WISPA Requests The FCC To Prevent High-Power Network Operator From Using Unlicensed Spectrum

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Fear that interference may jeopardize network operators, unlicensed devices, consumers and businesses

We expect the FCC to make technical recommendations that will allow the 900 MHz band to continue to be productively shared by all.

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), a membership organization that promotes the development, advancement and unity of the wireless Internet Service Provider industry, submitted a letter to the FCC stating its concerns that a pending decision that would allow high-power operations in the 900 MHz band would jeopardize the fixed wireless broadband services of network operators, businesses and consumers.

On December 20, 2011, the FCC granted Progeny LMS, LLC a waiver of two FCC rules, and required Progeny to demonstrate that it would not cause unacceptable levels of interference to existing unlicensed devices. Many Internet Service Providers, as well as companies and organizations representing a host of other industrial and consumer industries, believe that Progeny’s network will cause unacceptable levels of interference and are therefore asking the FCC to deny Progeny’s request to operate on the unlicensed spectrum.

The 900 MHz band, like other unlicensed bands, is designed to be shared compatibly among all users, licensed and unlicensed. The band has been shared successfully for over 20 years and has enabled the flourishing of a dynamic, creative and profitable economic infrastructure. WISPA is concerned that the FCC may issue a decision jeopardizing unlicensed operations in the 902-928 MHz band. WISPA believes that the FCC may ignore the technical record and make a decision that would eventually drive WISPs and many other unlicensed users out of the band entirely -- a result that would make it impossible for some consumers and businesses to receive fixed wireless broadband services.

WISPA and Progeny conducted cooperative testing in San Jose, California in September of 2012. WISPA believes the results of the testing are clear and indisputable. Progeny’s transmitter network caused substantial throughput losses to broadband operations resulting from the combination of Progeny’s higher power, dense transmitter deployment and high duty cycle. As detailed in WISPA’s letter to the FCC, no amount of Progeny’s creative lawyering or technical obfuscation can deny that the testing proved conclusively that Progeny’s networks caused overwhelming and unacceptable interference to WISP equipment.

In a March 4, 2013 letter to the FCC, WISPA urged the agency to rely on the extensive technical record that shows the substantial and unacceptable levels of interference that would disrupt the operations of millions of broadband, consumer and industrial devices that have operated in the 902-928 MHz frequency band for many years. The operation of 900 MHz unlicensed devices would be jeopardized if the FCC permitted Progeny to operate networks of licensed transmitters at power levels far above the 4 Watts allowed for unlicensed devices.

“Given the harm that Progeny’s operations will cause to millions of Americans, we hope that common sense will prevail and that the FCC will make a decision based on the technical record in this proceeding,” said Elizabeth Bowles, President of WISPA. “We expect the FCC to make technical recommendations that will allow the 900 MHz band to continue to be productively shared by all.”

If adopted, the FCC’s decision would be ironic in view of the agency’s publicly stated goal of freeing up more unlicensed spectrum for productive, shared use. As recently as March 5, 2013, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stated in a Wall Street Journal article, “In the 1980s, the FCC became the world's first agency to make spectrum available for unlicensed use, meaning anyone can use it as long as basic rules are followed to prevent interference. U.S. innovators have used this open platform to invent powerful technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which have generated billions of dollars in economic value.”

“The Chairman’s recent statements and other FCC pronouncements recognize the tremendous value of unlicensed spectrum. It’s unfathomable how the FCC could suddenly reverse course and allow one company to operate with enough power to destroy the vibrant unlicensed infrastructure that the FCC has nurtured for over 20 years.” said Richard Harnish, Executive Director of WISPA.

WISPA is a membership organization that promotes the development, advancement and unity of the wireless Internet service provider industry. WISPA has over 700 members consisting of wireless Internet service providers, equipment manufacturers, service vendors and other interested parties. For more information visit http://www.wispa.org.

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