T-Mobile’s 5G service blamed for FWA network disruptions


Multiple fixed-wireless access (FWA) providers have voiced concern that T-Mobile’s 5G network has interfered with their ability to provide uninterrupted services.

By: Brad Randall, Broadband Communities

Providers of fixed wireless services in Maine, New York, and Maryland have blamed T-Mobile for disruptions to their operations, with one company even reporting the issue to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In a March FCC filing, Bloosurf, a FWA provider that serves the Delmarva Peninsula, alleged “T-Mobile’s 5G operations are causing interference to Bloosurf’s network and its customers.”

The company’s filing, formally an Application for Review, requests that the FCC “require T-Mobile to cease 5G operations in areas impacting Bloosurf” and stay the grant of T-Mobile’s Auction 108 licenses.

The FCC’s Auction 108 licenses, awarded in 2022, offered spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band.

As the incumbent provider the Eastern Shore area, which encompasses portions of Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia, Bloosurf’s Application for Review mentioned precedent set by a prior FCC Memorandum Opinion and Order.

The 1977 order, quoted in Bloosurf’s filing, determines that ‘newcomers’ in a given service area are financially responsible “for taking whatever steps may be necessary to eliminate objectionable interference.”

“Although Bloosurf and T-Mobile have engaged in some informal interference testing, T-Mobile’s failure to meaningfully cooperate with the parties’ testing efforts undermined any efforts to yield a solution, thus forcing Bloosurf to file its informal interference complaint with the FCC,” Bloosurf’s March 28 filing stated.

The filing also requested that the FCC reinstate Bloosurf’s prior informal complaint on the matter and “take all actions to eliminate the interference.”

Previously, in Feb. of this year, Bloosurf’s informal complaint was dismissed by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau on procedural grounds.

While Bloosurf is the first company to take the matter to the FCC , other ISPs have voiced similar concerns.

In a recent report published on LightReading.com, the CEO of Redzone Wireless was quoted as saying the Rockport, Maine-based company had lost customers because of alleged disruptions from T-Mobile’s 5G network. The same report quoted an unnamed official as saying T-Mobile’s 5G network had “crippled” parts of provider NextWave’s New York network.

While Bloosurf holds out hope for FCC enforcement, T-Mobile has continued efforts to acquire additional licenses for spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band. Through comments to the FCC, the company has urged the agency to utilize Special Temporary Authority’ (STA) to release spectrum, approve spectrum-sharing, or lease spectrum licenses.

In March 2023, Congress declined to renew the FCC’s authority to conduct spectrum auctions.

After the FCC lost auction authority, T-Mobile was unable to access the licenses it was awarded during Auction 108, which occurred while the FCC still had auction authority. Ultimately, legislation from Congress instructed the FCC to release auction winnings, but did not restore broader authority.

T-Mobile, which is seeking additional spectrum in New York, along with assignments in California, Louisiana, Kentucky, and North Carolina, noted that there are well-established processes for issuing STAs, implying that spectrum can be available quickly if the FCC activates STA.

According to the firm’s comments, additional spectrum assignments to T-Mobile would “meet the (FCC’s) goal of more efficient use of the spectrum and serve the public interest.”

Reporting from Maddie Hicks, of Total Telecom, contributed to this article.

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