T-Mobile US has asked the Federal Communications Commission to change the licensing rules for Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), the 150-MHz band in the 3.5-GHz region to use a novel spectrum sharing method for access.
T-Mobile US argues that making CBRS secondary licenses more compatible with 5G will increase its value. Specifically, T-Mobile US wants the FCC to auction all 150 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band as “priority access licenses.” At the moment, the FCC only plans to allow PAL in portions of the total available spectrum, up to a maximum of 70 MHz in any single market.
T-Mobile US recommends authorizing PALs on a standard, ten-year license term with renewal expectancy, not the shorter terms presently envisioned.
The firm also argues that the FCC should make all PALs available at auction, regardless of the number of applications received, and permit bidding on specific PAL blocks.
At least in part, T-Mobile takes that position because the 3.5 GHz band will be used in Europe and elsewhere for 5G operations, and greater similarity of CBRS rules, including suitability for 5G, should allow T-Mobile greater efficiencies in terms of handsets and infrastructure.
The Radio Spectrum Policy Group (“RSPG”), a high-level advisory group that assists the European Commission in the development of radio spectrum policy, released an analysis of 5G alternatives and concluded in part that it considers the 3400-3800 MHz band “to be the primary band suitable for the introduction of 5G-based services in Europe even before 2020, noting that this band is already harmonised for mobile networks, and consists of up to 400 MHz of contiguous spectrum enabling wide channel bandwidth.”
The United Kingdom has begun a rulemaking proceeding that proposes making 3.6 to 3.8 GHz available for future mobile services including 5G. Ireland is auctioning capacity in the 3475-3800 MHz band.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority issued a discussion paper seeking comment on whether and how to proceed with making the 3575-3700 MHz band available for mobile broadband services.
Japan has already allocated and licensed (to three carriers) spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band for mobile broadband and its Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications identified the 3.4 GHz band as a candidate into which to extend 5G services. And China recently issued a public consultation request seeking comment on plans to use the 3300-3600 MHz and 4800-5000 MHz bands for 5G.
The proposed changes would help harmonize use of the 3.5-GHz spectrum for 5G, on a wider global scale.