FCC Sets Rules for Millimeter Wave Bands

The 70, 80, and 90 GHz millimeter wavelength bands will soon be available for high-speed point-to-point wireless local area networks, broadband Internet access and other innovative products and services. The FCC adopted a non-exclusive licensing approach for these bands that will not involve traditional frequency coordination between users. Paths will be registered in a national database and interference protection will be based on the date of the registration.

The commission's news release, FCC Opens 70, 80 and 80 GHz Spectrum Bands for Deployment of Broadband 'Millimeter Wave' Technologies said the FCC believes that "this non-exclusive licensing approach will stimulate investment and spur research and development in new 'wireless optics' technologies and services. The FCC also believes that this approach will provide an effective means of achieving greater spectrum efficiency by allowing a maximum number of users -- both non-Federal and Federal Government -- to share these bands while evolving their systems to meet future needs and requirements."

The bands at 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz will be divided into four unpaired 1.25 GHz segments. The co-primary part of the 92-95 GHz band will be divided into two segments -- 92.0-94.0 GHz and 94.1-95.0 GHz. Segments may be aggregated and pairing between corresponding segments of the 70 GHz and 80 GHz bands will be permitted. The 94.0-94.1 GHz band is allocated exclusively for Federal Government use and is not available. Unlicensed indoor use of the 92-94.0 GHz and 94.1-95.0 GHz bands will be permitted under Part 15 of the FCC rules with regulations based on existing rules for the 57-64 GHz band. The 70 and 80 GHz bands will not be available for unlicensed use.

While coordination between users is not required, the FCC will establish a procedure for coordinating paths with Federal Government users. According to the news release, the commission will issue an "unlimited number of non-exclusive, nationwide licenses authorizing non-Federal Government entities to use the entire 12.9 Gigahertz of spectrum in these three bands. Initially, non-Federal Government links will be registered in the FCC's Universal Licensing System (ULS) database, subject to coordination with Federal Government links under the existing coordination process involving the Interdepartmental Radio Advisory Committee of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Within four months of the publication of this Report and Order in the Federal Register, FCC staff, in conjunction with NTIA, will release a Public Notice establishing the implementation plan of a new, automated mechanism for coordination of non-Federal Government links with Federal Government users."

More information is available in the FCC News Release.