Federal Internet Law & Policy
An Educational Project

Broadband: Wireless

Dont be a FOOL; The Law is Not DIY

Derived From: FCC WTB Broadband Opportunities Wireless Broadband Services

"Wireless broadband services transmit data and information at high speeds using wireless links. Such data and information can include a wide range of content and applications that are accessed over the Internet, including web sites, e-mail, instant messaging, music, games, or data stored on a corporate server. Wireless broadband Internet access services can be provided using mobile, fixed, or portable technologies. These technologies can transmit data over short, medium, or long ranges, and can use licensed spectrum and/or unlicensed devices. Some of the wireless broadband Internet access technologies in use today include CDMA 1x EV-DO (EV-DO), Wideband CDMA (WCDMA) with High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), and Wi-Fi.

"Mobile broadband technologies enable subscribers to access the Internet while traveling at high speeds via a mobile handset, a smartphone, or a wireless modem card connected to a laptop computer or PDA. Mobile broadband technologies used by carriers in the United States, such as EV-DO and WCDMA/HSPDA, are capable of transmitting data at speeds ranging in excess of 400 kbps.

"Technologies such as Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) enable providers to offer wireless broadband services that are often considered "portable" in nature. Providers using licensed spectrum in the BRS/EBS and WCS spectrum currently offer services that enable their subscribers to access the Internet with portable, "plug-and-play" modem devices that attach to a desktop or laptop computer and do not require a direct line-of-sight between the transmitter and the receiver. Customers can transport these modem devices to other locations in the provider's coverage area where a network signal is available, though they may not have the ability to maintain a connection while traveling at high speeds with handoff. Most devices are currently manufactured in accordance with vendor-specific, proprietary standards; however, standardized, 802.16 WiMAX equipment is being developed. Typical downstream speeds for portable wireless broadband services range from 768 kbps to 1.5 Mbps, and networks can extend five to 30 miles.

"Wireless broadband Internet access services offered over fixed networks allow consumers to access the Internet from a fixed point while stationary and often require a direct line-of-sight between the wireless transmitter and receiver. These services have been offered using both licensed spectrum and unlicensed devices. For example, thousands of small Wireless Internet Services Providers (WISPs) provide such wireless broadband at speeds of around one Mbps using unlicensed devices, often in rural areas not served by cable or wireline broadband networks. These networks typically have a reach of one to five miles, and customers must have a rooftop antenna that can establish a line-of-sight connection with the network transmitter.

"Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) provide wireless broadband access over shorter distances and are often used to extend the reach of a "last-mile" wireline or fixed wireless broadband connection within a home, building, or campus environment. The range of a typical WLAN is approximately 100 to 300 feet. The most prevalent WLAN equipment is manufactured in accordance with the IEEE 802.11 family of standards, commonly known as "Wi-Fi," short for wireless fidelity. Wi-Fi networks use unlicensed devices and operate under Part 15 of the FCC's rules applicable to frequency hopping systems in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. Wi-Fi networks can transfer data at speeds of up to 11 Mbps for 802.11b and up to 54 Mbps for 802.11a and 802.11g. They can be designed for private access within a home or business, or can be used for public Internet access at "hot spots" such as restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, airports, convention centers, and city parks.

"Personal area network technologies, such as Bluetooth, ZigBee, and Ultra-Wideband (UWB), are used to transmit data over very short distances, such as a few meters or across a room. They are often used to provide interconnectivity among mobile devices and between mobile and desktop devices, serving as a replacement for wires and cables that connect different electronic devices together. The data transfer rates range from around 300 kbps with ZigBee to 100 Mbps with UWB."


US Frequency Allocation Chart Image

NTIA Office of Spectrum Management: The United States Frequency Allocation Chart is provided as a Portable Document Format (*.pdf) file. There are many free software packages available on the Internet that enable you to view the chart.

Derived From: FTC Municipal Broadband Report, p. 12

Wireless broadband services are subject to minimal regulation by the FCC. Wireless technologies that use unlicensed radio band spectrum (such as Wi-Fi and Wi MAX) are subject to technical requirements in the FCC’s rules that are intended to prevent interference with FCC licensed services.54 Advanced wireless services that use licensed spectrum (such as cellular phones, PDAs, and wireless modem cards) are subject to the relevant FCC rules for the particular licensing regime.55 The issue of whether wireless broadband will be subject to additional regulation has not been fully resolved.

