CHAIRMAN TOM WHEELERRe:
Amendment of the Commission’s Rules with Regard to Commercial Operations in the
3550-3650 MHz Band, Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, GN Docket No. 12-354
Today we take an important step towards a new spectrum future. Not only are we proposing to
open up the 3.5 GHz band, but we are also enabling the powerful new concept of spectrum sharing among
multiple users on an hierarchical basis.
In July 2012, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued a
landmark report on maximizing the potential of wireless spectrum to grow our economy and enable other
benefits for the American people. The PCAST report highlighted spectrum sharing as a next-generation
policy innovation that holds the potential to revolutionize the way we manage our airwaves. With this
item, the Commission takes another significant step to turning this concept into reality.
Both the PCAST and the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council, which I was honored to lead,
recommended that the Commission target the 3.5 GHz as an “innovation band.” Building on what the
Commission has already done under the leadership of Chairman Genachowski and Chairwoman Clyburn,
that’s exactly what we’re doing in this item.
This Notice proposes a three-tiered spectrum access model, which includes federal and non-
federal incumbents, priority access licensees, and general authorized access users. The three-tiered
construct was a key aspect of the PCAST report, and is necessary to realizing the full potential of
Second, it proposes a single, highly flexible band plan, avoiding the analog trap of Balkanizing
spectrum into sub-bands, each with its own sets of rules.
Third, the Notice anticipates a wide range of flexible uses. Small cells will undoubtedly be a core
use case, but we would not limit the band to such use.
Finally, the Notice reflects economic incentives. Even with the most efficient technology, there
will always be places and times where there is rivalry for spectrum access. To that end, the Notice
proposes a flexible auction and licensing scheme that leverages the technical capabilities of a Spectrum
Access System (SAS) database. Think of the SAS as a traffic cop for spectrum in that it can assess what
spectrum is available so that it can be accessed by prioritized users.
I know that the three-tier construct and non-traditional licensing scheme is a bit nouveau. That’s
by design; if we are going to have sufficient spectrum for the needs of the 21st century, we are going to
have to think anew. This proposal could unlock vast new opportunities for wireless – in huge verticals
like energy, healthcare, and financial services. We also see the 3.5 GHz band as a potential home for new
technologies like LTE-Unlicensed, which could inhabit the General Authorized Access tier. Or it could
allow for new flavors of Wi-Fi. There is huge upside within this proceeding. We should not flinch from
the opportunity simply because it is not standard operating procedure.
Thank you to the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, the Office of Engineering and
Technology, the International Bureau, and the Office of the General Counsel for their outstanding, out-of-
the-box work on this issue.
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