Bridge Pier 16-2: Comments to the FCC Regarding Use of Spectrum Bands

7 July 2016


Ms. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary

Federal Communications Commission

445 Twelfth Street, SW

Washington, DC 20554


Re: Ex Parte Presentation, Use of Spectrum Bands Above 24 GHz for Mobile Radio Services, GN Docket No. 14-177; IB Docket No. 15-256; RM-11664), WT Docket No. 10-112; IB Docket No. 97-95.


Dear Ms. Dortch,

The robust system of wireless services in this country is nothing short of amazing.  The facts speak for themselves, an ever increasing numbers of consumers choosing from an ever greater variety of smartphones and other devices, served up with an ever greater variety of service plans.  All along prices are dropping even as the wireless operators invest billions in private capital annually to make their systems even better.  Why the rapid, non-stop innovation?  In part because wireless carriers are no longer just competing against traditional wireless carriers but rather compete against a wide range of quickly innovating broadband carriers as they try to anticipate where disruption might break out next.

Specifically, the wireless industry provides countless consumer benefits and powers the economy, generating $400 billion in annual U.S. economic impact and supporting one million jobs.  Consumers today can use their wireless devices to monitor their health, make payments, listen to music, chat, text, stream video, and even check to see how long wait times are for rides at Disney World.  Wireless connectivity is expanding to everyday devices and connecting our homes, cars, and cities in ways unimagined even a decade ago.  And the availability of a wide array of wireless products and services with a variety of features and price points means that all Americans, including low-income consumers, persons with disabilities, and minorities, have access to today’s go-to communications platform.

The constant drive of innovation in personal computing and communication is almost synonymous with advances made in devices and applications, so much so that when one thinks of innovation today, mobile communications examples are what come to mind. But the networks supporting these technologies are no less important, as they provide the means by which those devices and applications spring to life and interact.  The key raw ingredient for these systems is spectrum.

For the industry to continue to lead in next-generation wireless services known as 5G, the FCC must unlock new high-band spectrum blocks.  The FCC is planning to allocate three bands for licensed spectrum and one large block for unlicensed in the current Spectrum Frontiers proceeding. This technology will provide very fast mobile broadband, enable real-time services, and power high density Internet of Things (IOT) devices.

We have moved decisively into a connected world, a world where connected machines work more for us than ever before.  Whether in everyday applications of virtual reality, using the volumes of data we produce for own benefit, or through whole cities enabled by connectivity, technological advances that will make our lives even easier and more productive are beginning now.  The benefits to society will continue to grow as the innovations continue and if history is a guide, will well surpass our imaginations, so long as operation within spectrum bands without interference is preserved.

In the use of spectrum bands above 24 GHz for mobile radio services, some users who historically have been asked to help maximize the full use of the spectrum now argue that they should now be given full authority over the use of the spectrum, in a position of so-called primacy.  In the 28 GHz band, there are some existing satellite operators with fixed earth stations.  The mobile industry has coordinated with these operators for years, with satellite being asked to help maximize the full use of the spectrum, to ensure they can operate without interference regardless of the status they had been given.  This structure has worked well and should continue.

As the winner of the license will have to purchase the rights to the spectrum at auction they should have primary rights.  That is to say, when this new high-band spectrum is auctioned, the structure of the use of the spectrum should remain the same so that next-generation wireless technology may be freely deployed throughout the licensed area.  Importantly, satellites rights should remain, with their existing stations grandfathered to provide their operational rights.

If the goal of the satellite industry is actually to deploy new satellite earth stations, satellite companies have the opportunity to obtain access to spectrum through auction or another market-based approach.  For example, they could lease a portion of spectrum where they intend to operate.  Since new earth stations are likely to be deployed outside major metropolitan areas, they may be deployed on a secondary, non-interference basis subject to pre-licensing coordination and public notice.  This is similar to how the parties have coordinated using spectrum for years.  The discussion is not about denial of spectrum, but rather it is the maximization of the spectrum.  In other words, companies do have the opportunity to compete, and should do so if they desire, rather than seeking special favors.

The fact is that we are facing various challenges in spectrum, most prominently that we are running out of this natural resource for innovation.  Consumer demand for more spectrum continues to grow rapidly as the importance of wireless services to our economy increases.  Maximizing resources only makes sense, particularly when it benefits taxpayers and helps our still-struggling economy.

If the U.S. is to be the leader in 5G the way we have led in 4G LTE, the FCC must ensure that primary rights are provided to terrestrial users.  Other countries are racing to deploy 5G ahead of the U.S., so missteps and distractions carry a heavy penalty.


Bartlett D. Cleland

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