MVDDS 5G Coalition accuses OneWeb of stifling 5G terrestrial uses of the 12 GHz band

satellite tv (Pixabay)
The Satellite Alliance opposes proposals by the MVDDS 5G Coalition and others to consider the 12 GHz band for potential terrestrial wireless broadband use. (Image: Pixabay)

The MVDDS 5G Coalition is stepping up efforts to get the FCC to make more midband spectrum available for 5G, challenging satellite players that say the 12 GHz band is needed for their ventures.

OneWeb and other members of the Satellite Alliance say they’re all for adequate spectrum for 5G but that it should not be accomplished by reallocating or making secondary any satellite operations in the 12 GHz band.

The rift stems mostly from a petition for rulemaking the MVDDS coalition filed more than 18 months ago urging the FCC to remove regulatory constraints on the 12.2-12.7 GHz band that prevent use of the spectrum for 5G wireless broadband services. The coalition, which includes Dish Network, wants the FCC to enable a two-way mobile broadband service in the 12 GHz band.

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The coalition argues that there is no merit to OneWeb’s claims that the commission should “turn its back on the 12 GHz Band as a source of important terrestrial spectrum to support 5G.” The MVDDS coalition agrees that the 12 GHz band has not been put to optimal use in recent years but says there are well-documented reasons for that, such as technical limits on power levels and prohibitions on two-way service.

The Satellite Alliance, whose members include OneWeb as well as Boeing, Space Norway and Intelsat, posits that the 12 GHz band is not a suitable candidate for terrestrial wireless broadband use and that satellite operators intensively use the band every day.

“The DBS bands are filled with literally millions of receive-only DBS antennas that inherently are incompatible with a terrestrial mobile service,” the alliance wrote. “Moreover, satellite use of the 12 GHz band is increasing,” in the form of OneWeb, Space Norway and Boeing that are pursuing plans to offer high-quality broadband to those who currently lack access to it.

OneWeb argued in a November filing that MVDDS licensees have largely allowed the 12 GHz band to lie fallow and appear to be relying on the regulatory “Hail Mary” of the MVDDS petition to resurrect an otherwise vastly underutilized service. In contrast, OneWeb is working at “breakneck pace” to put its satellite spectrum to use. The company was granted FCC approval in June 2017 and expects to launch its first satellite in May of this year.

“The imminent deployment of OneWeb’s innovative, state of the art NGSO FSS system will provide precisely the kind of two-way, low latency, high-speed connectivity utilizing the 12 GHz band—including to unserved and underserved populations—that the Coalition can merely tout as a future benefit,” OneWeb told the commission. “The implicit rationale underlying the MVDDS Petition—i.e., the 12 GHz band is underutilized—is even less compelling today than it was when filed more than 18 months ago.”