The FCC’s Wireless Broadband Access Task Force addressed this issue in 2005 and recommended that the FCC “apply a deregulatory framework – one that minimizes regulatory barriers at both the federal and state levels – to wireless broadband services.”56 Accordingly, the Task Force recommended that the FCC consider classifying wireless broadband as an “information service.”57 Under the Communications Act, “information services” are not subject to the Communications Act’s Title II common carrier requirements for “telecommunications services.”58 As noted by the Task Force, however, even with a deregulatory framework, it is likely that certain regulatory requirements will be imposed on wireless broadband technologies.59 One factor that may affect the regulation of wireless broadband is the possibility of federal legislation that would overhaul the Communications Act in order to address the convergence of telecommunications technologies.

Wireless as a Substitute for Wirelines Broadband

20 Hz - 20 kHz Human hearing
2600 Hz Tone used to control the telephone network in the 1970s Blue Box Phone Phreak cases.
10 kHz Wavelength is 30 km. Waves penetrate significant distance into water. Use: Communication with submarines.
100 kHz Wavelength 3 km. Use: Navigation
1000 kHz Wavelength: 300 meters. AM Broadcasting
10 MHz Wavelength: 30 meters. Interesting property: ionospheric reflection. Use: CB radio, HF broadcasting
55-88 MHz TV Channels 2-6 - White Space Spectrum
72 - 76 MHz Radio Control Radio Service "A one-way, short-distance, non-voice radio service for on/off operation of devices at places distant from the operator. "
88-108 MHz FM Broadcasting
100 MHz Wavelength: 3 meters. Use: FM Broadcasting. TV broadcasting.
151 - 154 MHz Multi Use Radio Service "Private, two-way, short-distance voice or datacommunications service for personal or business activities of the general public. "
152 - 159 MHz "Rural Radiotelephone Service is a fixed radio service where a wireless technology is used to provide telephone service to subscribers in remote areas. Conventional Rural Radiotelephone stations may employ standard duplex, analog technology similar to that of pre-cellular mobile telephone service. "
162 MHz NOAA Weather Radio
175-215 MHz TV Channels 7-13 White Space Spectrum
216 - 217 MHz Low Power Radio Service " The LPRS is a private, one-way short-distance communication service providing auditory assistance to persons with disabilities, persons who require language translation, and persons in educational settings, health care assistance to the ill, law enforcement tracking services in cooperation with a law enforcement agency, and point-to-point network control communications for Automated Marine Telecommunications System (AMTS) coast stations. Two-way voice communications are prohibited. "
218 - 219 MHz General Mobile Radio Service "short-distance communication service designed for licensees to transmit information, product, and service offerings to subscribers and receive interactive responses within a specified service area. Mobile operation is permitted. Rules permit both common carrier and private operations, as well as one- and two-way communications. Potential applications include ordering goods or services offered by television services, viewer polling, remote meter reading, vending inventory control, and cable television theft deterrence."
220 MHz " There are 2 megahertz of spectrum allocated for the 220 MHz Service. Initially spectrum was divided into 200 base side channels (220 MHz to 221 MHz) and 200 mobile side channels (221 MHz to 222 MHz) with the channels assigned in pairs and each base channel one megahertz below its corresponding mobile channel. The 200 base side channels are each spaced 5 KHz apart and were initially awarded on a first come first served site specific basis with mutually exclusive applications filed on the same day awarded via lottery. Because of the large number of applications filed in the first few weeks that the band became available, an application freeze was placed into effect. The freeze remained in effect for various reasons until new licensing rules became effective, and the channels were grouped into blocks of spectrum and awarded via geographic area auctions with the geographic area licensees required to provide protection to incumbents ( Rule 90.763 ). "
402-405 MHz "The Medical Implant Communications Service (MICS) is an ultra-low power, unlicensed, mobile radio service for transmitting data in support of diagnostic or therapeutic functions associated with implanted medical devices. The MICS permits individuals and medical practitioners to utilize ultra-low power medical implant devices, such as cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators, without causing interference to other users of the electromagnetic radio spectrum."
406 MHz " On July 1, 2003, the FCC authorized the use of Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs). PLBs will provide a distress and alerting capacity for use by the general public in life-threatening situations in remote environments after all other means of notifying search and rescue (SAR) responders (e.g., telephone, radio) have been exhausted. For example, if you are a hiker, camper, backpacker, kayaker, etc. and are out of cell phone range, a PLB, which is a small transmitter that sends out a personalized emergency distress signal, is a highly effective and internationally recognized way to summon help. "
417 - 890 MHz TV Channels 14-83 - White Space Spectrum
454 - 460 MHz "Rural Radiotelephone Service is a fixed radio service where a wireless technology is used to provide telephone service to subscribers in remote areas. Conventional Rural Radiotelephone stations may employ standard duplex, analog technology similar to that of pre-cellular mobile telephone service. "
462 - 467 MHz "Family Radio Service (FRS) is one of the Citizens Band Radio Services. It is used by family, friends and associates to communicate within a neighborhood and while on group outings and has a communications range of less than one mile. You can not make a telephone call with an FRS unit. You may use your FRS unit for business-related communications. "
476 - 493 MHz "The Offshore Radiotelephone Service allows Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers to use conventional duplex analog technology to provide telephone service to subscribers located on (or in helicopters en route to) oil exploration and production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. "
600 MHz White Space
