LMDS at Virginia Tech

Local Multipoint Distribution Service

Local Multipoint Distribution Service (LMDS) is a wireless data service that uses FCC licensed frequencies in the 27.5 GHz to 31.3 GHz range of the electromagnetic spectrum. It may be used for point-to-point and point-to-multipoint broadband data links over line-of-sight distances generally up to a few miles. Equipment is available that supports throughput speeds from several megabits per second up to 800 megabits per second. For more information, refer to the FCC LMDS web site.

Virginia Tech holds four A-block LMDS licenses covering most of Southwest Virginia as well as parts of North Carolina and Tennessee. The Virginia Tech Foundation acquired these licenses by bidding unopposed in the 17th FCC electronic auction held in the spring of 1998.


Virginia Tech LMDS Objectives

  1. Leverage LMDS for wireless technology research.
  2. Promote rural broadband infrastructure development.

Virginia Tech has leveraged LMDS spectrum in several areas of research and outreach. In 1998, the university led the creation of the LMDS Research Consortium which brought together several licensees, equipment manufacturers, and research laboratories to develop and promote LMDS technology.

The university’s Center for Wireless Telecommunications (CWT) conducted research sponsored by an array of military, federal, and commercial affiliates including the National Science Foundation, the National Security Administration, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the US Customs Service, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Hughes, ITT, and others.

Other groups at Virginia Tech, including the Space and Wireless Business Center, the Mobile and Portable Radio Research Group, the Blacksburg Electronic Village, and eCorridors have used LMDS for research and outreach programs.

In addition to research, Virginia Tech has engaged in multiple test-bed and commercial build-out projects. In 1999, Virginia Tech constructed one of the first rural point-to-multipoint LMDS systems as a test bed in association with an early equipment manufacturer.

The test bed supported multimedia applications including web-based video, weather data instrumentation, and remote office access at multi-megabit per second speeds. In 2001, the university entered into an agreement to lease a portion of the spectrum in the Roanoke BTA allocation to a wireless network service provider exploring the use of LMDS mesh wireless links for commercial and residential service.

Currently, Virginia Tech is in the process of developing an LMDS service project to provide diversity for fiber optic cabling in a university campus research network environment and also to provide access for remote laboratory and office locations not served by fiber. This project is expected to deploy gigabit per second class connections at multiple sites spread across southwest and southside Virginia during 2008.

Basic Trading Areas

VT LMDS Basic Trading Areas

BTAs, or Basic Trading Areas, define the geographic boundaries of LMDS licenses.

There are 493 BTAs in the United States. Virginia Tech's LMDS licenses include the Roanoke, Martinsville, Danville, and Bristol BTAs which cover an area of 16,000 square miles and are home to 1.6 million citizens.

These areas are serving as research testbeds for advanced wireless communications applied to rural areas.