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New Rules Proposed for Satellite and Uplink Operations

The FCC has released a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) that would make several changes to Part 25, the portion of the FCC rules dealing with satellite and satellite earth station licensing and operations. The proposed changes should have little direct impact on most geostationary satellite system users but will make it easier for satellite operators to reposition satellites (within +/- 0.15 degrees) and build, launch and place into operation, if necessary, spare satellites.

The proposed rules describe how to determine the allowed power from asymmetrical earth station antennas that are not skewed to align the major reflector axis tangent to the geostationary arc. The rules for use of analog emission by uplinks are also clarified. The proposed rules provide a more detailed explanation of antenna pattern requirements and options for complying with them.

Under the proposed rules, earth station licensees would be able to make some changes to their authorized earth stations without prior authority from the FCC if the changes do not result in an increase in EIRP or EIRP density, either in the main lobe or off axis; change operating frequencies, change the original authorized coordinates by more than 1 second in latitude and longitude for stations operating in bands shared with terrestrial systems or by more than 10 seconds in latitude and longitude for stations operating on bands not shared with terrestrial systems; a change in polarization; an increase in antenna height' an antenna repointing; or a change in the location of the remote control point. The commission must be notified of the changes with 30 days. The FNPRM includes a similar list of changes satellite operators are allowed to make without prior approval.

Overall, as the FNPRM notes, adoption of the proposed rules will facilitate international coordination of proposed satellite networks, eliminate the need to assess compliance with interim satellite/system construction milestone requirements, clarify requirements for routine earth station licensing, and expand applicability of routine licensing standards. Bond requirements will be modified to more effectively deter spectrum warehousing.

For details on the changes and a copy of the proposed rules, refer to the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 14-142), Comprehensive Review of Licensing and Operating Rules for Satellite Services.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.