With FS wireless backhaul stations a strong likelihood, a veteran consulting engineer recommends review of BAS records in ULS – and we second that emotion

Last August we reported on a Commission proposal to make more spectrum available for wireless backhaul linking mobile signals back to the core network. As of yet we haven’t heard anything more on this from the Commission, but it’s a reasonable assumption – particularly given the FCC’s fixation on all things wireless – that all or most of its proposals will be adopted eventually, probably sooner rather than later. 

One central element of the proposal would open up the 6875-7125 MHz and 12.7-13.2 GHz bands for backhaul on Fixed Service (FS) stations. But heads up – those bands are currently used for Broadcast Auxiliary Services (BAS), including studio-transmitter links. If new FS stations are allowed into those bands, they would presumably be required first to prepare and submit coordination studies to demonstrate appropriate protection to incumbent licensees, including BAS stations. No problem so far.

But as our friend Dane Ericksen, a well-known and highly-respected consulting engineer, has pointed out, the FS coordination efforts will be based on information currently available in the FCC’s ULS database. And, according to Dane, that information is in many instances less than complete and accurate. He cites figures that are pretty amazing.

According to Dane:

Of all 7 GHz TV BAS fixed-link records: 15 percent of all 7 GHz TV BAS fixed-link records had missing receive-end coordinates; 37 percent had missing receive-end antenna height; and 51 percent had missing receive-end antenna make and model information; and

Of all 13 GHz TV BAS fixed-link records: 13 percent had missing receive end coordinates; 35 percent had missing receive-end antenna height; and 50 percent had missing receive-end antenna make and model information.

So if an FS applicant were to undertake coordination based on existing partial ULS data, it’s at least possible that it would succeed in obtaining authorization that could cause interference to an incumbent BAS facility.

How such a problem would get resolved is not clear at this point. But how such a problem can be avoided is incredibly clear and incredibly simple: BAS licensees can and should take a few minutes, now, to confirm that the ULS database accurately reflects the facilities they are currently utilizing. (Dane’s article provides a useful checklist of Things To Do along those lines.) If errors or omissions in the data pop up, in most instances they should be correctable through routine processes (e.g., an application to amend the entry).

By making sure that your licensed facilities are accurately reflected in the database, you will be doing yourself, other potential spectrum users, and the Commission a very useful service.

We at Fletcher Heald would be happy to help out in the process, should you request our assistance.