FCC Releases 42 GHz NPRM

On June 9, 2023, the FCC released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking  (“NPRM”) seeking comment on shared use of the 42-42.5 GHz Band (“42 GHz band”).  The item was adopted at the June Open Meeting.  The NPRM proposes to license the 42 GHz band in five 100 megahertz channels, and seeks comment on the best shared licensing scheme, including whether to license the band utilizing:

  1. Nationwide Non-Exclusive Licenses – this is the method used for the 70/80/90 GHz bands, and under this approach, operators would first obtain a nationwide non-exclusive license from the Commission, and then coordinate specific deployment sites with a third-party database.
  2. Site-Based Licenses – under this approach, the 42 GHz band would be licensed directly on a site-by-site basis, which would allow for greater transparency (as information for each licensed site would be available via ULS), allow the FCC to be more responsive to potential disputes, and allow for easier administration and enforcement of buildout requirements.
  3. Technology-Based Sensing – this method was proposed by Qualcomm.  Under this approach, licenses would be issued under a geographic area regime, and licensees would be required to coordinate among themselves a measurement window during which all licensees (except for a priority user in each channel) cease transmissions for a given time period in order to use long-term sensing to detect any active receivers, and then transmit afterwards only in directions where no such receivers are detected.

The NPRM is seeking comment on the appropriate coordination mechanism (e.g. whether to utilize a Spectrum Access System as used in CBRS, an Automated Frequency Coordination System as used in 6 GHz, or some other method), buildout requirements for the band, the license term, and technical rules.  Finally, the NPRM seeks comment on ways to protect radio astronomy services, which operate on a primary basis in the adjacent 42.5-43.5 GHz band.

Comments will be due 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.

Reply comments will be due 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.

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