Wednesday, December 12, 2012

FCC Proposes 100 MHz of Shared Spectrum for Small Cells in 3.5 GHz Band


The FCC is proposing to make available 100 megahertz of shared spectrum in the 3.5 GHz Band (3550-3650 MHz) for small cell deployments.

The FCC said it 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. These incumbents would be afforded protection from all other users in the 3.5 GHz Band.
  • The second tier, Protected Access, would include critical use facilities, such as hospitals, utilities, government facilities, and 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. 
A spectrum access system, incorporating a geo-location enabled dynamic database, would govern access to the 3.5 GHz Band.

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued a
report this summer recommending spectrum sharing and small cell use in the 3.5 GHz Band.



The PCAST Report - July 2012
U.S. federal policy should shift in favor "Shared-Use Spectrum Superhighways" instead the current plan which is to first clear federal users from specific bands and then auction this spectrum for the exclusive use of the highest bidder, according to a new report issued by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). The report identifies 1,000 MHz of federal spectrum for sharing with the private sector.

The New Spectrum Superhighway plan (1) divides spectrum into substantial blocks with common characteristics (2) makes sharing by Federal users with commercial users the norm (3) measures spectrum effectiveness using a new metric (4) increases capacity by "1,000’s of times." 

A Presidential memorandum issued in June 2010 requires that 500 MHz of spectrum to be made available for commercial use within 10 years.  However, a recent NTIA Study found that clearing just one 95 MHz band will take 10 years, cost $18 billion, and cause significant disruption. Moreover, the net revenue for the Treasury from the last successful auction of 45 MHz realized a net income of just a few hundred million a year ($5.3 billion total).

The PCAST report said its vision of shared spectrum is viable using existing technologies and is not dependent on cognitive or "smart" radios. Instead, a geo-location database could be used the share spectrum much like how the FCC is using managing TV bands. The TV Whitespaces system could be used as a model. Technical standards would need to be implemented for coexistence of transmitters and receivers to enable flexible sharing.

To get things rolling, the PCAST report recommends that an incentive mechanism be created to encourage Federal agencies to begin sharing (e.g., Spectrum Currency). The existing Spectrum Relocation Fund, which is supposed to fund the migration of federal users out of certain bands, could be redeveloped into a "Spectrum Efficiency Fund." The system could be tested in a specific city before being extended nationwide.

The 192 page report is posted online.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/pcast

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