UTC Asks for More Time to Transition from Part 90 to CBRS Operations
Thursday, November 21, 2019 | Comments

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), the Utilities Technology Council (UTC) and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) petitioned the FCC for an extension of the April 17, 2020, deadline by which existing Part 90 3.65 – 3.7 GHz service licensees are required to complete the transition of their operations to comply with the Part 96 Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) rules.

The groups said an extension of the deadline is necessary because licensees lack sufficient time to acquire, test and install certified Part 96 compliant equipment, which has only recently become commercially available. In addition, licensees have been unable to acquire commercially available software that would allow their Part 90 equipment to communicate with the Spectrum Access System (SAS) database. The upcoming winter months will also make hardware changeouts more challenging, if not prohibitive, in many areas of the country.

UTC and EEI emphasized that electric companies need to ensure that their critical infrastructure communications systems have the reliability and security to deliver essential energy services and therefore electric companies need additional time to test equipment that is upgraded to Part 96 equipment and rules. UTC and EEI predicted that if the FCC did not grant the waiver, individual electric utilities using Part 90 equipment in the band would be forced to begin filing individual petitions for waiver with the FCC, which would add to the administrative burden of addressing these requests from similarly situated licensees.

The groups said their members use equipment that relies on proprietary air interfaces that do not use WiMAX or Long Term Evolution (LTE)-based technology that is software-upgradeable to Part 96 standards as the FCC originally anticipated. Most of the equipment will require hardware change-outs and truck rolls.

“As a matter of fact, WiMAX technology is no longer favored by the industry, and there is little, if any, new equipment that is compatible with WiMAX equipment installed prior to April of 2015 when the commission adopted the CBRS rules and transition deadline,” the ex parte letter said.

The full letter is here.

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