Light Licensing: A Quick and Low Cost License Process for 71-76 GHz Radio Systems

In 2003, the North American FCC made a significant amount of millimeter-wave spectrum, between 71 and 95 GHz, available for commercial, high quality, multi-gigabit point-to-point wireless communications. This allocation of the millimeter-wave (MMW) spectrum, widely known as E-Band, offers over 250 times the bandwidth capacity of the widely used, lower frequency microwave bands. Unlike the lower frequency bands, the MMW spectrum allows for full duplex data rates of 1.25 Gbps and beyond in cost-effective, point-to-point wireless configurations. Radio systems in these millimeter-wave bands are characterized by their highly directional “pencil beam” transmissions.

The FCC adopted an innovative licensing approach specifically for these bands. It defined a unique online link registration process through a shared industry database. As a result, the 71-76 GHz “light licensing” scheme is less cumbersome and significantly quicker than the typical FCC licensing process. This paper explores E-Band licensing in more detail, and explains how the process operates within the United States.

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