FCC Assigns Spectrum, Proposes Rules for Advanced Wireless Services

The FCC has released the Sixth Report and Order, Third Memorandum Opinion and Order, and Fifth Memorandum Opinion and Order regarding Advanced Wireless Service. The Order pairs 1915-1920 MHz, the band previously used for unlicensed Personal Communications Services (UPCS) with spectrum at 1995-2000 MHz, which was previously allocated for the Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) and the Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) before that. It also paired 5 MHz of spectrum at 2020-2025 MHz with 5 MHz of spectrum at 2175-2180 MHz, adjacent to MSS spectrum. The issue of reimbursement for relocation of incumbent users is addressed in the order, although the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released last week has more detail on the proposed plan.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to create service rules for the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) states "new entrants to 1995-2000 and 2020-2025 MHz will not be required to relocate BAS facilities if they begin service after the band has been cleared by other licensees, but may initiate relocation in particular markets if they wish to begin providing service before the band has been cleared." Current rules require Nextel and the MSS licensees to complete the relocation of 2 GHz BAS stations nationwide "within the earlier of 30 months after the effective date of the 800 MHz Report and Order (in the case of the former), or within five years of the first MSS licensee's commencement of operations (in the case of the latter)." In the NPRM, the FCC asked for comment on whether a similar timetable should be imposed on AWS licensees.

The FCC proposed making AWS licensees subject to the same mandatory negotiation periods (stage-one ending May 31, 2005 and March 31, 2006 for stage-two relocations). The NPRM says the FCC is not requiring AWS entrants to participate in the relocation process, but if they do, it expects them to "work cooperatively with all interested parties" to avoid "excessive disruption to incumbent BAS operations during the transition." In the NPRM, the FCC states, "if an AWS licensee wishes to begin operations in a BAS market that has not been cleared, we propose that it should first coordinate its anticipated clearance schedule with affected incumbents and other new entrants (Nextel, MSS licensees and any others)."

The NPRM addresses the possibility of AWS operations interfering with and possibly receiving interference from MSS/ATC mobiles, ATC base stations, Government and non-Government satellite operations, BAS operations and CARS operations. The FCC did not propose special requirements for interference to or from these services, but recommended transmit power limits for AWS devices using certain frequency bands. The NPRM did not propose any limits on the height-above-average-terrain of base or fixed station antennas operating in the 1995-2000 and 2175-2180 MHz bands.

The FCC proposed the following power limits for AWS devices:

* Fixed and base stations transmitting in the 1995-2000 MHz and 2175-2180 MHz band are limited to a peak effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) of 1640 watts and a peak output power of 100 watts.
* Fixed, mobile, and portable (hand-held) stations operating in the 2020-2025 MHz bands are limited to a peak EIRP of 1 watt. The power of any emission outside an AWS licensee's 2 GHz frequency block "shall be attenuated below the transmitter power (P) by at least 43 + 10 log10 (P) dB.

For additional information and the proposed rules, refer to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC-04-218).