FCC Wants New 3.5 GHz & 5 GHz Wireless Technologies to Co-exist with WiFi

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  • Author: Ronald E. Quirk, Jr., Esq

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is continuing its efforts to facilitate commercial use of the 3550-3770 MHz spectrum band (3.5 GHz Band). The FCC’s rules, promulgated last year, will establish a new radio service called Citizens Broadband Radio Service (“CBRS”) that incorporates a “three tiered” shared authorization framework using licensed and unlicensed frequencies. Currently, the Commission is reviewing information from industry stakeholders on various technologies that will be used to share spectrum with existing unlicensed technologies, such as Wi-Fi.

Many in the industry see strong market potential for 3.5 GHz communications operations and RF equipment designed to operate in the band. The FCC is allocating 100 MHz of shared spectrum in the 3.5 GHz Band, using small cell and database technologies. And, the 3.5 GHz rules are designed for low barriers to entry: Operators choosing to utilize unlicensed spectrum will have access to a large number of channels without having to bid on their required spectrum, while providers opting for licensed frequencies will be bidding on small census tract service areas that will result in licenses that are much less expensive than those in previous spectrum auctions.

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