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FCC Approves Radio Frequency Traffic Cops, Including Google and Sony, Bringing Commerce to 3.5 GHz Spectrum

David Jelke

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Illustration and video about spectrum sharing courtesy 5G Rural First

WASHINGTON, January 27, 2020 - The FCC on Monday named four companies— Google, Sony, CommScope, and Federated Wireless— as Spectrum Access System administrators, the final step toward full commercial deployment of the 3.5 GigaHertz (GHz) band of wireless frequencies.

The Federal Communications Commission framed the authorization as part of a larger effort to push “to get next-generation wireless services deployed in the 3.5 GHz band as quickly and efficiently as possible” according to a statement by Chairman Ajit Pai. He said that the selection is the “latest step” in achieving the FCC’s priority “to free up mid-band spectrum for advanced wireless services like 5G.” See the Public Notice.

The companies selected as official SAS administrators will play a role analogous to that of an air traffic controller in the 3.5 GHz band. They are responsible for ensuring no harmful interference between the three separate categories of users of this bandwidth: Defense department transmitters, Priority Access Licenses, and wireless internet service providers.

This kind of “spectrum sharing” enables multiple users – a WISP and the Defense Department, for example – to co-exist within the same band.

The FCC said that five companies had passed the laboratory test for commercial deployment to begin initial commercial deployment for real world-testing. Amdocs was the fifth company approved for lab tests but not approved to be a SAS administrator, as of the date of the announcement.

"Today, after years of development, full commercial deployment of CBRS shared spectrum is a real thing, not a dream,” said Louis Peraertz, vice president of policy for the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, one of the groups that has most promoted the spectrum-sharing concept. "The FCC must be commended, too, for shepherding the process along, and seeing the immense promise that the CBRS sharing model can and will bring in our spectrum-constrained world.”

Peraertz said the success of the “CBRS experiment” lent credence to making spectrum-sharing work in other bands, including the C-Band, 5.9 GHz and 6 GHz bands.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect that Amdocs had not been approved to be a SAS administrator "as of the date of the announcement." A spokesman for Amdocs contacted Broadband Breakfast to say that the company is still working towards full approval from the FCC to be a commercial administrator, and said that the process will be completed in February.

For more about the Citizens Broadband Radio Service, see “Wireless Internet Providers Excited About Multiple Spectrum Sharing Opportunities, Including FCC Priority Access" from Broadband Breakfast.

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