FCC Considers Vehicle-mounted Earth Stations

The FCC is requesting public comment on a proposal that would allow Vehicle Mounted Earth Stations to use Ku-band services for military, and potential commercial uses, as well.

The commission already has rules allowing the use of Ku-band uplinks on vessels such as cruise ships. General Dynamics requested modification Parts 2 and 25 of the FCC rules to allow similar operations from Vehicle-Mounted Earth Stations. In response to the request, the FCC said, “We seek to promote innovative and flexible use of satellite technology while ensuring avoidance of interference and efficient use of the spectrum.” It issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 07-86) with the primary goal “to develop a record on the capability of VMES terminals, or classes of VMES, to meet the interference avoidance requirements of the Ku-band FSS, such that any VMES rules for the Ku-band frequencies would protect existing FSS operators and their customers from harmful interference. We also seek to promote spectrum sharing with certain secondary operations in these frequency bands, including government space research service and radio astronomy service stations.”

In the NPRM, the FCC expressed concern about protecting existing Ku-band services, saying, “Although the impetus behind the petition is a desire to facilitate the U.S. military’s training needs within the United States, the petition suggests that non-military applications are likely to follow adoption of regularized licensing procedures for VMES.”

The commission noted that comments received on the petition demonstrated that commercial interest exists in even broader applications of VMES, involving use of ultra-small antennas on cars and trucks by the general public. The NPRM observed that such applications raised additional technical questions with respect to compliance with the Ku-band interference avoidance requirements.

“The NPRM therefore seeks comment on whether the broad commercial use, by the general public, of ultra-small antennas on vehicles traversing throughout the United States raises the potential for harmful interference to other FSS licensees or Federal Government SRS and RAS operations, and, if so, whether there are technical rules that the commission could adopt to mitigate against such harms.”

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.