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FCC opens up 7GHz, 13GHz to broadband wireless backhaul despite broadcast objections

The Federal Communications Commission Aug. 9 opened up the 7GHz and 13GHz bands to use for microwave backhaul of wireless broadband service as part of its Broadband Acceleration Initiative despite objections that doing so would cause interference problems for Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) or Cable TV Relay Services (CARS) incumbents.

According to the commission, the move is intended to hasten the roll-out of 4G broadband networks, accelerate the role of expanded wireless broadband communications and bring new broadband services to rural areas, an agency announcement said.

Microwave backhaul is an important component of wireless networks. It is often used for the transmission of data between cell sites or between cell sites and network backbones.

The Society of Broadcast Engineers opposed the move. In comments filed June 27, SBE said the FCC proposal to allow wireless backhaul in the 6875MHz to 7125MHz and 12700MHz to 13200MHz bands made no allowance for protecting new Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) or Cable TV Relay Services (CARS) service areas that don’t duplicate existing licensed BAS or CARS service areas from interference that will be generated by new Fixed Service microwave backhaul for broadband.

According to a commission statement, the Report and Order adopted Aug. 9 permits fixed microwave operation in several spectrum bands previously reserved for specialized microwave services.

A statement on the SBE website says the Report and Order will create “difficult challenges” for mobile ENG operations at news and sporting events happening outside normal market areas for TV pickup stations. The SBE statement says that while the FCC claims to have sidestepped interference resulting from such circumstances by excluding fixed station microwave backhaul from two 25MHz channels nationwide, the measure is inadequate.

“That is an insufficient amount of spectrum to accommodate all BAS, CARS and LTTS licensees at a given event, and merely serves to concentrate FS stations in segments of both bands outside those 50 megahertz segments,” the statement says.

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.