On July 15th, OTI joined Public Knowledge in filing comments in reply to the FCC proposed rules for the Citizen Broadband Radio Service that both unlocks the tremendous potential of underutilized spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band and creates a three tier framework for opening additional underutilized bands for dynamic sharing on both a licensed and unlicensed basis.
In these Comments we address two of the three distinct issues raised in the Second FNPRM: First, how the Commission should determine whether a Priority Access License (“PAL”) is actually in “use” for the purpose of implementing the “use-it-or-share-it” rule for opportunistic General Authorized Access (“GAA”) to PAL spectrum that is not in “use.” And second, how to ensure that Fixed Satellite Service (“FSS”) sites are protected from harmful interference while leveraging the capabilities of the Spectrum Access System (“SAS”) to maximize secondary use of spectrum near FSS sites.
With respect to the determination of when PAL spectrum is in “use,” as the FNPRM acknowledges, OTI and PK have previously addressed this issue at length in comments and reply comments filed on behalf of the broader Public Interest Spectrum Coalition (PISC) in the proceedings leading to adoption of the Report and Order. We fully agree with the Commission’s finding that “permitting opportunistic access to unused Priority Access channels would maximize the flexibility and utility of the 3.5 GHz Band for the widest range of potential users” and “ensure that the band will be in consistent and productive use.”
The Commission should authorize opportunistic access to unused PAL spectrum by defining actual “use” along two dimensions: geography and time. The Commission has the opportunity to leverage the capability of the SAS – using information reported to the SAS under the rules already adopted – to dynamically determine where and when the licensed spectrum is in actual use. PAL holders are required to report the basic operational characteristics of each and every Citizens Broadband Radio Service Device (“CBSD”) to the SAS at the time the CBSD is registered, and to immediately update the SAS if any parameter changes, in order to protect federal and other incumbents, for channel assignments, and other purposes. Similarly, the CBSDs regularly contact the SAS and provide (or could provide) basic information on whether they are currently (or recently) actively transmitting. The Commission should take advantage of the capabilities of the SAS and require that the PAL protection areas (where) and active usage (when) are each consistently and objectively determined on a dynamic basis by the SAS.
Allowing the SAS to calculate the protection areas is consistent, objective and also imposes no added reporting “burden” on PAL operators. The location and basic operational characteristics of each and every CBSD needed to make to make the calculation (e.g., accurate geolocation, conducted power levels, height above average terrain, antenna type) is already required to be reported to the SAS as part of the CBSD registration process – and updated if there is any change (e.g., in location or EIRP).
With respect to protecting incumbent FSS sites from harmful interference, OTI and PK urge the Commission to authorize the SAS to customize protection zones for each FSS site based on real-world conditions, such as terrain, CBSD operating parameters and earth station pointing angles, rather than rely on any sort of generic exclusion zones or protection criteria based on worst-cast assumptions. OTI and PK suggest the Commission further leverage the capabilities of the SAS to monitor and calculate the aggregate level of interference to FSS sites on a dynamic basis, rather than define exclusion zones based on worst-case assumptions about the density of simultaneous PAL and GAA transmissions.
Download the full comments below: