wireless towerA coalition of 11 carriers and corporations, eight industry associations and the nation’s largest port authority have sent the FCC an auction proposal for the CBRS spectrum band that represents a middle ground between rules currently in place and a proposal submitted recently by organizations representing mobile carriers.

CBRS auction plans have pitted the mobile carriers, who want larger license areas to support mobile 5G services, against those who want to use the spectrum for fixed wireless broadband and who argue that they can only afford licenses for smaller areas and for shorter time periods.

Those supporting the coalition CBRS auction plan revealed today include:

  • Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA)
  • NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association
  • Cox Communications
  • Frontier Communications
  • Windstream
  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)
  • National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC)
  • The Rural Broadband Association
  • Utilities Telecom Council (UTC)
  • The Port of Los Angeles
  • Edison Electric Institute
  • Enterprise Wireless Alliance
  • Exelon
  • FedEx Corporate Services
  • General Electric
  • Pdv Wireless
  • Motorola
  • Southern Linc
  • Transit Wireless
  • Union Pacific

Of these entities, WISPA may have the most at stake because many of its members already have deployed fixed broadband service in a portion of the CBRS band already available for unlicensed use with the expectation that they would have a good shot at obtaining licenses for additional spectrum in the band.

CBRS Auction Plans
The coalition CBRS auction plan calls for five county-based CBRS priority access licenses (PALs) for every U.S. county and two census tract-based PALs for every census tract. License terms would be seven years and would be renewable based on performance criteria.

Current rules call for PALs to be issued on a census tract basis for a period of three years.

Mobile carriers represented by CTIA – The Wireless Association initially asked for license areas to instead be based on partial economic areas (PEAs) for a period of 10 years, but late last month CTIA and the Competitive Carriers Association submitted what they called a “compromise” proposal. That proposal calls for PALs to be issued by metropolitan statistical areas in the top 306 cellular market areas (CMAs) and for county-based licenses in the remaining 428 CMAs. Those license areas would be smaller than the PEAs that CTIA originally proposed.

The upshot, though, is that although both sides now have submitted what they call “compromise” proposals, those compromise proposals are still far apart.