The FCC has voted to ask for comment on changes around the uses of the 3.5GHz, a move that might change the game for WISPs, enterprises and others who had been looking to use the very focused mobile broadband licenses that had been anticipated under the original CBRS ruling.
The original ruling on 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), which the agency has reaffirmed twice, would have offered licenses based on census tracts with a 3-year use term. The idea being that small amounts of 3.5GHz broadband could be leased for dedicated uses, such as a local wireless ISP or a private enterprise campus network. (See Discussing 5G Spectrum on Capitol Hill.)
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) the FCC voted in today asks for comment on allowing Public Access Licenses (PALs) to cover wider geographical areas and be offered for longer terms. More like a traditional 3G or 4G spectrum license, in other words.
"These changes to the licensing and technical rules in the band could help increase incentives for investment, encourage more efficient spectrum use, and promote robust network deployments in both urban and rural communities," the FCC stated Tuesday afternoon.
"Additionally, over the past few years, it has become clear that the 3.5GHz band will be a core component of 5G network deployments, with several countries moving forward with policies that will make this band available for such services."
This largely refelects the approach that the large mobile operators in the US have been calling for since the original rules were laid out. (See T-Mobile Calls on FCC to Open 3.5GHz for 5G.)
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) -- and others -- meanwhile, had been looking at the band as a way to potentially take some different approaches to public and private usages of spectrum. (See The Emergence of Private LTE Networks and Google Taking 3.5GHz Tests to NASCAR.)
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was the only discenting vote against the NPRM Tuesday.
Thoughts on 3.5 GHz band: Instead of building a cool spectrum future @FCC flinches and falls back on stale ideas from policy past.— Jessica Rosenworcel (@JRosenworcel) October 24, 2017
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading