The public notice said that ICDs “must continue for a minimum of 30 consecutive days, consistent with the SAS Administrator’s ICD proposal, and they must demonstrate compliance with the Commission’s rules and other requirements set forth in the ICD Proposals Public Notice. ICDs must involve a variety of testing scenarios featuring multiple Citizen[s] Broadband Radio Service Devices (CBSDs) that result in the generation of data upon which the Commission can reasonably predict that the SAS can reliably operate in compliance with the Commission’s rules.”

“Once a SAS Administrator completes its ICD, it must submit an ICD Report to the Commission, according to its approved proposal format and including a demonstration of compliance with each of the conditions above,” the public notice added.

“We will oversee carefully the operations of the SASs during the ICD period,” the public notice stressed. “WTB/OET, in coordination with NTIA and DoD, will review all ICD Reports and will publicly announce all SAS Administrators that successfully complete ICD and receive final certification to operate a SAS. After a SAS Administrator submits its ICD Report to the Commission, it may continue Initial Commercial Operations, subject to the above conditions, during the review period and pending further Commission review. SAS Administrators may expand operations seven business days after providing notice to the Commission, provided that such notice includes all information required by the ICD Proposals Public Notice. All ICD deployments must comply with all conditions listed above and contained in the ICD Proposals Public Notice.

“SAS Administrators that successfully complete ICD and receive final certification to operate will be allowed to make their SASs available for commercial use for the five-year term specified in our rules,” the public notice said. “We will publicly announce the availability of each SAS, at which time the five-year term will commence.”

Doug Kinkoph, NTIA’s acting deputy administrator, hailed the initial SAS approvals announced today.

“Today’s action represents an exciting, critical achievement in putting more mid-band spectrum to use for innovative commercial services,” he said. “It is a culmination of years of hard, collaborative work with our partners at the FCC, the Department of Defense, and the private sector to enable a dynamic spectrum sharing framework. It is also a launching pad for what will follow, as this 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum is rolled out for licensed-by-rule uses and later licensed services in the band. We are eager to see how this spectrum is put to use by the broad ecosystem that has emerged around CBRS, including the announced future support of 5G.”

The CBRS Alliance, which has launched the OnGo brand to certify CBRS devices, welcomed today’s news, as did several of its members and partners. The alliance had already planned to hold a Washington event on Wednesday to celebrate the expected kick-off of commercial activity in the 3.5 GHz band.

“Bringing OnGo to market required close industry and government collaboration. There’s been an unprecedented amount of coordination and joint development to implement the FCC’s framework, prepare the industry for imminent deployments and certify components and devices,” said Dave Wright, president of the CBRS Alliance. “On behalf of the entire CBRS Alliance, I would like to thank all of the organizations that have been involved in this effort, including the FCC, the NTIA, the DoD, the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences [at NTIA], the Wireless Innovation Forum, and our more than 140 members that have contributed their time, energy and innovation to making commercial OnGo services a reality.”

“AT&T is proud to be part of the tremendous effort that has gone into making the commercial deployment of this spectrum a reality,” said Hank Hultquist, vice president-federal regulatory for AT&T, Inc. “CBRS spectrum is a critical piece to our rollout of next-generation fixed wireless, and we’re excited to bring this service to consumers across the country. We applaud the efforts of the FCC, the NTIA and the Defense Department for working with the CBRS Alliance and its industry partners to enable the adoption of so many creative, shared spectrum solutions. This is a game-changer.”

“Charter Communications is excited to be part of this historic event,” said Craig Cowden, senior vice president-wireless technology for Charter Communications, Inc. “We welcome today’s launch of Initial Commercial Deployment for OnGo services which represents the culmination of years of development in bringing efficiencies to use of the nation’s available wireless spectrum, leveraging the advantages of both unlicensed and licensed spectrum characteristics into an optimized and innovative shared spectrum regime. This opens the door for companies like Charter to deploy next generation wireless technologies, including 5G, Rural Broadband and service to the Internet of Things.”

“Motorola Solutions commends the FCC for working closely with the CBRS Alliance and other stakeholders to fulfill the promise of better and faster enterprise communications,” said John Zidar, corporate VP-North America commercial, channel & carrier for Motorola Solutions, Inc. “We are proud to have worked alongside industry partners to establish standards for use of the 3.5 GHz CBRS band and look forward to bringing CBRS-based private broadband solutions to our commercial customers. OnGo services will give businesses more capacity and coverage for their voice, data and video communications and will help to drive innovation across U.S. enterprises.”

“Today’s mobile enterprise and home-based users are driving tremendous demand on the wireless network. CBRS, through the OnGo solution, is a great way to add capacity to the wireless network and meet today’s and tomorrow’s user needs,” said Adam Koeppe, SVP-network planning for Verizon Communications, Inc. “In the hands of operators, CBRS spectrum provides a tremendous opportunity in a very creative way to share spectrum with existing users within the U.S. We’re extremely excited to be bringing a large amount of spectrum into the hands of our customers so that they can do more and more things on their wireless devices.”

“We can’t create new spectrum, but we can invent new ways to use it more efficiently. Of course, that reflects the history of the wireless industry, of continually innovating to get more out of finite radio spectrum so more can use it,” said Claude Aiken, president and chief executive officer of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA). “Today, after years of hard work and development, initial commercial deployment (ICD) of CBRS shared spectrum is a reality. We want to thank all those individuals for their magnificent efforts to make that happen. And the FCC, too, for seeing the promise within this underutilized CBRS band, and then nurturing the process to completion.”

“Congratulations to all the #WInnForum members who worked tirelessly toward this goal! Way to go everyone!” said the Wireless Innovation Forum, which developed standards for the CBRS spectrum.

The CBRS Alliance said that while full commercial CBRS services should commence in the fourth quarter of 2019, OnGo 5G service availability is expected early next year.

Last October, the FCC, over the dissent of Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, adopted a report and order that increased the size of PAL areas from census tracts to counties and extended license terms from three to 10 years and made the licenses renewable (TR Daily, Oct. 23, 2018).

Commissioner Mike O’Rielly was the point person on the new item. “Incredibly exciting #CBRS (3.5 GHz) news: @FCC approves ICDs for 5 SASs to begin GAA!” he tweeted today. “Sounds wonky but means we’re opening mid-band spectrum for unlicensed-like service. At least 80 MHz in most markets for innovative offerings & traditional ones!” —Paul Kirby, [email protected]

MainStory: FCC FederalNews SpectrumAllocation

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