700 MHz FCC 700 MHz Page.  Service to be auctioned in 30 MHz bands
800 MHz Cell Phones Part 22.
901-902 MHz Narrowband PCS
902-928 MHz LMS Part 15 Ultra Wide Band Shared between Location and monitoring service and Part 15 operations. Power limit: 1W to 6dbi Antenna or + 36dBm (4W EIRP).  Frequency Hopping or DSSS. 26 MHz total band. Cordless Phones.
929 MHz Private Land Mobile Paging " Not-for-profit paging that serves a licensee's internal communications needs. "
930-931 MHz
940-941 MHz
Narrowband PCS " Used to provide such services as two-way paging and other text-based services. Licensees also use the spectrum to offer wireless telemetry which is the monitoring of mobile or fixed equipment in a remote location. "
1000 MHz Wavelength: 30 cm. Use: Cellular radio, top of UHF TV band
1227.6 MHz GPS
1559- 1610 MHz GPS
1.62 GHz Satellite Phone L Band
1710 - 1755 MHz Advanced Wireless Service
1800-1900 MHz Cell Phones
1850 - 1990 MHz Broadband PCS " Broadband PCS is primarily used to provide a variety of services, such as digital mobile phones and wireless internet access. These services are also called mobile telephone services and mobile data services. " 47 C.F.R. Part 24
2155 MHz Advanced Wireless Service
2200 MHz 3G Cell Phones
2.30 - 2.36 GHz Wireless Communications Service "The Wireless Communications Service is primarily used to provide fixed, mobile, radiolocation or satellite communication services to individuals and businesses. " Satellite Phone narrow band
2.4 GHz
2400-2483.5 MHz
Part 15 SuperNet Unlicensed Spectrum short-range, high speed (54Mbps) wireless digital. Large bandwidth (83.5 MHz). Can be used for last mile access, wireless networking, and line of sight over distance. Unaffected by weather. Bluetooth.
2495 - 2690 MHz Broadband Radio Service " formerly known as the Multipoint Distribution Service (MDS)/Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS), is a commercial service. In the past, it was generally used for the transmission of data and video programming to subscribers using high-powered systems, also known as wireless cable. However, over the years, the uses have evolved to include digital two-way systems capable of providing high-speed, high-capacity broadband service, including two-way Internet service via cellularized communication systems. Such services provide consumers integrated access to voice, high-speed data, video-on-demand, and interactive delivery services from a wireless device. "
2496-2690 "The Educational Broadband Service (EBS) , formerly known as the Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS), is an educational service that has generally been used for the transmission of instructional material to accredited educational institutions and non-educational institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, training centers, and rehabilitation centers using high-powered systems. Our recent revamping of the EBS spectrum will now make it possible for EBS users to continue their instructional services utilizing low-power broadband systems while also providing students with high-speed internet access."
2600-2700 MHz MMDS Range 35 miles.  Not as vulnerable to the weather. Line of sight required. See ITFS proceeding. Sprint 30%; Nextel 40%.
3.55-3.65 Ghz Citizens Broadband Radio Service Amendment of the Commission’s Rules with Regard to Commercial Operations in the 3550- 3650 MHz Band, Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 30 FCC Rcd. 3959 (2015) (“3.5 GHz Order”)
3.65-3.7 GHz  Unlicensed
3.7 - 4.2 GHz C-band Satellite Down Link The C-band satellite downlink, also used by fixed service stations
4.3 GHz Emergency
4.9 GHz Public Safety Band
5.0 - 5.15 GHz Air traffic control operations
5.091 - 5.25 "WRC-95 allocated this band on a primary basis to fixed-satellite (Earth-to-space) service (FSS uplinks) to provide feeder links for non geostationary satellite systems in the mobile satellite service (MSS) on a coprimary basis with government aeronautical radionavigation."
5.15-5.25 GHz Part 15 SuperNet Unlicensed Spectrum short-range, high speed wireless digital. Indoor Use and campus links. 50mW. OFDM. 100 MHz total per band, 4 channels each band, 20 MHz spacing.
5.25-5.35 GHz Part 15 SuperNet Unlicensed Spectrum 250mW in to 6dBi Antenna or +30  dBm (1W EIRP). OFDM. 100 MHz total per band, 4 channels each band, 20 MHz spacing.
5.47 - 5.725 WRC
5.725-5.825 GHz Part 15 SuperNet Unlicensed Spectrum short-range, high speed wireless digital. Can be used for last mile access, wireless networking, and line of sight over distance. 1W in to 6 dBi Antenna or + 36dBm (4W EIRP). Cordless phones.
5850 - 5925 MHz " On December 17, 2003 the Commission adopted a Report and Order establishing licensing and service rules for the Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) Service in the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Radio Service in the 5.850-5.925 GHz band (5.9 GHz band). The DSRC Service involves vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, helping to protect the safety of the traveling public. It can save lives by warning drivers of an impending dangerous condition or event in time to take corrective or evasive actions. The band is also eligible for use by non-public safety entities for commercial or private DSRC operations. "
5.925 - 6.425 GHz C-band Satellite Up Link The C-band satellite uplink, also used by fixed service stations
6.525 - 6.875 GHz Governmental, industrial, communications carrier, and transportation licensees use this general-purpose fixed microwave band. 
10 GHz Wavelength: 3 cm. Properties: higher ranges affected by intense rain. Use: Satellite Data and TV, point to point communications, radar
10.55 - 10.6 GHz fixed microwave links, backhaul, connecting cell sites with the central switch in a cellular system...
10.7 - 11.7 GHz terrestrial fixed links . KU Band Satellite.
12.2 - 12.7 GHz  Multichannel Video Distribution and Data Service multichannel video, data, or digital audio service. DBS Satellite
12.75 - 13.25 GHz KU Band Satellite.
13.75 - 14.5 GHz KU Band Satellite.
17.3 - 17.8 GHz KU Band Satellite.
17.7 - 20.2 Ghz Ka Band Non Geostationary Satellite Orbit
24+ GHz Bands 24 GHz and above.  Data rates of up to 155 Mbps.  Suffer signal loss in adverse weather.  Greater requirement for line of sight transmission.
24 GHz 24 GHz Fixed Wireless Formerly Digital Electronic Messaging Service
Fixed wireless.  10 year license term.  Licensed in 40 MHz pairs, can use contiguous bandwidth up to 200 MHz through aggregation.
28 GHz LMDS Auction
39 GHZ Wireless Cable

