January 13, 2014 - 3:25 pm
By Roger C. Sherman | Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

Part of our job at the FCC is to keep pace with new technologies and, indeed, to create an environment in which innovation can flourish. This is perhaps most true in the dynamic and ever-changing wireless sector. One focal point of our innovation strategy is the 3.5 GHz band, which presents novel opportunities to advance to the state of the art in spectrum management.  Ideally, we can do this in a way that unleashes creative forces in industry to provide more wireless bandwidth using new techniques like small cells and dynamic spectrum access.

The 3.5 GHz band is currently reserved for use by federal agencies – primarily the military, which uses the band for radar operations. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) proposed in 2010 that this band could be made available to commercial entities who would share the spectrum with incumbent federal users. In 2012, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) proposed that sharing of the band be dynamically coordinated through a Spectrum Access System (SAS). Later that year, the Commission issued a proposal to effectuate these recommendations and adopted a Public Notice on a revised licensing framework in November 2013.

Several of the central and most novel questions in this proceeding revolve around the SAS. What functions should it perform? How will it manage multiple tiers of spectrum access? Should there be multiple third-party SAS providers, and how would they interact with one another and the FCC? How can we ensure the integrity of the system to protect existing uses of the band?

In order to address these and other questions, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Office of Engineering and Technology will host a workshop tomorrow, January 14th.  The workshop will bring industry technical experts together to examine the novel aspects and key parameters of an SAS. Many of the participants have submitted white papers in advance of the workshop, which should ensure a robust discussion.

Members of the public are invited to attend, and an online stream of the workshop can be accessed through the FCC events page

After the workshop, we want to keep the conversation going.  To facilitate ongoing dialogue between interested parties, we will host an online discussion forum on the Commission’s website following the conclusion of the workshop.  We encourage people to engage on the issues presented during the panel discussions.  Anyone is welcome to join the dialogue, and all comments will become part of the official record for this proceeding.  The forum will be available after 5:00 P.M tomorrow and will be open for comments until COB on January 28, 2014.  We look forward to your contributions.

The 3.5 GHz proceeding is a great opportunity for the Commission, industry, federal spectrum users, and the public to think creatively about ways to facilitate sharing to make at least 100 megahertz of spectrum available for wireless broadband. If we are successful, it may be possible eventually to expand the framework to include as much as 1000 megahertz of spectrum. This proceeding is pushing forward the edge of the state of the art in spectrum management, and I am excited for what the future holds.