But success will be limited if the FCC approves mobile usage in the 70/80 GHz segments.

The FCC rules mandate a lot of different techniques to keep radio communications from interfering with each other. One of the more unusual applies to the “nosebleed spectrum” way up at 71-76, 81-86, and 92-95 GHz – the highest frequencies in the FCC rulebook.

Thanks to the physics at these frequencies and FCC-imposed antenna requirements, the signals consist of narrow “pencil beams” that don’t propagate very far. They are most suitable for short point-to-point links that carry a lot of data, such as those that connect buildings on a campus. 

To install one of these links first requires a license. These are good nationwide, with no limit on how many the FCC will issue. Next, an FCC-authorized Database Manager checks to see if the proposed link will interfere with, or receive interference from, any pre-existing links or federal government facilities. If not, the Database Manager enters the new link into a link registration system for protection from future ones, and the applicant is free to start service. Projected interference with federal facilities and a few other conditions may require a filing with the FCC. See the details here

Back in 2004, the FCC opened at 12-day filing window for applications from companies that wanted to be Database Managers. The window closed on March 26, 2004. Four companies responded. One later withdrew, and the FCC approved the other three: Comsearch, Micronet Communications, Inc., and Frequency Finder, Inc. (which is no longer an active participant). 

Nine years later, Key Bridge Global LLC asked to become a Database Manager. Its application noted that the FCC had reserved the discretion to add additional managers. One of the current Database Managers opposed, largely on the grounds that Key Bridge applied late and had not helped with the start-up costs incurred by the others. 

The FCC disagreed with these arguments and approved Key Bridge as a Database Manager, noting (among other things) its status as a database manager for TV white space service. 

But the FCC tossed a time bomb into the approval. It noted a pending proposal to add mobile services to the 71-76 and 81-86 GHz bands. If that happens, the current Database Manager system will be supplanted by a much more complex “Spectrum Access System” (SAS) like that being developed for the Citizens Broadband Radio Service. (See also an update here.) The FCC would “probably” then invite new applications from companies that want to be SAS administrators; existing Database Managers would have to either upgrade their capabilities to act as SAS administrators or else cease operation. So the acceptance of its late-filed proposal may prove not to be the long-term victory that Key Bridge had presumably hoped for.