On September 30th, OTI filed comments in response to the FCC's Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning the use and appropriate allocation of spectrum in the bands above 24 GHz.
As consumer advocates, our groups believe that the public interest goals of promoting innovation, market entry, competition, intensive spectrum re-use, and diverse uses and users are best served by ensuring that there is a more balanced mix of licensed, unlicensed and dynamic shared access to what will otherwise be grossly underutilized mmW spectrum. Relying too heavily on a traditional licensing scheme, based on exclusive access to large geographic areas for inherently small cell deployments, is guaranteed to leave the spectrum unused for many years, and perhaps permanently, in low-density environments outside of central urban areas, shopping districts and well-trafficked venues. In contrast, the only proven model to achieve high rates of spectrum reuse – and both fast and affordable wireless connectivity indoors – is open and opportunistic access by both operators and end users to open access (unlicensed) small cell spectrum. Accordingly, OTI & PK make the following recommendations:
First, OTI & PK generally support the framework proposed in the FNPRM, with access to the 37 – 37.6 GHz band authorized by rule and available to both Federal and non-Federal users on a coordinated, co-equal basis and subject to very short time-to-live authorizations (e.g., 7 days). Shared Access Licenses (SALs) should be as similar as feasible to General Authorized Access within the Part 96 framework adopted for the new Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). To the extent Shared Access licensees receive a degree of interference protection for “a particular bandwidth of spectrum at a particular location,” the capabilities of a dynamic Spectrum Access System (SAS) should be leveraged to maximize the availability of the band for all potential users, including channel sizes that vary based on need. We urge the Commission to adopt a standardized engineering metric to calculate the protection contour for a SAL, just as the Commission did to facilitate GAA to unused Priority Access spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band. OTI & PK also strongly support the Commission’s proposal that registered non-Federal sites must be put into service within seven days and reassert their registration every seven days.
Second, the Commission should apply its three-tier framework under Part 96 to the 24 GHz bands under consideration. The public interest is best served by a two- or three-tier framework under Part 96 that divides the band between GAA and PALs with short time-to-live durations coordinated dynamically by a SAS or similar geolocation database.
Third, OTI & PK strongly support extending opportunistic access on a use-or-share basis across the entire 37 – 39 GHz band and, if and when feasible, to the 28 GHz and other bands allocated for exclusive licensing. There is no reason to believe that a SAS certified to manage shared access in the lower band segment below 37.6 GHz would not be equally capable of managing opportunistic access to unused spectrum above 37.6 GHz. The case for opportunistic access to unused spectrum is much stronger for mmW spectrum than it was for the 3.5 GHz band. Licensees maintain all of their rights to use the public resource – and lose only their ability to warehouse it.
Finally, with respect to the 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz bands, although OTI & PK strongly supported the three-tier sharing framework the Commission adopted for the new CBRS at 3.5 GHz, the Commission should refrain at this time from introducing a three-tier framework that includes making Priority Access Licenses available on an exclusive geographic area basis. The Commission instead authorize an unlicensed underlay, under Part 15, with secondary access for outdoor use subject to coordination by a geolocation database.
Download the full comments below: