TR Daily O’Rielly: FCC Should Explore 12 GHz, 7 GHz Bands for 5G
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Thursday, July 9, 2020

O’Rielly: FCC Should Explore 12 GHz, 7 GHz Bands for 5G

FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly said today that the FCC should explore freeing up licensed spectrum in the 12 gigahertz and 7 GHz bands for 5G services. He also reiterated his push to make spectrum in the 3.1-3.55 GHz band available for 5G use.

“I have initiated the necessary conversations with industry experts, including manufacturers, providers, academia, and others to help determine which frequencies are most ideal for future purposes. For example, I think it is not unreasonable to have further dialogue with applicable and interested parties on the much debated 12 GHz band. It would certainly seem appropriate to explore the relevant issues here,” Mr. O’Rielly said in remarks during a webinar organized by the New York Wireless Association and New Jersey Wireless Association. “Similarly, 7 GHz could provide an opportunity for possible licensed operations. There are also a couple other bands being privately discussed but are not necessarily ready for public exposure just yet and maybe never will be. Accordingly, if anyone out there has any ideas or is aware of any magical bands previously not discussed, I would love to hear your thoughts.”

In 2016, the MVDDS 5G Coalition filed a petition for rulemaking asking the Commission to allow MVDDS (multichannel video distribution and data service) licensees to use their 12.2-12.7 GHz band spectrum to deliver two-way mobile broadband services (TR Daily, April 26, 2016).

Industry and public interest entities have recently expressed support for the petition (TR Daily, May 26), but Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) has raised concerns with the request (TR Daily, June 5).

In a filing today in Rulemaking 11768, Access Humboldt, the Center for Rural Strategies, the Consumer Federation of America, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Next Century Cities, the National Consumer Law Center, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, the Tribal Digital Village, and X-Labs asked the FCC “to adopt a NPRM with a tentative conclusion that the 12 GHz band can be used for two-way, fixed and mobile 5G wireless broadband services by primary terrestrial licensees as well as on a coordinated and secondary unlicensed or licensed-by-rule basis. The Commission can clarify and greatly enhance the value of the band for all users by moving from a suboptimal legacy use to an expanded and more efficient new set of service rules.”

In a filing yesterday, Dish Network Corp., which is a member of the MVDDS Coalition, also asked the FCC to act in the proceeding and added “that granting the pending SpaceX application to use the 12 GHz Band for satellite use would permanently foreclose use of the band for terrestrial 5G. This would not be in the public interest given the clear potential benefits for 5G, especially when SpaceX seeks thousands of megahertz of other spectrum suitable for its planned uses. Moving forward by initiating a neutral rulemaking on the 12 GHz Band will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to weigh in on the Petition and address any interference concerns.”

In the FCC’s 6 GHz band proceeding, CTIA and its carrier members had unsuccessfully urged the FCC to consider licensing some 7 GHz band frequencies (TR Daily, April 23).

In his remarks today, Mr. O’Rielly also reiterated that the “[t]op of the list of next bands is 3.1 to 3.55 GHz. It currently houses a number of Department of Defense radar systems and has been identified by Congress for possible commercial purposes. I have made the argument that, of this 450 megahertz block, upwards of 200 must be cleared and go towards meeting our insatiable demand for licensed spectrum. I know the upper 100 can be repurposed without much heartburn, and we can work through the second 100 the same way. As for the remaining 250 megahertz in the lower portion of the band, the bulk of it, at a minimum, must be shared, as in the 3.5 GHz tiered structure of priorities. This would protect the DoD purposes while opening these portions to 5G services as well.”

In a report released earlier this week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration cited the difficulty of sharing spectrum with federal government operations below the 3.45 GHz band, while calling the 3.45-3.55 GHz band “a good candidate” for sharing (TR Daily, July 6).

Mr. O’Rielly also said he was pleased with the wide interests from parties in participating in the FCC’s 3.5 GHz band Citizens Broadband Radio Service auction, which begins later this month.

“Having led the Commission’s review and reform of our previously flawed 3.5 GHz priority access license rules, I am almost giddy that these PALs will be auctioned starting on July 23rd, a short two weeks from now. The PALs will be the first new mid-band licenses for 5G and other innovative uses. And, there is reason for excitement: an impressive 271 applicants have qualified to bid in the auction,” he noted. “The potential bidders include mobile and fixed wireless providers of all sizes, cable operators, electric companies, manufacturers, universities, investment groups, individuals, and others. My ultimate vision was to ensure that PALs were attractive to a diverse group of potential users. It appears that introducing the tried and true concepts of longer license terms, renewability, common sense-based license areas, and normal auction procedures where all licenses would be available, among others, accomplished this goal.”

Mr. O’Rielly also renewed his commitment to fighting the diversion by states of 911 fees for other purposes, which he noted remains a problem in New York and New Jersey.

“It’s a tale of good news, bad news. The good news is that, save for any backsliding, the pool of diverting states is now down to just four. It’s been a long time coming, requiring a lot of conversations and letters, and even the threat of losing critical federal funding,” Mr. O’Rielly said. “The bad news—and I expect no shock in this audience—is that both New York and New Jersey continue to cement their positions, remaining squarely on the committed diverter list. While the other two states, Nevada and Rhode Island, are either relatively new to the practice or have flirted with doing the right thing, New York and New Jersey have said they have absolutely no interest in making changes, or, at other times, have made up hairsplitting justifications for practices that Commission experts have repeatedly rejected.

“To put it in context, New Jersey and New York account for $175.5 million of the total $187 million diverted in 2018, or a whopping 93.9 percent, according to the Commission’s last report. Your leaders are unwavering in their commitment to steal these vital fees. They can’t be swayed by underfunded call centers or outdated technology. They don’t seem to care they are no longer eligible for certain federal monies,” Mr. O’Rielly added. “Well, if I have learned anything about my time serving on the Commission, and specifically in this fight, it’s that no real, substantive changes come easy. Let it be known, I will use every tool at my disposal to force needed change in these states’ practices and will not stop until the Commission is able to submit a clean report to Congress stating that there are no diverting states. I thank each and every one of you who are willing to join me in this fight.”

In response to questions after his taped remarks, Mr. O’Rielly said he thinks the FCC will “survive” court challenges to its small cell rules and said he expects Congress to pursue a legislative package that addresses 911 fee diversion along with the statutory T-band giveback as well as underutilized public safety spectrum. He also said he expects the FCC to act by the end of this year on the use of very low power devices in the 6 GHz band. —Paul Kirby, [email protected]

MainStory: FCC FederalNews SpectrumAllocation PublicSafety NewYorkNews NewJerseyNews

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