Reduced Orbital Spacing Will Lead to Increased DBS Options

The move to reduced orbital spacing for DBS satellites began a month ago when the FCC authorized Spectrum Five LLC and EchoStar to provide DBS service to the United States from 114.5 degrees West Longitude, midway between the current DBS locations at 110 and 119 degrees WL. EchoStar was allowed to launch and operate a DBS satellite at 86.5 degrees WL, midway between Canadian DBS satellites at 82 and 91 degrees WL, under the condition it does not exceed certain interference limits and successfully coordinates the satellite's operations with adjacent and affected DBS satellites. With the grant of these two applications, I expect to see applications for other DBS satellites at 4.5 degree spacing. One obvious location is 105.5 degrees WL.

As discussed in a previous RF Report, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 06-90) regarding DBS satellite licensing and reduced DBS satellite spacing. With the grant of these requests, it appears the FCC has concluded 4.5 degree DBS orbital spacing can work with existing DBS systems. Should new orbital locations become available, it will be interesting to see if they are licensed to new or existing U.S. DBS operators. What impact will this have on DBS TV subscription prices?

To see what satellite operators and others are saying about the NPRM, use the FCC Search for Filed Comments Web page and enter "06-123" in box 1, Proceeding. So far, there are 27 records in this proceeding.