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FCC to now allow faster web access at higher cost to internet providers

Washington, D.C. – The Federal Communications Commission today took steps to provide more spectrum for general consumer use, carrier-grade small cell deployments, fixed wireless broadband services, and other innovative uses, through the creation of a new Citizens Broadband Radio Service. The Commission proposed rules for the Citizens Broadband Radio Service in a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that advances the Commission’s efforts to meet the growing demand for spectrum by proposing to make 150 megahertz available in the 3.5 GHz Band.

The FNPRM proposes innovative spectrum sharing techniques to unlock the value of the spectrum between 3550 MHz and 3650 MHz, and seeks comment on extending the proposed service to 3700 MHz. Specifically, the FNPRM proposes a three-tiered access and sharing model comprised of federal and non-federal incumbents, priority access licensees, and general authorized access users. Together, the proposals seek to promote flexibility and innovation by leveraging advancements in technology to facilitate sharing between different users and uses, including incumbent government uses.

Federal and non-federal incumbents would be protected from harmful interference from Citizens Broadband Radio Service users. Targeted priority access licenses would be made available for a variety of uses, including mobile broadband. General authorized access use would be permitted in a reserved amount of spectrum and on an opportunistic basis for a variety of consumer or business-oriented purposes, including advanced home wireless networking.

Access and operation within the 3.5 GHz band would be managed by a spectrum access system, a dynamic database or databases that incorporates technical and functional requirements necessary to manage access and operations across the three tiers. In addition, the FNPRM seeks comment on technical, auction, and allocation rules.

Statement from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler:

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.

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