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FCC Considers Smaller 11 GHz Antennas

The fixed service band at 10.7-11.7 GHz is often used for linking cell phone sites and for point-to-point networks. After receiving a Petition for Rulemaking from FiberTower Inc., a wireless backhaul provider, and reviewing comments received in response to the petition, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on the use of smaller antennas in this band. Specifically, in the NPRM, the FCC asks "whether this action would serve the public interest by facilitating the efficient use of the 11 GHz band while protecting other users in the band from interference due to the use of smaller antennas."

The FCC does not specify a minimum dish size, but current technology does set a lower limit for meeting FCC requirements for maximum antenna beamwidth, minimum antenna gain, and minimum side lobe suppression. To meet current FCC technical parameters, a dish four feet in diameter is usually required. FiberTower proposed changing the technical parameters to allow the use of smaller antennas with less gain and increased beamwidth. Any operator proposing to use a smaller antenna would have the burden of showing use of the smaller antenna would not cause interference.

The 10.7 to 11.7 GHz spectrum is also allocated on a co-primary basis to the fixed satellite service. In the NPRM, the FCC tentatively concluded that this allocation would not preclude it from allowing the use of smaller antennas.