FCC frees up 650 MHz of spectrum for wireless backhaul

As mobile operators require bigger backhaul pipes in the mobile broadband era, the FCC announced that it has made new spectrum available--as much as 650 MHz--covering nearly two-thirds of the U.S. landmass for wireless backhaul.

The commission said the move is part of its Broadband Acceleration Initiative and its spectrum and regulatory reform agendas that the FCC believes will speed up the rollout of 4G networks, speed of wireless broadband's impact on national economic revitalization and job creation and bring new broadband services to rural areas where microwave is often the only option for backhaul.

Specifically, the FCC's Report and Order permits fixed microwave operation in several spectrum bands previously reserved only for specialized microwave services. John Schauble, deputy division chief of the broadband division within the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau said in an FCC blog post that the move will make as much as 650 megahertz of additional spectrum available for wireless backhaul, especially in rural markets.

The commission is also updating its rules to allow microwave licensees to use adaptive modulation techniques, which will allow them to increase the reliability of microwave links. In addition, the FCC said it is giving broadcasters increased flexibility to use fixed microwave links more freely by ending the "final link" rule.

The FCC also wants additional comments on more ways to make microwave backhaul more flexible and cost-effective. One example the commission cited was a proposal to allow smaller antennas in certain microwave bands, which are cheaper, easier to install and generate fewer problems in the zoning process. The FCC is also looking for comment on exempting licensees in non-congested areas from the commission's efficiency standards, which may make use of fixed microwave links more cost-effective in rural areas.

For more:
- see this release
- see this FCC blog post

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