FCC Affirms New Citizens Broadband Radio Service in the 3.5 GHz Band


The FCC adopted an Order on Reconsideration and Second Report and Order on April 28, 2016, reaffirming its decision to create the Citizens Broadband Radio Service in the 3550-3700 MHz (3.5 GHz) band, and finalizing technical rules. The FCC established the 3.5 GHz band in April 2015, as an innovation band where a variety of users can coexist by sharing spectrum. The final rules include certifying Spectrum Access System Administrators and Environmental Sensing Capability operators, and holding a future auction. In creating this new service, the FCC added 100 MHz of spectrum previously unavailable for commercial uses to make a 150 MHz contiguous band and created a flexible three-tiered access framework which includes an Incumbent Access tier, Priority Access tier, and General Authorized Access tier. The FCC’s order resolves three outstanding issues by adopting: (1) an engineering-based approach for determining when a Priority Access License area is in use to facilitate certainty for Priority Access Licensees and access to unused spectrum for General Authorized Access users; (2) a flexible secondary market regime for Priority Access Licenses; and (3) protections for fixed satellite service operations. The FCC believes these rules will increase the speed, capacity, and adaptability of wireless networks, leading to better mobile Internet performance and deployment of wireless broadband in industrial applications including manufacturing, energy, healthcare.

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