Coalition asks FCC to adopt service rules at 41-42.5 GHz.

The Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition wants the FCC to adopt new rules for fixed microwave service in the 41-42.5 GHz band.

Almost every new service nowadays involves some degree of sharing, and this band is no exception. The 41-42 GHz segment is allocated not only to the Fixed Service – spectrum-speak for point-to-point microwave links – but also for Fixed Satellite Service downlinks, plus broadcast satellite and a few additional services. The adjacent 42-42.5 GHz region has no Fixed Satellite Service allocation, but does have the same allocations for the Fixed Service, broadcast satellite, and others. To date there has been no actual licensing in either part of the band.

Fixed Service users are willing to share the lower part of the band with satellite interests, according to the FWCC. It points out that sharing arrangements between the satellite and fixed microwave services are highly asymmetrical, tipped strongly in the satellite industry’s favor, so that sharing will have relatively little impact on satellite operations. In both parts of the band, though, the FWCC asks the FCC to follow through on an earlier proposal to delete the broadcast satellite allocation, on the ground that its continued presence would make sharing impractical.

Back in 2004, the FCC proposed service rules for the 42-42.5 GHz segment that would have relied on area-wide auctions, much like those at 39 GHz. The FCC never followed through. Now the FWCC urges it not to, pointing out that the 39 GHz band is severely underutilized, in large part because the auction-related renewal requirements, although intended to encourage rapid build-out, in actual practice have had the opposite effect of deterring construction. Instead, the FWCC favors link-by-link licensing with frequency coordination, a decades-old approach that has shown great success in the 11, 18, and 23 GHz bands, among others.

The 42 GHz spectrum is needed, says the FWCC, to help meet the rapidly growing demand for “backhaul” – i.e., the carriage of customers’ mobile data between cell towers and providers’ network facilities. This band, it adds, is especially well suited to handling short links in densely populated areas, which of course is where most of the mobile customers are.

The FCC has put the FWCC request on public notice. Comments are due no later than July 9, 2012 and reply comments are due within 15 days of the comments to which the reply comments are directed.