Monday, August 8, 2011

FCC Approves Order Adding 650 MHz of Spectrum for Microwave Backhaul

The FCC voted to remove certain regulatory barriers to make 650 MHz of additional spectrum available for Fixed
Service (FS) use and provide additional flexibility to enable FS licensees to reduce operational costs,
increase reliability, and facilitate the use of wireless backhaul in rural areas with wider channel bandwidths in the 6 and 11 GHz bands.

"Today, we implement another key recommendation of our National Broadband Plan by
unleashing additional spectrum to help drive our economy. We do so by removing regulatory barriers to
efficient spectrum use and rapid broadband build-out. Today's Order is a trifecta: It's another important step in our spectrum agenda, recognizing the powerful role that wireless communications can play in economic revitalization. It's another important step in our Broadband Acceleration Initiative, recognizing the importance to job creation of accelerating broadband build-out and reducing its costs. And it's another important step in our regulatory reform agenda, recognizing our ongoing commitment to remove or reform outdated regulations," stated FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

Specifically, the FCC order includes the following actions:

Permits FS Operations in Certain BAS and CARS Frequencies: The FCC will now allow FS operators to share the 6875-7125 MHz and 12700-13100 MHz bands currently used for Fixed and Mobile Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) and Cable TV Relay Service (CARS). The order eliminates regulatory impediments to permit FS operations in rural areas where the band is not currently licensed to TV mobile pickup stations used in newsgathering operations and
adopt rules to protect BAS and CARS operations. This action will make 650 megahertz of additional backhaul spectrum available in rural areas where the band is not currently licensed to TV mobile pickup stations used in newsgathering operations.

Eliminates Final Link Rule: The FCC will grant broadcasters greater access to microwave spectrum by eliminating the "final link" rule that prohibits broadcasters from using FS stations as the final radiofrequency (RF) link in the chain of distribution of program material to broadcast stations.

Permits Adaptive Modulation: The Part 101 rules contain a minimum payload capacity rule, 47 CFR § 101.141(a)(3), intended to ensure that FS links are operated efficiently. The new order will permit temporary operations below the minimum capacity under certain circumstances, which will enable FS links to maintain critical communications during periods of fading.

Declines to Permit "Auxiliary" Fixed Stations: The FCC declines to permit FS licensees to coordinate and deploy "auxiliary" links, which would effectively allow point-to-multipoint operations under the point-to-point rules.

The full order is posted online.