Midco pursues trial at 3.7-4.2 GHz in 3 Midwest locations

Midcontinent Communications (Midco) has filed an application to conduct a technology trial using the 3.7-4.2 GHz band at three Midwest locations.

Midco plans to conduct the experiments with vendor Telrad in its existing area of operations around Bismarck, North  Dakota; Mitchell, South Dakota; and Breckinridge, Minnesota, where Midco has authorized C-Band earth stations.

Midco told the FCC that it expects to concentrate its trial activities in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, but will use select frequencies for testing within the 500 megahertz of the C-Band that are the least likely to cause interference to C-Band earth stations. Those frequencies will be determined based on a review of the updated International Bureau Filing System (IBFS) database. Midco explained that it will cease operations if C-Band earth stations experience harmful interference.

The company said it has access to and is transmitting from existing towers and operations in the area with personnel on site to monitor deployment and operation. Where necessary, Midco also will use ground testing in lieu of tower testing to minimize any disruption to other FSS C-Band earth stations.

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The use of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band is of interest given it’s the subject of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) at the FCC, which is trying to determine how to best use the band while also making sure incumbent users—mainly satellite operators—are taken care of. The mobile industry sees the band as particularly appealing for 5G not only because it’s next to the 3.5 GHz band but it offers wider channels and better RF propagation than other bands.

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Midco explained that its trial in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, if approved, will involve three base station locations and a total of 15 end user locations. The company expects the trial to inform its investment, equipment and deployment decisions in anticipation of the FCC approving all or part of the C-Band for terrestrial point-to-multipoint (P2MP) operations as proposed in the FCC’s C-Band proceeding.

Telrad is a member of the Broadband Access Coalition (BAC), which is urging (PDF) the FCC to make 300 megahertz of spectrum in the upper portion of the C-Band available for P2MP broadband providers to provide high-throughput broadband to unserved and underserved customers, particularly in rural areas. Not everybody is behind that idea, however.

Midco explained that it’s uniquely situated to conduct research and experimentation in the C-Band because it’s a long-time cable operator with C-Band earth stations for video reception and transmission, and it’s a fixed wireless provider interested in using the C-Band to provide wireless broadband if interference concerns can be resolved.

Midco’s initial working theory of operation—prior to conducting any testing—is that it can deploy fixed wireless technology to serve customers and not interfere with the use of C-Band earth stations for video through the positioning of fixed wireless equipment, satellite filters, satellite shield and/or using other methods and equipment for co-existence.