Members of the Broadband Access Coalition, including the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), are praising the FCC’s moves on Thursday to issue a temporary freeze on applications for new or modified fixed satellite service (FSS) earth stations and fixed microwave stations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band.
The FCC also opened a 90-day window during which entities that own or operate existing FSS earth stations in the C-Band can file documents to update their current licenses or registrations. The purpose of these moves is to gather up-to-date information on current operations in the C-Band, something the FCC has been encouraged to do for a while now.
Several entities, including the Broadband Access Coalition, Google and AT&T, have been calling for a review and update of the database that tracks the operation of earth stations receiving in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band.
WISPA noted that the agency also opened a new docket captioned “Expanding Flexible Use of the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz Band,” which suggests that the FCC may be considering shared use of the band in a standalone proceeding.
“These are strong moves in the right direction for WISPA members and all broadband consumers,” said WISPA President Claude Aiken in a statement. “The agency seems to be heeding our comments on the lack of adequate information in the current earth stations database, and our call for separating the consideration of the 3.7-4.2 and 5.9-7.1 bands. This could pave the way to faster action on shared use of the C-Band.”
Last summer, the Broadband Access Coalition, including WISPA and more than 20 service providers, equipment vendors, trade associations and advocacy groups, filed a petition for rulemaking that called for a new, licensed, point-to-multipoint (P2MP) fixed wireless service in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. The coalition’s proposal would enable gigabit and near-gigabit broadband service in rural and underserved areas and promote competition in all areas among various broadband technologies and licensees.
Separately, the American Cable Association (ACA) President and CEO Matthew Polka issued a statement thanking the bureaus—the International, Public Safety and Homeland Security and Wireless Telecommunications—for taking into account the ACA’s concerns about the cost of registering earth stations operated by ACA members.
By providing a window in which mutichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) can register their earth stations without submitting an expensive spectrum coordination report, the FCC has lowered the cost of registration by roughly $700 or 60%, according to the ACA.
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“As ACA previously explained to the FCC, this relief will motivate its members to register their stations for the first time, which will ultimately help the FCC understand where and how the C-Band is currently used, and how the band can best be made available for other uses,” Polka said. “ACA appreciates today’s action, which demonstrates the Bureaus’ appreciation for the need to provide incumbent users with at least some protection from future interference, particularly cable operators who use the C-Band to obtain the video programming they provide to their customers. We encourage all ACA members to take advantage of this one-time opportunity and register their earth stations immediately.”
The commission issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) last year seeking comment on frequency bands that had garnered interest to potentially support increased flexible uses, including the 3.7-4.2 GHz band.
At an event hosted Thursday by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly suggested the FCC this summer should move to make available at least 200 or 300 megahertz of C-Band spectrum, which is more than the 100 megahertz that some satellite players had proposed.