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Comment Period Opens for FCC's 3.5 GHz Rule Overhaul

The CommLaw Group warns: "Don't let them take away your spectrum."
By RFID Journal
Dec 05, 2017

CommLaw Group's Ronald E. Quirk has issued the following client advisory:

The Federal Register's publication of a summary of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), proposing substantial changes to the existing rules governing the 3550 to 3700 MHz (3.5 GHz) spectrum band, kicks off the public comment period in this proceeding. Because the FCC's suggested rule changes heavily favor the Big Four wireless carriers over smaller carriers, and will likely result in very little, if any, additional wireless broadband coverage for rural areas, it is imperative that interested parties take action now to stop this risky and ill-considered action. Comments are due by December 28, 2017, and reply comments are due by January 29, 2018.

The contrast between the existing 3.5 GHz rules and the proposed overhaul is striking. The current rules, which have been in effect for more than two years, created a level playing field wherein carriers of all sizes could implement new and innovative 5G wireless services in all areas of the United States. Small geographic licensing areas, short licensing terms, and fair spectrum allocation virtually ensured that rural areas would have access to affordable wireless broadband services.

Conversely, the FCC's proposed rules, if allowed to stand, will surely eviscerate investments made by smaller and rural carriers in reliance on the existing rules, as well as concentrate valuable licenses in the hands of a very few large wireless carriers. Further, the suggested regulations will encourage spectrum hoarding, and price competitors out of the market.

The CommLaw Group has been following the 3.5 GHz proceeding closely since it began several years ago. We published a previous article containing information similar to many of the paragraphs below. Due to the urgency of this proceeding, we feel this information bears repeating for the convenience of stakeholders who may wish to submit comments and other interested parties. Key rules most affected by the NPRM proposals are summarized herein, along with descriptions of the proposed changes.

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