The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is taking comments on its Notice of Inquiry regarding receiver standards, which it released in April 2022. And the folks at 5G Americas have some thoughts on the topic, which they laid out in a new white paper.

Radio systems require both transmitters and receivers. 5G Americas’ paper points out that regulation has focused on transmitters, but it’s become counterproductive to ignore receiver standards.

“Receiver performance considerations must be prioritized; receiver performance should evolve over time as spectrum becomes increasingly crowded,” stated the paper.

The issue has come top-of-mind in the telecom industry due to a couple of big problems. The first is the clash between the Federal Aviation Administration against AT&T and Verizon related to the use of C-band spectrum. And the second is the fight between Ligado against the Department of Defense and the GPS industry.

In both cases, incumbent spectrum owners use receiver equipment that is not of high quality. Their equipment picks up interference from spectrum being used in other bands by other spectrum owners.

Asked why 5G Americas cares about this issue, Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas, said, “We care because when you look at overall spectrum management, our industry relies on spectrum to be successful.”

He said spectrum is a limited resource and there are a lot of incumbents in the U.S. spectrum bands. “We need to find a way to work together. 5G Americas is making recommendations for future solutions.”

The group wants a “light regulatory touch,” said Pearson. “Heavy handed mandates aren’t needed, but there are a lot of things that could be done. We believe there are solutions by bringing key stakeholders together.”

Ali Khayrallah, senior technical advisor with Ericsson said, “Effective self-policing negates additional regulator intervention in industries like mobile networks that have a well-functioning system of evolving standards and market forces that encourage equipment upgrades for better performance. However, other industries that lack such mechanisms may require regulatory involvement.”

Boulder Thinking principal Preston Padden has previously told Fierce that one of the biggest problems is that the consumer electronics industry has resisted receiver standards for decades. In comments to the FCC advocating for new receiver standards, Padden wrote, “Apologies in advance to my long-time friend Gary Shapiro, the esteemed CEO of CTA/CES, who has made it his life’s work to prevent the government from telling his members how to build their equipment.”

5G Americas recommendations

Some of the recommendations from 5G Americas to the FCC seem kind of obvious in light of the problems with the FAA and Ligado. For instance, 5G Americas recommends that in the future the FCC should consider both transmitter and receiver performance as part of its spectrum management policy. And any band-specific consideration for new services should include all stakeholders representing all interests, including users in neighboring bands.

5G Americas also says the regulator should consider different approaches to improving receiver performance based on the particular circumstance of a given band or service, rather than trying to find a “one-size-fits-all” solution. The industry organization is concerned the FCC might mandate receiver performance standards in bands where 3GPP technologies are deployed, crimping their innovation.

5G Americas also recommends that the FCC tap receiver standards used by 3GPP and ITU whenever possible.

“The regulator should develop a long range spectrum plan, which would benefit the industry greatly from both a clarity and design needs perspective. It would enable a predictable timeline of equipment upgrades,” stated 5G Americas.

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