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ARRL to Oppose Proposal to Eliminate 3.3 – 3.5 GHz Amateur Allocation


At its December 12 open meeting, the FCC will consider adopting a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes to remove the amateur radio 9-centimeter allocation at 3.3 – 3.5 GHz. ARRL plans to comment in opposition to the proposed action. According to an FCC “Fact Sheet,” the proceeding WT Docket 19-348, “Facilitating Shared Use in the 3.1 – 3.55 GHz Band,” is a follow-on from the MOBILE NOW Act, approved by the 115th Congress, which requires the FCC and the US Department of Commerce to make available new spectrum for mobile and fixed wireless broadband use. It also requires the FCC to work with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to evaluate whether commercial wireless services and federal incumbents could share spectrum between 3.1 and 3.55 GHz. NTIA manages spectrum allocated to federal government users.

“This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would propose to remove the existing non-federal allocations in the 3.3 – 3.55 GHz band as a step towards potential future shared use between federal incumbents and commercial users,” the FCC Fact Sheet explains. “By taking the initial step needed to clear the band of allocations for non-federal incumbents, the Commission furthers its continued efforts to make more mid-band spectrum potentially available to support next generation wireless networks — consistent with the mandate of the MOBILE NOW [Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless] Act.”

The NPRM proposes to clear the 3.3 – 3.55 GHz band of existing non-federal users by removing non-federal secondary radiolocation and amateur allocations [emphasis added] in the 3.3 – 3.55 GHz band and to relocate incumbent non-federal users out of the band. The FCC would seek comment on relocation options and “transition mechanisms” for incumbent non-federal users, either to the 3.1 – 3.3 GHz band or to other frequencies, and on how to ensure that non-federal secondary operations in the 3.1 – 3.3 GHz band will continue to protect federal radar systems.

Regarding the Amateur and Amateur-Satellite Service allocations, the FCC NPRM asks whether existing amateur spectrum in other bands might support operations currently conducted in the 3.3 – 3.5 GHz band. The 3.40 – 3.41 GHz segment is designated for amateur satellite communication. “We seek comment on the extent to which the band is used for this purpose, whether existing satellites can operate on other amateur satellite bands, and on an appropriate timeframe for terminating these operations in this band,” the FCC NPRM says.

Also at its December 12 meeting, the FCC will consider another NPRM in WT Docket 19-138 that would “take a fresh and comprehensive look” at the rules for the 5.9 GHz band and propose, among other things, to make the lower 45 MHz of the band available for unlicensed operations and to permit “Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything” (C-V2X) operations in the upper 20 MHz of the band. The FCC is not proposing to delete or otherwise amend the amateur allocation, and it would continue as a secondary allocation, but the primary allocation for 5.850 – 5.925 GHz would change.

The amateur radio 5-centimeter allocation is 5650.0 – 5925.0 MHz, and the NPRM, if approved, would address the top 75 MHz of that amateur secondary band. While no changes are proposed to the amateur allocation, anticipated more intensive use by primary users could restrict secondary amateur use.

The band 5.850 – 5.925 GHz has been reserved for use by dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), a service in the intelligent transportation system (ITS) designed to enable vehicle-related communications, the FCC said in a Fact Sheet in WT Docket 19-138. “The Commission initiates this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to take a fresh and comprehensive look at the 5.9 GHz band rules and propose appropriate changes to ensure the spectrum supports its highest and best use.” ARRL also will file comments opposing any changes affecting the 5-centimeter amateur allocation.

Both draft FCC proposals are subject to change prior to a vote at the December 12 FCC meeting, and there will be opportunity to file comments and reply comments on the final proposals after they are released.    



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