FCC Grants 3.5 GHz Band Waiver


The Federal Communications Commission’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) and the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) have granted a conditional waiver of certain rules governing the protection of federal operations in the 3550-3700 MHz band (3.5 GHz Band) to facilitate more rapid access to the band by a wider variety of devices without compromising federal incumbent protections.

The current rules state that, prior to the deployment of an Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC), a Spectrum Access System (SAS) may only authorize lower-power (Category A) Citizens Broadband Service Devices (CBSDs) outside of Exclusion Zones, and the SAS may not authorize higher-power (Category B) CBSDs prior to the certification and deployment of ESCs.

This conditional waiver will allow SASs to implement an alternative protection methodology based on dynamic protection areas (DPAs) that will permit DPA-enabled SASs to authorize Category B CBSDs prior to the  deployment of an ESC. The SAS Administrator must declare whether its system will be DPA-enabled as part of the final certification process. Prior to the deployment of an ESC, a DPA-enabled SAS may authorize both Category A and Category B CBSDs and will not be required to enforce Exclusion Zones in areas protected by DPAs. Prior to the deployment of an ESC, non-DPA-enabled SASs may only authorize Category A CBSDs outside of Exclusion Zones, consistent with the current rules.

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