Higher Ground 6 GHz Application Threatens Public-Safety Microwave Networks
Thursday, September 08, 2016 | Comments

Higher Ground (HG), a mobile earth station (ES) startup, applied to the FCC for a nationwide license to operate mobile ES transmitters in the fixed service 6 GHz band. Such a system could have negative effects on public-safety microwave systems, industry officials said.

The HG system involves a cellphone attachment that would enable consumer-based text messaging, light email and internet of things (IoT) communications via geostationary C-band satellites. The application requests that the FCC authorize mobile operations in a fixed service band and asks permission to bypass the required Part 101 frequency coordination.

Instead of conducting Part 101 notify-and-respond coordination, HG proposes to control the mobile transmitters with a database and software system the company designed and said will avoid causing interference to incumbent microwave systems by adjusting the ES operating parameters in real time.

“Our calculations indicate that in the worst case, failure of the HG methods could result in interference that would interrupt an incumbent link,” said David Meyer, senior manager at Comsearch in a letter to its clients.

Three parties have filed in opposition to HG’s proposal: The Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition (FWCC), the National Spectrum Management Association (NSMA) and CenturyLink. Some of the concerns raised include that the request replaces cooperative coordination with a unilateral approach without review by licensees or third-party agents. In addition, it will be difficult to predict and head off interference and to detect and discontinue interference should it occur. The parties also raise concerns that the commission would be effectively making rules by waiver.

“We have 20 6 GHz microwave paths that could be affected over an 11,000-square-mile coverage area,” said Stuart Snow, Regional Wireless Cooperative (RWC) and city of Phoenix spectrum coordinator. “All are considered critical to public safety. We oppose the granting of this waiver, and the matter should instead be addressed in a rulemaking proceeding.”

The RWC membership consists of 20 entities including police, fire, public works, along with more than 43 local, county, state, tribal and federal interoperability participants.

“We agree that this waiver should not be granted until certain interference questions are answered and resolved,” said RWC Executive Director David Felix. “It seems from the lack of FCC response filings that few regional public-safety radio system administrators are even aware of this potential action.”

The filing and comments are here.

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