FCC Open Meeting: FCC Rulemaking in the Lower 700 MHz Band and proposes 40 MHz of new spectrum for mobile broadband

Mar 21, 2012 10:09 pm
At the Federal Communications Commission's March 2012 "Open Meeting," the commission considered two items:
• FCC Initiates Rulemaking to Promote Interoperability in the Lower 700 MHz Band
• FCC Proposes 40 MHz of Additional Spectrum for Mobile Broadband

From the FCC's press release:
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to promote interoperability and encourage the efficient use of spectrum in the commercial Lower 700 MHz band (698-746 MHz). The rulemaking is designed primarily to examine the interference concerns should the Lower 700 MHz band utilize a single band class for devices operating across the Lower 700 MHz A, B, and C Blocks. In the NPRM, the FCC seeks comment on a range of technical and operational factors regarding the use of a unified band class on customers of Lower 700 MHz B and C Block licensees. The NPRM focuses on two interference concerns that can result with use of a single band class: (1) reverse intermodulation interference from adjacent DTV Channel 51 operations; and (2) blocking interference from neighboring high-powered operations in the Lower 700 MHz E Block. To properly evaluate the interference concerns, the FCC requests comment on measurements and quantitative analyses regarding the magnitude and extent of the interference risk from adjacent Channel 51 and Lower 700 MHz E Block transmissions, the availability of effective interference mitigation measures, relative performance of devices using a single band class, and costs of implementing interoperability.

Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood made the following statement:
"We hope and trust that the process begun today will lead to sensible interoperability requirements for the Lower 700 MHz band and beyond. Such rules could address any legitimate technical issues but should still prevent AT&T and Verizon from dividing this prime mobile broadband spectrum into exclusive technological enclaves. Waiting for the wireless industry to solve this problem on its own seems a vain exercise when we have already been waiting four years for such solutions, and none have been forthcoming from these duopoly providers. When U.S. consumers lined up for new 4G, LTE-enabled iPads last week, they faced a familiar if unwelcome choice among carriers. That doesn't mean choosing the wireless provider that offers the best service in the customer's view, but literally just picking the carrier on whose network a device will even function. Manufacturers like Apple produce two incompatible versions of the same product for the U.S. market — an AT&T-only iPad and a Verizon-only iPad — that have different types of radios built into them. Unwilling to bank solely on their ability to lock down customers and handsets by means of exclusive contracts, AT&T and Verizon have used their market clout to hardwire exclusivity into the devices. A large part of LTE's promise was the unification of technical standards. Those standards should give consumers the chance to switch providers without discarding their old phones or tablets, and give more carriers the chance to compete by offering cutting-edge devices. That has started to pay off in places like Canada, where large carriers all use the same type of spectrum and compatible radios for iPads and their other new LTE offerings. The promise can pay dividends here too so long as the Commission finishes the work it starts today."