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FCC Proposes 40 GHz Band Changes

On Monday the FCC released a Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in IB Docket 97-95 that proposes increased sharing between terrestrial and satellite services in the 37.5-42.5 GHz band (the V-band). The FCC said that sharing permits more efficient use of the band and could allow both terrestrial and satellite operations to realize economies of scale in equipment manufacture.

The FCC proposes deleting the Broadcast Satellite Service (BSS) allocation in the 42.0-42.5 GHz band and seeks comment on adding a primary allocation for the Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) in that band and also on what steps should be taken to protect the radio astronomy applications in the adjacent 42.5-43.5 GHz band.

In the 37.5-40.0 GHz band, the FCC seeks comment on the approach that it should take in establishing criteria for coordination between FSS earth stations and fixed service (FS) stations in the band and proposes allowing FSS operators to take certain measures, including increasing power, to compensate for signal attenuation due to certain weather conditions. The FCC stated that non-power ameliorative measures such as changing to more robust modulation schemes, increasing channel coding, and reducing data throughput, should be used in combination with power increases to compensate for rain fade while minimizing the interference into high-density fixed service terrestrial links.

In reviewing applications summarized in the Satellite Update section of the RF Report, I rarely, if ever, see applications for satellite operations above the Ka-bands. Now that Ka-band frequencies are becoming more widely used for distribution of HDTV content to DBS subscribers, I wonder how long it will be after the FCC completes this rule-making that I start seeing applications for 40 GHz satellite licenses.

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.