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Possibility of more spectrum: 3550-3650 MHz

Short of visible light, essentially all wireless spectrum is regulated and thus caught up in political processes that slow down progress.  There are a few slivers of spectrum where “license-exempt” operation is permitted and a few more where “lite-licensing” prevails and it’s here that most wireless innovation occurs. netBlazr depends upon access to license-exempt bands in the 5 GHz range but we keep our eyes open for other potential bands.

One good thing that came out of the FCC’s national broadband plan was a mandate to find more spectrum that could be made available for wireless broadband access. Unfortunately, most of what has been proposed is being reserved for mobile operators. If approved, this spectrum will go to the existing oligopolists. However, there are a few more slivers that could be made available for innovative uses.  One such is the 3550-3650 MHz band, but it’s not a forgone decision. The FCC has solicited comments and many sides have weighted in.

As outlined in the FCC’s request for comments, the NTIA identified the 3550-3650 MHz band and discussed it’s possible use with WiMAX technology. That would be a mistake. The power levels used by WiMAX or LTE technology would require large exclusion zones to protect existing radars. Instead this band could be made available under the lite-licensing provisions and power limits (1W) that are used in the adjacent 3650-3700 MHz band (where fixed wireless operators also have to avoid existing users). Existing operations in the 3650-3700 MHz band have been very successful. This means propagation characteristics, service rules and equipment are all well understood and equipment is already available.

The Wireless ISP Association (WISPA) filed far more eloquent comments pointing out the unique opportunity we have here to actually improve broadband services rather than just give more spectrum to existing oligopolists.