FCC Expands 2 GHz Spectrum Available for MSS Operators, Rejects SBE Proposal

The FCC expanded the 2 GHz spectrum available to MSS operators TMI Communications (TMI) and ICO Satellite Services (ICO) to a total of 20 MHz: 10 MHz for uplinks and 10 MHz for downlinks. The FCC said, "The additional bandwidth will allow the two remaining 2 GHz MSS satellite operators to provide more robust services to public safety officials and first responders, as well as offer broadband satellite services to rural America."

In Order FCC 05-204, the FCC rejected requests to initiate a rulemaking proceeding to reallocate the extra 2 GHz spectrum from MSS to another service, such as the Broadcast Auxiliary Service (proposed by SBE, as described in an earlier RF Report), private radio systems for "critical infrastructure industry" or amateur radio.

Commenting on the requests for reallocating the spectrum, FCC noted that it did not believe that our spectrum management obligations required the Commission to conduct a notice-and-comment rulemaking to determine the "highest and best use" for the unassigned spectrum in that particular case.

"When the Commission allocated this spectrum to MSS, it determined that doing so furthered the public interest. The Commission does not generally consider revisiting spectrum allocation decisions every time a license is returned or canceled. Doing so would severely impede the efficiency of the Commission's spectrum management functions."

It was also noted that none of those offering comments had explained why the unassigned spectrum at issue warranted a different result.

"Moreover, as discussed above, the record in this proceeding also reveals several public interest factors weighing in favor of retaining the MSS allocation in the 2 GHz MSS bands. Accordingly, we are not convinced that a reallocation rulemaking is warranted here."