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FCC Advances 12 GHz Item

FCC's 2020 seal
(Image credit: FCC)

The FCC has unanimously approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to open up more midband, "sweet spot" spectrum for 5G.

That vote came in advance of chairman Ajit Pai's last meeting Jan. 13.

On Dec. 23, the chairman had circulated the NPRM, which was in response to a 2016 petition by the MVDSS 5G Coalition.

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Various groups had called on the FCC to look at opening up that 500 MHz for shared use.

There are no tentative conclusions in the NPRM. Rather, it seeks input on whether and how to allow terrestrial use while protecting incumbent users. The band is currently used for DBS, fixed satellite service multichannel video distribution, and data service (MVDDS). All are co-primary, but DBS must be protected from interference.

“We are pleased to see the FCC has united in support for the 12 GHz NPRM, launching an important conversation about expanding broadband competition and unleashing a better 5G future in the United States," said Incompas CEO Chip Pickering. “The bipartisan, unanimous FCC vote will benefit our nation, encouraging innovators to bring new ideas forward and give consumers more choice as additional providers seek to compete in the 5G arena. We want to thank chairman Ajit Pai and the entire FCC for their openness and support for a public conversation on 12 GHz. We look forward to working with the FCC on this important endeavor.”

V. Noah Campbell, co-founder and CEO of RS Access, which was founded in 2018 to acquire 12 GHz spectrum for networks, applauded the move. "An open FCC rulemaking to consider reform of the band is long overdue and an essential first step to vastly accelerating 5G deployment throughout the United States," he said.
He said the FCC move would almost double licensed midband spectrum available for next-gen broadband.

"Swiftly modifying the 500 MHz of existing terrestrial licenses in the 12 GHz Band would propel the U.S. into a leadership position in availability of mid-band spectrum licensed for terrestrial mobile use," he argues.

“Our public interest coalition is pleased to see the Commission moving ahead to seek comment on how to make more intensive use of this contiguous 500 megahertz," said Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Project of New America’s Open Technology Institute "It’s clear the band is very underutilized and that a greater degree of spectrum sharing is possible, yet there are important satellite services that need to be protected. Among the potential uses we will advocate is low-power unlicensed sharing and the potential coordination of opportunistic access to unused spectrum in rural and underserved areas where WISPs and other operators to boost fixed wireless services that narrow the digital divide.”

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.