FCC Finalizes 3.5 GHz “Grandfathered Wireless Protection Zone” Methodology

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The FCC has released a public notice adopting a final methodology for determining Grandfathered Wireless Protection Zones (GWPZs) for existing licensees in the 3650-3700 MHz band (3.5 GHz Band).  The GWPZs were created when the FCC first established the 3.5 GHz/Citizens Broadband Radio Service Band. Specifically, the FCC will utilize a two-prong approach to determine GWPZs, whereby (1) for sectors encompassing unregistered consumer premises equipment (CPE) a 5.3 km radius sector from each registered base station will be used based on the azimuth and beam width registered for that base station; and (2) for sectors encompassing registered CPE, a sector centered on each base station will be used with the registered azimuth and beam width covering all registered subscriber stations within that sector.  Additionally, the FCC has (1) eliminated the requirement for licensees to identify the specific frequencies that are in operation on each sector and, instead, base the protected range of frequencies on what licensees have already registered in ULS; (2) required Citizens Broadband Service Device (CBSD) operators to meet the interference protection level at all locations within the GWPZs, not just at the edge; (3) modified the distance of the protection contour for unregistered CPEs; and (4) modified the interference protection level to match the interference protection level used for protection of Priority Access Licensees so that the aggregate power of co-channel CBSDs will be no greater than -80 dBm/10 MHz within the GWPZ.

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