The Sky’s the Limit in the FCC’s New Spectrum Horizons Proceeding

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The FCC has initiated a new proceeding to expand access to spectrum above 95 GHz, considered the horizon of the usable spectrum range. Currently, the FCC has no rules to permit licensed or unlicensed communications use above 95 GHz, other than by amateur operators or on an experimental basis. The FCC believes that new developments in radio technology may now allow for the productive use of these frequency bands. The FCC seeks comment on specific frequency bands that could possibly accommodate licensed, unlicensed, and experimental use for diverse types of services. Specifically, the FCC seeks comment on allocating a total of 102.2 GHz of spectrum for licensed point-to-point services on a nationwide, non-exclusive basis by registering individual point-to-point links with a database manager. The FCC believes that point-to-point links have the capability to transmit at much higher data rates than systems in lower frequency bands. The FCC also seeks comment on making a total of 15.2 gigahertz of spectrum available for use by unlicensed devices due to the high atmospheric absorption of radio waves that limits the potential for interference permitting a large number of unlicensed devices to share the spectrum. Finally, the FCC seeks comment on the creation of a new category of experimental licenses in spectrum between 95 GHz and 3 terahertz with transferable licenses and longer terms to encourage investment and the sale of equipment during market trials.

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