EchoStar, OneWeb, others ask for more time to rebut spectrum arguments

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, apparently, so a group of satellite companies is asking the FCC to extend the deadline for filing replies in the proceeding on spectrum bands above 24 GHz.

Specifically, EchoStar, Hughes Network Systems, Inmarsat, WorldVu Satellites doing business as OneWeb, SES Americom, Intelsat and Boeing are asking that the deadline for filing replies to oppositions to the petitions for reconsideration filed in the proceeding be extended by 14 days, from Feb. 10 to Feb. 24. Put another way, they want more time to rebut comments that oppose what the satellite companies want to obtain with regard to the millimeter-wave spectrum for which the FCC is finalizing rules.

Last month, the FCC granted a request by Public Knowledge and Open Technology Institute to extend the due date for oppositions to petitions for reconsideration from Jan. 17 to Jan. 31 and set the date for replies to Feb. 10.

At the time the FCC granted that extension, however, it declined to grant a parallel request for extension with respect to replies to oppositions, finding that doing so would be “premature because the scope of opposition pleadings is not known,” the satellite broadband companies said in their motion for more time. “That is no longer the case. We now know that the petitions for reconsideration elicited 24 filings in response, which raise complex and technical arguments that will require significant effort to analyze and rebut. Without sufficient time to conduct such analysis for reply, parties will be unable to provide the Commission the fully developed record it needs to make an informed decision. Moreover, they will be unfairly forced to respond during an abbreviated period to oppositions crafted with the benefit of a two-week extension (which itself came after opponents had already had over a month to review the petitions).”

The FCC doesn’t routinely grant extensions of time on these kinds of proceedings, but it said it made an exception last month because it wanted to ensure a complete and thorough record. Whether it will see fit to grant another extension is unclear, but there’s no shortage of complex and technical arguments being raised on all sides.

For example, satellite companies are pushing to reduce the transmit power of Upper mmW Flexible Use Services (UMFUS) equipment from a 75 dBm level down to 62 dBm, one that terrestrial wireless companies oppose. Satellite operators also want to see an established database to identify where UMFUS stations are operating, but the terrestrial wireless industry says that’s unnecessary.

SES and O3b Limited also say that throughout the Spectrum Frontiers proceeding, the satellite industry has pointed out that terrestrial operators seeking to offer 5G mobile service are unlikely to deploy service in rural areas using frequencies above 24 GHz, and specifically the 28 GHz, 37 GHz and 39 GHz bands. They say that petitions for reconsideration submitted by several rural LMDS operators demonstrate a real risk that the 28 GHz band spectrum will go unused in a substantial portion of the United States unless the commission revises its rules to allow FSS networks the flexibility to locate earth stations in areas terrestrial operators have no intention of occupying.