FCC tees up changes to CBRS rules


A lot is happening in the world of Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). Now the FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel wants to kick off a proceeding to consider new rules for the band.

Known in FCC parlance as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the proceeding would seek comment on a range of potential rule changes to improve the CBRS band for current and future users. The 3.5 GHz CBRS band is unique to the U.S. and uses a three-tiered model to protect Navy radar while allowing commercial use of the spectrum.

“Cooperation is critical for a successful spectrum future.  We can preserve and enhance the Citizens Broadband Radio Service to both protect progress and look ahead to further opportunities,” Rosenworcel said in a statement.  “This proposal represents our continued commitment to developing, and improving, spectrum sharing models that provide opportunity for expanded use of the airwaves.”

The FCC didn’t say whether increasing the authorized power levels for CBRS will be part of the proceeding and a spokesperson declined to comment. However, increasing the power levels has been something mobile carriers have been asking for ever since the CBRS rules were established in 2015 and it’s a good bet they’ll use this as an opportunity to lobby for higher power.  

Meanwhile, the FCC said the NPRM has been circulated among the commissioners and if adopted, it would propose rules to add definitions related to protection of federal incumbent users and modify other rules related to the transition of grandfathered wireless broadband services in the 3.65-3.7 GHz band.

The NPRM also would seek comment on, among other things, whether to align 3.5 GHz protection methodologies with those in adjacent bands, revisit the Environmental Sensing Capability approval procedures and facilitate the continued introduction of CBRS in areas outside of the contiguous U.S., according to the FCC.

The NPRM proposal on Thursday comes on the heels of a collaboration by the FCC, National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA) and Navy that was announced earlier this week. The trio collaborated to expand the service area for CBRS, enabling about 72 million more people to be served that weren’t previously covered.

CBRS Advanced & CBRS 2.0

One of the vendors that has been working on improvements to CBRS is Federated Wireless, a Spectrum Access System (SAS) administrator that has been working in the space since its inception. Federated Wireless’ main competitor in the SAS space is Google.

Federated Wireless recently launched its Federated Wireless Adaptive Network Planner, in part in response to customers looking to get in on the fixed wireless bonanza. Customers want the ability to predict in advance if they’re going to have a network or capacity issue, according to Federated Wireless CEO Iyad Tarazi.

“As people are getting more confident in CBRS, they like the performance. They want to deploy it more so they’re looking for the next level of support to plan their assets and support their operations,” he told Fierce.

Federated Wireless also is certified to operate an Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) system in the 6 GHz band. Tarazi said some customers want the option to evaluate CBRS and 6 GHz at a certain customer location. They might end up using one over the other, or both.

Plans call for adding more features to the network planning tool, including more advanced AI. “Customers want to be able to deploy with a lot of confidence,” and that includes mobile operators and WISPs for fixed wireless deployments, he said.

Federated Wireless uses the term “CBRS Advanced” to cover a lot of the improvements that it’s already made and other features that are under development, all aimed to make CBRS act more like dedicated spectrum, he said.

“The approach we’re taking with CBRS Advanced is we’re going to make sure everybody gets something out of this. Everybody benefits. This is not a ‘somebody benefits and somebody loses’ … Everyone on our system will benefit. That’s always been a big part of our brand and that will not change,” he said.

Federated Wireless will be part of a panel next week on CBRS 2.0 that will also feature the NTIA, Department of Defense and the FCC.



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