At its May Open Meeting on May 13, 2020, in addition to items on regulatory fees and broadcaster applications notices, the Commission will consider two spectrum related items designed to further expand wireless broadband opportunities. In a draft Report and Order to transition the 900 MHz Band, the Commission would make six of the ten megahertz between 896-901 and 935-940 MHz available on a paired basis for commercial broadband mobile services while reserving four megahertz for incumbent narrowband communications. The Commission would also establish a transition mechanism based on voluntary negotiations to move narrowband incumbents operations to the lower and upper portions of each sub-band. In a draft Second Report and Order, the Commission would add new Ku- and Ka-Band frequencies for Earth Stations in Motion (“ESIMs”) and allow ESIMs, which have always communicated with geostationary orbit (“GSO”) fixed satellite service (“FSS”) satellites, to also communicate with non-geostationary satellite orbit (“NGSO”) satellites orbiting closer to Earth.
Stakeholders in the 900 MHz and Ku- and Ka-Bands should closely examine these two items and the impact on their business. You will find more information on the key May meeting items after the break:
900 MHz Transition: The Commission will consider a draft Report and Order that would realign the 900 MHz Band (896-901/935-940 MHz) to make available six megahertz of low-band spectrum (897.5-900.5/936.5-939.5 MHz) for Part 27 broadband mobile services and technologies, while reserving the remaining four megahertz of the band (896-897.5/935-936.5 MHz and 900.5-901/939.5-940 MHz (the “Narrowband Sub-Bands”) for continued narrowband Part 90 Business and Industrial Radio Private Land Mobile Radio Services that has until now occupied the entire Band. The draft Report and Order would establish a transition mechanism, based primarily on negotiations between prospective broadband licensees and narrowband incumbents, but also allowing a 900 MHz broadband licensee, once certain conditions are satisfied through voluntary relocations, to relocate mandatorily a small number of incumbents (except those with complex systems) by providing comparable facilities and reimbursing incumbent costs. The draft Report and Order would provide that any transition to a broadband segment should not disrupt or harm incumbent narrowband uses of the band. In the Narrowband Sub-Bands, 158 paired 12.5 kilohertz channels would remain available for continued narrowband operations. The draft item would also address license application requirements, transition procedures, and operating and technical rules that will apply to the new Part 27 licensees.
If adopted, the new rules and requirements would be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, with the exception of the application and performance reporting requirements, which contain new or modified information collections that require review by the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act.
ESIMs Reorganization: The Commission will consider a draft Second Report and Order to expand the frequency bands available to ESIMs that provide satellite communications to ships, vehicles, trains and aircraft, and advance regulatory consistency between GSO and NGSO bands available to ESIMs. The draft Second Report and Order would expand on the First Report and Order to allow ESIMs to use the following bands to communicate with GSO satellites with certain limitations.
- GSO ESIMs in the Extended Ku-band: The draft order would allow communications from GSO FSS satellites to ESIMs in the 10.7-10.95 GHz and 11.2-11.45 GHz bands, where ESIMs are receive-only, on an unprotected basis with respect to non-Federal fixed service stations that have primary status in the bands. A requirement to protect radio astronomy in the bands would also apply to ESIM operations.
- GSO ESIMs in the Ka-Band: The draft order would allow ESIMs to receive signals from GSO FSS satellites on a secondary basis in the 17.8-18.3 GHz band and on a primary basis in the 19.3-19.4 and 19.6-19.7 GHz band; and allow ESIMs to operate with GSO FSS satellite networks in the 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz bands on an unprotected, non-interference basis with respect to NGSO FSS satellite systems.
ESIMs have historically communicated with GSO satellites, but the draft item would also adopt a regulatory framework for ESIMs to communicate with NGSO FSS satellites in the Ku- and Ka-bands, including blanket earth station licensing (as opposed to individual licensing for terminals) for ESIM networks and common self-monitoring and network monitoring and control requirements.
- NGSO ESIMs in the Ku- and Ka-Bands: The framework would also allow ESIMs to operate with NGSO FSS satellites in the 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz band on a primary basis and in the 11.7-12.2 GHz, 14.0-14.5 GHz, 18.3-18.6 GHz, 19.7-20.2 GHz, 28.35-28.6 GHz and 29.5-30 GHz bands on a primary basis (except they may not cause harmful interference to, or claim protection from, GSO FSS networks). ESIMs would be permitted to receive signals from NGSO FSS satellites in the 10.7-11.7 GHz, 19.3-19.4 GHz and 19.6-19.7 GHz bands on an unprotected basis with respect to non-Federal fixed service stations and in the 17.8-18.3 GHz band on a secondary basis.
If adopted, the new rules and requirements would be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.