Internet-on-Airplanes Effective Date Set

The Internet-on-Airplanes service, having taxied down the runway, has now been largely – but not entirely – cleared for take-off.

Last December we reported on an FCC decision establishing a new “Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft” (ESAA) service that will allow earth stations installed on aircraft to communicate with Fixed-Satellite Service (FSS) spacecraft in geostationary orbits. ESAA will use14.0-14.5 GHz for uplinks, and 10.95-11.2, 11.45-11.7, and 11.7-12.2 GHz for downlinks. In the December order the Commission adopted various technical and licensing rules, while also seeking comment on whether to elevate the ESAA uplinks to co-primary (as opposed to secondary) status.

The order has now been published in the Federal Register, which means that most of the new ESAA rules will take effect on April 8, 2013. The exceptions? Sections 25.132(b)(3) and 25.227(b), (c) and (d), all of which contain “information collections” that have to be run past the Office of Management and Budget first. (The Paperwork Reduction Act strikes again!) These concern the use of non-compliant antennas and the technical data required in applications. It’ll be a couple of months, at the absolute soonest, before we can expect to see OMB’s OK.

And in a separate Federal Register notice, the Commission has also set the deadlines for comments and reply comments relative to the proposal to accord ESAA co-primary allocation status for its 14.0-14.5 GHz uplink operations. Comments are due by April 8, 2013, and replies are due by April 29.

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