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Improved Access to Spectrum for Wireless Broadband Operations

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Released: April 11, 2012
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
April 11, 2012

DA 12-571

Small Entity Compliance Guide

Improved Access to Spectrum for Wireless Broadband Operations

in the 6875-6975 MHz, 7025-7125 MHz and 12700-13100 MHz Bands
FCC 11-120
WT Docket No. 10-153
Released: August 9, 2011

This Guide is prepared in accordance with the requirements of Section 212 of the
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. It is intended to help
small entities—small businesses, small organizations (non-profits), and small
governmental jurisdictions—comply with the new rules adopted in the above-
referenced FCC rulemaking docket(s). This Guide is not intended to replace the
rules and, therefore, final authority rests solely with the rules. Although we have
attempted to cover all parts of the rules that might be especially important to small
entities, the coverage may not be exhaustive. This Guide may, perhaps, not apply
in a particular situation based upon the circumstances, and the FCC retains the
discretion to adopt approaches on a case-by-case basis that may differ from this
Guide, where appropriate. Any decisions regarding a particular small entity will
be based on the statute and regulations.

In any civil or administrative action against a small entity for a violation of rules,
the content of the Small Entity Compliance Guide may be considered as evidence of
the reasonableness or appropriateness of proposed fines, penalties or damages.
Interested parties are free to file comments regarding this Guide and the
appropriateness of its application to a particular situation; the FCC will consider
whether the recommendations or interpretations in the Guide are appropriate in
that situation. The FCC may decide to revise this Guide without public notice to
reflect changes in the FCC’s approach to implementing a rule, or to clarify or
update the text of the Guide. Direct your comments and recommendations, or calls
for further assistance, to the FCC’s Consumer Center:

1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)

TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)

Fax: 1-866-418-0232


In this Report and Order (Backhaul R&O), the Commission continued its efforts to increase flexibility in the
use of microwave services licensed under our Part 101 rules. The steps the Commission took will remove
regulatory barriers that limit the use of spectrum for wireless backhaul and other Fixed Service
communications. “Backhaul” in this context refers to telecommunications channels between cell sites or
between cell sites and landline network backbones. “Fixed Service” (FS) refers to radio communication
between specified points, typically but not always using directed beams. The Commission also made
additional spectrum available for wireless backhaul – as much as 650 megahertz – especially in rural areas,
where wireless backhaul is the only practical middle mile solution. By enabling more flexible and cost-
effective microwave services, the Commission is helping to accelerate deployment of fourth-generation (4G)
mobile broadband infrastructure across America.


Most terrestrial FS operators are licensed under Part 101 of the Commission’s rules; the two main exceptions
are the Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) and the Cable TV Relay Service (CARS). The Commission did
two things to reduce artificial regulatory barriers between spectrum allocated to Part 101 FS and spectrum
allocated to BAS and CARS:
The Commission decided to allow Part 101 FS operators to share the 6875-6975 MHz, 7025-7125
MHz and 12700-13150 MHz bands, which had previously been reserved for BAS and CARS.
However, Part 101 FS operators will be allowed to obtain microwave radio licenses in those bands
only in places where they will not cause electrical interference to previously licensed BAS or CARS
licensees. That will provide Part 101 FS operators with access to an additional 650 megahertz of
spectrum in more than half of the nation’s land mass encompassing about 10 percent of the U.S.
The Commission eliminated the “Final Link” rule. That rule had prohibited broadcasters from using
FS stations licensed under Part 101 as the final radiofrequency link in the chain of distribution of
program material to broadcast stations, restricting broadcasters to the use of BAS frequencies for
such links. Eliminating the rule will make it easier for broadcasters to find vacant spectrum for final
microwave links to their stations.
The Commission also adopted a new rule to facilitate sending of intelligible signals during bad weather. Part
101 contains a minimum data transmission rate rule, 47 C.F.R. § 101.141(a)(3), that is intended to ensure that
FS links operate efficiently, without wasting spectrum. Severe weather, however, can render high-speed
transmissions unintelligible. To provide operators with more flexibility under those circumstances, the
Commission will allow FS operators licensed under Part 101 to use adaptive modulation, slowing down their
transmission rates during severe weather, comparable to a human being speaking slowly and over-
pronouncing words to be understood in a noisy environment. This rule modification will allow FS operators
to maintain critical communications during periods when atmospheric disturbances cause signal fading.


One of the rules adopted in the Backhaul R&O requires BAS licensees in the 6875-7125 MHz band,
including small businesses, to register their fixed receive sites using the Commission’s Universal Licensing
System (ULS). This requirement is an information collection under the Paperwork Reduction Act and will
become effective after the Commission publishes a notice in the Federal Register announcing both the
approval of the information collection by the Office of Management and Budget and the effective date. Once
the requirement takes effect, affected licensees can report the information by logging on to ULS and filing an

