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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

Proposed Rules

Substantially Increase PA License Terms – Encouraging Spectrum Hoarding
The FCC proposes to increase PA license terms from three years to ten years, with renewal expectancy for licensees. This, proposal will likely encourage the large wireless carriers to hoard spectrum and discourage them from providing innovative services, which will surely decrease the need for more workers to develop and to deploy the services that would, under the current rules, be provided by smaller carriers serving small towns and rural areas.

Significantly Enlarge PAL Geographic Areas – Pricing Out Smaller Carriers
The FCC also proposes to do away with census tract PA licensing and replace it with much larger geographic areas, including Partial Economic Areas (PEAs). PEAs are approximately 178 times larger than census tracts. The likely result would be to price smaller carriers out of the market and discourage the large carriers – the only ones who can afford to successfully bid for these large area licenses - from providing service to small towns and rural areas.

While the FCC suggests allowing partitioning of the PEAs and disaggregation of spectrum in same, there is no guarantee that the big carriers would agree to provide any of their spectrum to smaller carriers, particularly in rural areas. Even if a large carriers agrees to share its spectrum, its terms could be prohibitively expensive and restrictive for smaller carriers. Under the existing rules, there is no need for partitioning and disaggregation because the smaller licensing areas made them unnecessary.

PAL Auction Procedures – More Licenses and No Bidding Credits
The FCC further proposes to allow carriers to bid on specific channel blocks and eliminate the number of PALs available in a given PEA. Moreover, there is no proposed bidding credits for smaller entities. Hence, the large carriers will be at a huge financial advantage in the PAL auctions if the FCC's proposals are allowed to go into effect.

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