12 GHz Reorganization For Mobile Picks Up Steam At FCC
Federal Communications Commission’s two Republicans have signaled they’re open to repurposing the 12 gigahertz satellite band to support wireless service, indicating that an inquiry open since the Trump administration could take off if the technical details check out.
During Tuesday remarks at the Incompas Policy Summit, FCC Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr said converting satellite spectrum in the 12 GHz band to support ground-based mobile service is viable possibility as long as any new services don’t interfere with their neighbors.
“I want a win-win. If we can do terrestrial 5G in 12 [GHz] and not, you know, cause harmful interference to existing incumbent operations there, then I’m a yes,” he said.
Similarly, FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington said he would be interested in opening up the 12 GHz band to more uses with FCC engineers’ blessing.
“[Given] that the engineering assessment within the FCC does turn out to be favorable, at that point,I think there is significant potential,” he told an audience at Incompas. “Anything that increases diversity in the technology sector therefore undermines monopolies and better serves the public.That’s encouraging.”
In January 2020, former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai launched an inquiry into whether the FCC could reconfigure the 12 GHz band, allowing mobile companies to share the airwaves with satellite services.
The incumbent users include Dish Network and AT&T’s DirecTV, which use the band to deliver satellite tv, as well as SpaceX, which is launching a network of broadband satellites.
The band’s current framework dates back to the early 2000s, and trade groups that include Dish on their roster have been petitioning the FCC to consider new uses for 12 GHz, as they say the technology has evolved rapidly in the intervening years to accommodate more users. Although 12GHz has been eyed as a candidate for reconfiguration for years, interested parties’ proposals never amounted to a serious inquiry, until now.
As the plan picks up steam among FCC commissioners, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel can consider moving it toward a final order, said Joel Thayer, president of the Digital Progress Institute, during a panel on 12 GHz on Tuesday afternoon.
“I think it’s an issue that she can take hold of as soon as she wants,” he said.
V. Noah Campbell, co-founder and CEO of RS Access, said in a statement to Law360 that he sees the12 GHz proceeding picking up momentum, which would help his company launch wireless services in the band.”12 GHz is the answer to help America meet the exploding demand for more spectrum to power 5G. The science on coexistence is settled, and I was encouraged by both Commissioners Brendan Carrand Nathan Simington’s remarks,” Campbell said. “It’s time for the FCC to move forward and unleash500 [megahertz] of prime midband spectrum.”
Despite excitement over a 12 GHz shakeup in the broadband sector, satellite operators such as SpaceX will probably be harder to win over. SpaceX is one of the major stakeholders opposing the potential mobile allocation, and it has told the FCC to keep 12 GHz dedicated to satellite services.
Still, Dish senior manager of public policy Michael Essington said his company found a way to protect its satellite assets in the band and is optimistic about the potential it could hold for wireless capacity.
“This is our core business,” Essington said of Dish’s satellite services. “If we thought that we could not coordinate our … signals for our sat service, we wouldn’t be here.”