Federal Communications Commission
Washington, DC 20554
In the Matter of Use of Spectrum Bands Above 24 GHz For Mobile Radio Services
Establishing a More Flexible Framework to Facilitate Satellite Operations in the 27.5-28.35 GHz and 37.5-40 GHz Bands
Amendment of Parts 1, 22, 24, 27, 74, 80, 90, 95, and 101 To Establish Uniform License Renewal, Discontinuance of Operation, and Geographic Partitioning and Spectrum Disaggregation Rules and Policies for Certain Wireless Radio Services
Allocation and Designation of Spectrum for Fixed-Satellite Services in the 37.5-38.5 GHz, 40.5-41.5 GHz and 48.2-50.2 GHz Frequency Bands; Allocation of Spectrum to Upgrade Fixed and Mobile Allocations in the 40.5-42.5 GHz Frequency Band; Allocation of Spectrum in the 46.9-47.0 GHz Frequency Band for Wireless Services; and Allocation of Spectrum in the 37.0-38.0 GHz and 40.0-40.5 GHz for Government Operations
GN Docket No. 14-177
IB Docket No. 15-256
WT Docket No. 10-112
IB Docket No. 97-95
REPLY COMMENTS OF CALIFORNIA INTERNET, L.P. DBA GEOLINKS
California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks (“GeoLinks” or the “Company”) submits these reply comments in response to the Spectrum Frontiers Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“Frontiers Second FNPRM”).1
I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY
GeoLinks serves the largest coverage area of any single fixed wireless Internet service provider in California. The Company’s fixed wireless technology platform depends on access to spectrum resources sufficient to support enterprise-level broadband connections. As such, GeoLinks has advocated before this Commission on a number of spectrum matters over the last year. While the proceedings may differ, there are a few over-arching policy considerations that GeoLinks has repeatedly asserted are necessary to ensure robust competition within the broadband marketplace. These include ensuring spectrum resources are available on a competitive basis and ensuring policies do not favor one technology over others. GeoLinks urges the Commission to apply these same considerations to ensure that there is competitive access to the millimeter wave (“mmW”) bands and associated equipment ecosystem.
A. The Commission Should Retain Pre-Auction Review and Limitations on Spectrum Holdings
GeoLinks strongly agrees with Starry, Inc. (“Starry”) that the Commission must reaffirm competition policies that prevent over-aggregation of critical spectrum resources.2 In the Frontiers Second FNPRM, the Commission proposes to eliminate the pre-auction limit of 1250 Megahertz for the 28 GHz, 37 GHz and 39 GHz bands.3 Limiting spectrum ownership is necessary to carry out the Commission’s mandate of “promoting economic opportunity and competition and ensuring new and innovative technologies are readily accessible to the American people by avoiding excessive concentration of licenses by disseminating licenses among a wide variety of applicants.”4 As Starry explains, spectrum holdings limitations have played an important role in the FCC’s competition policy for decades.5
GeoLinks agrees with Starry that establishing individual bidders’ limits in advance of an auction promotes transparency and provides all bidders with information necessary to facilitate rational bidding. 6 To the contrary, analyzing spectrum holdings after an auction will require winning bidders that exceed the threshold to divest excess spectrum after-the-fact. From a policy perspective, this creates a system where auction winners who have knowingly purchased more spectrum than they are allowed to have, get the opportunity to pick and choose the best spectrum and discard the rest. This creates the need for the FCC to reevaluate what spectrum will be left over after negotiating individual relinquishments and potentially create the need for an additional spectrum auction to license whatever remains in the band. The result is a system in which large incumbents with large amounts of capital are able to secure any spectrum they want with no need to account for what they already have.
Chairman Pai has stated that the Commission “ha[s] no business picking winners and losers in the marketplace.”7 However, creating a policy that allows large carriers to disregard spectrum limits would do just that. As Untied States Cellular Corporation explains, history has shown that unless large carriers are subject to reasonable spectrum acquisition restraints both pre and post-auction, they are likely to pursue mmW spectrum acquisition relentlessly, which will shut out smaller carriers who might otherwise bid on available spectrum.8 For these reasons, GeoLinks urges the Commission to retain pre-auction review and limitations on spectrum holdings.
B. The Commission Must Ensure a Robust Market for Equipment in the 24 GHz Band
In addition to ensuring that new and innovative technologies are capable of accessing spectrum resources, GeoLinks agrees with Starry that the Commission must also ensure “that all licensees in new spectrum bands have access to equipment ecosystems through effective operability requirements.”9 GeoLinks has previously advocated for spectrum policies that allow smaller service providers the ability to leverage market factors to drive down the cost of equipment. Unlike large incumbent carriers, smaller service providers lack the market power to ensure affordable equipment is available for all spectrum bands. As Starry explains, without operability requirements, these large carriers will be incentivized to inhibit competitive access to network equipment and devices. 10 This may result in underdevelopment of the band, a problem that the Commission has been dealing with in the 700 MHz band for years.11 For these reasons, GeoLinks urges the Commission establish operability requirements in the 24 GHz band.
C. The Commission Should Allow Sharing in the 37-37.6 GHz Band
In its opening comments, CTIA advocates for reconsideration of the Commission’s decision to allocate the 37-37.6 GHz Band on a coordinated basis.12 Specifically, CTIA urges the Commission to make this band available on a licensed basis claiming that an experimental sharing regime would be premature.13 However, GeoLinks believes that it is premature to suggest that the Commission close this band off to experimental use when mobile carriers themselves are not able to state explicitly how much spectrum them will need to roll out their 5G services.14 Instead, GeoLinks urges the Commission to finalize rules for shared access to the 37-37.6 GHz band to allow new technologies an opportunity to access these spectrum resources.
In conclusion, GeoLinks urges the Commission to ensure that there is competitive access to the mmW bands and associated equipment ecosystem by creating policies that ensure spectrum resources are available on a competitive basis without favoring one technology over others.
/s/ Skyler Ditchfield, Chief Executive Officer
/s/ Melissa Slawson, General Counsel/ V.P of Government Affairs and Education
February 22, 2018