Tuesday, August 13, 2013

FCC Updates Rules for 57-64 GHz Unlicensed Spectrum

The Federal Communications Commission updated rules governing unlicensed communication equipment in the 57-64 GHz band, saying the changes support using the spectrum for relatively low-cost, high-capacity short-range backhaul alternative to connect wireless broadband networks and for other wireless applications.

The FCC said the spectrum could provide wireless broadband network connectivity over distances up to a mile at data rates of 7 Gbps, potentially relieving the need and expense of wiring facilities or using existing facilities with less capability.

At the same time the rules for equipment located indoors will remain unchanged, providing regulatory certainty for an emerging family of products that can provide data rates of 7 Gbps for applications such as wireless docking of digital devices and distribution of uncompressed video to TV receivers and video displays.

In the 1990s, the Commission adopted rules for unlicensed operations over a 7-gigahertz wide bandwidth, in the 57-64 GHz band. Because of the wide bandwidth, this spectrum is very desirable for high-capacity uses, both in point-to-point fixed operations outdoors (extending the reach of fiber optic networks by providing broadband access to adjacent structures in commercial facilities), and as networking equipment indoors (enabling users to send data between entertainment equipment such as high-definition televisions and video players within the same room, eliminating the need for complex wiring).

Under the new rules, new limits are set for the power permitted for outdoor operations between fixed points using highly directional antennas. This maximum power permitted is tied to the precision of the antenna beam which determines its potential for causing interference to other users, including to indoor low-power networks. This rule change would permit outdoor devices to deliver high-capacity communication links over longer distances, enhancing the utility of the unlicensed 57-64 GHz band as a vehicle for broadband. It will also facilitate the use of this unlicensed spectrum as a backhaul alternative in densely-populated areas where 4G and other wireless services are experiencing an ever-increasing need for additional spectrum.

The Commission also took additional actions to reduce the regulatory burden on these operations by eliminating a station identification rule that has become unnecessary, and by modifying the measurement units to promote uniformity and consistency.



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