2/26 - FCC Reply Comments on Access to Spectrum Frontiers above 24 GHz

On February 26, OTI and Public Knowledge filed reply comments on the use of spectrum bands above 24 GHz for mobile radio services. Read the full comments here.


As consumer advocates, OTI and PK believe that the public interest goals of promoting innovation, market entry, competition, intensive spectrum reuse, and diverse uses and users are best served by extending the three-tier spectrum access framework the Commission has adopted for the 3.5 GHz Citizens’ Broadband Radio Service to ensure that there is an appropriate mix of licensed, unlicensed and dynamic shared access to what will otherwise be grossly-underutilized mmW spectrum. We are therefore pleased to see significant support among commenters for that approach and for a use-or-share obligation on licensees that facilitates opportunistic public access to unused mmW spectrum, as well as a strong consensus among commenters that the current unlicensed band at 57-64 GHz should be extended at least to 71 GHz.

First, the record in this proceeding reflects diverse and widespread agreement that the 64-71 GHz band should be allocated for unlicensed use under technical rules consistent with the existing unlicensed band at 57 to 64 GHz. OTI and PK agree with Microsoft’s further recommendation that the Commission extend the upper boundary of the 60 GHz Band to 72.5 GHz, thereby facilitating the expected demand for high-capacity broadband channels where there are dense deployments of Wi-Gig networks. Extending the unlicensed band to 72.5 GHz (rather than 71 GHz) provides an additional non-overlapping channel for WiGig, thereby avoiding underutilization of a portion of the band and maximizing spectrum efficiency.

Second, OTI and PK strongly agree with commenters supporting the Commission’s proposal for a “use-or-share” obligation on mmW licensees that authorizes opportunistic access to unused spectrum capacity in the 28, 37 and 39 GHz bands. The Commission should authorize opportunistic use wherever and whenever licensees are not operating, including in areas where licensees have not yet begun to deploy. Widespread opportunistic access can enhance efficient reuse of mmW spectrum without any risk to licensee operations by relying on a geolocation database governance mechanism that is either an extension of, or similar to, the Spectrum Access System the Commission will soon certify to manage more intensive sharing of the 3.5 GHz band.

Unfortunately, mobile carriers and their suppliers repeat all the arguments against opportunistic access to unused spectrum capacity made during the 3.5 GHz proceeding. The Commission should once again reject these make-weight complaints, as it did in the context of the 3.5 GHz proceeding. Indeed, the case for opportunistic sharing is much stronger for mmW spectrum than it was for the 3.5 GHz band. As the NPRM points out, the propagation and atmospheric characteristics of mmW spectrum “provide greater opportunity for frequency reuse without interference.” By certifying a SAS or other geolocation database mechanism the Commission will ensure there is absolutely no downside or risk for licensees, who would maintain all of their rights to use the public resource – and lose only their ability to warehouse it.

Third, the Commission can mitigate ISP concerns about the NPRM’s proposal to award exclusive indoor operating rights in the 37 GHz band to property holders on a license-by-rule basis – and make 37 GHz a far more intensively-used innovation band – by modifying its proposal so that indoor use is licensed by rule on a non-exclusive General Authorized Access (GAA) basis. Since a network operator (whether or not they have a wide area “exclusive” license) will need to secure the permission of any business, home or public building to deploy access points indoors, authorizing indoor use on a GAA basis creates no new obstacle or burden for wide-area licensees. If carriers have the venue’s permission to operate, they can register as the user. On the other hand, a GAA (or unlicensed) allocation ensures that tens of millions of enterprises, households and public buildings can decide how best to use this particular band of mmW spectrum inside their own building, thereby ensuring that it does not lie fallow in the tens of millions of structures where carriers will not be deploying.

More generally, OTI and PK strongly concur with commenters suggesting that the Commission should extend its Part 96 framework for intensive, three-tiered sharing to at least the 37 GHz band. Extending the three-tier 3.5 GHz sharing framework and the Spectrum Access System governance model to the mmW bands creates a flexible sharing framework that protects band incumbents, facilitates efficient spectrum re-use, and promotes lower barriers to entry and innovation. A dynamic spectrum access framework on at least a substantial portion of the mmW bands in this proceeding will ensure that limited spectrum resources do not go underutilized and that there is a truly flexible and hybrid spectrum access option for current and future technologies.

Download the full comments below:

FCC Reply Comments on Access to Spectrum Frontiers above 24 GHz