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FCC Looking for Comments on Offshore Wireless Spectrum Use

Questions remain on which spectrum bands to use

The Federal Communications Commission is looking for input on offshore wireless spectrum use.

The commission has issued a Notice of Inquiry to begin the process of gathering information on current needs, future needs and potential impacts of offshore wireless spectrum use from offshore projects like wind turbines, cruise ships and oceanography projects. Increased spectrum access and updated spectrum management may help projects such as these, the commission said, and input from the public helps determine the best ways to address these needs. 

The commission is also looking for information on which spectrum bands might best meet offshore spectrum needs, how to protect active users operating in those bands and examples of successes/failures in other countries.  

Commenters are being asked to share their thoughts on different spectrum right models such as shared, tiered and primary rights structures. The notice also seeks the public’s opinion on licensing and how different licensing assignment mechanisms might work best. 

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For operations like a windfarm, the FCC is seeking information on how spectrum might be useful for testing, maintenance and communications with ships and other offshore operations. The commission is also interested in the needs of commercial or private maritime as well as aeronautical uses, and is asking for information such as how far from land demand exists for wireless operation and how potential wireless infrastructure would be set up.

“I support this Notice of Inquiry because it takes an important step toward ensuring that our rules work for a clean energy economy,” said Commissioner Geoffrey Starks when the notice was released. “Our inquiry puts us ahead of the game in understanding these connectivity requirements, and makes sure we’ll have the right framework in place to meet their needs, too. And we correctly seek comment on virtually every framework imaginable — licensed by rule, licensed by site, licensed ‘light,’ by geography and even unlicensed — so that we calibrate our approach to each band and the nature of demand behind it.”

Comments can be filed within the commission’s ECFS database under the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Docket 22-204.