CTIA has asked the FCC to launch a rulemaking “to make common sense changes to the Priority Access License (‘PAL’) framework in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (‘CBRS’) established in the 3550-3700 MHz (‘3.5 GHz’) band,” which the group said would encourage investment in the band.
Specifically, CTIA said in its petition dated June 16 the FCC should “[c]hange the PAL term from three years to a standard, ten-year license term with an expectation of renewal to promote investment in the band; [m]odify PAL areas to consist of Partial Economic Areas (‘PEAs’) instead of census tracts to simplify the licensing scheme and reduce interference risks; and [m]odify the requirements for Spectrum Access System (SAS) Administrators’ treatment of Citizens Broadband Radio Service Device (‘CBSD’) registration information in order to reduce security risks to user identify information and to protect sensitive deployment information from disclosure to competitors.”
CTIA noted that then-Commissioner Ajit Pai, now Chairman of the agency, had expressed concern when the PAL framework was adopted that the three-tier spectrum access framework would not be investment- and deployment-friendly. “The targeted changes CTIA seeks are designed specifically to improve the incentives for investment in the PAL framework,” it said.
“Prompt action here will not delay CBRS deployment in the 3.5 GHz band. Indeed, if the Commission acts swiftly, it can conduct a rulemaking proceeding and amend the CBRS rules in just a few months. Industry continues to work through the standards process and to develop relevant equipment for the band, and the changes identified above would not alter or delay those ongoing processes. Moreover, SAS Administrators are continuing to develop their systems and do not have final FCC approval yet. The Commission can complete this targeted rulemaking quickly to address these issues, without causing delay,” CTIA added.
Several nonprofit groups opposed changes — especially larger licensing areas — today in a letter to the FCC. “We believe that auctioning licenses with coverage areas larger than census tracts would undermine the purpose of this small cell innovation band. A traditional licensing scheme based on exclusive access to very large geographic areas for inherently small cell deployments would not allow the largest possible number of businesses, individuals, nonprofit institutions and other entities the ability to self-provision capacity for mobile data offload, for neutral host LTE networks, or to customize highly-localized networks for machine-to-machine, smart city and other connectivity needs,” they said.
The public interest groups signing the letter were the Center for Rural Strategies, the American Library Association, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the R Street Institute, Next Century Cities, the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, the Open Technology Institute at New America, Public Knowledge, Engine, Common Cause, the Institute for Local Self Reliance, the Benton Foundation, the Gigabit Libraries Network, and X-Lab. —Lynn Stanton, firstname.lastname@example.org\