In May 1995, the Federal Communications Commission adopted an Order in its Personal Communications Services (PCS) Docket that, among other things, allocated 20 MHz of spectrum in the 1910-1930 spectrum band for deployment of unlicensed PCS devices; the 1910-1920 MHz sub band was designated for asynchronous devices and the1920-1930 MHz sub band was designated for isochronous applications. However, in order to make the band useful for unlicensed use, over 1,100 active, licensed, point-to-point microwave links had to be relocated. In the Fourth Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Commission also designated UTAM, Inc. as the frequency coordinator for the UPCS spectrum band. In this capacity, UTAM's responsibility included the oversight of the deployment of UPCS devices so as to avoid interference to any incumbent microwave licensee prior to the relocation of all the links, or the sunset of their primary status. UTAM was also designated for recovering the costs for clearing the band from the eventual users of the UPCS band. Over the course of this transition, UTAM cleared 99% of the band of active microwave links and on April 5, 2005 any remaining microwave link lost their primary status making the deployment of nomadic devices, such as cordless phones, possible.
In the fall of 2004 the FCC re-allocated the asynchronous portion of the band (1910 - 1920 MHz) since it was going unused. 1910 - 1915 MHz was allocated to Nextel in a spectrum swap and 1915 - 1920 MHz was allocated to be auctioned off for Advanced Wireless Services. In addition, the FCC modified some of the Part 15 rules governing the deployment of products for the Unlicensed PCS band to allow for different industry standards, such as DECT. (Helpful links)
In the course of the transition UTAM had placed significant controls over the deployment of products to insure that no interference was caused to microwave incumbents. Products had to undergo UTAM product certification and the deployment of product was managed on a geographical basis. On April 5, 2005 any remaining microwave link operating in this band, of which there are only a small handful, lost their primary status and UTAM no longer needed to be concerned with any potential interference to these incumbents. As a result, many of the controls put on by UTAM are no longer required. Users of the band will still be required to pay their fair share of the costs for clearing out the band, but UTAM certification, and any geographical limitations of product deployment became moot.
How does UTAM fit into the process?
While the concern of interfering with incumbent microwave systems is no longer an issue, UTAM has incurred significant debt in clearing the band for unlicensed use that must be recovered. UTAM's role will be to insure that any products that utilize the UPCS band pay their fair share of the cost for clearing the band. It does this through the imposition of fees that are used to pay off its clearing costs and financial obligations. Once all of UTAM's obligations have been paid off, UTAM will dissolve and all clearing fees will be eliminated. (UTAM Clearing Fees)
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