FCC OKs Plan Freeing Up 30MHz of Spectrum for Mobile Broadband

Underutilized spectrum in the 2.3GHz band to be freed
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Washington—The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved revisions to rules so wireless communications service (WCS) licensees’ can use 30MHz of underutilized spectrum in the 2.3GHz band for wireless broadband services.

The FCC revised the rules in order “to remove the regulatory barriers that are limiting the flexible use of spectrum for broadband services,” says the commission, which approved amending the rules at its open meeting Oct. 17, 2012.

Patrick Foster, senior engineer in the FCC’sOffice of Engineering and Technology presented the proposal to the commissioners, saying the plan would revise certain WCS technical and operational rules to unleash the potential of the WCS spectrum to provide broadband services.

The revised rules will enable WCS licensees to use 20MHz of “underutilized WCS spectrum” for mobile broadband deployment, and would also enable WCS licensees to use an additional 10MHz for broadband services, Foster said. The order also addresses a number of other technical issues raised including encouraging licensees to enter into agreements for interference litigation, he added.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the freeing up of the 30MHz of spectrum moves closer to achieving the National Broadband Plan goal of freeing up 300MHz of spectrum by 2015, and 500 MHz of spectrum by 2020.

The revised rules also seek to protect the adjacent satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) operator Sirius XM Radio Inc. (Sirius XM) against harmful interference, the FCC says. The rules are also “consistent with a compromise proposal between AT&T Inc. and Sirius XM designed to facilitate the efficient deployment and coexistence of the WCS and SDARS,” the commission says.

Of the total 30MHz of spectrum, 20MHz may be used for mobile broadband services and 10MHz for fixed broadband services, with possible future use as downlink spectrum to serve mobile broadband devices, the FCC says.

The revised rules also provide Sirius XM greater certainty and flexibility by adopting conditions for identifying and resolving harmful interference to SDARS operations on roadways and by relaxing the SDARS licensee notification requirements for low‑power terrestrial repeaters and for minor modifications to repeaters, the FCC says.