FCC Seeks Comment on Request for Unlicensed Device in Maritime Broadband Band
Tuesday, August 27, 2019 | Comments

The FCC is seeking comment on a request by Hydroid for a waiver of the FCC’s rules to allow the operation of unlicensed national information infrastructure (U-NII) devices that emit steerable directional beams at power levels that exceed the limits in the 5.725 – 5.85 GHz band.

Comments are due Sept. 16, and reply comments are due Oct. 1. Hydroid said it developed a system that operates in the 5.725 – 5.85 GHz band that is used for broadband communications between maritime vessels, and between maritime vessels and shore. Each communication is between two points, with no simultaneous point-to-multipoint applications.

Hydroid said its system employs high-gain antennas having directional properties similar to those used for fixed point-to-point land communications, but the design is different in that the radios use phased-array antennas (transmit and receive) that are kept closely aligned with each other as the vessels on which they operate move around. The waiver could substantially increase the range for reliable communications over water, where reflections from the water surface can cause multipath fading that sharply limits the transmission range of its system when operating in accordance with the existing rules, the company said.

FCC rules permit U-NII devices to operate in the 5.725 – 5.85 GHz band with a maximum conducted power output of 1 watt. If an antenna with a maximum directional gain of greater than 6 dBi is used, the conducted power output must be reduced below 1 watt by the amount in dB that the antenna gain exceeds 6 dBi. However, antennas with a gain greater than 6 dBi may be used without a corresponding reduction in conducted power output if operation is limited to fixed point-to-point applications.

Hydroid is seeking a waiver of this section to permit the operation of its non-fixed system with 1 watt maximum conducted power and an antenna gain that exceeds 6 dBi, for example, under the provisions applicable to fixed point-to-point systems. The company also proposed that the waiver impose specific conditions on the sale, installation and use of the equipment so that it will be deployed in a manner that ensures necessary interference protection.

The full public notice is here.

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