3.65 GHz Gets Real

Posted by Sam Churchill on

NextPhase Wireless, today announced that they will commence testing and deployment of certified 3.65 GHz WiMAX products for nationwide deployment in 1Q08.

While 3.5 GHz is an international standard, especially for fixed WiMAX service, that licensed frequency is reserved for military use in the U.S.

In June 2007, the FCC opened up the 3.65 – 3.7 GHz band (FCC-05-56 pdf and FCC-07-99 pdf), in an attempt to ‘encourage multiple entrants and stimulate the expansion of broadband service to rural and under served areas,’ with applications for nationwide licenses being accepted from November 15, 2007. Since then, manufacturers of existing 3.5GHz WiMAX products have been working to have their products certified by the FCC, with Redline Communications being the first to announce a 3.65 GHz product to be approved for operation in the United States.” PDQLink, a Wireless Internet Service Provider in Illinois is also testing Redline’s 3.65 GHz RedMAX products.

Redline’s WiMAX products also include the RedMAX Indoor Subscriber Unit (SU-I) and Outdoor Subscriber Unit (SU-O) designed for enterprise and residential services, as well as a software management suite.

“Now that certified WiMAX products are available, we are ready to take the next step in building a device-agnostic, WiMAX wireless broadband connectivity/content delivery platform serving all 48 contiguous U.S. states”, said Robert Ford, President and CEO of NextPhase.

They have applied to the FCC for a nationwide license, and will begin testing certified WiMAX equipment in 1Q08. Once testing is complete, it will be deployed in Southern California, and other key markets nationwide. As certified Mobile WiMAX products become available, they will test and deploy those, also added Ford.

NextPhase and GigaBeam recently announced a Joint Venture to deliver backhaul in the 70GHz and 80GHz spectrum.

Airspan will offer two 3.65GHz WiMAX Base Station products, namely its carrier class HiperMAX base station and its MicroMAX base station. Airspan also offers 3.65GHz WiMAX subscriber terminals, including the indoor desktop EasyST and outdoor ProST, both of which also support optional WiFi and VoIP extensions.

Airspan’s 3.65GHz U.S. WiMAX products also include a “Detect and Protect” contention protocol designed to operate in accordance with the FCC ruling and, subject to obtaining formal FCC certification, enable the use of both the restricted and unrestricted spectrum blocks.

The “lightly regulated” 3.65 – 3.7 GHz band, is non-exclusive, but does require base station registration and a filing fee for the spectrum by each provider, of which there could be many. This is close to the unlicensed-band approach, aside from the registration and fee.

The block of 50 MHz spectrum boasts a mid-range blend of power allotment (higher than unlicensed spectrum and lower than licensed spectrum) that has a lot of utility, especially for rural providers. There is 25 watts per 25 MHz of spectrum limit for fixed/portable use and 1 watt per 25 MHz of spectrum for mobile use. Non Line of Sight (NLOS) service at modest ranges should be possible with this power allotment. The restriction of WiMAX gear to the lower 25 MHz is designed to prevent interference with unrestricted protocols in the upper 25 MHz.

Ball State University’s Office of Wireless Research and Mapping tested connectivity, throughput, capacity, signal strength and penetration from inside homes (pdf), taking advantage of a temporary six-month 3.5 GHz license that was granted to the university by the FCC.

“As one of the only research entities testing WiMAX in the United States, we’ve been able to examine the performance of the WiMAX platform during a typical Midwest deployment,” said Bizhan Nasseh, assistant vice president for information technology and director of OWRM. “The data collected will not just impact the ‘wireless world,’ but have a significant economic impact as well.”

Field tests were performed using Alvarion’s indoor self-installable CPE and outdoor CPE.

Other partners in the testing project included Digital Bridge Communications, a provider of broadband wireless services to rural and underserved communities and Afterimage GIS, a company that specializes in radio frequency modeling, design and market analysis, have already jumped at the chance to work with the university on its WiMAX research and GIS map making enterprise. The entrepreneurial arm of the OWRM has won several contracts to generate these models, to date worth close to $750,000.

Researchers found that the WiMAX equipment was much better at obtaining a consistent and usable signal from obstructed and non-line-of-sight locations than more traditional point-to-multipoint technology. The test location covered 5 miles and OWRM visited over 94 locations in this area to measure the signal strength. The furthest useable signal attained reached out to approximately 4.35 miles away from the WiMAX base station, using the outdoor CPE and 1.05 miles using the indoor CPE.

The FCC’s 3650-3700 MHz band requires fixed and base stations be at least 150 km from 86 grandfathered earth stations without consent, or within 80 km of three federal radar facilities without successful coordination. The rules give the locations of these facilities. Last week’s public notice is available here (pdf).

Applicants can access the Universal Licensing System web site at http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls. In order to file an application for a license and to register fixed and base stations in ULS, applicants must have an FCC Registration Number (FRN). If the applicant does not have an existing FRN, they must register and obtain an FRN prior to filing the license application. To register a station, the licensee will need to provide specific technical details, including whether the equipment uses a restricted (RS) or unrestricted (UR) protocol, the FCC Equipment Identification number (FCC ID number), the base or fixed station’s location (latitude and longitude), and other technical parameters, e.g., EIRP, and antenna height above ground.

DailyWireless has more 3.65 GHz articles including; Unwired Schools, FCC: Non-exclusive 3.6GHz Licensing, Airspan Does 3650, Broadband Wireless — Hello Goodbye, Is 3.65GHz Cost/Effective?, 3.65GHz: Made for Independent ISPs, The FCC Opens the 3650MHz band and Battle at 3 Dot 5.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Monday, December 3rd, 2007 at 9:51 am .

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