T-Mobile joins CTIA in pushing FCC to reform rules for 3.5 GHz

T-Mobile urged the FCC to adopt changes for rules regarding 3.5 GHz, echoing sentiments made by CTIA just a few days earlier.

The FCC in 2015 proposed a three-tier sharing framework for the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in the 3.5 GHz band in an effort to maximize the use of those airwaves. In a Monday filing with the agency, the nation’s third-largest carrier pushed for the authorization of Priority Access Licenses (PALs) on 10-year terms “with renewal expectancy,” urged the FCC to use Partial Economic Areas (PEAs) to license PALs, and asked for all PALs to be made available at auction regardless of the number of applications received.

T-Mobile also said all 150 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band should be auctioned as PALs, “with General Authorized Access (GAA) use opportunistically throughout the band.”

“Amending the rules as T-Mobile proposes will promote greater use of the 3.5 GHz band by maximizing the utility of the band for 5G applications and creating additional incentives for investment by PAL licensees while maintaining ample opportunities to use the band on a licensed-by-rue basis, using the spectrum access system (SAS) already being developed,” T-Mobile argued. “By making these changes, the Commission will facilitate investment in the 3.5 GHz band and ensure that the United States retains its leadership position in the development of 5G technologies across all spectrum bands.”

CTIA last Friday issued a similar filing, recommending longer licensing terms for the spectrum than are currently in place; strengthened privacy and property rights for users of 3.5 GHz device users; and simplification of license terms based on PEAs rather than census tracts.

Those arguments appear to be at odds with requests from a host of other U.S. tech companies, however. A group of 17 entities including Google, Boingo Wireless, Microsoft and American Tower sent a letter to the FCC a few weeks ago urging the commission to stick to the rules it adopted in 2015 and affirmed in 2016 for the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) band.

Other signatories to the letter include All Points Broadband, Amplex, Baicells Technologies North America, Engine, High Speed Link, NCTA, Republic Wireless, Rise Broadband, Ruckus Wireless, Skywerks Internet Services, Smart City, Telrad and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA).

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) several years ago identified the 3.5 GHz band as suitable for shared use between government and commercial interests as long as incumbents, including the DoD and fixed satellite services, were given protection. A three-tiered access framework was developed that includes an Incumbent Access tier, Priority Access tier and GAA tier; those three levels will be coordinated through a dynamic Spectrum Access System (SAS).