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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB005 (2013)

ARLB005 FCC Proposes More Spectrum at 5 GHz for Unlicensed 

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 5  ARLB005
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  February 27, 2013
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB005 FCC Proposes More Spectrum at 5 GHz for Unlicensed 

On February 20, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
(NPRM) in ET Docket No. 13-49, seeking to revise the Part 15 rules
governing unlicensed national information infrastructure (U-NII)
devices in the 5 GHz band. These devices presently operate in the
frequency bands 5.15-5.35 GHz and 5.47-5.825 GHz. They use wideband
digital modulation techniques to provide a wide array of high data
rate mobile and fixed communications for individuals, businesses and
institutions. Slightly different rules apply to 5.825-5.85 GHz.

Among the changes being proposed are two additional bands totaling
195 MHz for unlicensed operation: 5.35-5.47 GHz and 5.85-5.925 GHz.
The Amateur Radio Service has a secondary allocation at 5.65-5.925
GHz, including an Amateur Satellite Service uplink allocation of
5.65-5.67 GHz and a downlink allocation of 5.83-5.85 GHz.

The NPRM can be found on the web at,

The FCC notes in the NPRM that since it first made available
spectrum in the 5 GHz band for U-NII in 1997, it has gained "much
experience" with these devices: "We believe that the time is now
right for us to revisit our rules, and, in this NPRM, we propose to
modify certain technical requirements for U-NII devices to ensure
that these devices do not cause harmful interference and thus can
continue to operate in the 5 GHz band and make broadband
technologies available for consumers and businesses."

The NPRM also satisfies Section 6406 (a) of the Middle Class Tax
Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 that required the FCC to begin a
proceeding to modify the Part 15 rules to allow unlicensed U-NII
devices to operate in the 5.35-5.47 GHz band, subject to
consultation with the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA).

In response to the same legislation, the NTIA recently released an
evaluation of the 5.35-5.47 GHz and 5.85-5.925 GHz bands that
details the existing occupancy of these bands by federal and
non-federal users and the potential risks of expanded unlicensed

The NTIA evaluation can be found on the web in PDF format at,

"The Amateur Radio Service has a good record as a spectrum partner
with the other licensed services in the 5 GHz band," observed ARRL
Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ. "The ARRL plans to
respond to the NPRM by pointing out that meaningful access to the 5
GHz band for amateur and amateur satellite operations continues to
be in the public interest."

The FCC is accepting comments on its NPRM (due no later than 45 days
after publication in the Federal Register), as well as reply
comments (due 30 days later). No date has yet been set for the
NPRM's publication in the Federal Register.


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