How do you know whether a proposed new use of spectrum will benefit your company? You test it. How do you gain access to the spectrum for testing purposes? You work with EWA to file for experimental special temporary authority (STA) or license.
The Federal Communications Commission launched its revised Experimental Licensing System in April of 2017 in order to allow “greater flexibility for parties… to develop new technologies and services while protecting incumbent services against harmful interference,” according to an announcement of the newly revised system. A large courier company and member of EWA asked EWA to file an experimental STA for testing in the 3550-3650 MHz band. As EWA has reported during its regulatory calls for members, this band was established in 2015 as a new Citizens Broadband Radio Service for shared wireless broadband use. This member wanted to determine whether the spectrum would be of value to business operations. The FCC granted the experimental STA.
The process of securing an experimental STA is more rigorous than that for a standard STA because the applicant must provide more detailed information, especially concerned with how the spectrum will be used, system operations, equipment information and how other primary licensees within the specific spectrum will be protected from interference. Will the tests be shielded in an indoor lab? If not, shielded, most approvals require prior consent from the primary licensees prior to any testing begins. STAs secured through the experimental licensing program are intended for experiments that will last no longer than six months. Applicants intending to conduct experiments of longer duration should file for a regular experimental license. Applications are processed by the FCC on a first come, first served basis (along with regular applications) and should be filed at least 30-60 days in advance.