US Federal Communications commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel accused the commission of flinching in the face of innovation and falling back on “stale ideas” as it moved to revise regulations governing the 3.5GHz band.
The FCC on Tuesday (24 October) voted to move ahead with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which seeks comment on changes to the CBRS band, including a shift to longer licence terms, larger areas and availability of Priority Access Licences for a larger portion of the band. The rule changes are meant to “increase incentives for investment, encourage more efficient spectrum use, and promote robust network deployments” as the US pushes toward 5G, the FCC said.
Following the vote, Rosenworcel (pictured, far right) blasted the move on Twitter, calling it a “retreat” and “sad”.
We used to do kooky & unconventional things in spectrum policy. It’s why we led the wireless world. But @FCC retreats in 3.5 GHz band. Sad.
— Jessica Rosenworcel (@JRosenworcel) October 24, 2017
Rosenworcel’s fellow Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn (pictured, second from left) qualified her consenting vote on Twitter, saying the “3.5GHz band can unleash competition [and] support unserved areas, but rules must allow small providers [and] new entrants fair shot to get licences.”
However, in a press conference, commissioner Michael O’Rielly (pictured, second from right), who spearheaded a review of the 3.5GHz rules which led to the NPRM, defended the vote as a move to correct errors the FCC made previously.
“I’ve highlighted multiple times where I think the commission made mistakes in its previous decisions [regarding the 3.5GHz rules],” O’Rielly said: “We’re not missing innovation by adopting rules that have been very successful and are the envy of the world in my opinion.”
The FCC’s decision sets the stage for a fight between US mobile operators and other players interested in the band, including tech giants Google and Microsoft; and smaller, rural operators.
US operators, particularly T-Mobile US and Verizon, have been pushing the commission to change the 3.5GHz rules to track more closely with traditional wireless regulations as they seek more spectrum for 5G deployments. But mobile outsiders like Google argue the proposed changes will effectively push out all but a handful of large operators who can afford the spectrum.
Prior to the vote, CBRS Alliance head Neville Meijers told Mobile World Live deployments in the CBRS band could start by the end of this year.