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WISPA, Microsoft and Google Study Shows 80 Million Americans Can Be Served by Fixed Broadband in Shared C-Band Spectrum

Washington DC, July 15, 2019 – WISPA, Microsoft and Google have filed a study at the Federal Communications Commission by Virginia Tech Professor Jeff Reed and colleagues that shows that current C-band earth stations are vastly overprotected, and right-sizing those protections can result in gigabit fixed broadband services for more than 80 million Americans, particularly in underserved communities.

"Making better use of underutilized or overprotected spectrum is becoming increasingly important, as overall broadband demand skyrockets, and as so many communities remain unserved and underserved" says Michael Daum, Director of Technology Policy at Microsoft’s Privacy and Regulatory Affairs. "Shared use of C-band spectrum will be a great complement to other spectrum bands that are being used to address these critical social and economic challenges."

Claude Aiken, president and CEO of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), agrees. "Tens of millions of Americans have no, or slow, broadband," according to Aiken. "Thousands of fixed wireless providers can cost-effectively serve remote and other areas, but are often spectrum-constrained."

WISPA, Microsoft and Google co-sponsored Professor Reed and his colleagues at Reed Engineering to independently study shared use of repacked C-band spectrum after some portion was reallocated for flexible use and the remaining satellite operations were repacked into a smaller portion of the band. The team used realistic assumptions of earth station antenna patterns and interference protection criteria, along with reasonable operating parameters for fixed point-to-multipoint systems and realistic propagation models, to look at how much of the U.S. population could benefit from fixed broadband without interfering with C-band earth stations operating in the same band.

"The result is a real eye-opener," reports Professor Reed. "By our calculations, using conservative assumptions, fixed broadband access could serve over 80 million Americans while not causing harmful interference to any of the over 18,000 earth stations operating on the same frequencies."

"The current default protection zone for earth stations is 150 kilometers in radius, or over 70,000 square kilometers in area, for just one earth station," according to Reed. "When we apply reasonable engineering assumptions, those are reduced to about 10 kilometers in radius and 314 square kilometers in area, a reduction in area of over 99%."

"The reduction is attributed to two main factors," according to Andrew Clegg, Google's spectrum engineering lead. "Using reasonable propagation models, and properly engineering point-to-multipoint systems in a fashion that avoids placing stray energy toward earth stations. We know exactly where the earth stations are, and we design point-to-multipoint systems in advance. There are no surprises. So achieving this protection is straightforward."

WISPA’s approximately 800 members are composed of fixed Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) and the industry that supports fixed wireless broadband, including equipment suppliers, support services, and other components needed to run a successful business. Our members, and WISPs, in general, provide broadband access to over 4 million residential and business customers, often in exclusively rural areas.

Mike Wendy

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