Wireless Regulators Move to Prevent Spectrum Waste

Historically, in many countries the 26GHz and 28GHz wireless frequency bands have been allocated to point-to-multi-point systems, such as LMDS in the United States and LMCS in Canada. However, most of these systems have failed to reach their expected potential in terms of revenue generated and, as such, much of the allocated spectrum is now unused. This, along with the growth in demand for point-to-point microwave spectrum, has meant a number of national regulators have started to consider reallocation of this spectrum.

In Canada, the spectrum allocations for both the 26GHz and 28GHz bands have been revisited, owing to their underutilization by LMCS operators, with a new band plan having been developed during the drafting of SRSP 325.25. The diagrams below show the new allocations that accommodate more FDD spectrum suitable for microwave in point-to-point usage.

Figure 1 - 25.25 - 26.5 GHz Band Plan and Associated Usage - Industry Canada

Figure 1 – 25.25 – 26.5 GHz Band Plan and Associated Usage – Industry Canada

While the technical details of this draft SRSP have been finalized, consideration of licensing options by Industry Canada has so far delayed the formal publication of this SRSP. Note that the remaining point-to-multipoint operators are catered to in the TDD section in the middle of the 26GHz plan.

Figure 2 - 27.5-28.35 GHz Band Plan and Associated Usage - Industry Canada

Figure 2 – 27.5-28.35 GHz Band Plan and Associated Usage – Industry Canada

In the Republic of Ireland, ComReg (the Irish national telecommunications regulator) recently issued a consultation resulting from an operator request to change the use of its allocated spectrum from point-to-multipoint to point-to-point. Figure 3 shows the current situation in Ireland and Figure 4 shows the same band after the proposed change of use.

Figure 3 - Current 26GHz Band Plan - ComReg Ireland

Figure 3 – Current 26GHz Band Plan – ComReg Ireland

In the United States, the LMDS service occupies the following spectrum blocks:

  • 27.5 – 28.35 GHz
  • 29.1 – 29.25 GHz
  • 31.075 – 31.225 GHz
  • 31.0 – 31.075 GHz
  • 31.225 – 31.3 GHz

Thus, that would make a total of 1300MHz of spectrum—more than double the recent allocation at 7 and 13GHz—potentially available across the entire country. LMDS take up has been very low, and, as previously mentioned, much of this spectrum is now unused. This begs the question: Would spectrum reallocation in the U.S., as is happening in Canada and Ireland, promote its more active usage?

Figure 4 - Revised New 26GHz band plan - ComReg Ireland

Figure 4 – Revised New 26GHz band plan – ComReg Ireland

It is worth noting that existing users are protected in both the examples given above, but unused spectrum is now available to point-to-point operators. Therefore, it is now time to approach the FCC and request a similar exercise to be carried out for the United States. Aviat Networks intends to be one of the driving forces in requesting this reallocation of spectrum.

Ian Marshall
Regulatory Manager
Aviat Networks

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