mobile spectrum to a smartphone

The FCC plans to explore whether 500 MHz of millimeter wave spectrum between 42 and 42.5 GHz can be made available to wireless providers on a shared basis. The spectrum could be well suited for use by smaller wireless providers, the commission said.

Millimeter wave spectrum is a high-frequency spectrum that can support high-bandwidth communications but over relatively short distances.

“Our goal here is to come up with a new model to lower barriers, encourage competition and maximize the opportunities in millimeter wave spectrum,” said FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel in comments at today’s monthly FCC meeting.  “In short, it’s time to be creative.”

FCC Millimeter Wave Plans

According to a draft of the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) adopted at today’s meeting, the 42-42.5 GHz band has no existing operations, either federal or non-federal.

The adjacent 42.5-43.5 GHz band does, however, have radio astronomy users. The commission proposes to protect those users by requiring that operators in the 42-42.5 GHz band operate at prescribed power levels when operating near radio astronomy sites.

In the NPRM, the commission seeks comment on three different approaches to spectrum sharing for the band.

According to the draft NPRM, potential spectrum sharing approaches include:

  • A nationwide non-exclusive licensing approach, in which licensees would apply for such a license with the Commission, and then coordinate and register specific deployment sites with a third-party database
  • A site-based licensing approach, in which licensees would apply for each deployment site directly with the Commission
  • A technology-based sensing approach, in which operators would employ certain technologies to avoid harmful interference from one another without the use of a registration database.

The NPRM also proposes that the band be divided into five 100-MHz channels.

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