12.2-12.7 GHz Non-geostationary satellite orbit fixed-satellite service
47.2 to 48.2 GHz Strospheric Platforms Skystation
64-71 Ghz Unlicensed. Use of Spectrum Bands Above 24 GHz for Mobile Radio Services, et al., Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 31 FCC Rcd. 8014, 8062 ¶ 125 (2016).
92-95 GHz FCC OET will reportedly issue an NOI in late 2000 concerning possible uses of band including licensed and unlicensed use.  Band is currently used for military communications.

5G Wireless


Derived From: FCC International Broadband Data Report (Third)

"Wireless providers are deploying new, faster, and more spectrally-efficient technologies for mobile broadband, known as 4G LTE. 6 American consumers have been quick to adopt 4G LTE technology, securing the United States’ position as the world leader in LTE adoption. In the 15th Annual Mobile Wireless Competition Report, the Commission observed that there were no commercial LTE launches in the United States as of August 2010. 7 By the end of 2011 though, U.S. LTE subscribers numbered 5.6 million, accounting for 64% of the roughly 9 million LTE subscribers worldwide. 8 Deloitte predicts that U.S. investment in 4G networks during 2012-2016 could be $25-$53 billion. 9 Aggressive LTE network build-out by U.S. providers has been a driving force in customer take-up and we anticipate that this trend will continue. Analysts anticipate that globally, LTE subscribership will reach at least 400 million by 2016. We will continue to follow global LTE trends for future IBDRs."

