New 3.5 GHz Shared Spectrum Rules Effective July 23, 2015


Most of the FCC’s newly-adopted rules to allow commercial shared use of 150 MHz of spectrum in the 3550-3700 MHz (“3.5 GHz”) Band will go into effect as of July 23, 2015.  These rules will pave the way for broadband providers to implement new and innovative wireless services. The new rules will also be a boon to equipment manufacturers, because opening the 3.5 GHz Band for new commercial use will create additional demand for radio equipment and open new product markets for manufacturers.  Comments and reply comments regarding any aspect of the new rules will be accepted by the FCC until the rules’ effective date.  

The CommLaw Group had previously sent out an advisory on this matter.   Due to the importance of this proceeding, most of the previous advisory is presented here.

Citizens Broadband Radio Service

The FCC’s new licensing regime creates a commercial radio service called Citizens Broadband Radio Service (“CBRS”). It is anticipated that CBRS will, among other things, advance small cell technology, which mobile broadband operators can use to efficiently extend their service coverage and increase network capacity on a (hopefully) cost-effective basis.

Three-Tiered Licensing

The FCC’s new rules will enable spectrum sharing and flexible use in the 3.5 GHz Band by means of a three-tiered sharing system.  Tier 1 consists of incumbent federal users (radiolocation and aeronautical radio navigation) and non-federal fixed satellite service (“FSS”) operators.  Tier 2 is for new “Priority Access” operators, whose licenses will be allocated by auction.  Tier 3 is reserved for General Authorized Access operators, who can utilize the spectrum without obtaining individual spectrum licenses.

Regulatory Flexibility

The FCC permits a great deal of regulatory flexibility in the 3.5 GHz Band, which will permit CBRS operators to provide any type of service consistent with their underlying regulatory status, in accordance with the applicable rules.

CBRS Equipment

The FCC has very specific requirements for thee type of equipment that will be deployed by CBRS operators.  The many requirements for CBRS fixed stations include:  power restrictions, frequency hopping ability, capability to communicate with new frequency coordinators, and security measures.  CBRS transmission equipment must be registered with the new frequency coordinators.   End user equipment must contain decoding capabilities, power restrictions, and ability to operate on different frequencies.  All CBRS transmission and end user equipment is subject to the FCC’s Part 1 radiofrequency safety and Parts 2 and 15 equipment authorization and marketing rules.

Phased-In CBRS Operations and Exclusion Zones

The FCC will implement CBRS operations in phases.  During the initial period, certain exclusion zones will designated, where no CBRS operations will be permitted. The exclusion zones will be reduced as CBRS operations are increasingly implemented.

More Information

The CommLaw Group has a CBRS Operations Guide available for $250.00.  This guide contains details about the new CBRS rules including frequency assignments, spectrum sharing and auctions, licensing, frequency coordination, equipment specifications and registration, incumbent protection, and more.  

If you have any questions about the FCC’s CBRS rules or would like to obtain a copy of the CBRS Guide, please contact Ronald E. Quirk at 703-714-1305  or Robert H. Jackson at 703-714-1316

ATTORNEY ADVERTISING DISCLAIMER: This information may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions under the applicable law and ethical rules. The determination of the need for legal services and the choice of a lawyer are extremely important decisions and should not be based solely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise. No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers

Sign Up To Receive Our
Advisories and Compliance Alerts

Sign up for our email list to receive notifications regarding new advisories and news