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FCC Approves Rules Governing Wireless Services in 2.3 GHz Band

Ends 13-year dispute between wireless, sat rad over potential interference; terrestrial repeater rules finalized

The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday on rules governing the use of wireless communication services in the 2.3 GHz band while protecting users in adjacent bands like satellite radio and aeronautical telemetry against interference. The agency also issued final rules governing terrestrial repeaters for both satellite radio and wireless users.

The action allows companies to use the 25 MHz of spectrum that was in dispute for mobile broadband and ends a 13-year fight between wireless users and satellite radio. The wireless companies wanted to use the spectrum for new services and satellite radio fought them, citing potential interference to their services. Several automakers, including Ford, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz, sided with Sirius XM in the dispute.

In its push to find 500 MHz of spectrum for broadband, the commission had recently pushed for a resolution to the dispute, and had offered a compromise.

In the open commission meeting on Thursday, Chairman Julius Genachowski said that just as new mobile technology is starting to be commercially deployed, “the order allows wireless companies to use spectrum that has essentially remained fallow for years.”

Commissioner Robert McDowell cited field testing conducted in 2009 in Ashburn, Va., by wireless companies and Sirius XM that showed the wireless use “would impede or degrade satellite radio transmission … rarely, if at all.”