The FCC is considering new rules for the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band, which should make mobile operators happy, but may disappoint other CBRS stakeholders

A notice of proposed rule-making is on the commission’s Oct. 24 open meeting agenda. It would seek comment and propose changes to the Priority Access License (PAL) rules in the 3.5 GHz band.
fccThe proposed changes would extend PAL terms from three years to 10 years and eliminate the requirement that PALs automatically terminate at the end of the license term.
The proposed updates also would expand PALs to larger geographic license areas and revise the rules governing PAL auctions. It would deny T-Mobile’s requests to revisit the base station power limits and the band plan adopted in the commission’s 2015 and 2016 orders, as well as terminate the rule-making dockets that the commission opened to address petitions filed by CTIA and T-Mobile in June 2017, as well as the docket used in the 3.5 GHz rule-making initiated in 2012.
Groups that had lobbied for no changes were predictably unhappy with the commission’s plan to proceed with changes.
“WISPA is very disappointed that the Commission appears poised to initiate a proceeding that will undo the CBRS rules adopted just two years ago,” said Mark Radabaugh, a WISPA board member and chairman of the WISPA FCC Committee. He continued, “This band is ideal for providing fixed broadband to rural consumers that lack choice, and the proposals in the FCC’s draft Order will undercut future deployment and innovation and strand investment. WISPA and our allies in the rural broadband community will be speaking out in the upcoming proceeding.”
Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Program at New America’s Open Technology Institute, echoed that sentiment. “An overwhelming majority of comments in response to CTIA’s petition, from General Electric to dozens of rural wireless ISPs, opposed reopening the rules to make CBRS licenses permanent and so large that they would be affordable only to the 3 or 4 largest mobile carriers,” he said. “The Chairman has simply cut and pasted CTIA’s petition and circulated it as proposed new rules that exclude thousands of other users and use cases from access to mid-band spectrum. Innovation, business productivity and consumers will all suffer if this rulemaking is adopted as proposed,” Calabrese added.
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