The FCC is moving ahead with a proposal to remove regulatory barriers for the use of microwave spectrum for wireless backhaul. The decision was made at the agency's open meeting yesterday.

"Flexible rules can greatly increase our efficient use of microwave spectrum," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. "Removing outdated regulatory barriers to keep pace with the rapid changes in technology will help reduce some of the costs of 4G deployment and increase investment in new 4G services that enhance economic growth and U.S. competitiveness."

The agency is currently exploring ways to increase the flexibility of microwave bands below 13 GHz while protecting incumbent licensees. The FCC is also investigating ways to reduce backhaul costs to facilitate deployment of wireless networks.

The proposed rulemaking could be especially beneficial to rural areas, where microwave-based technologies may be the only practical, high-capacity backhaul solution available for remote locations, said the agency. With spectrum sharing, 750 megahertz of microwave spectrum may be made available for broadband backhaul or other advanced point-to-point uses.

The ruling was initiated by a request from infrastructure companies including Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson for interpretation of the FCC's rules for use of the 4 GHz, 6 GHz, 10 GHz and 11 GHz bands in fixed wireless services.

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