Wireless Communications Services

Wireless Communications Services (WCS) is a category of service that operates in the 2.3-GHz band of the electromagnetic spectrum from 2305 to 2320 MHz and 2345 to 2360 MHz. The FCC issued licenses for WCS as the result of a spectrum auction held in April 1997. Licensees are permitted—within their assigned spectrum and geographic areas—to provide any fixed, mobile, radiolocation, or broadcast-satellite service.

One use for the WCS spectrum is for services that adhere to the Personal Access Communications System (PACS) standard. This standard is applied to consumer-oriented products, such as personal cordless devices. There are two 10-MHz WCS licenses for each of 52 major economic areas (MAEs) and two 5-MHz WCS licenses for each of 12 regional economic area groupings (REAGs).

WCS licensees are permitted to partition their service areas into smaller geographic service areas and to disaggregate their spectrum into smaller blocks without limitation. Licenses are good for a term of 10 years and are renewable just like PCS and cellular licensees. In addition, WCS licensees will be required to provide “substantial service” within their 10-year license term.

WCS is implemented through small relay stations, which may interface with the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Where WCS poses interference problems with existing Multipoint Distribution Service (MDS) or Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS) operations, the WCS licensees must bear the full financial obligation for the remedy.

WCS licensees must notify potentially affected MDS/ITFS licensees at least 30 days before commencing operations from any new WCS transmission site or increasing power from an existing site of the technical parameters of the WCS transmission facility. The FCC expects WCS and MDS/ITFS licensees to coordinate voluntarily and in good faith to avoid interference problems, which will result in the greatest operational flexibility in each of these types of operations.

In establishing WCS, the FCC believed that the flexible use of the 2305- to 2320-MHz and 2345- to 2360-MHz frequency bands would help ensure that new technologies are developed and deployed, such as a wireless system tailored to provide portable Internet access over wide areas at data rates comparable to an ISDN-type connection.

Because the technical characteristics of such a system would differ significantly from those for some other systems that might use this band (e.g., PCS), the FCC neither restricted the services provided in this band nor dictated technical standards for operation beyond those required to avoid interference and protect the public interest. In fact, WCS licensees are not constrained to a single use of this spectrum and, therefore, may offer a mix of services and technologies to their customers.