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Sharing the 5 GHz Band

Tue, 09/02/2003 - 8:46am

By David A. Case NCE, NCT

For the wireless industry, July 5th 2003 was a very important day, especially for the RLAN industry. This date is important because effective on that day was the adoption of numerous ITU-R resolutions and regulations that were approved at the World Radio Conference which ended 24 hours earlier.

Why was the results of WRC 2003 significant for the RLAN industry? It was the allocation of over 455 MHz of spectrum of the 5 GHz band for use by RLANs. This is a significant milestone for the RLAN community, which, in the very late 1980's began sharing part of the 900 MHz ISM band.

The use of RLAN has gone from providing just a wireless connection to a conference room with no LAN access to connecting rural areas to provide broadband. Also, while the data rates have increased from 384 Kbps to over 54 Mbps, the cost factors for these systems have decreased.

With the increase in use of RLAN from hospitals to factories and such has increased productivity. Recent studies have shown that with the use of wireless connectivity, the RLANs provide increase worker productivity on an average of over 70 minutes a day.

However, the allocation of the 5 GHz band for RLAN was a bit of a rocky road. For over the past year members of the United States industry and government worked together to develop a solution that would allow RLAN to operate in this band and protect the incumbent services, which included critical national defense systems.

It was not until January 31, 2003 that a compromise was reached by the parties in the United States that were addressing the issue. This resulted in the Inter American Proposal the week after the World Radio Conference, at the CITEL conference that addressed the allocation.

Though the basic allocation was met with little opposition at the WRC 2003, the technical parameters for operation in the 5250 - 5350MHz band produced long working sessions for those addressing this issue.

The final results of the 5 GHz decision allocating 455 MHz of spectrum at WRC 2003 is a definite win for the RLAN industry as a whole.

Editors Note: David Case served as a member of the US Delegation to the CITEL and 2003 World Radio Conference and was involved with the United States Industry and government workgroup addressing sharing of the 5 GHz band.

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