Good spectrum can be hard to find. In the mobile broadband world, for example, carriers spent $40 billion in the AWS-3 auction last year and plan to spend billions more in the 600 MHz broadcast incentive auction next year. There is serious congestion in the unlicensed bands at 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz, and lower-band licensed frequencies for narrower-band applications are similarly clogged. The good news is that rural electric utilities looking for wireless links to run demand response and other smart grid applications have a place to find plenty of spectrum at very low cost.
NRTC strategic partner Parseous Systems last week led a webinar for NRTC members interested in the benefits of the 217-220 MHz band. It is, said Parseous Chairman and CEO Brian Andrew, a band for narrow-band applications that is ideal of utilities. “It is extremely effective for doing demand automation or SCADA or demand response and even meter reading and things where you need the range, but you don’t need a lot of capacity,” he said.
The Parseous radios are ideal for the band as well. “The FCC has approved these radios to work in this band. Nobody has developed a business case that makes any sense for a public service or cellular network … Nobody is going to use this spectrum in your area,” Andrew said.
The reason? The 217-220 MHz band has a somewhat odd history. The FCC sold much of the band off in the Interactive Video and Data Services (IVDS) auction, the second auction the Commission ever held back in 1994. The original intention was to uses the IVDS licenses for a form over over-the-air interactive television technology which never caught on. Over the years, licensees gave up their licenses or simply did not use them. Today it is simple to lease the frequencies at low cost or apply to use them on a secondary basis anywhere in the country.
However, the days of easy access might not last forever. “Machine-to-machine companies are going out and licensing up some areas for 217-220 MHz,” said Jo Ellen Andrew, Parseous VP, and Marketing & Business Development. “If anybody is thinking they would like to use , it’s a first-in-gets-it situation. You really should be out there putting in even a base system to protect the territory in your area.”
NRTC members who were unable to attend the webinar and would like to know more about Parseous and 217-220 MHz should contact Jim Layne, manager of fixed wireless at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Member Impact