U.S. military share its spectrum with the public for wireless broadband use

by Steve Blum • , , ,

The U.S. defense department is giving up its sole control 100 MHz of prime spectrum – 3550-3650 MHz – which is adjacent to 50 MHz – 3650-3700 MHz – that’s already available for semi-licensed use, and the Federal Communications Commission is combining it all into a new citizens broadband radio service that will share the space with existing users. An automated spectrum access system (SAS) will coordinate use by three different classes of users with different levels of privileges. Existing users come first, followed by two new classes…

The Citizens Broadband Radio Service itself consists of two tiers—Priority Access and General Authorized Access (GAA)—both authorized in any given location and frequency by an SAS. As the name suggests, Priority Access operations receive protection from GAA operations. Priority Access Licenses (PALs), defined as an authorization to use a 10 megahertz channel in a single census tract for three years, will be assigned in up to 70 megahertz of the 3550-3650 MHz portion of the band. GAA use will be allowed, by rule, throughout the 150 megahertz band. GAA users will receive no interference protection from other Citizens Broadband Radio Service users.

The military will still operate in the band and as an incumbent user will have top priority over civilian broadband systems, but that’s only where there’s an actual, as opposed to a vaguely theoretical, conflict. The 3650 band has long been used on a lightly licensed basis by commercial broadband companies that have to coordinate use with grandfathered C-band satellite ground stations. Taking it to the next level by tripling the amount of available spectrum and automating the coordination process is a huge step forward.0