At yesterday’s open meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed to open up 100 megahertz of shared spectrum in the 3.5 GHz Band (3550-3650 MHz) using small-cell and database technologies. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) envisions three tiers of users, each with different levels of rights and protections in the 3.5 GHz band. The first tier, Incumbent Access, would include authorized federal users and grandfathered fixed satellite service licensees; they would be afforded protection from all other users in the 3.5 GHz band. The second tier, Protected Access, would include such critical-use facilities as hospitals, utilities and government facilities along with public-safety entities that would be afforded quality-assured access to a portion of the 3.5 GHz Band in certain designated locations. The third tier, General ?Authorized Access, would include all other users – including the general public – that would have the ability to operate in the 3.5 GHz Band subject to protections for Incumbent Access and Protected Access users. In addition, commissioners proposed new rules that would allow the ability to text messages to 911 (http://www.cable360.net/ct/news/thewire/55598.html for more information). The proposed action also seeks to accelerate transition to a next-generation 911 system that will use cutting-edge communications technology to assist first responders.

Industry Response

Regarding the agency’s NPRM on spectrum sharing and small-cell wireless broadband service in the 3.5 GHz band, TIA President Grant Seiffert noted, “After careful and exhaustive planning to avoid harmful interference occurrences within and surrounding it, we believe that the 3.5 GHz band could be used advantageously for small-cell use, and that more efficient use of this band could help decrease congestion in other bands.” Added Chris Guttman-McCabe, CTIA’s vice president/Regulatory Affairs, "While this spectrum is not part of the 300 MHz that the FCC has identified for allocation for mobile flexible use before 2015, we are interested to see how the proceeding develops, and how the band ultimately can be used to support the provision of mobile broadband." He also weighed in on the text-to-911 decision, saying, "While significant limitations and challenges exist in the broader delivery of text-to-911 communications, CTIA welcomes today’s FNPRM that asks important technical and operational questions regarding the use of these services to reach public safety answering points.”

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