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Wider 6 GHz Channels, New 23 GHz Channels for Terrestrial Microwaves Proposed

The FCC this week issued a proposal that could change operations in both the 6 GHz and 23 GHz terrestrial microwave bands.

In its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order (FCC 09-58) [PDF], the commission is proposing to allow 30 MHz wide channels in the upper 6 GHz band, 6525–6875 MHz. This bandwidth is already allowed in the lower 6 GHz band, 5925–6425 MHz, but that band, which is shared with C-band satellite uplinks, is very congested.

The FCC has granted waivers that allow licensees unable to find a lower 6 GHz frequency to use 30 MHz bandwidth in the upper 6 GHz band. The Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition (FWCC) filed a petition asking the FCC to allow 30 MHz channels in the upper 6 GHz band.

The FCC has requested comments on whether allowing 30 MHz channels in the upper 6 GHz band would adversely impact the relocation of narrow-bandwidth links from other bands and comments on the band plan proposed by FWCC.

In the 23 GHz band, the FWCC submitted a petition asking the FCC to allow conditional licensing for non-federal use, with NTIA's consent, of two additional channel pairs in the 23 GHz band — 22.025/23.225 GHz and 22.075/23.275 GHz. These would be added to the four channel pairs now available in the 23 GHz band.

The FCC said its decision to seek comment on this proposal is predicated on NTIA's lack of opposition. The FCC "previously recognized that permitting conditional operation pending the approval of an application provides greater flexibility to Part 101 licensees and enables them to operate more efficiently."

The FCC granted FWCC's request for a blanket waiver to implement conditional licensing on these two frequency pairs prior to the FCC completing modification of its rules. The NPRM and Order states, "Accordingly, effective on release of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we will waive Section 101.31(b)(vii) of the Commission's rules to allow for conditional authority on the 22.025/23.225 GHz and 22.075/23.275 GHz channel pairs for non-federal applicants proposing to limit their equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP) to 55 dBm. Any applicant taking advantage of such conditional authority must comply with the applicable provisions of Section 101.31 of the Commission's rules." The FCC warned than any of these conditional authorizations could be revoked at any time.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.