Lawmakers Call on FCC to Expand Spectrum Sharing in 10 GHz Band

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By Lydia Beyoud

March 3 — A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers wants the FCC to look at how government and industry users could share spectrum in the 10 GHz band, according to a joint letter issued March 3.

Lawmakers touted the 10 GHz (gigahertz) band's possibilities for expanding affordable high-speed broadband to rural and high-cost communities, perhaps as a means to nudge the Federal Communications Commission to resume activity on a petition for rulemaking filed by wireless access company Mimosa Networks Inc. in 2014.

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee, spearheaded the letter. Co-signers include Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), ranking member of the subcommittee, fellow subcommittee members Robert E. Latta (R-Ohio) and Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) and Senate Commerce members Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

“There is no doubt that spectrum has become an increasingly important part of our everyday lives,” the letter said. The success of the recent AWS-3 auction of government incumbents' airwaves to wireless carriers, bringing in a record-setting $41.3 billion in net provisional proceeds, underscores spectrum's value, the lawmakers said.

The government should continue to push for new avenues to spur growth and innovation, and release more of its spectrum, in order to assuage a possible spectrum crunch, they said.

The FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau issued a March 11, 2014, public notice seeking comment on a petition for rulemaking from Mimosa Networks to create a new frequency allocation for wireless broadband services in the 10 GHz band (RM-11715).

Though the request was supported by wireless groups, it met resistance from amateur radio enthusiasts, who have secondary usage rights in the frequency band, after government users. Unlicensed users worry that wireless users' expansion into the band would cause interference with current users.

No further action has been taken on the item. “Given the overwhelming evidence that sharing the 10 GHz band for Internet service is in the public interest, we encourage the FCC to take action and issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to enact our proposals,” Mimosa said in a blog post.

Wi-Fi Innovation Act

The letter follows the introduction of the Wi-Fi Innovation Act in both the House (H.R. 821) and Senate (S. 424) on Feb. 10, a spokeswoman in Matsui's office told Bloomberg BNA.

Those bills would require the FCC to open up the 5850 to 5925 MHz (megahertz) part of the 5 GHz spectrum band to testing for unlicensed use. In the previous session of Congress, automakers, who already have licenses to operate in the 5 GHz band, said that unlicensed use of the band could interfere with intelligent transportation systems, including vehicle safety and traffic information.

Latta and Rubio introduced the bills in the House and Senate, respectively.

Exploring the Spectrum Frontier

The FCC has already commenced a proceeding to look at how to hasten the growth of 5G mobile wireless technologies and free up spectrum above 24 GHz, with the Oct. 17, 2014, approval of a notice of inquiry.

The FCC is soliciting input on a “wide range” of issues, not advancing specific proposals, though any final rules could be years away (ET Docket No. 95-183 and PP Docket No. 93-253). The agency is looking into the technologies, frequency bands and licensing mechanisms currently in use or under development.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona March 3, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said expanding spectrum availability would remain one of the pillars of his tenure as head of the agency.

“The network of the 21st century is going to be wireless. We have to make sure that we have ample spectrum and the right kind of spectrum,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lydia Beyoud in Washington at lbeyoud@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at hrothman@bna.com

Text of the letter is at http://matsui.house.gov/uploads/3.2.15%20Letter%20to%20FCC%20re%2010GHz.pdf.

Text of Mimosa's post is at http://mimosa.co/news/6/75/Mimosa-10-GHz-Petition-Our-Response-to-Comments/d,flat-blog-detail.html.