FCC Assigns Spectrum to Create Citizens Broadband Radio Service
NEWS ANALYSIS: New 3.5 GHz band will allow what the Federal Communications Commission calls innovative uses to take advantage of a variety of wireless technologies.Assuming everything goes according to plans announced on March 27, the Federal Communications Commission will create a new wireless data service that's intended for what Chairman Tom Wheeler calls "innovative uses" by consumers, carriers and data services. The designated wireless spectrum is located in the 3.5 GHz band, basically halfway between the 2.4 and 5 GHz WiFi bands. Apparently because of the open-ended nature of the proposed use, the new service will be called the Citizens Broadband Radio Service. The FCC staffers handling the press briefing shortly before the release of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking couldn't resist the temptation to sprinkle their discussion with CB lingo, answering some questions with things like "10-4." While it wasn't clear that the new data service would perpetuate the lawless nature of its analog namesake, there are some similarities. The new band is designed to support activities including small cell deployments, fixed wireless broadband services and something the FCC calls general consumer use. As is the case with CB radio, the licensing requirements are attached to the FCC-approved communications equipment, meaning that there's no requirement for individual users to obtain licenses, even for commercial use.
The new broadband service would use a tiered approach to accessing the frequencies, while also protecting existing users in the same band. This would require both access to FCC databases of existing users in a specific geographical area and the use of what the FCC is calling "sensing" technology in which wireless equipment would first listen on a specific frequency it intends to use before transmitting.