The Federal Communications Commission yesterday issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking governing wireless broadband operations in the 3650-3700 MHz band. The FCC wants to allow unlicensed devices that operate within the band to do so with higher power than currently allowed under its Part 15 rules, in order to bring broadband access to more Americans, particularly those living in rural areas.

The FCC said the rulemaking is in response to requests from wireless Internet service providers, which have been seeking additional spectrum for higher-power devices in order to more economically provide backhaul links to Internet gateways as well as broadband access networks serving individual customers in sparsely populated areas.

The FCC further said the block of spectrum between 3650-3700 MHz is a “natural fit” for service expansion, especially in rural areas, because it falls midway between the 2.$ GHz and 5.8 GHz bands currently used by unlicensed Wi-Fi devices, and because FSS (fixed satellite service) earth stations that operate in the 3650 MHz band are located primarily on the east and west coasts.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell said in a statement that the rulemaking “may be another giant step in our effort to bring affordable broadband services to all Americans.”