Rulemakings 12-354 and 17-258
In 2015, the Commission established the Citizens Broadband Radio Service for shared wireless broadband use of the 3550-3700 MHz (3.5 GHz) band in its Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (2015 Report and Order). Rules governing the Citizens Broadband Radio Service are found in Part 96 of the Commission’s rules.
The Citizens Broadband Radio Service is governed by a three-tiered spectrum authorization framework to accommodate a variety of commercial uses on a shared basis with incumbent federal and non-federal users of the band. Access and operations will be managed by an automated frequency coordinator, known as a spectrum access system (SAS). In addition, SASs may incorporate information from an Environmental Sensor Capability (ESC), a sensor network that detects transmissions from DoD radar systems and transmits that information to the SAS, when managing spectrum access. Both SASs and ESCs are subject to certification by the Commission, as described below. The three tiers are: Incumbent Access, Priority Access, and General Authorized Access.
Incumbent Access users include authorized federal users, grandfathered Fixed Satellite Service earth stations, and, for a limited time, Grandfathered Wireless Broadband Licensees in the 3650-3700 MHz portion of the band. These users will be protected from harmful interference from Priority Access and General Authorized Access (GAA) users.
The Priority Access tier consists of Priority Access Licenses (PALs) that will be assigned using competitive bidding within the 3550-3650 MHz portion of the band. Each PAL is defined as a renewable authorization to use a ten megahertz channel within a county for ten years. Up to seven total PALs may be assigned in any given county with up to four PALs going to any single applicant.
The GAA tier is licensed-by-rule to permit open, flexible access to the band for the widest possible group of potential users. GAA users are permitted to use any portion of the 3.5 GHz band not assigned to a higher tier user and may also operate opportunistically on unused Priority Access channels.
The 2015 Report and Order also adopted:
- rules governing the integration of existing 3650-3700 MHz Wireless Broadband Service into the Citizens Broadband Radio Service and temporary protections for existing licensees in that service;
- high level rules governing the operation of SASs and Environmental Sensing Capabilities (ESCs);
- provisions to protect FSS earth stations within and adjacent to the 3.5 GHz band; and
- technical rules for base stations and end user devices in the band.
The Commission affirmed the sharing framework and resolved discrete issues in 2016 by the Order on Reconsideration and Second Report and Order, which, among other things, adopted:
- additional protection criteria for in-band and out-of-band FSS earth stations;
- appropriate secondary markets rules for the band;
- how to define whether GAA frequencies are in use at a particular location
- “light-touch” leasing rules for PALs.
In 2017, the Commission issued the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order Terminating Petitions in which it declined to fundamentally alter the sharing framework of the 3.5 GHz band and sought comment on several proposed changes to the rules governing the Priority Access Tier as well as other changes to technical and service rules. Based on the substantial record, the Commission issued the Report and Order in 2018, which includes:
- counties as the geographic license area for each PAL;
- renewable ten-year terms for PALs;
- end-of-term performance requirements for PALs;
- the ability to partition and disaggregate PALs;
- a requirement that SASs provide aggregated spectrum usage data to the public upon request; and
- a revised emission mask and an adjacent channel leakage requirement for End User Devices.
As directed by the Commission in this proceeding, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Office of Engineering and Technology (together, WTB/OET) opened a separate docket, GN Docket No. 319, and solicited the “first wave” of applications for SAS Administrators and ESC operators in a Public Notice. WTB/OET later conditionally approved the first wave of SAS Administrators in a Public Notice released in 2016 and the first wave of ESC operators in a later Public Notice. WTB/OET also released a Public Notice in 2017 soliciting a second wave of applications, which are currently under review by the Commission.
WTB/OET continues to support commercial deployment in this proceeding and in the related docket above. In 2018, WTB/OET acted in this proceeding by releasing an Order granting waiver of several Part 96 rules to implement a protection methodology developed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. With respect to Docket 15-319, WTB/OET has released a Public Notice seeking proposals for short-term, limited geographic commercial deployments of a conditionally approved SAS Administrator, which are currently under review by the Commission. WTB/OET also released a Public Notice announcing the beginning of ESC sensor registrations, which must be approved by the Commission prior to the use of a certified ESC.
Report and Order (October 24, 2018)
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order Terminating Petitions (October 24, 2017)
Order on Reconsideration and Second Report and Order (April 28, 2016)
Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (April 17, 2015)
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (April 23, 2014)
3.5 GHz Spectrum Access Workshop (January 14, 2014)
Public Notice Seeking Comment on Licensing Models and Technical Requirements (November 1, 2013)
3.5 GHz Workshop (March 14, 2013)
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (December 12, 2012)
Report – Report to Congress in Compliance with the Spectrum Pipeline Act of 2015 (November 2, 2018)
Public Notice - Scheduling of Future Releases in GN Docket No. 12-354 (June 25, 2015)
Public Notice – Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Reminds Licensees in the 3650-3700 MHz Band Wireless Broadband Service and 3550-3650 MHz Band Non-Federal Radiolocation Service of Requirements for Construction and Operation (June 25, 2015)
Machine Readable List of Non-Rural Census Tracts
Order – Limited Waiver of Several Part 96 Rules Implementing Dynamic Protection Area (DPA) Methodology (May 22, 2018)
NTIA Letter to FCC on DPA-based Protection Methodology
FCC Letter to NTIA on Coordination Requirements Regarding Table Mountain
NTIA Letter to FCC on Commercial Operations in the 3550-3650 MHz Band
Protected Federal Incumbent Sites
Registered FSS Earth Stations
SAS and ESC Certification:
Public Notice – Establishing Procedure for Registering ESC Sensors (October 24, 2018)
Public Notice – Establishing Procedure and Deadline for Filing SAS Initial Commercial Deployment Proposals (July 27, 2018)
Public Notice – Conditional Approval of Four First Wave ESC Operators (February 21, 2018)
Public Notice – Establishing Deadline and Soliciting “Second Wave” SAS Administrator and ESC Operator Proposals (April 7, 2017)
Public Notice – Conditional Approval of Seven First Wave SAS Administrators (December 21, 2016)
Public Notice – Establishing Deadline and Soliciting “First Wave” SAS Administrator and ESC Operator Proposals (December 16, 2015)
Blog Post: Breaking Down Barriers to Innovation in the 3.5 GHz Band (April 21, 2015)
Blog Post: Innovation in the 3.5 GHz Band: Creating a New Citizens Broadband Radio Service (March 27, 2015)
Blog Post: New Ideas in the “Innovation Band" (April 23, 2014)
PCAST Report (July 2012)
NTIA Fast Track Report (October 2010)