In a three-to-one vote the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted changes to the rules governing licensing areas for the 3550MHz-3700MHz (3.5GHz) Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band. Licence areas have been reduced from 74,000 census tracts to around 3,200 counties, while licence terms have been extended to ten years.
Commissioner Michael O’Rielly commented: ‘The contentious debate, however, centred on the appropriate geographic licence size, ranging from the 74,000 census tracts set by the prior Commission to 416 partial economic areas (PEAs), with other options in between. After almost a year of conversations and considerable movement by some parties, which I greatly appreciate, it was clear that a consensus agreement could not be reached among all parties, so the Commission had to make the appropriate and justified policy decisions.’
Jessica Rosenworcel – the lone Democrat on the Commission – dissented, commenting: ‘Instead of doing something new, we are reverting to the old. In our effort to reach a messy compromise, we’ve created a band that is not well suited to the services of today and offers too few opportunities for the services of tomorrow. This is like being at the dawn of the Uber age and doubling down on taxi medallions.’