This Final Report describes the current uses of the 25002690 MHz band and analyzes the potential for using that band for third generation (3G) wireless systems. This band is one of several frequency bands identified at the 2000 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-2000) for possible 3G use. Third generation wireless systems will provide mobile, high-speed access to the Internet and other broadband services. In the United States, the 2500-2690 MHz band is currently used by the Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS), Multipoint Distribution Service (MDS), and Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS). The study of the 2500-2690 MHz band has been conducted in two stages. In the Interim Report, we examined the nature and technical characteristics of planned 3G services, the current and planned use of the 2500-2690 MHz band by incumbent services, potential opportunities for sharing spectrum between 3G and incumbent services, and the potential impact on incumbent services of segmenting this band to provide separate spectrum for 3G and incumbent services. In this Final Report, we review and evaluate the earlier analyses and evaluate additional topics, including the possible relocation of incumbent services and the costs associated with such relocation.
This band study is one part of the FCCs effort to identify additional spectrum for advanced wireless systems, including 3G as well as future generations of wireless systems. The FCC issued the Advanced Wireless Services Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on January 5, 2001, to examine and propose spectrum for such use. This proceeding explores the possibility of introducing new advanced mobile and fixed services in frequency bands currently used for cellular, broadband Personal Communications Service ("PCS"), and Specialized Mobile Radio ("SMR") services, as well as in five other frequency bands: 1710-1755 MHz, 1755-1850 MHz, 2110-2150 MHz, 2160-2165 MHz and 2500-2690 MHz.
This Final Report represents the results of analyses by FCC staff in the Office of Engineering and Technology, Mass Media Bureau, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, and International Bureau. It does not necessarily represent the views of the FCC or its Commissioners.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
The key findings of our study of the 2500-2690 MHz band are as follows:
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has done considerable work to develop the key technical characteristics of 3G systems and to identify several frequency bands that could be used for 3G systems. The ITU is conducting further studies of how IMT-2000 may be implemented in the frequency bands that were identified at the 1992 World Administrative Radio Conference (WARC-92) and WRC-2000, taking into account the impact on incumbent systems, opportunities for worldwide roaming, equipment design considerations, and backward compatibility with first and second generation (1G and 2G) systems. There currently is no single global approach as to how the frequency bands identified at WARC-92 and WRC-2000 will be used to implement 3G systems, and no consensus that common global bands for use by 3G systems are achievable.
The 25002690 MHz band is in a state of rapid evolution by incumbent ITFS and MDS licensees. The MDS industry has invested several billion dollars to develop broadband fixed wireless data systems in this band, including high-speed access to the Internet. These systems offer a significant opportunity for further competition with cable and digital subscriber line (DSL) services in the provision of broadband services in urban and rural areas. The band is used to provide video services for education and training in schools, health care centers and a wide variety of other institutions, as well as for the provision of a commercial video distribution service known as wireless cable. This spectrum is heavily licensed throughout the country, with several licensees already providing high-speed Internet services to customers; other licensees are ramping up for full operational use in the very near term.
Incumbent ITFS and MDS use of the 25002690 MHz band varies from one geographic area to another. This lack of uniformity presents serious challenges to developing band sharing or segmentation options that could be used across the country without severely disrupting ITFS and MDS use. For example, ITFS and MDS licensees provide a variety of analog and digital one-way and two-way services; ITFS and MDS are licensed with different authorized service or interference protection areas; extensive leasing arrangements exist between the two services; ITFS and MDS licensees have exchanged channels in various markets as permitted by current service rules; and flexible channel band plans for combined ITFS/MDS two-way systems will coexist with some incumbent one-way systems operating under the traditional channel band plan.
This technical analysis shows that if currently contemplated 3G systems were to share the same spectrum or channels in any given geographic area large co-channel separation distances would be needed between 3G systems and incumbent ITFS and MDS systems. Without adequate separation distances, 3G systems and ITFS and MDS would cause extensive interference to each other. This is because the 2500-2690 MHz band is licensed to ITFS and MDS systems in most populated areas of the country and 3G licensees would likely want to operate in these same areas. There are, however, a few geographic areas where some spectrum is not used by incumbent systems. In areas where spectrum is not yet at full operational capacity, voluntary partitioning between incumbent users and 3G operators may offer some promise of sharing, although it is unlikely that these areas would be sufficient to deploy a viable 3G service in the band.
Segmenting the 25002690 MHz band to enable third generation mobile wireless systems access to a portion of this spectrum would raise significant technical and economic difficulties for incumbents, especially if all ITFS/MDS operations were to be relocated within the band. While there may be long term options to segment the 2500-2690 MHz band, segmentation could affect the economics of current and planned ITFS and MDS systems and lessen their ability to provide service to rural areas or smaller markets. With reduced spectrum, ITFS/MDS providers may need to reduce their service areas and services to customers in outlying areas or add more transmitter sites to maintain services. In addition, any segmentation option would have to account for the flexible service configurations and offerings that incumbent licensees are currently implementing.
There is no readily identifiable alternate frequency band that could accommodate a substantial relocation of the incumbent operations in the 2500-2690 MHz band. Furthermore, relocation of ITFS/MDS operations to a band above 3 GHz would affect deployment of these systems to account for changes in signal propagation in higher bands. Relocation to higher bands could affect significantly the economics of current and planned ITFS and MDS systems and lessen their ability to provide service to rural areas or smaller markets. In addition, incumbent users in those alternate bands would have to be relocated, causing serious disruption to other established services; and relocation of some incumbent users (e.g., satellite systems) could significantly delay ITFS/MDS access to these alternate bands.
Implementation of either the segmentation or relocation options would significantly affect deployment of and impose considerable costs on ITFS/MDS. One study suggests, for example, that the cost to ITFS/MDS operations over a ten-year period could be up to $19 billion. Either option would require considerable time to implement and significant costs to re-engineer and deploy systems; and delivery of fixed wireless broadband services to the public and educational users would be delayed or, in rural areas or smaller markets, may never be realized. The relocation option also would require other services to relocate, and the time and costs to move those additional services would be significant, ranging from approximately $10.2-30.4 billion. These costs would need to be balanced with the broad-based benefits to prospective users and the national economy of deploying both 3G and fixed wireless broadband systems.
The details of the analyses that lead to these findings are provided in the
following Sections and Appendices.