FCC Proposes Earth Station Update Extension

WASHINGTON—Federal regulators are working out the date certain that TV stations using satellite newsgathering trucks will have to install a tracking beam so neighboring satellite TV operators can find them if they cause interference.

Nearly three years ago, the Federal Communications Commission ordered the adoption of an identification scheme that would allow satellite operators to track down interference from temporary-fixed earth stations—a category that includes satellite newsgathering trucks. These stations were supposed to start embedding an Automatic Transmitter Identification System message into their subcarrier signal by Sept. 3, 2016. This was to be achieved though an upgraded or new modulator, but those are few and far between as the deadline approaches, according to the FCC Public Notice seeking feedback on when to set the new deadline.

“Recent information from affected earth station operators, and independent staff market surveillance, indicate that suitable external modulators have not become widely available,” it said. “Many earth station operators would therefore be unable to retro-fit their current transmitting equipment in order to comply... and instead would need to replace the equipment at considerably greater expense than anticipated when the rule was adopted.”

A temporary, one-year waiver of the Sept. 3, 2016 deadline was issued in March to allow more time to update the record on a more appropriate implementation schedule. 

“We now seek comment on the appropriate timeframe for implementation of the carrier identification requirement for digital video transmissions,” the Public Notice stated. “In particular, we invite comment on the costs to both earth station operators and space station operators of further delaying the effective date of the requirement. We specifically request that commenters provide supporting materials such as technical documentation and price quotations for equipment compliant with the carrier identification requirement.”

A timetable now has been established for the discussion on the questions in that PN. Today’s publication in the Federal Register set the comment due-date at June 30, with replies due July 15, when the comment period will close. The International Bureau Docket No. is 12-267.

Also see...
Aug. 15, 2013

FCC Streamlines Satellite Communications Rules Changes
One change that is likely to lead to extra cost for SNG truck operators is a requirement for a new Automatic Transmitter Identification System (ATIS). ATIS operating on a subcarrier is currently required for all broadband video uplinks, but this form of identification is not really compatible with digitally modulated signals.

Oct.5, 2012
FCC Eyes Video Uplink ATIS Rule Changes”
With the use of different today’s encoding methods and encryption, it’s difficult to identify uplink transmitters.