Public Knowledge Responds to Flawed FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on 3.5GHz Band

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Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to roll back portions of the agency’s 2015 3.5GHz licensing Order. The 2015 Order created flexibility within the 3.5GHz band to encourage wireless competition, innovation, efficient spectrum use, and targeted rural deployments. Public Knowledge contends that this short-sighted policy making is completely unsupported by the record developed in multiple proceedings and undermines years of work to promote innovative and efficient use of limited spectrum resources.

The following can be attributed to Phillip Berenbroick, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“Today, the Commission has taken the first step to overturn the unanimous 2015 3.5 GHz licensing Order. Adoption of the 3.5 GHz NPRM’s proposals would severely undermine the agency’s work to make the 3.5 GHz an ‘innovation band’ open to large and small wireless carriers, new and innovative spectrum use cases, and new market entrants. Instead, the FCC has begun a process that would represent a rare lose-lose-lose scenario in spectrum policy making.

“Rolling back the 3.5GHz licensing Order will undo years of the FCC’s work to promote both targeted rural wireless deployments using the 3.5 GHz band and efficient uses of limited spectrum. Today’s proposals, if ultimately adopted, would substantially limit innovative uses of the 3.5 GHz band, such as industrial Internet-of-Things deployments. Additionally, the Commission’s proposals to drastically expand the geographic size of the Priority Access Licenses and length of license terms will vastly increase the cost of licenses, preventing rural wireless broadband providers and new entrants from using the band to provide competitive, targeted wireless deployments in unserved and underserved rural communities.

“The NPRM’s proposals merely parrot policies favored by a handful of large wireless carriers and their equipment vendors. Although the NPRM’s proposals have been rejected time and again by the Commission and the overwhelming majority of commenters in the record, this Commission has inexplicably chosen to reverse itself without any explanation or new data. The fact the agency didn’t even pretend to do its now-customary faux cost-benefit analysis to roll back this Order illustrates how little support or justification there is for the Commission’s action.

“The Commission’s 2015 3.5 GHz licensing Order was a grand slam for improving spectrum efficiency and innovation, benefitting all potential use cases. With today’s NPRM, the FCC has struck out.”

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