Skip to main content

FCC Opens 3650 to 3700 MHz Band for Wireless Broadband

Wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) will gain 50 MHz of spectrum once the FCC Report and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order becomes law. At their open meeting Thursday, FCC Commissioners adopted the Orders establishing rules allowing use of the 3650-3700 MHz band for wireless broadband services. Any one eligible to obtain FCC licenses will be able to file for non-exclusive nationwide licenses for the band. Existing licensed operations in the 3650-3700 MHz band will be grandfathered and protected from interference from the new systems. The Orders establish a 150 km protection zone around fixed satellite service stations using the band and an 80 km protection zone for Federal Government stations.

While details on technical standards for the new licenses won't be available until the FCC releases the Orders, the FCC News Release FCC Opens Access to New Spectrum for Wireless Broadband in the 3650 MHz Band contains more technical information than most news releases. Fixed stations will be allowed to operate with a peak power limit of 25 watts per 25 MHz bandwidth while mobile stations will be limited to 1 watt per 25 MHz bandwidth. The news release does not mention what types of modulation or protocols will be permitted, but stated, "The Commission also provided an opportunity for the introduction at 3650 MHz of a variety of new wireless broadband technologies, such as Wi-Max, into the band."

As mentioned earlier, licenses won't be exclusive and all licensees will have a mutual obligation to cooperate to avoid harmful interference. Mobile stations will be required to positively receive and decode a special signal from the base station before they are allowed to transmit. Both fixed and mobile stations will have to use contention-based protocols.

The news release states that there will be no limit to number of licenses that can be granted, but licensees will be required to register all system base stations with the FCC. This will be useful in coordinating operations to reduce interference between licensees.

I've have more information on this new service in RF Report after the Report and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order is released.