The previous Standards Column presented a high-level overview of the difference between unlicensed and licensed spectrum.
This column provides an update in spectrum and regulatory policies in selected countries/regions, which are related to the frequency bands of interest to 3GPP and IEEE, including 900 MHz, 3.6 GHz, 5.6 GHz, 5.9 GHz and millimeter wave frequency bands.
In December 2017, the Hong Kong Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) issued “Guidelines for the Submission of Proposals Applying for the Wireless Internet of Things License” .
This license is created for the establishment, maintenance and operation of wireless networks and systems for provision of wireless IoT service based on wireless technologies operating in the 920-925 MHz (and/or other frequency bands that may be considered) on a shared and uncoordinated manner.
The wireless IoT service, however, does not include any service that carries real-time voice communications. Similar to the other license-exempt spectra, use of these frequency bands as authorized under the wireless IoT license is shared with other applications in an uncoordinated manner, and is not protected from any interference caused by other lawful telecommunications installations or radio equipment.
It is also incumbent upon the licensees to ensure that there will be no harmful interference to existing users operating in the same frequency band. As of the end of December 2017, two companies (one using LoRaWAN network; and another using Sigfox network) have been granted the license.
In the same month, the Hong Kong Communications Authority (HKCA) published “Performance specification for radio equipment operating in the 920-925 MHz band for the provision of public telecommunications services” . This performance specification covers requirements on electrical safety, radiation protection, and technical requirements for any device operating in the aforementioned frequency band.
Among all the requirements, the main point is to follow Part 15.247 of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States. There is also a requirement on modulation in which frequency-hopping spread spectrum is required, and the maximum allowable 20 dB bandwidth of the frequency-hopping channel is 500 kHz.
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) published a decision document “Future use of the 3.6 GHz band - Decisions and preliminary views” , in which the ACMA has decided to progress the 3575–3700 MHz in metropolitan and regional Australia to the re-farming stage of its process for considering additional spectrum for mobile broadband services.
In the same document, ACMA establish site-based apparatus-licensed point-to-multipoint arrangements in the 5.6 GHz band in regional and remote Australia as part of the mitigation strategy to assist WISPs and other prospective site-based wireless broadband operators with licenses in the 3.6 GHz band. The ACMA will adopt a policy position that the 5.6 GHz band should be made available for such licensing at least until the end of 2028.
ACMA created a new type of class licenses In December 2017: Radio-communications (Intelligent Transport Systems) Class License , which authorizes a person to operate an ITS station subject to a few conditions including:
- The ITS station must be operated:
- on a frequency, or within a range of frequencies, greater than 5855 MHz and not greater than 5925 MHz
- at a radiated power that does not exceed a maximum EIRP of 23 dBm/MHz;
- The ITS station must not be operated within 70 km of the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory located at latitude 26° 42’ 15” south, longitude 116° 39’ 32” east;
- The ITS station must comply with ETSI Standard EN 302 571.
As ACMA mentioned in its press release, “new regulations will allow Australian road traffic authorities to roll out intelligent transport systems (ITS) that enable vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-person or vehicle-to-infrastructure communications”.
In the Open Commission Meeting on 16 November 2017, the FCC approved the proposed Second Report and Order, Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Order on Reconsideration, and Memorandum Opinion and Order, making additional spectrum above 24 GHz available for fifth-generation use, affirming certain service rules, requesting comment on additional issues, and rejecting various proposals.
This accepted proposal was published in Federal Registers on 2 January 2018 , effective from 1 February 2018. Of most interest to our community:
- 1700 MHz of spectrum is approved to be available for licensed wireless use in the 24.25-24.45 GHz, 24.75-25.25 GHz and 47.2-48.2 GHz frequency bands;
- The pre-auction limit of the 1250 MHz of spectrum adopted for the 28 GHz, 37 GHz, and 39 GHz frequency bands is eliminated;
- The reaffirmation to make the 64-71 GHz band available for unlicensed use pursuant to technical rules similar to the adjacent 57-64 GHz frequency band; and
- The revision of the Part 15 rules  to permit unlicensed operations in the 57-71 GHz frequency band on-board most aircraft during flight.
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