Fixed Microwave Services
Microwave has a very short wavelength and is in the upper range of the radio spectrum. Much of the technology was derived from radar developed during World War II. Initially, these systems carried multiplexed speech signals over common carrier and military communications networks; but today they can handle all types of information, e.g. voice, data, and video, in either an analog or digital format.
Today private organizations can use microwave spectrum to satisfy internal communications and to monitor their primary infrastructure. As the nation’s cellular and personal communications systems grow, point-to-point microwave facilities serve as back haul and backbone links, enabling these wireless systems to serve the country’s less populated areas on an economical basis.
Today's technology enables private users to employ microwave frequencies to operate and control equipment at remote sites, such as switches and valves associated with the operation of electric power distribution, oil pipelines and gas pipelines, to gather data related to services, control traffic signals and to obtain toll data from moving vehicles, as well as other monitoring functions.
About Fixed Microwave Services
Early technology limited the operations of these systems to radio spectrum in the 1 GHz range; but due to improvements in solid state technology, commercial systems are transmitting in ranges up to 90 GHz. In recognition of these changes, the Commission adopted rules allowing the use of spectrum above 40 GHz (See Millimeter Wave 70-80-90 GHz). This spectrum offers a variety of possibilities, such as use in, among other things, short range, high capacity wireless systems that support educational and medical applications, wireless access to libraries or other information databases. The fixed microwave systems operate on a point-to-point basis.
For years the Commission regulated point-to-point microwave services essentially under two distinct parts of it rules: Part 21 governed common carrier users and Part 94 served the same purpose for private operators. Since these services have much in common, e.g., they share many frequency bands, use the same type of equipment, and now a single Commission office process the applications, the rules were consolidated into a single rule part, Part 101.
Private Operational Fixed Microwave
In 1963 the FCC reallocated certain microwave bands to the Safety and Special Radio Services, ending the necessity for private users to share those frequencies with common carriers. Provisions for microwave operations were added to the rule parts governing Marine, Aviation, Public Safety, Industrial, and Land Transportation Radio Services. The FCC consolidated and updated those provisions into Part 94 in 1975, creating the Private Operational-Fixed Microwave Service. In 1996, the Private Operational-Fixed Microwave Service was combined with the Common Carrier Microwave Service to form Part 101.
The Private Operational-Fixed Microwave Service can be used by persons eligible under Parts 80, 87 or 90 for communications related to their activities. Stations in this service are called operational-fixed to distinguish them from common carrier and public fixed stations. The licensee may use an operational-fixed station, for communications related to the licensee's commercial, industrial, or safety operations, may share the station on a for profit or not for profit basis with other entities who are eligible under Part 80,87 or 90, or may lease its facilities to common carriers.
Private operational-fixed microwave systems serve many different purposes. They are meant to carry or relay voice, teletype, telemetering, facsimile and digital communications associated with Aviation, Marine, Public Safety, Industrial, and the Land Transportation Radio Services. For example, these systems are used to operate unattended equipment; open and close switches or valves; record data like pressure, temperature, or speed of machines; telemeter voltage and current in power lines; and perform other control or monitoring functions. Microwave systems are especially useful for controlling and monitoring various operations along installations like pipelines, railroads, and highways.
Common Carrier Microwave
Common Carrier microwave stations are generally used in a point-to-point configuration for long-haul backbone connections or to connect points on the telephone network which cannot be connected using standard wire line or fiber optic because of cost or terrain. These systems are also used to connect cellular sites to the telephone network, and to relay television signals.
Common Carrier microwave stations are licensed to applicants who intend to provide communications service to the public. Whereas, Private Operational Fixed stations are licensed to applicants for their own internal communications requirements.
Band Plan Band(s)
- 928-929 MHz
- 941-944 MHz
- 952-960 MHz
- 2 GHz
- 6 GHz
- 10 GHz
- 11 GHz
- 12 GHz
- 18 GHz
- 23 GHz
- 31 GHz
- 38 GHz
- 70 GHz
- 80 GHz
- 90 GHz
The following list of microwave coordinators is provided for information purposes only, and may not constitute a complete list of available frequency coordinators. The Federal Communications Commission does not license or endorse any microwave frequency coordinators. Additional information regarding microwave frequency coordination is also available from the National Spectrum Managers Association (NSMA). NSMA is a voluntary, not-for-profit organization providing an industry forum for microwave frequency coordinators.