Tuesday, September 15, 2020

C-Band … "See Ya' "

The FCC is planning to take away amateur radio's secondary allocation on "C-band," 3.3-3.5 GHz, without providing equivalent replacement spectrum somewhere near the 9-centimeter wavelength. The move is part of a broader FCC action to allocate all of the spectrum between 3100 and 3550 MHz for 5G wireless services. 
In the Commission's initial Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), it had said it would "consider" providing replacement spectrum for displaced current users, including hams. However, the FCC's draft Report and Order says amateurs would have to move existing operations on the band – primarily digital networks and a satellite subband – to other amateur allocations. The Commission was scheduled to take a final vote on the Report and Order at its September 30 meeting, and it is possible that changes might be made before or at that meeting.

Even if the proposal is adopted as currently written, hams would not have to leave immediately. Current users would be allowed to continue using the spectrum until the frequency auctions are complete and new licenses are issued. It is expected that auctions would begin late next year for the 3.45-3.5 GHz segment, meaning the earliest hams would lose that portion of the band is mid-2022. The FCC and Department of Defense (the current primary user) are still working out details for 3.30-3.45 GHz and nothing has yet been finalized, so there is not yet a timetable for losing this band segment.