CSMAC Report Demonstrates Success of Sharing Techniques for Future Spectrum Allocation

spectrum policy

The Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee (CSMAC) recently presented its spectrum framework recommendations to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) with the goal of helping to shape the future of spectrum allocation and sharing techniques.

The report's findings underscore CBRS's success as a model for effective spectrum sharing and notably point out areas for continual improvement.

The committee's analysis found CBRS to have a positive impact for cable operators as well as various sectors, including manufacturing, agriculture, and education. CBRS was also found to have great potential to serve as a blueprint for creating additional sharing regimes in other bands, such as the 3.1 GHz band.

Positive Outcomes after Examining the CBRS Framework

One of the CSMAC subcommittees, which included NCTA’s CTO Dr. Rikin Thakker, was tasked to assess the CBRS spectrum sharing framework through conducting multiple stakeholder interviews, and focused on addressing the following questions in its recommendations:

  1. What are general and specific lessons learned from the CBRS framework for commercial operations sharing with federal incumbents - both positive and negative?
  2. How could the commercial-federal sharing in CBRS be improved?
  3. What from this CBRS spectrum sharing experience should be considered for implementation in other bands/cases?
  4. What from this CBRS spectrum sharing experience should be avoided in other bands/cases?

Notably, the report emphasized positive outcomes, with CBRS network operators acknowledging the framework's role in protecting incumbents, diversifying band usage, promoting private networks, and laying the groundwork for dynamic spectrum sharing possibilities.

Key Recommendations

In addressing the need for improvement in commercial-federal sharing within CBRS, the report outlined three common recommendations:

  • Better propagation models
  • Exploration of alternatives to ESC (Environmental Sensing Capability)
  • Strategies for increasing efficiency

The report also highlighted specific recommendations for refining the CBRS framework:

  • Create a process involving federal, commercial, NTIA, and FCC stakeholders to drive timely improvements to rules, operational settings, and standards as applicable.
  • Update the propagation model, methodology, and use of clutter and building data.
  • Reduce complexity of the process of the aggregate interference protection to lower the computational load on SASs.
  • Reduce DPA (Dynamic Protection Area) neighborhood sizes, heartbeat interval, and activation timer.
  • Resolve the reservation of excessive spectrum by federal users and improve advanced notification of scheduled events to commercial end users.
  • Study the impact on federal operations of increasing maximum EIRP levels.
  • Collaborate with the FCC, industry, and government stakeholders early to develop better sharing methodologies, promoting automation where possible.
  • Ensure that federal agencies impacted by spectrum sharing are adequately funded for ongoing activities, advocating outside of the Spectrum Relocation Fund process.

Collaboration and Refinement

The lessons learned from CBRS implementations are instrumental in designing effective frameworks for spectrum sharing in various frequency bands, fostering innovation and collaboration. 

In light of the report's findings, it's important to celebrate the achievements of CBRS while recognizing the potential for extending similar successes to other sectors by finetuning the framework to address evolving needs and challenges. NCTA is eager to collaborate with NTIA, the FCC, and multiple other stakeholders to get this right.

Read more in the final report on CBRS

Additional spectrum insight: Read more about the FCC's Technology Advisory Council (TAC) report from September about next steps for the 7.125 and 24 GHz bands and the benefits of innovative spectrum-sharing techniques.