Licensing Rules Released for Earth Stations on Vessels

January 11, 2005
The FCC released the Report and Order (FCC 04-286) it adopted in December establishing licensing and service rules for Earth Stations on Vessels (ESVs) operating in the C- and Ku-bands. While ESVs have been allowed to provide services such as Internet access, fax and telephone aboard ships, this Report and Order establishes rules to protect fixed service operators using the same C-band frequencies. Because of possible interference to fixed service microwave links in coastal areas, the FCC encouraged the use of Ku-band frequencies, where there are fewer fixed service links, for ESVs.

On both bands ESV operators are required to protect fixed service stations by meeting limits on off-axis effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) density and to cease operations if their antenna drifts move than half a degree from the target satellite. To aid in tracking down and resolving interference, operators have to collect and maintain vessel-tracking data.

Some restrictions were lessened under the Report and Order. ESVs can now be system or blanket licensed and foreign licensed ESVs will be allowed to operate near the United States. In all cases, ESVs are not allowed to cause harmful interference to fixed service licensees.

C-band ESV operators will be subject to coordination requirements plus spectrum, satellite, and power limits to protect fixed service operations. One requirement unique to ESVs is that each ESV will only be allowed to coordinate 72 MHz of spectrum in the 5925-6425 MHz band per coordination location. This limits an ESV to one transponder on each of two satellites or two transponders on one satellite. ESVs will not be authorized for ALSAT operation. For all ESVs collectively in any given coordination area, only 180 MHz (5 36-MHz transponders) can be coordinated.

For more information on the new rules and requirements for ESVs, refer to the Report and Order (FCC 04-286)

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