C-Band Showdown at FCC Corral is Today

The FCC is expected to vote today on a proposal to open up the 3.7 – 4.2 GHz band for more flexible use. The Commission wants to seek comment on ways to clear the C-band for wireless use. The agency also intends to collect information from fixed satellite earth stations to get a better understanding of who uses the band now.

Wireless and satellite companies have proposed ways they say the band can be shared with each other and other incumbents, Inside Towers reported. Some of their recommendations include suggestions that some incumbents be moved to another portion of the C-band if sharing is unworkable.

Broadcasters dispute these theories, saying sharing would interfere with their ability to receive satellite programming and re-distribute it in a cost-effective way. Until now, they’ve not been required to register their satellite downlink earth stations. Now, the FCC wants those registrations and recently extended the deadline (from July 18) to October 17.  

In a meeting this week with Commission officials, NAB suggested the agency limit “this burdensome and potentially unnecessary information collection,” by curbing their request, at least initially, to stations in the top 25 markets. That way, the agency can gather information about earth station use “in those markets that are most likely to be of interest to wireless carriers while not unnecessarily burdening small and rural users,” according to a filing.

But if that doesn’t happen, NAB is worried small and rural stations may not know to register, nor the potential consequences of not doing so. “Given the tremendous potential for disruption in the event the Commission fails to protect incumbent C-band operations, we urge the Commission to take proactive steps to increase awareness of the need to register,” NAB emphasized.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

July 12, 2018

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