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FCC Adopts MSS Band Fixed and Mobile Services

The FCC released a Report and Order Wednesday that adds co-primary fixed and mobile allocations to the Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) 2 GHz band.

While the document's "Executive Summary" section focuses on the 2 GHz bands, the new footnote US380 to the Table of Frequency Allocations, Section 2.106, of the FCC rules includes the L-band spectrum:

"In the bands 1525-1544 MHz, 1545-1559 MHz, 1610-1645.5 MHz, 1646.5-1660.5 MHz, and 2483.5-2500 MHz, a non-Federal licensee in the mobile-satellite service (MSS) may also operate an ancillary terrestrial component in conjunction with its MSS network, subject to the Commission's rules for ancillary terrestrial component and subject to all applicable conditions and provisions of its MSS authorization."

The Report and Order notes that the FCC will place conditions on use of an ancillary terrestrial component (ATC) in these band, and gives examples in the text. As you can see from footnote US380, the language in the new rules does not specify the extent to which they will protect existing users in the spectrum other than referencing existing ATC rules. More complex interference cases--such as the impact of LightSquared's network on GPS--may not fit under existing ATC rules and require creative solutions such as those the FCC placed on LightSquared's waiver request.

The FCC has proposed making fixed and mobile services co-primary with broadcasting in the core TV spectrum. Watching how successful the FCC is in opening MSS bands to terrestrial wireless broadband without harming existing spectrum users and those on adjacent spectrum (such as GPS) may give broadcasters an idea of what to expect.

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.