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BAS, Satellite Radio Could Take NBP Hit

For many years other services have sought to share or take away spectrum that broadcasters use for microwave links and electronic newsgathering. Broadcasters gave up 35 MHz of spectrum from the 2 GHz ENG band for use by MSS and AWS, and broadcast auxiliary service (BAS) microwave bands are already shared with other services, including satellite uplinks and the Department of Defense.

One of the National Broadband Plan's (NBP's) recommendations is to revise Parts 74, 78 and 101 of the FCC Rules to "allow increased spectrum sharing among compatible point-to-point microwave services." The NBP reasons that sharing appears to be feasible, as BAS and CARS are starting to migrate to IP-based communications, which makes traffic carried on these links basically the same as on common carrier microwave.

The NBP also considers use of spectrum below 1 GHz for back-haul in rural areas, provided that it's consistent with plans to clear UHF TV spectrum for wireless broadband and the ongoing white spaces proceeding.

Don't be surprised to see more efforts to clear broadcasters from the 2 GHz BAS band. As wireless carriers move to higher broadband wireless speeds, many will be using technology such as LTE that require more bandwidth. It is easier to transmit a 40 MHz signal in the 2 GHz band (one example is high speed Wi-Fi) than it is at 600 MHz.

UHF spectrum, desirable as it is for 3G and perhaps some 4G applications may not be as desirable for "5G," whenever that comes. The NBP discusses combining microwave bands to make more spectrum available for broadband and the 2 GHz BAS band is in the middle of this.

Don't be surprised if broadcasters lose their grandfathered licenses for 2 GHz channel A10.

As discussed in an earlier RF Report, satellite radio, another user of prime 2 GHz spectrum, is concerned about interference from WCS operations in bands adjacent to the Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS) downlink band.

According to the NBP's Recommendation 5.8.1, the FCC should "revise certain technical rules, including the WCS OOBE [Out-Of-Band Emission] limits to enable robust mobile broadband use of the 2.3 GHz WCS spectrum, while protecting federal, non-federal AMT and satellite radio-operations in the neighboring SDARS band."

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.