Facebook presses for compromise HAPS proposal before WRC-19

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Facebook is not a HAPS manufacturer or operator but had invested in the technology, which can be used by both mobile and satellite operators to provide more affordable broadband. (Pixabay)

Facebook continues to meet with FCC staff about promoting a U.S. proposal for High-Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) ahead of next year’s World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19).

The commission is currently deciding what its position is going to be for outstanding U.S. proposals on the WRC-19 agenda items. It's Facebook’s recommendation that the FCC champion a proposal in reconciliation with NTIA that includes the 21.5-22 GHz, 24.25-27.25 GHz, 28/31 GHz and 38-39.5 GHz bands, with directionality and appropriate pfd and EIRP levels on HAPS that protect federal and commercial incumbent services.

In its ex parte filing (PDF), Facebook explained that its mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together, and one of the ways it's been doing this is by pioneering new technologies to bring affordable connectivity to more people faster. Although the company is no longer pursuing the solar-powered Aquila project for providing internet via laser, it’s continuing to work with partners to help advance the HAPS space.

Facebook referenced HAPS as a radio station that operates about 12 miles above the ground at a nominally fixed position relative to the ground, providing about a 100-kilometer diameter coverage area.

The social media giant notes that it is neither a HAPS manufacturer nor an operator, but it has invested in the technology, which can be used by both mobile and satellite operators to provide more affordable broadband. The company is collaborating with Airbus and other HAPS companies to advance spectrum and aviation policy to demonstrate the viability of HAPS systems for providing broadband connectivity in the bands considered by the ITU, which will host WRC-19.

Given its goals of supporting affordable broadband backhaul, Facebook recommends identifications of HAPS and IMT in the same bands in order to make HAPS use of the 26 and 38 GHz bands in rural markets affordable, through economies of scale for chips and other broadband components.

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In an August filing with the FCC, Facebook said it supports the 24 GHz and 39 GHz millimeter wave auctions that the FCC has teed up for this year and next year. New HAPS rules would allow more flexibility to Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service providers that win those auctions and are subsequently awarded licenses, Facebook said.