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FCC modifies rules governing wireless microwave backhaul

The Federal Communications Commission adopted measures Aug. 3 to reform its rules governing microwave use for wireless backhaul with the goal of advancing deployment of mobile broadband service.

The actions aim to hasten deployment of 4G broadband networks as well as boost the nation’s economy and job creation by expanding wireless broadband and deliver new broadband service to rural America.

The agency adopted a Second Report and Order permitting fixed microwave operators to use smaller antennas in the 6GHz, 18GHz and 23GHz bands, a step intended to result in cost savings for operators, “without materially increasing interference.”

The Rural Microwave Flexibility Policy adopted provides increased opportunities for broadband deployment in rural areas, increasing coverage and reducing cost. The commission also updated existing microwave efficiency standards to reflect modern digital technologies.

The FCC also issued a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Second Notice of Inquiry aimed at furthering reforming and modernizing its wireless backhaul rules. The commission is seeking comment on a variety of topics, including new types of advanced antennas and a proposal to allow smaller antennas to be used in other microwave bands.

The FCC is seeking comments on permitting use of smaller antennas in the 13GHz band. Additionally, it is seeking comments on revising antenna rules for 11GHz band use. The FCC wants to comments about revising when licensees in the 11GHz band can reduce power to avoid upgrading antennas.

It also is seeking comment on an FCC proposal to amend its rules to make sure applicants don’t specify more power than needed.

The FCC also wants comments on a proposal to allow intermediate antenna upgrades rather than requiring those licensees needing to upgrade an antenna to use an antenna meeting the Category A standards, as currently required in the rules. The agency is proposing to allow licensees to make a lesser antenna upgrade.