Dale Curtis

WISPA Rejects Possible Changes to CBRS Licensing Rules, Noting They Would Deprive Rural America of the Best Near-Term Opportunity to Obtain Access to Broadband


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 28, 2017
Download WISPA's filing below.

Washington, DC – In comments filed today at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (www.WISPA.org) strongly objects to contemplated changes to licensing rules in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (“CBRS”) spectrum band, which it says would “deprive rural America of the best near-term opportunity to obtain access to sustainable, high-quality broadband service.” 

The current CBRS rules were adopted unanimously by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015. The rules were hailed as an innovative framework that would make licensed spectrum affordable for many local use cases, including small and rural wireless internet service providers, critical infrastructure operators, manufacturers, office buildings, public institutions, and sports venues. Hundreds of companies have invested significant resources in reliance on those rules and in anticipation of soon deploying affordable, high-quality broadband service. 

However, in October, the FCC voted to begin a process to revise the CBRS rules. The changes sought by the large mobile carriers include extending the terms for Priority Access Licenses (PALs) from three years to 10; making PALs essentially perpetual; and expanding the geographic size of licenses to much larger areas, lumping rural communities in with cities. Taken together, these changes would effectively block this licensed spectrum from being used by entrepreneurial WISPs to provide fixed wireless broadband to unserved rural Americans. 

“There is nothing on the Commission’s agenda that is more important than connecting the 23 million rural Americans who don’t have access to broadband today,” said Chuck Hogg, Chairman of WISPA’s Board of Directors. “Fixed-wireless technology is the most cost-effective way to connect the unconnected, and the current CBRS rules are a solid framework to attract private capital to rapidly connect the unconnected. If the Commission is serious about bridging the digital divide, it will reject this transparent attempt by the nation’s largest mobile carriers to use the regulatory process for their exclusive benefit, and to the detriment of competition and rural broadband.”  

“Establishing large license areas and lengthy license terms would reduce, not expand, opportunities for new entrants; contravene the statutory directive to disseminate licenses to a wide variety of entities; and stifle competition before it can emerge,” WISPA’s filing says. “Changing the PAL rules also would undermine the statutory objective of ensuring ‘deployment of new technologies, products, and services for the benefit of the public, including those residing in rural areas.’” 

The filing continues: “If the Commission were to yield to the singular interests of the mobile wireless industry and adopt Partial Economic Areas (“PEAs”) as the PAL license area, it would effectively limit competition for those licenses to a few large companies and sideline innovators, entrepreneurs, and small operators.” Small providers intending to provide service over licensed spectrum to small, targeted areas would be forced to bid against large mobile companies to acquire spectrum for areas that far exceed their geographic scope and business model requirements. 

And in response to one of the concerns raised by the mobile wireless industry, “the record contravenes the claim that conducting auctions at the census tract level would be too complex.” 

Download WISPA's full comments below. See other WISPA CBRS filings here: http://www.wispa.org/Advocacy/CBRS_SPECTRUM.   




WISPA is a membership-driven trade association that promotes the development, advancement and unity of the fixed wireless Internet service provider industry. WISPA has over 800 members that support WISPA’s advocacy, education and other collaborative industry initiatives. For more information, visit www.wispa.org.


Media Inquiries: 

Breyana Franklin for WISPA 


Tel: (202) 495-3701 (office) or 301-346-0056 (mobile)



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