The Federal Communications Commission has approved a proposal to share U.S. military wireless spectrum with commercial users. The 3.5GHz band is currently used by high-power military radar services and is not traditionally seen as ideal for mobile broadband because radar can limit the widespread use of spectrum.
According to the FCC proposal, the proposed commercial broadband services will combine 100MHz from the 3.5GHz band and 50MHz from the 3.6GHz band. Military radar users will maintain priority in the shared spectrum and be given protection from interference via a spectrum-use database. A second group of users that includes hospitals and public safety agencies will be given the second-highest priority. Other commercial uses will be the least prioritized, and subject to interference from the other two groups.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski hopes the spectrum sharing could drive new innovations in small-cell technology.
“We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that this is a 100-megahertz proceeding. This has enormous potential for the country,” he said.
American semiconductor company Qualcomm praised the FCC’s decision in a statement, saying “small cells, when deployed in conjunction with macro cells using smart network technology, will expand capacity substantially, enhance network coverage and reliability and even improve position location accuracy. [However,] small cells will require a predictable quality of service, and, therefore, the spectrum must be shared on an authorized basis.”