900 MHz Band Realignment Would Enable Broadband Use

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The FCC plans to reconfigure the 900 MHz band for the deployment of broadband services and technologies. A 900 MHz Report and Order is on the agency’s May meeting agenda today. However due to the pandemic, the meeting is virtual and Commissioners were expected to vote by the time the meeting begins this morning.

“For decades, this band has been allocated for narrowband communications like two-way dispatch radios used by business, industrial and land transportation licensees,” the chairman said in a blog. The draft rules would make available 6 digits of the band’s 10 megahertz for the deployment of broadband services, while retaining four megahertz to continue incumbent narrowband operations.  

The new regulatory framework would allow 900 MHz licensees, like utilities, to obtain broadband licenses and would include operational and technical rules to minimize harmful interference to narrowband operations. To facilitate a quick transition to broadband services, the FCC plans to use a market-driven process that primarily relies on negotiated agreements between interested parties.

According to a draft order, the agency proposes to modify the Association of American Railroads’ narrowband-channel nationwide license surrounding railroad rights-of-way to facilitate the 900 MHz band transition and enable advancements to railroad safety. It plans to lift the freeze on 900 MHz applications so existing licensees can relocate their narrowband operations within the narrowband segment.

Finally, the order denies a petition for rulemaking from the Enterprise Wireless Alliance, which requested the Commission designate part of the 800 MHz guard band for relocation of 900 MHz narrowband channels. EWA said the designated green space could speed the voluntary negotiations. The FCC denied the petition after receiving no comments on the proposal.

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