TR Daily NTIA Asks FCC to Reject Industry Upper 37 GHz Arguments
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Thursday, April 11, 2019

NTIA Asks FCC to Reject Industry Upper 37 GHz Arguments

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration urged the FCC today to reject industry complaints about a coordination process included in a draft fifth report and order that the FCC plans to consider at its meeting tomorrow to give the Department of Defense access to the 37.6-38.6 gigahertz band when the 37.0-37.6 GHz band is not sufficient.

“FCC staff would review the military’s request to assess any potential impact on non-Federal licensees, contacting the potentially affected licensees and facilitating direct coordination with DoD,” the FCC noted in a fact sheet on the draft item in GN docket 14-177 released last month. “Resolving this issue would be an integral step toward the auction of the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz (38.6–40 GHz), and 47 GHz (47.2–48.2 GHz) bands slated to begin later this year.”

In recent ex parte filings, CTIA and major carriers argued that the military can access additional spectrum on the secondary market and that the FCC shouldn’t dampen enthusiasm to bid on the spectrum at auction by permitting additional military access before or after a sale (TR Daily, April 5 and 8).

“The 37-38.6 GHz band is still allocated on a primary basis to federal and non-federal fixed and mobile services and the federal Space Research Service (space­to-Earth) (SRS),” NTIA said in its filing in GN docket 14-177 and AU docket 19-59. “In July 2016, NTIA recommended to the Commission ways to share this band with non-federal licensees and measures to adequately protect federal operations in the 37-38.6 GHz band and in the adjacent 36-37 GHz band. The Commission adopted these recommendations in the Spectrum Frontiers 1st R&O in pursuit of meeting ‘the twin goals of expanding commercial access in this band while facilitating continued and expanded Federal use.’ Specifically, it established the recommended coordination zones throughout the entire 37-38.6 GHz band for the 14 military sites and three scientific sites identified by NTIA, noting that Federal agencies still had the ability to add future sites on a coordinated basis.

“With regard to the Upper 37 GHz band, the Commission last June sought comment on ‘how best to accommodate coordination zones for future Federal operations at a limited number of additional sites.’ As we conveyed earlier in this proceeding, NTIA cautions against establishing any new, overly restrictive coordination processes, which could have an adverse effect on the development of new services and next generation technologies for both federal and non-federal applications. We also noted the ongoing challenges federal agencies face to precisely define the extent and location of their future federal operations under the current U.S. Table of Frequency Allocations. DOD and the private sector are collaborating on multiple fronts to advance spectrum-based technologies for 5G and beyond,” NTIA added.

“As the draft 5th R&O points out again, DOD will need to use the Upper 37 GHz band at additional sites, but these other locations cannot be specifically identified at this time. NTIA understands there are concerns that such uncertainty on the federal side could impact how potential non-federal bidders in the auction for spectrum in the Upper 37 GHz band value each license if, for example, the future expansion outside the current military coordination zones is generally unrestricted,” NTIA said. “We note, however, the Communications Act provides that the Commission’s auction methodologies, among other objectives, must recover for the public ‘a portion of the value of the public spectrum resource made available for commercial use’ (not the full value). The Commission cannot consider the expectation of auction revenues when prescribing area designations and other regulations. It must promote the purposes specified in Section 1 of the Communications Act including ‘the national defense.’”

NTIA added that the FCC should “reject pleas by potential bidders to effectively change the nature of the existing co-primary federal and non-federal allocations in the Upper 37 GHz band to forever constrain future DOD operations that support national defense and homeland security.”

The filing continued, “In order to accommodate the needs of the military in the Upper 37 GHz band, DOD may submit to NTIA requests to coordinate access to the band at additional locations (e.g., military bases and ranges). Each request will include a description of the proposed applications, technology, and other information required under Chapter 10 of the NTIA Manual of Regulations and Procedures for Federal Radio Frequency Management. DOD is also willing to limit such requests to proposed operations that cannot be accommodated in the Lower 37 GHz band. NTIA and FCC staff will review the DOD requests to assess any potential impact on non-Federal licensees, contact the impacted licensees (and other parties in interest), and facilitate coordination as necessary. If coordination is successful, NTIA would provide the applicable military departments appropriate certifications of spectrum support along with any new or revised frequency assignments. We will also encourage DOD and other federal users to focus initial efforts to develop use cases and technical solutions in the Lower 37 GHz band or through other negotiated arrangements or partnerships with FCC licensees, taking advantage of commercial equipment operability requirements imposed by FCC rules, advanced antenna technology, and adaptive power control techniques throughout the millimeter wave bands. However, we do not believe that federal spectrum access requirements in these bands can be accommodated solely through secondary market transactions with non-Federal licensees, especially those related to defense and national security applications.”

Regarding the 50.2-50.4 GHz band, NTIA said that it is important to protect space-based systems from interference. “Critically, 50.2-50.4 GHz is a calibration band for space-based weather and atmospheric measurements, making it especially vital that the U.S. ensure that mobile systems do not cause interference into this band. Put simply, moving forward with UMFUS licensing will not be possible if these assets critical to U.S. economic and national security cannot be protected,” NTIA said. —Paul Kirby, [email protected]

MainStory: FCC NTIA SpectrumAllocation

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