The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a tough job trying to free more spectrum for wireless broadband, finding itself pitted against broadcasters that don’t want to relinquish any of their invisible treasure.
The FCC has been tasked with finding 300 megahertz of spectrum within five years for mobile use. Today, the agency made a little progress toward that goal with a Report and Order permitting fixed microwave operation in several spectrum bands previously reserved only for specialized microwave services.
As part of the its Broadband Acceleration Initiative, and its spectrum and regulatory reform agendas, the agency removed more than 50 outdated regulatory restrictions that will make it easier to deploy microwave wireless backhaul. (For more, see FCC Fronts Loosening Wireless Backhaul Microwave Regs).
Clearing out these regulatory hurdles will result in about 650 megahertz of spectrum in the 6875 MHz -7125 MHz and 12,700 MHz -13,100 MHz microwave bands, according to Matt Nodine, chief of staff and legal advisor for the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. The ability to facilitate "shared use" of these frequency bands probably will be most useful in rural areas, he says. The shared usage allows microwave backhaul where the frequencies are not currently licensed to TV mobile pickup stations used in news-gathering operations.
Service providers’ use of microwave links as a cost-effective alternative to traditional copper circuits and fiber optic links has increased by approximately 50 percent in recent years, according to the FCC.
In other action today, the commission updated its rules to permit microwave licensees to use adaptive modulation, which will allow them to take advantage of the latest technology to maintain the reliability of critical links.