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With Earth Station Filing Deadline Set, FCC Will Eye Potential C Band Opportunities

Spectrum to be repurposed for uses such as mobile broadband

The wheels are in motion for submitting information about a radio station’s satellite earth station usage.

The Federal Communications Commission has finalized the deadline for all radio stations to submit information about earth station and satellite usage as May 28, 2019.

Way back in July 2018, the FCC started the process of collecting information for earth station and satellite licensees. The goal, plainly stated by Commissioner Ajit Pai at the time, was to “ensure that America continues to lead the world in mobile innovation” and pursue a spectrum strategy that “calls for making low-band, midband and high-band airwaves available for flexible use,” he said.

[Read: NAB to FCC: Don’t Depose “King Content” in C Band Revamp]

The process marches on now that the FCC has finally finalized the deadline for radio stations to detail their use of the spectrum in the 3.7–4.2 GHz band. The goal is to gather feedback on current usage to determine the viability of transitioning some or all of the 3.7–4.2 GHz band to terrestrial fixed and mobile broadband services.

By the May 28 deadline, operators of fixed satellite service (FSS) earth stations in this band must certify the accuracy of their license info, including call signs and file numbers as well as detailed info on satellite operating capacity. Temporary or transportable users must also provide details such as how often the link is used.

The FCC has some fairly specific guidance on how to file the information. FSS stations must submit the information using the “Pleadings and Comments” link here. For fixed, temporary fixed or transportable earth station licensee, file certifications as a pleading type “C Band certification” for each call sign. And also: temporary fixed and transportable earth station licensees and space station licensees must file the additional earth station and space station data requested above using the pleading type “Other” for each call sign.

The mood from broadcasters on the issue has been one part dubious, one part hopeful. The National Association of Broadcasters has called on the commission to “tread lightly” when it comes to potentially repurposing spectrum for the commercial wireless industry, said NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton when the initial order was released. Since nearly every American depends on C Band satellite spectrum to receive radio and television programming, he said, the FCC must move carefully.

Other broadcasters, like National Public Radio have also expressed concern about impact the move could have on the continued affordability, reliability and availability of existing C Band operations.

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