FCC modifies Part 15 rules to encourage use of unlicensed 60GHz band

The FCC modified its Part 15 rules governing unlicensed communication equipment in the 57GHz-64GHz band (known as the 60GHz band) Aug. 9, opening the way for enhanced use of the unlicensed spectrum.

According to the commission, the band promises a relatively low‑cost solution for high‑capacity, short‑range backhaul to connect wireless broadband networks as well as other wireless applications. The modifications could provide wireless broadband network connectivity over distances of up to one mile at data rates of 7Gb/s, the agency said.

The rule changes do not affect indoor equipment, only outdoor devices. As a result, manufacturers of emerging products, such as wireless video distribution systems connecting TV receivers to video display, can be certain of relevant regulations as they come to market with new products.

The rule changes include an increase in the power allowed for outdoor operations between fixed locations when highly directional antennas are employed. Now, the maximum power allowed is locked to the precision of the antenna beam.

For outdoors 60GHz unlicensed devices, the rule changes now allow increased the average equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP) limit from 40dBm to 82dBm minus 2dB for every dB that the antenna gain is below 51dBi, and peak EIRP emission limit from 43dBm to 85dBm minus 2dB for every dB that the antenna gain is below 51dBi.

The change also amends the rule to specify the emission limits for all 60GHz devices in terms of EIRP, not power density units.

Other rule changes include the elimination of the transmitter identification requirement and specification of antenna requirements for compliance testing of 60GHz devices.

In a statement released with the Report & Order, acting FCC chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said that the effect of the rule changes regarding the technical requirements of 60GHz devices “takes another important step to encourage the technological development” of the band by enabling, for example, extended reach of fiber-optic networks due to increased emission limits for outdoor fixed applications.