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Satellite Gigahertz Reallocation Plan Comments Sought by FCC

The 42.0 to 42.5 gigahertz (GHz) sub-band may switch from the “broadcasting satellite service” (BSS) to the “fixed satellite service” (FSS).

The U.S. government is seeking comments on a plan to reallocate the 42.0 to 42.5 gigahertz (GHz) sub-band from the “broadcasting satellite service” (BSS) to the “fixed satellite service” (FSS).

Satellites designed as “FSS” are geostationary communications satellites used for broadcast feeds for television and radio stations and networks, as well as for telephone and data communications. Satellites designed as “BSS” are used for radiocommunication services in which signals transmitted, or retransmitter, by space stations are intended for direct reception by the general public.

On Nov. 22, 2010 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued the third “notice of proposed rule making” (NPRM or “third notice”) seeking comment on technical rules for the FSS in the 37.5 to the 42.5 GHz band, and to ensure that satellite operators in that band range can share the band with terrestrial fixed microwave services without causing harmful interference. The original NPRM—Allocation and Designation of Spectrum for Fixed-Satellite Services in the 37.5-38.5 GHz; 40.5-41.5 GHz; and 48.2-50.2 GHz Frequency Bands—was adopted Oct. 29, 2010.

The FCC says the rules in the third notice will “harmonize allocations in the 37.5-42.5 GHz band with the allocations agreed by the United States at the 2000 and 2003 World Radiocommunication Conferences.” In addition, the rules will also ensure the protection of radioastronomy operations in the 42.5 to 43.5 GHz band from interference from satellite operations in the adjacent 37.5 to 42.5 GHz band.

The rules proposed will also provide standards for coordination of FSS gateway earth stations and “fixed service” (FS) stations, in order to prevent interference between these stations. Finally, the proposed rules will establish a methodology for increasing power flux-density (PFD) from satellites operating in the 37.5 to 40.0 GHz band under rain fade conditions, in order to minimize the likelihood of interference to FS microwave links operating in the same band while at the same time ensuring the continuity of satellite service.

The 37.5 to 42.5 GHz band is shared between FSS and terrestrial microwave operators on a primary basis. Under a regulatory plan known as “soft segmentation,” technical rules favor the widespread deployment of terrestrial microwave stations in the 37.5 to 40.0 GHz portion of the band and widespread deployment of consumer satellite earth stations in the 40.0 to 42.5 GHz portion of the band, the FCC says.

The third notice proposes to complete the allocation of the entire 37.5 to 42.5 GHz band to terrestrial microwave and FSS by removing allocations to the “broadcasting service” and the BSS in the 42.0 to 42.5 GHz band and by adding an allocation for FSS on a primary basis in the 42.0 to 42.5 GHz band.

In order to prevent harmful interference from FSS operators to terrestrial microwave and to radioastronomy operations in the adjacent 42.5 to 43.5 GHz band, the third notice requests comment on coordination procedures for FSS operators and terrestrial microwave operators in the band and requests comment on what protection requirements will adequately protect radioastronomy operations in the 42.5 to 43.5 GHz band.

The third notice proposes to prevent harmful interference to terrestrial microwave stations from higher-power satellite transmissions by requiring FSS operators in the band to use measures other than boosting power to compensate for signal fading due to rain before boosting power, depending on the rain rate in various locations in the United States.

Comments are due by Jan. 6, 2011, and reply comments are due by Feb. 7, 2011. Comments need have the “WT Docket No. 07-293” and “IB Docket No. 95-91,” and can be filed by any of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

The FCC’s website: Follow the instructions for submitting comments.