Satellite industry says hundreds more earth stations will be added to 28 GHz band in 2-4 years

In the ongoing process of hashing out divergent interests between satellite and mobile terrestrial systems for sharing spectrum in the 28 GHz band, the Satellite Industry Association (SIA) is answering a few questions for the FCC – and leaving others in the "we'll-get-back-to-you-later" category.

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SIA representatives met with FCC staff on Feb. 29 to discuss the Spectrum Frontiers proceeding, and at the meeting, the FCC asked for additional information on four different topics, one of which is how many individually licensed earth stations are expected for current and future satellites.

Delivering its answers in a March 22 filing, the SIA says the total number of individually licensed earth stations using the 28 GHz spectrum is about 40. There are seven pending individual earth station applications seeking to use the 28 GHz band, and the industry anticipates about 45 more applications will be filed in the near term.

"Hundreds more earth stations will be added in this band within the next two to four years at various geographic locations throughout the United States," SIA's filing states. "As satellite systems continue to grow and new systems begin operations, additional individually licensed earth stations will be deployed and will need access to the 28 GHz and the 38.6-40.0 GHz bands in the future."

At a workshop at the FCC earlier this month, U.S. carrier representatives discussed their desire to continue working with the satellite industry to come up with some workable solutions.  

"Much like a terrestrial wireless network, increasing the capacity and efficiency of satellite broadband networks requires more intensive spectrum reuse," SIA said in its March 22 filing. "That occurs by employing larger numbers of individually licensed earth stations to provide interconnection for even higher capacity satellite networks with the Internet and other data networks. In addition, the design of individually licensed earth stations for aggregating traffic on satellite networks is also changing, with many decreasing in size and complexity, which may reduce the area where terrestrial 5G services could be affected for some operations."

As for a couple other questions, SIA said it is engaged in ongoing technical discussions with the terrestrial community to define the necessary operating environment for satellite and terrestrial users in the 28 GHz band. Those discussions will shape its response to questions the FCC has about the separation distances required to protect 5G terrestrial receivers from interference from earth stations and the ability of operators to site 28 GHz band earth stations in less populated areas and deploy shielding.

For more:
- see this SIA filing

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