Saturday, July 16, 2016

Chairman Wheeler leads the FCC forward toward the spectrum frontier

In their July open meeting the FCC approved freeing up almost 11 GHz of spectrum for licensed and unlicensed use. The Spectrum Frontiers initiative is focussed on giving the U.S. a headstart on 5G implementation. The spectrum is to include 3.85 GHz for licensed use in the 64-71 GHz bands and 7 GHz for unlicensed use in the 28 GHz, 37 GHz and 39 GHz bands.

“These rules balance different spectrum access approaches, including exclusive use licensing, shared access and unlicensed access, in order to meet a variety of different needs and use cases,” the FCC noted in a statement. “The commission also adopted other flexible service and technical rules to allow new technologies and innovations to evolve and flourish without needlessly prescriptive regulations.”

Chairman Wheeler, who has been pushing spectrum frontiers said:  “Today’s order will make the United States the first country in the world to identify and open up vast amounts of high frequency spectrum for 5G applications. The big game-changer is that we are using much higher-frequency bands than previously thought viable for flexible uses, including mobile. The ability to use this high-frequency spectrum opens much bigger chunks of spectrum. Current blocks of licensed low-band spectrum are usually five to 10 megahertz in width. With 5G, however, we are looking at blocks of at least 200 megahertz in width...we’re talking about fiber-like capacity to wireless users...”

The meeting saw commissioners adopt a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comments on plans for an additional 18 GHz of spectrum and for comments on sharing with satellite and other incumbent users. The FCC is also looking for comments on mm band spectrum approaching 100 GHz.

Not surprisingly, the CTIA President Meredith Attwell Baker supported the FCC commissioners spectrum frontiers actions.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Wheeler endorses 200 MHz spectrum blocks

On June 20, FCC Chairman Wheeler said the FCC intends to act to make “ample spectrum available” through a new Spectrum Frontiers proposal even before 5G standards are passed.

Wheeler said: “…we do not believe we should spend the next couple of years studying what 5G should be, how it should operate, and how to allocate spectrum…we will make ample spectrum available and then rely on a private sector-led process for producing technical standards best suited for those frequencies and use cases…it’s a simple formula: Lead the world in spectrum availability, encourage and protect innovation-driving competition, and stay out of the way of technological development.”

He said his plan would expand licensed blocks to at least 200 MHz in the higher bands and the creation of a “massive 14 GHz unlicensed band” with ample spectrum for satellite and mobile industries.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Another Step toward Spectrum Frontiers

On March 3 the Senate committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation approved the Mobile Now Act, a bill which is focused on increasing spectrum available for building commercial mobile networks.  The FCC’s Spectrum Frontiers rulemaking for the mm wavelengths plays into this and the agency is moving ahead with proposed rules for 28 GHz, 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 64-71 GHz bands.

NYU Wireless researchers reported at the Spectrum Frontiers workshop that spectrum in several GHz bands can be utilized for wireless networking and it appears that both transmit and receive hardware will be available soon to operate in the mm bands.

In any case the FCC will have to weigh arguments from current wireless giants (think AT&T), from satellite operators, and from possible new entrants with deep pockets (think Google) as to who gets to do what in what bands. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Jean Kiddoo will coordinate station repacking

Jean Kiddoo, deputy chief of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, has been appointed deputy chair of the Incentive Auction Task Force to focus on the post-auction repacking of station channels. This apparently includes overseeing the controversial $1.75 billion relocation fund. She will be a liaison to the Media, Wireless, Wireline bureaus.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

October 22, 2015 The FCC Proposes New Rules for 5G Spectrum Above 24 GHz

The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) proposes new flexible-use service rules in the 28, 37, 39 and 64 – 71 GHz bands. The NPRM would use county-wide geographical licensing as well as unlicensed and mixed approaches to facilitate both local area and wide-area networks.

The FCC said the steps will unlock the mobile broadband and unlicensed potential of spectrum frontier bands above 24 GHz.  The commissioners hope that the regulatory framework can smoothly coevolve with both future 5G technological advances and the economic realities of millimeter wave (mmW) bands.

In the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands the agency would authorize mobile operations in the 27.5-28.35
GHz band (28 GHz band) and the 38.6-40 GHz band (39 GHz band) with county-sized area licenses. These bands could be suitable for deployment of small cells to support mobile broadband.

Additionally the FCC would authorize operations in the 64-71 GHz band similar to the rules governing  the adjacent 57-64 GHz band. In the 37-38.6 GHz (37 GHz) band, they propose a hybrid licensing scheme granting operating rights by rule to property owners, while establishing geographic area licenses based on counties for outdoor use. "This licensing mechanism would facilitate the deployment of advanced enterprise and industrial applications not suited to unlicensed spectrum or public network services, while also providing additional spectrum for more traditional cellular deployments."

Monday, April 11, 2016

Forward into the Fog or what will we be saying about the Incentive Auction in a year?

I've read through a lot of the information on the Incentive auction, listened to some of the workshops and meetings on Youtube, checked out some websites that aren't at and continue to have the feeling that no one has any real idea what it all means. I mean, we are talking about billions of dollars changing hands, broadcast channels moving or disappearing. One mysterious task to me (as a user in a previous life of optimizing software) is the reconfiguration (hopefully to be finished in 39 months) of the 100 MHz or so of newly released spectrum into contiguous blocs using "optimization software". That's like saying I'm traveling on transportation equipment. 

This process could be a bonanza for telecom lawyers. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

How will the so-called independent verifier for Lifeline work?

At their March 31 meeting the FCC commissioners had a spirited if partisan exchange of views about expanding the Lifeline subsidy to apply to the cost of broadband internet services for qualified low-income citizens. Although the commissioners seemed to agree that applying the subsidy to the cost of broadband was a good idea they parted ways over the budget for the subsidy. Listening to commissioners' statements it appeared that the budget issue was primarily a way to get at the issue of what two commissioners felt was the susceptibility of the program to "waste, fraud, and abuse". A better approach is to focus on the mechanics of the verification process (currently verification is done by the phone service provider) to make it as accurate and timely as possible. One commissioner brought up the issue of the extra $25 given to residents of tribal lands, particularly in the state of Oklahoma as a particular example of a poorly designed allocation of funds.

I will particularly be interested in the application of the subsidy to residents in HUD multi-family housing. Will they be able to combine their subsidies to allow the property to implement a property-wide wi-fi system.

From the FCC press release:
National Eligibility Verifier removes the opportunity for providers to enroll ineligible subscribers...Refines list of federal programs that may be used to validate Lifeline eligibility to those that support electronic validation, are most accountable, and best identify people needing support (SNAP, SSI, Medicaid, Veterans Pension, HUD Federal Public Housing Assistance, Tribal), along with income-based eligibility...Increases transparency by making program data publicly available and understandable, including subscriber counts by provider and uniform disclosure of annual subscriber recertification data