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FCC explores spectrum sharing approaches for 42 GHz band

The FCC is considering spectrum sharing models in 500 MHz of the 42 GHz band. The agency wants to see how sharing models in this high band spectrum might best be used, especially among small wireless carriers. Whatever it learns can also inform future sharing approaches.

The spectrum between 42-42.5 GHz is largely unused. The FCC says this so-called “greenfield” spectrum is ideal to experiment with sharing approaches because of the lack of incumbent licensees.

Through a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) the Commissioners passed yesterday, the FCC will build a record on the benefits and drawbacks of implementing a shared licensing approach in this band. It will seek comment on three specific shared licensing approaches: a nationwide non-exclusive licensing approach, in which licensees coordinate 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 FCC; and a technology-based sensing approach, in which operators would employ such technologies to avoid harmful interference from one another.

The NPRM proposes licensing the 42 GHz band as five 100 MHz channels, and seeks comment on other aspects of implementing a shared licensing approach. It seeks input on including coordination mechanisms, first-in-time protections and buildout requirements. It also invites public comment on technical rules, and potential synergies with the sharing approaches being considered for the Lower 37 GHz (37-37.6 GHz) band. It proposes measures to protect radio astronomy services in the adjacent 42.5-43.5 GHz band.

During the 4-0 vote, Commissioner Brendan Carr said: “While congress works, hopefully, to give us our spectrum auction authority back, there is progress we should make on spectrum matters. This item is one of them while we seek comment on a range of options putting the 42 GHz band to more productive commercial use.”

“Big picture, this notice is about whether exclusive or shared access works best in 42 GHz and if sharing is the answer, you know exactly which licensing model is going to be best,” said Commissioner Geoffrey Starks. “Even bigger picture, we always are thinking about how to manage spectrum frequencies and prevent signal interference,” and what’s learned with these experiments will help inform the agency on those topics, he added. Inside Towers

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