Comment Sought on Upper 6 GHz Band Waiver Request

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The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau has requested comment on  a Petition filed by General Communication, Inc.’s (GCI) seeking a waiver of the channelization, bandwidth and radio service limitations under Part 101 of the FCC’s rules in the upper 6 GHz bands.  GCI seeks to substantially increase the capacity of its rural Alaska broadband system, TERRA. GCI explains that TERRA is a hybrid fiber-microwave network that provides broadband to more than seventy isolated, mostly Alaska Native communities, separated by vast distances that cannot be reached by road. GCI requests authorization to provide common carrier fixed point-to-point microwave service  using 60 MHz channels across the three upper 6 GHz sub-bands to connect sites in the TERRA network serving rural areas of Alaska that are nearing capacity. Because of the unique challenges of serving Alaska’s rural communities, GCI states that installing fiber is logistically, technologically and economically infeasible. The upper 6 GHz channel plan is divided into three separate bands, 6425–6525 MHz, 6525–6875 MHz, and 6875–7125 MHz, with the first band being unavailable for common carrier fixed microwave service, and none allowing for 60 MHz channels. The lower 6 GHz band currently allows for eight 60 MHz channels of common carrier fixed microwave across a single 500 MHz of spectrum. GCI asserts that in light of Alaska’s unique conditions, a geographically limited waiver would allow it to expand capacity on the TERRA network by adding more capacity with fewer radios, avoiding the need for extensive new construction. GCI also states that there are no other licensees in the upper 6 GHz bands near the TERRA backbone sites that would be affected by the proposed waiver. Comments are due July 15, 2016, and reply comments are due August 1, 2016.

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