Is Expanded Flexible Use Of Mid-Band Spectrum OK?


The FCC today took another step the agency believes will promote “American leadership in the next generation of wireless connectivity, or 5G,” by adopting an Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that identifies new opportunities for flexible use in up to 500 megahertz of mid-band spectrum between 3.7 and 4.2 GHz.

Mid-band spectrum is “well-suited” for next-generation wireless services, the FCC said, and in recognition of the ever-growing demand for spectrum-based services and to facilitate the
development of advanced wireless services, including 5G, the proposals put in motion several steps toward making more mid-band spectrum available for terrestrial fixed and mobile broadband use.

The actions build on a 2017 Notice of Inquiry which began the FCC’s evaluation of whether various spectrum bands between 3.7 GHz and 24 GHz can be made available for flexible use.

The Order will require Fixed Satellite Service Earth stations operating in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band to certify the accuracy of existing registration and license information and will collect
additional information from space station licensees on their operations in the band to assist the Commission and commenters in developing a clearer understanding of how the band is
currently being used. The Commission will then use this information to evaluate the most
efficient way to drive the deployment of mid-band spectrum for mobile services and more
intensive fixed services.

The NPRM advances the Commission’s goal of making spectrum available for new wireless uses while treating existing users in the band fairly. The Notice proposes to add a mobile (except aeronautical mobile) allocation to all 500 megahertz in the band and seeks comment on various proposals for transitioning part or all of the band for flexible use, working up from 3.7 GHz, including market-based, auction, and alternative

The Notice also seeks comment on allowing more intensive point-to-multipoint fixed use in
some portion of the band, on a shared basis, working down from 4.2 GHz and on how to define and protect incumbent users from harmful interference, and it seeks comment on service and technical rules that would enable efficient and intensive use by any new services in the band.

All of the Commissioners approved.

Does the NAB approve of a NPRM that would expand C-band spectrum for wireless usage?

NAB EVP/Communications Dennis Wharton said, “Nearly every American depends on C-band satellite spectrum to receive radio and television programming. The FCC should tread lightly when looking at repurposing even more spectrum for the commercial wireless industry. Slogans and promises are what led the FCC to repurpose spectrum for DISH, and that spectrum still sits fallow. The NAB looks forward to working with the Commission to take a close look at widespread existing uses of C-band spectrum, and determining the best path forward.”

— RBR+TVBR Washington