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FCC Denies Extended Ku-Band Small Antenna Request

The FCC this week released Order DA 12-1212 denying a Petition for Rulemaking filed by Jansky-Barmat Telecommunications to Amend Parts 2 and 25 of the FCC's Rules pertaining to fixed satellite service use in the 13.75-14.0 GHz band. Jansky-Barmat asked for modification of the rules to allow the use of smaller antennas (as small as 1.2 meters diameter) and a blanket licensing scheme. Current rules require that Earth stations operating in this band use antennas with diameters of at least 4.5 meters. 

The FCC based its denial on interference concerns, noting that both federal and non-federal users share the 13.75-14.0 GHz band. The band is allocated on a primary basis for federal radiolocation use and non-federal Fixed Satellite Service (Earth-to-space). It’s also shared with secondary allocations for the Space Research Service. The band is used by NASA's Tracking Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) and by the U.S. Navy for radiolocation systems that can be operated anywhere within the United States. 

NTIA had opposed the petition, with the FCC in agreement.

The denial stated: “Given the interference concerns raised by DOD and NASA and the recommendation of NTIA, we find that the Jansky Petition plainly does not warrant further consideration. It appears that reducing the minimum earth station antenna size to 1.2 meters would increase the potential for interference to military operations, and thus would be inconsistent with our interest in ensuring shared Federal/non-Federal use of the band.”

The commission added that government operations in this band were not geographically restricted and “it would not be appropriate to propose blanket licensing” of ground stations in that part of the spectrum. It did note that such “blanket licensing” would be appropriate in the deployment of “large numbers of technically identical earth stations whose operations are unlikely to cause interference” regardless of where they might be located. The commission believed that in such cases, earth station licensing on an individual basis, along with coordination with government operations would be a better approach, as the commission and affected government agencies could evaluate deployments on a case-by-case basis to reduce the possibility of interference and to ensure the best use of RF spectrum.