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Chapter 2, Spectrum Bands: Licensed vs. Unlicensed

This chapter discusses some of the more common spectrum bands available for use by a WISP, and their relative advantages and disadvantages. The majority of WISPs operate in what is called “unlicensed spectrum”; that is, spectrum that is made freely available by their country's regulatory bodies for anyone to use. Other options exist; this section examines these options.

The majority of WISPs operate in what is called “unlicensed spectrum”; that is, spectrum that is made freely available by their country's regulatory bodies for anyone to use. There are a number of advantages to using unlicensed spectrum:

There are, of course, also disadvantages to utilizing unlicensed spectrum. These include:

There are also a number of “licensed frequencies” available. Licenses can be obtained from your region's regulatory body (for example the FCC), and most of the licensed equipment vendors will assist in obtaining a spectrum license for your link (most licenses are per-link; per-area licenses are typically very expensive, if they are available at all – the major cellphone companies own the majority of the licensed spectrum for wide-area coverage). The advantages to using licensed spectrum include:

There are also significant disadvantages to using licensed spectrum:

Most start-up WISPs operate entirely in unlicensed frequencies. As they grow, licensed options can become attractive for heavily utilized “backhaul” [trunk routes between towers] sites. It is therefore recommended that WISPs remain mindful of licensed options for the future, but start out in unlicensed territory to reduce start-up costs.

« Chapter 2: Introduction to Spectrum Bands, Protocols and Channel Widths Up To Contents Chapter 2, Spectrum Bands: Different Frequencies »

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