FCC Assigns Spectrum to Create Citizens Broadband Radio Service

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2015-03-30 Print this article Print
Citizens Band Wireless

Wireless providers could take advantage of the band for an expansion of LTE, for example, while broadband providers could use the band for fixed wireless. Some wireless Internet providers for rural areas are already in this band and the new FCC plans could allow more to enter it.

Initially there will be some geographical restrictions on use, especially near the coasts where there's still some Navy radar using the frequencies. However, once the sensing technology is available, some of those restrictions, perhaps all of them, could be eliminated.

It's worth noting that most Navy radar applications in this frequency range are sufficiently powerful that the biggest interference risk is to the CBRS equipment rather than the other way around. Those Navy radar applications have been known to fry seagulls instantly at distances of over a mile, and make objects containing water explode at shorter distances.

The FCC will vote on the CBRS on April 17, although it will take some time to put into effect. The cloud-based usage databases will take time to implement and the sensing technology will likely require some time to develop. This technology appears to be very similar to the CSMA technology developed by the University of Hawaii for its AlohaNet wireless network, which was the precursor of Ethernet.

Right now there seems to be general support for the whole idea of a new wireless broadband service, although the unstructured nature, the casual license requirements for portions of it and the fact that pretty much anyone can use it for pretty much anything is enough to give one pause.

This is especially the case given the connection being made at the FCC between the CBRS and the Citizens Band Radio Service, that favorite of long-haul truckers and others who frequently flout existing rules more than follow them. CB in the U.S. is known for its interference with global communications in its own 27 MHz band and in areas near it as users stray outside of the existing boundaries of the service.

Unless the FCC can find some way to rein in bad behavior, it would seem that an analogous broadband service might cause more trouble than it's worth.

It  means that the FCC will not only have to create some means of mandating sensing technology and usage databases, it will also have to find a way to prevent users from disabling it. Otherwise, the Citizens Broadband Radio Service could easily devolve into something as unregulated and abused as its Citizens Band precursor.



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