April 28, 2016
WASHINGTON, April 28, 2016 – The Federal Communications Commission today reaffirmed its decision to create the innovative Citizens Broadband Radio Service in the 3550-3700 MHz (3.5 GHz) band, and took additional steps to finalize the rules. The Commission established the 3.5 GHz band as an innovation band, where it is breaking down age-old regulatory barriers to create a space for a wide variety of users to coexist by sharing spectrum. The item adopted today generally reaffirms the flexible and innovative regulatory framework the Commission adopted in the band in April 2015.
Finalizing the rules sets the stage for the next steps, including certifying Spectrum Access System Administrators and Environmental Sensing Capability operators and holding a future auction, to making providing service in this band a reality. As a result of technological innovations and a focus on spectrum sharing, the Commission was able to open up 100 megahertz of spectrum previously unavailable for commercial uses, which it added to existing commercial spectrum to make a 150 megahertz contiguous band.
Today’s rules finalize the framework for the Citizens Broadband Radio Service, providing an opportunity to leverage these new innovations in spectrum licensing and access schemes to meet the needs of a variety of users, simultaneously. Last April the Commission adopted the innovative, flexible three-tiered access framework for the 3.5 GHz band, which includes an Incumbent Access tier, Priority Access tier, and General Authorized Access tier. These three tiers are coordinated through a dynamic Spectrum Access System.
In preserving this framework, the Order reaffirms that the Commission’s commitment to this access structure, while refining some of the technical rules governing the service. Today’s Order also resolves the three outstanding issues raised in the Second FNPRM. First, it maximizes efficient use of the spectrum by adopting an engineering-based approach for determining when a Priority Access License area is in use, which will facilitate certainty for Priority Access Licensees and opportunistic access to unused spectrum for General Authorized Access users.
Second, it adopts a robust and flexible secondary market regime for Priority Access Licenses. Finally, the order balances the expanded access for wireless broadband operators with the need to protect fixed satellite service operations, and adopts protections that will be tailored to the characteristics of each grandfathered earth station. As a cumulative result of today’s Order, the rules governing the Citizens Broadband Radio Service will provide tangible benefits for all Americans.
First, the service will further increase the speed, capacity, and adaptability of wireless networks, leading to better mobile Internet performance for everyone. Second, we expect to see wide deployment of wireless broadband in industrial applications – advanced manufacturing, energy, healthcare, etc. – supporting innovation and growth throughout our economy.
Finally, this new service is being made available in a way that enables effective sharing with federal incumbents to protect important national defense missions. Action by the Commission April 28, 2016 by Order on Reconsideration and a Second Report and Order (FCC 16-55). Chairman Wheeler, Commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel approving. Commissioner Pai approving in part and concurring in part. Commissioner O’Rielly approving in part and dissenting in part. Chairman Wheeler, Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai and O’Rielly issuing separate statements.