FCC Provides New Options for 2495-2690 MHz Licensees

Last week the FCC released a 199 page report affecting most users of spectrum in the 2495-2690 MHz band. Portions of this spectrum are shared between various services, including the broadband radio service (BRS), the educational broadband service (EBS), the broadcast auxiliary service (BAS), the mobile satellite service (MSS), Part 15 unlicensed devices, public safety Part 90 microwave, Part 101 microwave and Part 18 industrial, science and medical (ISM) devices.

In the report, the commission allowed transition from IFTS and MMDS to the EBS and BRS by Basic Trading Areas, which are smaller than the originally proposed major economic areas. The FCC also allowed Watch TV, which transmits more than 200 digitized channels to subscribers in the Lima, Ohio area, to permanently opt out of the transition to the new band plan. EBS licensees are permitted to enter into spectrum leases with a maximum term of 30 years, subject to conditions designed to ensure they have a fair opportunity to re-evaluate their educational needs. The FCC affirmed its decision to allow two-way service prior to the transition.

The FCC rejected petitions from the Society of Broadcast Engineers to convert the 2.5 GHz TV BAS band into three 12-MHz digital channels in the 2450-2586 MHz band with MSS ATC and BRS-1 operators paying for the transition. The Wireless Communications Association International supported the SBE proposal to revise the band plan, but said that beneficiaries of the BAS relocation--Globalstar and the 1.7/2.1 GHz AWS auction winners--should bear the cost of BAS relocation. The FCC concluded that sharing between BAS and BRS will be possible, noting that there are "relatively few BAS facilities operating in the band and this number will not increase." It also said in areas where BRS and BAS operations may coexist, "licensees can implement measures to reduce the potential for interference."

The FCC noted that the majority of BAS stations are authorized to use channels outside the 2496-2500 band and that established coordination procedures can be used to avoid harmful interference between BRS and fixed BAS links. The FCC encouraged BAS licensees to provide information on the location of BAS receive sites, which are not listed in the ULS database, to BRS licensees and coordinate their operation.

The FCC declined to put additional restrictions on Part 15 devices and ISM equipment (including microwave ovens) sharing or operating near BRS/EBS frequencies.

The report describes the transition process for BRS/EBS licensees including details on technical information that has to be provided during the transition, and allocation of transition costs. Refer to it for more information on the transition and its impact on other users of the 2495-2690 MHz spectrum.