"With this progress, the United States has regain ed its role as a global leader in and around mobile broadband. More than 80% of smartphones sold globally run on U.S. operating systems, up from less than 25% three years ago. 11 As the first adopters of 4G LTE, the U.S. is the global test bed for wireless technology and services. In 2011, venture in vestment in Internet start-ups reached its highest levels since 2001. 12 The apps economy, a $20 billion industry that barely existed five years ago, has created nearly 500,000 jobs."

Broadband Plan Recommendations

FCC Busts Pirate Radio Boat.
Goodbye RDI (Editor Note: A friend was involved in this boat).

Spectrum Policy Task Force

Derived From: Kenneth Carter, Ahmed Lahjouji, Neal McNeal, Unlicensed and Unshackled: A Joint OSP-OET White Paper on Unlicensed Devices and Their Regulatory IssuesPDF, OSP Working Paper 39 p 11 (May 2004)

In a more recent effort to address spectrum access issues, the FCC established a Spectrum Policy Task Force in June 2002. The Task Force was composed of senior staff members from several FCC Bureaus and Offices who were asked to assist the FCC in identifying and evaluating changes in spectrum policy necessary to reflect advances in technology that were likely to increase the public benefits from spectrum use. In November 2002, the Task Force released its findings. Its report noted that, while certain frequency bands are heavily used, many bands either are not in use in all geographic areas or are only heavily used part of the time. Furthermore, the Task Force determined, that these characteristics served to limit access to available spectrum and that such limitations are a more significant problem than the physical scarcity of spectrum itself. The report identified three unique approaches to spectrum policy based on the establishment of a set of legal rights: 1) an exclusive use approach; 2) a commons approach; and 3) a command-and-control approach. 19

The Task Force urged that the FCC evolve its spectrum policy from its traditional "command and control" model to a more market-oriented approach to achieve spectral efficiency. The Task Force set out four key recommendations to accomplish this policy reform. Recommendations include:

1. Migrate toward more flexible, consumer-oriented policies. The Task Force recommended that the Commission evolve its spectrum policy toward more flexible and market-oriented spectrum policies that will provide incentives for users to migrate to more technologically innovative and economically efficient uses of spectrum.

2. Adopt quantitative standards to provide interference protection: interference temperature. The Task Force recommended the creation of a quantitative standard for acceptable interference that provides both greater certainty for licensees and greater access to unused spectrum for unlicensed operators.

3. Improve access through the time dimension. The Task Force found that new technological developments now permit the Commission to increasingly consider the use of time, in addition to frequency, power and space, as an added dimension permitting more dynamic allocation and assignment of spectrum usage rights. This would provide access to unused or underused spectrum through time-sharing of spectrum between multiple users and lead to more efficient use of the spectrum resource.

4. Shift from "command and control" model to exclusive and commons models. The Task Force recommended that the Commission base its spectrum policy on a balance of three spectrum rights models: an exclusive use approach, a commons approach and, to a more limited degree, a command-and-control approach. While the command-and-control model currently dominates today's policy, the Task Force recommended altering the balance to provide greater use of both the exclusive use and commons models throughout the radio spectrum and limiting the use of the command-and-control model to those instances where there are compelling public policy reasons, such as some public safety applications. To the extent feasible, more spectrum should be identified for both licensed and unlicensed uses under flexible rules and existing spectrum that is subject to more restrictive command-andcontrol regulation should over time be transitioned to these models.

On of the most notable of the Task Force's recommendations, from an unlicensed device perspective, is that it urges the adoption of an "interference temperature." The new metric would allow the FCC to quantify and manage interference on a band-by-band basis, by establishing limits on the noise environment in which receivers would be required to operate. To the extent, however, that the interference temperature in a particular band is not reached, the report argues, users who emit energy below that temperature could operate more flexibly - with the interference temperature serving as the maximum cap on the potential RF energy any device could introduce into the band.

Use of Federal Spectrum




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