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Loosened FCC Regulations Open the Door for Ballston Startup’s Wireless Expansion

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Ballston-based tech startup Federated Wireless is taking advantage of new changes to the Federal Communications Commission’s rules to expand its business partnerships.

On March 12, Federated Wireless announced a new partnership with Cambium Networks, an Illinois-based internet provider, to use frequencies newly available for commercial wireless use.

Federated Wireless works on making new frequencies available for commercial use and ensuring that those frequencies do not interfere with other signals. This allows — for example — automatic cash registers to securely interface or factories to wirelessly link their information systems.

Federated Wireless offers its wireless access through the Citizens’ Broadband Radio Service initiative (CBRS), which makes a subset of the airwaves open for commercial use.

“While the traditional licensed spectrum approach has served the largest U.S. mobile operators well, it has also constrained network operators like [wireless providers] who operate smaller networks throughout the U.S.,” Scott Imhoff, vice president of product management and marketing at Cambium Networks, said in a press release. “CBRS changes everything — unlocking a large slice of spectrum for broader commercial use.”

Federated Wireless said the new partnership was made possible by a change in FCC regulations on Priority Access Licenses (PAL). In October, new rules opened up the available spectrum even further for commercial development. The new FCC regulations allow those who are holding PALs but aren’t using them to lease the spectrums to private enterprises.

Part of the change allows wireless internet service providers room to work together on certain frequencies and create a market where groups like Federated Wireless can go toe-to-toe with telecommunications giants by pooling their resources.

“The proposal also opens the opportunity for a fluid and vibrant secondary market for PALs, addressing the PAL needs for many enterprises,” Kurt Schaubach, chief technology officer for Federated Wireless, said in a blog post. “The PAL rules state that the licenses obtained within a county must be used or they will revert to [general] use. This actually encourages PAL holders who aren’t using their licenses to lease them to… other enterprises, giving these properties a competitive edge in the market.”

Photo courtesy Federated Wireless

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