Amateur Radio Gets a Partial Reprieve on 3.5 GHz

Pending future FCC action, amateur radio secondary use of the 3.3 -3.45 GHz band segment may continue indefinitely. The FCC decided that “continued access by amateur radio to 3.3 – 3.45 GHz should be allowed while it analyzes whether that spectrum can be reallocated for commercial wireless use.”

The FCC action represents a partial “and temporary” reprieve from the FCC’s December 2019 proposal to remove amateur radio from the entire band, and it makes available an additional 50 Megahertz than an FCC proposal last fall to allow amateur temporary use of 3.3 – 3.4 GHz.

The FCC will auction commercial licenses in  the 3.45 – 3.55 GHz band to wireless telecom companies to support 5G roll outs across the United States.

Amateur secondary operation in the 3.45 – 3.50 GHz band must cease 90 days after public notice that the spectrum auction has closed, and licensing has begun. That is expected to happen early in 2022.

“We therefore allow secondary amateur operations to continue in the 3.4 – 3.45 GHz portion of the band,” the FCC said. “We emphasize, however, that amateur licensees remain secondary users, and those that operate on frequencies close to the 3450 MHz band edge must do so with particular caution to avoid causing harmful interference to flexible-use licensees in the 3.45 GHz Service, which hold primary status.

Many ham radio operators are unfamiliar with the 9-centimeter band. The 3.40 – 3.41 GHz segment has been designated for amateur satellite communication. Other operators on the band have done moon bounce operations, and other microwave experiments. AREDN mesh networks have proven to be useful in emergency communications.

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