The Commission issued an Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the proceeding relating to the use of the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz band. As we’ve previously written, the Commission has been considering allowing the use of the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz band (known as the C band) by mobile broadband. The C-band is currently used to deliver cable and broadcast network programming and the Commission has opened a filing window for C Band receive only earth stations until Oct. 17.

The Order provides for the Commission to collect information on satellite usage of the C band to allow it to make an informed decision about the future use of the band. The Order provides that earth station operators provide additional information with the Commission. The Order directs the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, International Bureau, and the Office of Engineering and Technology to issue a Public Notice that will 1) provide detailed instructions for earth station licensees to provide additional information about their facilities; and 2) establish a window for initial filings of information. The information the Commission is requesting would be similar to that information requested in an application or registration. The Commission is also requesting information from the space station licensees. The Commission has not yet issued its Public Notice with specific instructions but one should be forthcoming.

In the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) portion in the proceeding, the Commission seeks comments on the future usage of the C band and how to deal with protection for the incumbents. The Commission proposes to define the incumbents as those earth stations that were operational as of April 19, were licensed or registered (or had a pending application for license or registration) as of Oct. 17 and have timely filed information in response to the Commission’s Public Notice collection information or certified the accuracy of information on file with the Commission. The Commission proposes to exclude those earth station not licensed or registered or those facilities for which the licensees do not timely file the information required in the Order. The Commission is also requesting specific comments on defining the protection to which an incumbent would be entitled.

In the NPRM the Commission proposes to permanently limit the filing of applications for earth station licenses in the C band to those incumbent earth stations. This would mean that the earth stations that are registered or licensed by Oct. 17, 2018, would be able to modify these stations at the registered location but not add new stations in new locations, and applications for new earth station registrations would not be allowed.

The Commission also seeks comment on how to maintain the accuracy of IBFS going forward. It also requests input on whether C band receive only earth stations should be entitled to protection only for those frequencies, azimuths, and elevations angles and other information on file with the Commission until the incumbent files an application to modify its license.

The Commission’s Order and NPRM demonstrates that it is very important for licensees of C Band receive only earth station that were constructed and operational as of April 19 register or license their earth station by the Oct. 17, 2018 deadline to receive protection from the future allocation of the band.

Comment deadlines were announced on the NPRM and comments are requested by Oct. 29, and reply comments by Nov. 27, 2018.