TR Daily WISPA CEO Bemoans Draft 3.5 GHz Band Order
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

WISPA CEO Bemoans Draft 3.5 GHz Band Order

Wireless Internet Service Providers Association President and Chief Executive Officer Claude Aiken today bemoaned the draft report and order that the FCC plans to consider at its Oct. 23 meeting modifying rules for 3.5 gigahertz band priority access licenses (PALs).

Under the report and order in GN docket 17-258, the FCC would increase the size of PALs from census tracts to counties, while seeking comment “in the pre-auction process on allowing package bids to facilitate bidding for the counties that comprise a complete MSA [metropolitan statistical areas] in the top 305 markets” (TR Daily, Oct. 2). WISPA has joined other organizations in urging the FCC to license at least some of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum by census tracts.

“I’m as frustrated as you that contrary interests are still trying to push us out of the CBRS band,” Mr. Aiken said this morning in remarks at WISPAPALOOZA 2018 in Las Vegas. He said that while WISPA has not been successful in getting what it has sought for the spectrum, he said that it is “still fighting” and would work “right up until that vote on several fronts to have an impact. This is critically important to our future.”

In a pre-taped conversation with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Mr. Pai said he understands that some people “might not be happy” with the draft order. But he said he’s confident that “WISPs are going to be able to take advantage” of the new rules.

“We had to make a difficult call,” said Mr. Pai, adding that Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, who was the point person on the item, spent time discussing the issues with WISPs.

The rules will enable WISPs “to have some certainty,” Mr. Pai said, adding that the framework is “much more predictable than it was in the past.” He cited the renewal expectancy and longer license terms.

But Mr. Aiken told Mr. Pai that the order “will be a tough pill to swallow” for his members.

Mr. Pai also called the FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction “a resounding success,” and he noted that WISPs were among the winners. Mr. Aiken said that a dozen WISPA members received funding in the sale.

Mr. Pai stressed that he is supportive of ensuring that there is adequate spectrum for unlicensed use, and he noted that the FCC this month also plans to consider a notice of proposed rulemaking looking at ways to free up such frequencies in the 6 GHz band.

Mr. Pai also noted that the FCC is considering how enable terrestrial broadband use in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. “Trying to manage these competing interests is not going to be easy to do,” he said.

In other pre-taped remarks, Mr. Aiken also spoke with David J. Redl, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Mr. Redl cited efforts by NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences to enable sharing between commercial and federal spectrum users in the 3.5 GHz band. He also mentioned an ongoing analysis of sharing in the 3.45-3.55 GHz band, saying there was “a lot of work left to be done” in that initiative.

Mr. Redl also cited efforts to improve wireless broadband coverage data, noting that Congress has tasked NTIA with improving data used for the national broadband map. He noted that NTIA plans to seek comments as part of that initiative and that it wants input from WISPA members.- Paul Kirby, [email protected]


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