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NGSO Satellite Streamlining Part of Modernizing Movement

Randy Sukow Sep 7, 2017

The FCC later this month plans to continue tinkering with its rules to encourage investment in non-geostationary-satellite orbit (NGSO) systems for broadband over fixed-satellite service (FSS). It tentatively plans to streamline its NGSO rules during its September open meeting to follow up  on a June order approving the plan for the British OneWeb plan for a 720-satellite constellation. Other proposed plans before the Commission would employ thousands of satellites to send low-latency, broadband signals worldwide.

“Our current regulations covering NGSO, FSS systems were generally adopted in the early 2000s and reflect the satellite designs of that era. Given recent trends in the satellite industry and changes in satellite technology, the Commission began a review last year of the rules governing NGSO FSS operations to better accommodate this next generation of systems,” said Chairman Ajit Pai in a blog post listing NGSO among several sets of rules he would like to modernize” in coming weeks. “These systems could expand broadband access, especially in the most rural and remote areas of our nation.”

A draft of the NGSO order amends the U.S. Table of Frequency Allocations to expand the potential spectrum bands for broadband satellite systems. For example, the order establishes the 17.8-18.3 GHz band for FSS operation on a secondary basis.

“While terrestrial use of this band is significant, there are areas, particularly rural areas, where terrestrial deployment is less dense and by using mitigating techniques like siting considerations, off-axis rejection, and shielding, we expect FSS earth stations will be able to operate successfully without receiving harmful interference,” the order finds.

The order also establishes new frequency-sharing procedures and relaxes certain buildout and geographical coverage requirements. A Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking explores possibly relaxing the current rules requiring domestic NGSO coverage to expand broadband footprints over remote parts of Alaska.

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