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NAB Warns FCC Not to Weaken Protections for Existing Spectrum Users

Association reminds commission that repack has implications for broadcasters and others

WASHINGTON — Broadcasters are warning the FCC not to weaken protections for current spectrum users, like broadcasters, in its race to free up more spectrum for wireless broadband.

While that sounds like it could be a 2014 advisory on the potential impact of the broadcast incentive auction, it was actually the National Association of Broadcasters calling on the commission to require “detailed” technical proposals for sharing C-band spectrum rather than simply “assume that technical solutions will appear that will allow incompatible services to share spectrum.”

The FCC is preparing a report — Mandated by the MOBILE NOW Act — on the feasibility of current C-band satellite spectrum users sharing their 3.7-4.2 GHZ spectrum band with terrestrial wireless broadband users.

That report needs to be in the hands of the appropriate committees by Sept. 23, 2019, so there is still time to hash out the issue.

Broadcast networks use the C-band to deliver their content to over 1,000 affiliates, as do cable networks to their MVPDs, as does NPR to get its programming to public radio stations.

The National Association of Broadcasters made those points in comments on the report solicited by the FCC earlier this month.

NAB told the FCC that before it allows the band to be shared with unlicensed devices (Google is one of the companies pushing to share the spectrum) or licensed wireless broadband services, it needs to do its due diligence to make sure incumbents are not subject to harmful interference.

NAB pointed out that virtually every TV and radio household gets some programming courtesy of C-band delivery., that using fiber as an alternative program delivery otpion is not always available or affordable, and that, as a result, “the Commission should insist on rigorous technical analysis of specific and detailed proposals before making decisions that will impact tens of millions of radio and television households,” including by potentially interfering with the delivery of that programming. NAB also said that simple geographic separation between users is not sufficient protection from interference.

The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications, International, Public Safety and Homeland Security bureaus two weeks ago said they were instituting a temporary freeze on applications for new or modified fixed satellite service earth stations and fixed microwave stations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz spectrum bands (C-band) to “preserve the current landscape” as it looks into possibly allowing mobile broadband and more “intensive” fixed use.

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