There’s a deadline looming for those operating on the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in the 3650-3700 MHz band, reported Cablefax. The deadline set by the FCC is April 17, 2020, and the commission has declined to grant a blanket waiver – which requested an extension to January 8, 2023 – since those operating in the affected band were given five years to comply.
However, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) and impacted companies are hoping the FCC will reconsider. “Based on its review of individual waiver requests filed by WISPs as of March 6, 2020, approximately 14K rural consumers would lose service if they are not granted relief,” WISPA told the FCC last week. “In many cases, as the waiver requests point out, consumers would have few if any options to immediately obtain replacement broadband service.”
There are several companies facing challenges, which could impact thousands of rural subscribers if the deadline is not extended. Midco serves more than 380,000 broadband customers. Some 4,000 of them are served by fixed wireless. Midco asked for an extension to October. Bluespan Wireless asked for an extension through the end of 2020.
Both companies use Baicells, a vendor that does not have first-generation CPE certification at this time. According to Baicells CTO Jesse Raasch, the FCC didn’t finalize CBRS rules until October 22, 2019. Vendors had less than six months to get the CPEs certified; therefore, wireless ISPs had only six months to get all their CPEs upgraded or swapped out, reported Cablefax.
“With the April 17 deadline fast approaching, we decided to formally announce that these CPE models would not be CBRS compliant,” Raasch added. “However, it should be noted that we have not given up on this effort and recently have made a breakthrough which we believe will ultimately allow us to certify these legacy CPEs.”
Another challenge with the April 17 deadline includes how Covid-19 is impacting supply chains. In addition, some ISPs installed Huawei and ZTE equipment, which is now considered a national security threat by the FCC, Congress, and the Executive Branch of the government.
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