application on FCC Form 601(Main Form and Schedule I) to modify their licenses to include the receive site
information. For further information, see Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Announces ULS Upgrade,
Licensees of Television Pick-Up Stations Now Have the Option of Identifying Their Stationary, Receive-Only
Sites on ULS to Aid Coordination with Other Services
, Public Notice, RM-11308, 23 FCC Rcd 6521 (WTB
Otherwise, the Backhaul R&O does not impose any mandatory new requirements or compliance burdens on
small entities, including any reporting or recordkeeping burdens, but it does require applicants to comply
with the requirements described below if they choose to use any of the expanded authority allowed by the
new rules. Those requirements are as follows:
When seeking a license under Part 101 to operate an FS microwave transmitter in the 6875-6975 MHz,
7025-7125 MHz or 12700-13150 MHz bands, the applicant must demonstrate that it will not cause
electrical interference to previously licensed BAS or CARS licensees or to fixed satellite services (FSS)
licensed in those bands. Point-to-point terrestrial microwave applications are submitted online through
the Commission’s ULS, which provides users with detailed, step-by-step instructions.2 The applicant
can identify terrestrial non-Federal licensees and applicants in its proposed area of operation through the
ULS, and satellite earth stations through the International Bureau Electronic Filing System (IBFS), both
of which are accessible on the Commission’s web site.3 Applicants, including small businesses, may use
frequency coordinators to meet their obligations to coordinate proposed operations. “Coordination” in
this context means contacting microwave licensees and license applicants in the area to determine
whether or not they believe that the applicant’s proposed link would interfere with their signals, and
making mutually agreed upon adjustments to resolve their concerns. The Commission does not license
or endorse microwave frequency coordinators, but it lists them on its web site.4 Additional information
regarding microwave frequency coordination is available from the National Spectrum Managers
Association (NSMA), a voluntary, not-for-profit organization that provides an industry forum for
microwave frequency coordinators.
Part 101 applicants for the 6875-6975 MHz, 7025-7125 MHz or 12700-13150 MHz bands must
demonstrate that they will comply with the capacity and loading requirements contained in Section
101.141(a)(3) of the Commission’s Rules.5 The capacity is the maximum number of bits per second that
a microwave radio link is capable of transmitting under normal circumstances. The rule lists minimum
traffic loading payloads as percentages of the link’s capacity,6 but for digital systems using bandwidths
of at least 10 megahertz, the rule defines payload as the maximum capacity of a multiplexer attached to
the transmitter, not the number of digital bits that is actually being transmitted.7 In addition, the

1 The Public Notice is accessible at Previously
BAS and CARS licenses were allowed but not required to register receive-only sites supporting mobile BAS and
2 The ULS is accessible at
3 As stated above, the ULS is accessible at The IBFS web page for
earth station searches is at The Lower 6 GHz Band is shared with
satellite earth stations; the Upper 6 GHz Band is not.
4 Frequency coordinators are listed at
5 47 C.F.R. § 101.141(a)(3). The Commission will not apply the capacity and loading requirements to BAS licensed
under Part 74.
6 47 C.F.R. § 101.141(a)(3).
7 47 C.F.R. § 101.141(a)(6).

Commission retains an existing exemption from the capacity and loading requirements of Part 101 for
transmitters carrying digital video motion material.8
Except for the minimum capacity and payload requirements discussed above, the Commission will apply
the same technical parameters that currently apply in the Upper 6 GHz band to the adjacent 6875-6975
MHz band and to the 7025-7125MHz band.9 Specifically, the Commission requires that license
applicants demonstrate that their transmission systems meet the following design criteria: (1) a
maximum frequency tolerance of 0.005 percent;10 (2) a maximum transmitter power of +55 dBw;11 (3)
the antenna standards currently applicable to Upper 6 GHz Band stations authorized after June 1, 1997,12
and (4) the 17 kilometer minimum path length requirement of Section 101.143.13
The Commission will apply to the 12700-13150 MHz band most of the technical rules that apply to the
12700-13000 MHz band.14 The Commission will require license applicants to meet the following system
design criteria: (1) a maximum frequency tolerance of 0.005 percent;15 (2) a maximum transmitter
power of +50 dBw;16 (3) the antenna standards currently applicable to Upper 6 GHz Band stations
authorized after June 1, 1997,17 and (4) the 5 kilometer minimum path length requirement of Section
101.143.18 The exceptions are the minimum payload capacity and loading requirements discussed above.
The Commission will require applicants seeking permission to use modulations below the minimums
established in Section 101.141(a)(3) of the Commission’s Rules to design their microwave paths to be
available at modulations compliant with the minimum payload capacity at least 99.95% of the time. This is a
path design requirement, not an operational requirement. The Commission will not require operators to log
instances where they have to use adaptive modulation, nor will it penalize operators that adjust their
modulations to cope with prolonged adverse weather conditions that exceed reasonable expectations.


“Amendment of Part 101 of the Commission’s Rules to Accommodate to Facilitate the Use of Microwave
for Wireless Backhaul and Other Uses and to Provide Additional Flexibility to Broadcast Auxiliary Service
and Operational Fixed Microwave Licensees”
Report and Order:
26 FCC Rcd 11614 (2011) (including correction); 76 Fed. Reg. 59559 (2011), corrected at 76 Fed. Reg.
65970-01 (2011).

8 47 C.F.R. 101.141(a)(5).
9 See 47 C.F.R. Part 101, Subpart C.
10 See 47 C.F.R. § 101.107(a).
11 See 47 C.F.R. § 101.113(a).
12 See 47 C.F.R. § 101.115(b)(2).
13 47 C.F.R. § 101.143.
14 See 47 C.F.R. Part 101, Subpart C.
15 See 47 C.F.R. § 101.107(a).
16 See 47 C.F.R. § 101.113(a).
17 See 47 C.F.R. § 101.115(b)(2).
18 47 C.F.R. § 101.143.

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