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FCC Revises Rules to Allow 2.3 GHz Wireless Broadband Services

Last week the FCC released Order on Reconsideration FCC 12-130 modifying restrictions on use of the Wireless Communications Service (WCS) frequencies in the 2.3 GHz that made it difficult if not impossible for licensees to use them for broadband wireless while at the same time protecting Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS) receivers in the adjacent band from interference. The Order follows a compromise between AT&T Sirius XM Radio reached earlier this year.

The Order will enable the use of 30 MHz of spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band for wireless broadband, with 20 MHz available for mobile broadband services and 10 MHz for fixed broadband services. SiriusXM Radio benefits with relaxed rules on licensee notifications for low-power terrestrial repeaters and for minor modifications to repeaters. Along with the change in the rules, WCS licensees received a limited extension of construction deadlines. The Order restarts the WCS construction periods, enabling WCS licensees to respond to the rule revisions while ensuring significant deployment of facilities in the near term.

SDARS uses the center of the 2.3 GHz band, 2320-2345 MHz, while WCS uses 2305-2320 MHz and 2345-2360 MHz.

The FCC declined to modify site-by-site licensing procedures for high power SDARS terrestrial repeaters not eligible for blanket licensing – those with EIRP above 12 kW, for example.

In general, WCS fixed and base stations are limited to 2,000 watts average power per 5 MHz of bandwidth. The rules for allowed power for all transmitters operating in the WCS bands are complicated and depend on the location and out-of-band emission performance. Refer to the Order on Consideration for details.

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.