API Urges FCC to Allow Small Tract Licenses for CBRS Spectrum
Tuesday, September 11, 2018 | Comments

The American Petroleum Institute (API) filed ex parte comments urging the FCC to continue with Commercial Band Radio Service (CBRS) rules that allow small tracts for licenses.

API expressed strong concerns over a potential proposal for the top 316 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) that it said eliminates the economic viability of CBRS priority access by private firms within those areas. “This change may have been prompted by the commission’s belief that smaller license areas within these populous areas, such as licensing by census tract, will somehow hurt the advent of 5G speeds by the major carriers or threaten the U.S. leadership position in broadband data,” API said.

API said that if the oil and gas industry were given 40 megahertz of spectrum to use, the investment of 5 percent into an industry driving three times the gross domestic product (GDP) annually as the cellular industry would be a more prudent investment.

“In terms of global leadership, enabling private broadband has many advantages and should be regarded as a demonstration of spectrum leadership in the world, not viewed as nonconformity,” the comments said. “As the commission may realize, prioritizing or crafting by impracticality nearly all broadband spectrum offerings to large carriers allows them to effectively block private 4G speed systems created by an enterprise or other niche users, at the expense of competition. With no other alternative, enterprises such as the oil and natural gas industries more and more have to either sublease the spectrum from the carrier or their partners, or are forced to work with the carrier or their partners to subscribe to a pseudo-private system placed within their facility. In effect, CBRS rules that no longer enable economical attainment of small area licenses within larger metropolitan areas directly by the users trade innovation and competition for protectionism and mediocracy.”

API noted that the oil and natural gas industry, as well as the electrical utility industry, provide the energy infrastructure to power cellular equipment that is used to operate on RF spectrum resources. Consequently, there is a high degree of reliance on the energy industry.

“API urges the commission to see the correctness of enabling private systems and adopt rules that enable a wide variety of nontraditional spectrum users including API’s oil and gas members to make full use of the 3.5 GHz CBRS, including priority access by census tract or some smaller aggregation of tracts within the major metropolitan areas for at least half of the available PALs (priority access licenses), rather than to impose a licensing scheme that leaves this spectrum under the control of a small number of large wireless carriers,” the comments said.

The full filing is here.

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