FCC Moving on Commercial Use of 3.5 GHz Band

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) recently released a Public Notice, seeking proposals for Spectrum Access System (“SAS”) Administrators and Environmental Sensing Capability (“ESC”) Operators in order to facilitate commercial operations in the 3550-3700 MHz band (“3.5 GHz Band”). The FCC will begin accepting proposals on January 15, 2016. The deadline for the “first wave” (i.e. priority) proposals is April 15, 2016.

SASs and ESCs are essential components of commercial 3.5 GHz frequency utilization; authorized use of the band cannot commence until they are in place. SASs will serve as highly automated frequency coordinators across the 3.5 GHz entire band, protecting higher tier users from harmful interference from lower tier users, and optimizing frequency use. ESCs will consist of networks of sensors that will detect the presence of signals from federal systems in 3.5 GHz Band and communicate that information to the SASs to protect existing federal operations.

The FCC’s solicitation of SAS and ESC proposals is a milestone in moving the 3.5 GHz authorization process forward. New commercial operations in the band will likely commence sooner rather than later. Commercial use of the 3.5 GHz band presents numerous business opportunities for service providers and equipment suppliers alike, especially for those that get on board early.

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