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Commission Declines Proposal for 14.0–14.5 GHz

FHH speculates that FCC may prefer to use that spectrum for in-flight broadband

From the spectrum management front:

Two bureaus of the FCC have turned down a request to open the 14.0–14.5 GHz band for certain types of communication, according to the newsletter of law firm Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth. The law firm speculates that this decision may indicate a preference at the FCC for another use of that spectrum, one involving in-flight broadband.

The petition was filed in 2008 by the Utilities Telecom Council and Winchester Cator LLC. They asked that the FCC open that spectrum for point-to-point and point-to-multipoint communications, according to the newsletter, and said that this would have served “critical infrastructure industries” including electric utilities and emergency responders; other services would have been permitted on a “preemptible” basis.

The Fletcher Heald analysis continues: “The bureaus disagreed with the petition’s argument that the band could be licensed without an auction. They also had concerns about interference into fixed satellite uplinks, which are primary in the band, and expressed doubts as to whether the proposed single-entity frequency coordinator could identify and resolve any interference issues that occurred.” The utilities industry has many bands available to it, the commission found, as well as access to an extensive physical network to support wired infrastructure.

Fletcher Heald said the FCC staff concluded that the proposal “plainly” did not warrant consideration. “That strikes us as little harsh,” the law firm commented. “Had the bureaus wanted to move forward, they plausibly could have raised each objection instead as a question in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.”

The law firm speculates about another possible reason for the rejection. There’s a proposal afloat to use 14.0–14.5 GHz for air-ground broadband systems to facilitate Internet service for airplane passengers. “Perhaps the FCC judged that the two systems could not coexist, and has now made its choice between them,” the firm opined.