Skip to main content

FCC Seeks More Input on 'Licensed,' Unlicensed Wireless

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, among others, asked the FCC to collect more information on how new LTE unlicensed (LTE-U) wireless service tied to Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) would be sharing the 3.5 GHz band (and potentially 5 GHz band) with Wi-Fi users, like cable ops, and the FCC has done so.

The FCC recently made 3.5 GHz spectrum available for licensed and unlicensed use, and is eyeing freeing up more unlicensed spectrum in the 5 GHz band. Some wireless companies have approached the FCC about employing the LTE-U/LAA model, in which licensed spectrum is used as the primary channel for unlicensed devices. On Tuesday (May 5), the FCC put out a public notice seeking more info on that technology and its impact on Wi-Fi in the band.

NCTA had registered concerns with the FCC over tying licensed and unlicensed use. "LAA’s dependence on licensed spectrum would raise barriers to entry across the 3.5 bands by tying the use of this spectrum to carriers’ existing licensed spectrum portfolios," it told the FCC in a letter to the FCC back in February, and pointed to "the need for additional information on the FCC record on exactly how LTE-U sharing mechanisms would work in the 3.5 GHz band."

In voting to approve the new 3.5 GHz rules, FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn had also registered her concern with the LTE-U/LAA regime. She had wanted the FCC to follow up in the Further Notice issued with the 3.5 GHz order.

The FCC has given commenters until June 11 to weigh in, with replies to those comments due June 26.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.