FCC: Go For 3.65GHz, Airspan  

Airspan announced today that it has obtained FCC certification (pdf) to market its compact MicroMAX base station in the 3.65 GHz frequency band as well as the full suite of subscriber devices including the indoor EasyST and outdoor ProST, both of which also support optional WiFi and VoIP extensions.

This new certification follows the FCC approval at the end of 2007 of Airspan’s HiperMAX base station in the 3.65GHz band, now making available to US customers a full complement of products.

HiperMAX and MicroMAX base stations have been broadly deployed internationally.

Declan Byrne, Airspan’s Chief Marketing Officer, commented, “We are now among a very select group of equipment providers with FCC certified solutions in 3.65GHz, and we are excited to offer a range of best in breed, competitively-priced, and field-proven base station and CPE products to the US Carrier community. This is a very attractive market space with dozens of new entrants and Airspan is quickly claiming first mover advantage.

New customer wins for their 3.65GHz Product suite include KeyOn Communications (to over 13,000 households in Pahrump, Nevada), and Le-Ru Telecom (in rural Missouri).

The “lightly regulated” 3.65 - 3.7 GHz band, is non-exclusive, but does require base station registration and a filing fee for the spectrum by each provider. This is close to the unlicensed-band approach, aside from the registration and fee.

The block of 50 MHz spectrum boasts a mid-range blend of power allotment (higher than unlicensed spectrum and lower than licensed spectrum) that has a lot of utility, especially for rural providers. A restriction of WiMAX gear to the lower 25 MHz is designed to prevent interference with unrestricted protocols in the upper 25 MHz.

In June 2007, the FCC opened up the 3.65 - 3.7 GHz band (FCC-05-56 pdf and FCC-07-99 pdf), in an attempt to ‘encourage multiple entrants and stimulate the expansion of broadband service to rural and under served areas,’ with applications for nationwide licenses being accepted from November 15, 2007. Since then, manufacturers of existing 3.5GHz WiMAX products have been working to have their products certified by the FCC, with Redline Communications being the first to announce a 3.65 GHz product to be approved for operation in the United States.” PDQLink, a Wireless Internet Service Provider in Illinois is also testing Redline’s 3.65 GHz RedMAX products.

Redline’s WiMAX products also include the RedMAX Indoor Subscriber Unit (SU-I) and Outdoor Subscriber Unit (SU-O) designed for enterprise and residential services, as well as a software management suite.

The FCC’s 3650-3700 MHz band requires fixed and base stations be at least 150 km from 86 grandfathered earth stations without consent, or within 80 km of three federal radar facilities without successful coordination. The rules give the locations of these facilities. The FCC’s public notice is available here (pdf).

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