FCC attempts to establish ‘protection zones’ ahead of AWS-3 auction

22 Jul 2014

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has updated a number of rules governing the use of the AWS-3 spectrum that is set to be auctioned off to cellular operators later this year. According to RCR Wireless, the updates include the establishment of ‘protection zones’ designed to reduce interference concerns between commercial wireless networks and the satellite-based communications services that will continue in select AWS-3 bands. As such, the watchdog said that it has set up 27 protection zones in areas where 47 ‘federal earth stations’ will continue to receive satellite signals using the 1675MHz-1695MHz and 1695MHz-1710MHz spectrum bands. Licence users with base stations in those protection zones and operating near those bands will be required to coordinate services to ensure that interference concerns are mitigated.

The hastily introduced rules did not go down well with FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, who fired off a formal letter stating his objection to the process. RCR Wireless quotes Pai as saying: ‘My position is simple. I can’t cast an informed vote on new coordination zones if I don’t know what those coordination zones are. Voting first and then learning about what you’ve voted on is irresponsible. Unfortunately, others disagreed; the item was pulled from the full commission and pushed out at the bureau level today. This is no way to run a railroad’.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the sale of 1,614 licences – which is scheduled to take place this November – will offer 65MHz of frequencies in the 1695MHz-1710MHz, 1755MHz-1780MHz, and 2155MHz-2180MHz bands. 880 licences will be for the larger ‘Economic Area’ franchises, while the remaining 734 will be for the smaller ‘Cellular Market Area’ franchises. Bidders are likely to include major carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T, both of which will be looking to utilise the additional spectrum to bolster the capacity of their existing 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks.

United States, Federal Communications Commission (FCC)